POSTED | By John Cudmore
Aurora’s electric road show shows life in green lane
It’s not about just going along for the ride.
The Town of Aurora’s inaugural electric vehicle roadshow was more about bringing awareness to methods of sustainable transportation as it was about hopping behind the wheel for a test drive of several electric-powered and hybrid vehicles on hand at the Aurora Town Hall parking lot.
That said, there were ample opportunities to test drive or be shuttled about town in what many on hand believe will be the future of transportation.
As silent automobiles test-driven flitted about the parking lot, giving attendees a sense for the future, Jen Atkinson, director of operations for Aurora-based and co-host organization Windfall Ecology Centre, explained the concept of the event.
“Today is all about introducing and showing people the different options they could be taking in their own lives,” Atkinson said. “There are other options, but this starts the conversation and a first action that leads to other ones. We want to reach out and start the process.”
With nine public re-charging stations, Aurora is already leading York Region municipalities on a per captia basis, she said.
“We want to see a network for all types of transportation and sustainable vehicles.”
For those not yet convinced that electric-powered automobiles may one day dominate roadways, there are some pretty snazzy rides out there. And, when government rebates are worked into the mix, not all that incomparable price-wise, either.
Sure, Stefan Schader of Stouffville loves tooling around in his gas-powered Mercedes convertible. But it wasn’t for no reason that he convinced his wife he needed a fully-loaded California-built 2015 Telsa 2 (cost in the neighbourhood of $170,000).
“It’s the fastest accelerating car in the world,” said the Stouffville resident, putting the car into ‘insane’ mode and letting it rip down the road. Whoa! Zero to at least 60 in the blink of an eye. Hey, they’re talking about upping the mode to ‘Ludicrous’, so there’s more to come.
The real attraction, said Schader, is the silent, smooth ride.
“Unless you win a lottery they are hard to afford,” said Schader, who gets up to 400 kilometres per full charge during summer months (300 in the winter). “I had to convince my wife I needed one. A late-in-life crisis, I guess.”
Still, there is something sweet about the sound of tires rolling on pavement and wind whistling past your ears. And, nothing else. In fact, the biggest danger of the day was in the parking lot where test drivers were coming and going in almost stealth-like noise levels to sometimes oblivious reporter who simply didn’t hear an automobile approaching.
Note: there will one day be legislation to provide sound alert as a safety feature.
Pal Keith Beckley of King City is a believer in this future driving alternative. Especially since he can plug in his car at night and have the equivalent of a full tank ready to hit the road the following morning.
“I’m fully convinced electric cars will win,” said Beckley, also a Telsa driver. “My mindset is that I leave the driveway every day with a full tank of gas. I never go 400 kilometres in my day, so you do have a different mindset.”
And for re-charging when needed on the road, well, there are superchargers situated all over the province of Ontario and more than 2,700 across Canada
Ron Groves, manager of education and outreach for co-host Plug’n Drive, a non-profit organization committed to accelerating the adoption of electric cars, points out there are only 4,500 electric cars in Ontario and just 14,500 across Canada.
“Electric cars have been in the marketplace for only four years,” points out Groves, whose organization participates in about 60 similar shows annually. “Gas cars have had a 150-year head start. Ironically, we have had cars powered by steam, gas and electricity and we know which won that. But electric cars have only been on the marketplace here for four years. Our goal is to educate the public.”
Lei Tian isn’t fully convinced about his next purchase but he seems to be warming to the trend toward non-gas powered driving .
“I have been thinking for a long time, but until today had never had a chance to test-drive one,” agreed Tian, a Matrix owner, after test-driving a Nissan Leaf, which has a driving range of 135 kilometers. “Noiseless, smooth. If you drive one around town it’s economical.”
By John Cudmore