Ask just about anyone who attended Lake Oswego's second annual Electric Vehicle Fair Sept. 21 and they'd tell you: Electric vehicles are the wave of the future.
The rain eased up and gave way for more than 100 community members to explore the grounds of the Oswego Heritage House last Saturday and learn about the different types of electric vehicles owned by local residents — pure electric and plug-in hybrids — as well as electric bikes and scooters.
Community members had their questions and concerns answered and learned about the 40 currently available EV models, while also hearing about options from dealers and learning about state and federal financial incentives.
The EV advocacy group Forth had vehicles available for people to test drive.
In conjunction with the LO Sustainability Advisory Board, Forth and Portland General Electric, the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network started the EV Fair in 2018 to give Lake Oswegans the chance to get a first-hand look at what it's like to drive and own one.
Lake Oswego resident Nancy Horton attended the EV Fair last year and purchased an electric Chevy Bolt shortly after that event. She returned to the event this year to learn about the new cars and to explore the different vehicles with her friend, Shawn Engelberg.
"I think just being able to look at them and touch them without spending a whole day driving around town to different dealers is a huge bonus because there's something about just seeing it, touching it and talking to an owner instead of a salesman. (It) is a really cool thing," said Engelberg, adding that she's been looking at purchasing an electric vehicle for the last three years but has been having a hard time finding one that fits her price point. "We've had Toyota Prius hybrids, two of them actually — we had 'Prii' — and for my next car I want it to be all electric and I want all-wheel drive because I want to be able to take it skiing and stuff."
Lake Oswego resident Peter Kresse is also interested in purchasing an electric vehicle and he attended the event to learn more about EVs. His biggest concern would be charging the car — a common concern among many consumers.
"I was asking some of the people that own the cars if they had fast charging available and there's not much of that infrastructure yet, but it's coming so that's what I'm interested in," said Kresse, adding that he lives in a condo and doesn't have a garage to house his own charger.
According to Duke Castle — who's on the LOSN Board of Directors — there are now more EV charging stations (15) in Lake Oswego than there are gas stations (11), and the cost to charge is extremely low or sometimes free, depending on the type of car.
Harvey Rich, who was showing his Tesla Model 3 Long Range at the event, also owns plug-in EVs and hybrids and said his Tesla is his favorite car.
He said his Tesla has approximately a 325 mile range and he's traveled to Astoria and back with 100 miles left.
"Tesla has the supercharger network. It's the only manufacturer that has their own electric network and they're everywhere," Rich said. "If you have a destination, you program it and it tells you where to stop and your battery charge that's left and you can travel anywhere."
Jason Hinson, Model X Tesla owner, said he's had trouble charging his vehicle in certain parts of the country but he expects that to improve as more people begin to own EVs.
"It will definitely be the future and right now … we've hopped over the gap from early adopter to starting to become mainstream. It's just the more people that learn about it the better," said Hinson, adding that it's relatively quick to give his Tesla a full charge on a supercharger — about 45 minutes, and it's even faster with newer chargers. "The more people that know about electric cars, (they) will ask more about it so it makes it easier for me and for them in the future."
Many of the EV owners said that when charging at home, the cost of electricity doesn't make too large of a dent and the cost of maintenance for the car is extremely low.
Hinson said he has had challenges with the sensors of his car, but Tesla fixed it quickly for free.
Rich said EVs don't have any regular gas car upkeep with parts like the engine, radiator, motor and exhaust pipe — with exception to the tires.
"If you compare the cost of charging at home versus the cost of gas and having a car with 30 miles to the gallon, this is about one-third of the cost to charge for the same distance," Rich said. "Electric cars are the wave of the future. If the planet is to be saved, we have to go to a mode that does not produce any pollution here and I have solar panels at my house so I actually don't use the grid except as backup."
"I think they're fantastic — you don't have any oil changes, tune-ups, belts, antifreeze, I mean all that stuff is gone, so they're simple," added Kresse. "It's the way to go. It's going to be the future I think."
Local community members were also exposed to other modes of electric transportation like bikes and scooters.
Gordon Haber, owner of Lakeside Bicycle, said it takes about six hours to give the bike a full charge and that people can charge the bikes on a three-pronged outlet at home.
"They solve the problems with parking, they solve the problem with traffic, they are relatively inexpensive compared with even insuring a car and they're good for your health," said Haber, adding that the bikes are pedaled with electric assist.
Hinson said the EV Fair was a good educational event for the community.
"I just read a statistic that only 3 percent of the population actually knows anything about electric cars. They've heard about them and they go, 'That's neat,' but they don't know the benefits," Hinson said. "Most people don't know any of the features of these cars."
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