Culture

You'll be steps closer to the future at the Renewable Taos Electric Vehicle Expo

By Kaura Bulkin
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 8/22/19

Twentieth-century kids who grew up watching “The Jetsons” cartoons were certain that the cartoon’s bubble-domed personal spaceships would be an everyday feature of 21st-century …

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Culture

You'll be steps closer to the future at the Renewable Taos Electric Vehicle Expo

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Twentieth-century kids who grew up watching “The Jetsons” cartoons were certain that the cartoon’s bubble-domed personal spaceships would be an everyday feature of 21st-century life. The cars on display at Renewable Taos’ second annual Electric Vehicle Expo may not hover in the skies, but they still represent a leap forward on the road to that beyond-modernist future.

The free event planned Saturday (Aug. 24) from noon until 4 p.m. will feature talks, videos, booths and door prizes (including dinners at local restaurants and deep discounts at Kit Carson Electric Cooperative). Electric cars, bikes and scooters will be on exhibit, from a 1917 antique electric Opera Coupe to the latest Nissan, Hyundai and Toyota models. A sleek Tesla Model X Falcon Wing will have movie-lovers dreaming of “Back to the Future” in real life. Demo rides may be arranged with some of the exhibitors. Local EV owners will be on hand to show their vehicles and talk about their own first-hand experiences. It’s all at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

Speakers include KCEC’s CEO Luis Reyes; Nusenda Credit Union’s June Manning; Kerwin Singleton of the New Mexico Environment Department, and many more.

We spoke with Renewable Taos member Justin Friedman, who has been building in Taos County using solar construction since 1974. Friedman credited Renewable Taos board member Dan Pritchard as a prime mover of the event.

“Dan is a retired engineer from Sandia Labs where he concentrated for many years on the design of innovative solar panels and equipment. Assisting Dan is a highly active board and membership of concerned engineers and environmental activists. Renewable Taos has been meeting weekly for over eight years. We currently meet in the Taos County Administration Building on Mondays at 2:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend. One of our founding members, Bob Breshnahan, is also an outspoken member of the board of KCEC. Through our efforts, we have helped KCEC steer a course to 100 percent daytime renewable energy produced locally in Taos County.

“Clearly we are most concerned about the rapidly advancing problems of global climate change. A major emphasis of Renewable Taos is promoting the conversion of the transportation sector to clean energy. This transformation includes passenger cars, public buses, construction machinery and large-scale government and industry vehicle fleets.

“The local economy devotes about $100 million a year to energy — gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, electricity, wood, etc. —and most of this money leaves the region as profits for large suppliers. If [and] when we transition to local renewable energy, those resources could stay local. EVs are a part of the solution to this situation. EVs allow us to transition to far less dumping of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and they cost far less to operate.”

Taos activist and web development maestro Jay Levine has been with Renewable Taos since its inception. He will be at the event with his red Tesla Model 3, sharing his experiences on the road.

“I’ve driven my car over 37,000 miles since May of 2018,” Levine said. “My only expenses have been new tires, snow tires and a rodent ate through the wiring on one of my fog lights. That’s not much maintenance for 37,000 miles. Late last December I set out on a road trip, in my electric car, that ended up lasting through mid-April. I visited 10 states and drove over 12,000 miles. From Kansas City, Missouri, to Pleasure Point, California. Drove seven hours from Missouri, all the way through Kansas to Colorado, in a crazy snowstorm.

“The future is all electric! Personal mobility will likely change forever in the next 10 years, as in how folks get from place to place. This is where some really important new tech will play a super-important part. Autonomous electric vehicles, maybe six- or eight-seater minibuses, will hopefully be there. You will use an app on your phone to schedule the pickup and it will take you where you need to go, combining rides as appropriate. Since electric vehicles have a very low cost of operation, this should be a very inexpensive service.

“It is crucial for climate change to end the use of gas and oil as a fuel. Absolutely crucial. And of course, to power all our electrics with renewable power. This will need to be a big public conversation.

“The cars will definitely come down in price. It is happening very quickly. There should be $20,000 electric Kias in two or three years. Electric semi trucks are just about to start. By the way, electric cars are quick. They have instant torque. My car does zero to 60 in just under five seconds.”

Levine invites curious Taoseños to stop by and visit with him at the expo, ask questions about the car, even sit inside and admire the uncluttered dashboard.

Said Friedman, “The day will provide a full-throttle exposure to the new world of electric vehicles including the latest models, the economics of owning and maintaining an EV and fun.”

For more, visit renewabletaos.org.

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