Kalamazoo Drive Electric Week 2016

Kalamazoo Drive Electric Week 2016

Kalamazoo Drive Electric Week 2016

Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group, Kalamazoo Electric Vehicle Association, and Cole Nissan sponsored Kalamazoo Drive Electric Week 2016.

Paul Pancella

Paul Pancella

Three presentations by Paul Pancella kicked off Kalamazoo Drive Electric Week 2016.

Western Michigan University professor and KEVA charter member Paul Pancella held three programs in support of Kalamazoo Drive Electric Week 2016. He gave his PowerPoint presentation showing the many advantages that electric vehicles have over internal combustion cars at Bangor Public Library, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and Kalamazoo College.

Bangor Library Director Bobbi Martindale sent this message about Paul’s presentation to Kalamazoo Drive Electric Week 2016 lead organizer Ben Brown (emphasis added and a link attached):


The motor on the left replaced the engine on the right when Paul Pancella converted his Honda to electric. Photo: Paul Pancella.

Clearly this professor of nuclear physics at Western Michigan University had the benefit of his science credentials in laying out the climate, environmental, and economic benefits of “going electric” in personal transportation. He used his personal experience of converting a Honda Civic to electric drive to present a “before and after” comparison of costs and actual energy use along with researched environmental and climate costs such as coal power plants in providing the electricity. He also made the case that with electric cars the environmental benefits will only increase as more renewable power comes on line. He ended the hour long presentation by showing us his Nissan Leaf that he bought used. The attendees were appreciative of his well laid out and researched presentation and were enthused enough to seriously consider buying electric cars.

Then came the free drive-and-ride demonstrations.

About 60-70 people visited the Western Michigan University parking lot near Waldo Stadium Wednesday evening, September 14, to check out the electric vehicles on display. Most took a free demonstration ride. Many got behind the wheel to experience the thrill of electric driving  first hand. For riders and drivers new to electric cars, the most common reactions were Quiet! Smooth! Quick! One man returning from a ride said, “Imagine how much quieter the world will be when we’re all driving electric cars!”

We had 21 vehicles on hand, new and used, many makes and models. Tesla, Nissan Leaf, and Chevy Volt had the most cars at the demo with three each. We also had three electric motorcycles. Sgt. Michael Collier of the Portage, Michigan, Department of Public Safety, brought his motorcycle. Sgt. Collier told us that Portage’s police department was first in the state to use electric motorcycles.

The star of the show, the car that got the most attention and and gave the most rides, was Sam Carnavacciolo’s Tesla Roadster. Mary Colborn exclaimed after her ride that the acceleration made her feel as if she’d left her stomach behind.

Kalamazoo Drive Electric Week 2016

Gail Nelson is about to go for a spin in Sam Carnavacciolo’s Tesla Roadster. On the right, Glenn Griffith, charter member of Kalamazoo Electric Vehicle Association, explains why everyone should drive electric. Photo: Bruce Brown for Sierra Club SW Michigan Group.

Several organizations and firms helped make Kalamazoo Drive Electric Week 2016 and the Drive-and-Ride demo a success.

Charging an all-electric vehicle using wind- or solar-sourced electricity – as opposed to using electricity from Consumers Energy – can completely erase an EV’s carbon footprint. The Wind Turbine Technician Academy at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, which hosted one of Paul Pancella’s three presentations, joined us at the drive-and-ride demonstration to explain Michigan’s growing wind-power business and its importance in Michigan’s energy mix. Roz Linsea of Solar Winds, Sierra Club’s solar installation partner in Michigan, filled people in on how home solar can bring Michigan homeowners into the clean-energy 21st century.

The Kalamazoo Electric Vehicle Association helped Ben Brown make all the arrangements and do all the organizing that made the week a success. Thanks to KEVA’s Mike Walenga, Kim Sandefur, Glenn Griffith, and – especially – Paul Pancella for his three special presentations.

Erwin Maier of Cole Nissan brought a new Leaf to the ride-and-drive. Two owners of used Leafs came to brag up their cars and give rides. Maier said several people talked with him about leasing or buying a Leaf. That’s what Kalamazoo Drive Electric Week 2016 was all about: Getting more people to indulge in the great value, the cool fun, and the ecological beauty of driving electric!

Special message from Ben Brown, Kalamazoo Drive Electric Week 2016 organizer:

Electric cars redefine and give a new definition of power, transportation and fun. Electric cars are a smart idea: clean, powerful, efficient, thrilling, and great transportation. It is important for people to experience them. These cars are so different that without the chance to ride in or drive them, anything we could say would not come close to an explanation that matches what these cars are really like. Simply driving an electric car without an owner’s familiarity brought from experience can leave many mysteries, concerns and misunderstandings. Owners are the fastest and best way to convey the real daily experience with electric cars.

The generosity of owners to invite strangers to ride, perhaps drive their cars, plus answer questions and share appreciated benefits can only show EV’s advantages that can never be conveyed “from the outside.” A significant number of people will catch the desire for a highway capable ev from their interaction with owners. That is the origin and main purpose of National Drive Electric Week.

The daringness to explore these fantastic cars can only impart new knowledge and new visions of travel and living on this earth that can meet 90% or more of our travel needs in a new way that our society must consider if we are to continue on this planet.

More scenes from the Drive-and-Ride

Photos for both slideshows: Mark Miller, Craig Brainard, and Bruce Brown for Sierra Club SW Michigan Group.