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USA: Electric car enthusiasts converge on Rutgers campus

PISCATAWAY – When several dozen electric car owners converged Sunday under a new canopy of solar panels at a Rutgers University parking lot, the chatter centered not on reduced emissions and cleaner air, but on something more immediate – pure economics.
A Tesla electric sports car sits under solar panels in the parking lot at the Livingston campus of Rutgers University.
CHRIS PEDOTA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
A Tesla electric sports car sits under solar panels in the parking lot at the Livingston campus of Rutgers University.
Chevrolet Volt owner Mark Ravera of Chatham lifts the hood of his car, with the door to the electric input open.
CHRIS PEDOTA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Chevrolet Volt owner Mark Ravera of Chatham lifts the hood of his car, with the door to the electric input open.

Many of the new owners of Nissan Leafs, Chevy Volts and BMW Active Es who showed up for one several events scheduled nationwide to mark “National Plug In Day” said they chose an electric car mainly to avoid steep gas prices. And in recent weeks, their strategy has been prescient. After remaining safely below $3.50 a gallon for much of the summer, gas in New Jersey shot up to more than $3.80 over the past three weeks before starting to fall once again.

Tom Moloughney of Chester, who owns the Montclair restaurant Nauna’s Bella Casa, is nearing his 100,000th electric-powered mile. After several years driving BMW’s experimental electric Mini E, he received one of the 700 test model Active Es, a prototype for the 2014 BMW i3, the company’s next electric vehicle. (The company calls people like Moloughney who signed up for the test models their “Electronauts.”)

On the back of the car, he has painted the black silhouette of an oil drum with a red slash through it. His license plate reads, “EF-OPEC.”

He said he was drawn to electric cars because he has an interest in energy and reducing the nation’s reliance on imported oil.

“There’s nothing more patriotic than driving an electric vehicle,” he said, noting that they rely on electricity largely produced in the United States. In addition, building a national infrastructure of charging stations would generate jobs, he said.

Moloughney already has 25,000 miles on his Active E, which can get close to 100 miles on a full charge. “People think electric cars are only good for short distances,” he said. “But I can use this to get from home to my restaurant and back – 80 miles.”
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