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Electric Vehicle Cruise-In held in Atlanta

ATLANTA — The gathering of cars along Atlanta’s Arch Street on Saturday gave folks a chance to look under the hood of some slick vehicles, without the customary thunder of combustion engines.

Billed as Illinois’ first Electric Vehicle Cruise-In, the event brought out about a dozen electric cars, from Mitsubishi MiEVs and Chevy Volts to a 1980 Renault Lectric Leopard.

Sponsored by the Atlanta Betterment Fund, the free event was intended to draw visitors to Atlanta’s downtown and highlight the 16 level one and two level two charging stations in the town.

EV enthusiasts were eager to pop their hoods and show off their batteries. Dave Yoder, 68, of Danvers, the Lectric Leopard’s proud owner, added the car to his collection of two other electric vehicles last year when he saw an ad for it. The boxy car’s chassis was constructed in France, and its motor and 17 batteries were installed in the United States. Though the car is stalwart and features XM radio installed by Yoder, it remains incompatible with modern charging stations. Yoder had to bring it along in a trailer Saturday.

“I’ve always been interested in anything that’s different,” Yoder said.

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Electric Vehicle Cruise-In held in Atlanta

ATLANTA — The gathering of cars along Atlanta’s Arch Street on Saturday gave folks a chance to look under the hood of some slick vehicles, without the customary thunder of combustion engines.

Billed as Illinois’ first Electric Vehicle Cruise-In, the event brought out about a dozen electric cars, from Mitsubishi MiEVs and Chevy Volts to a 1980 Renault Lectric Leopard.

Sponsored by the Atlanta Betterment Fund, the free event was intended to draw visitors to Atlanta’s downtown and highlight the 16 level one and two level two charging stations in the town.

EV enthusiasts were eager to pop their hoods and show off their batteries. Dave Yoder, 68, of Danvers, the Lectric Leopard’s proud owner, added the car to his collection of two other electric vehicles last year when he saw an ad for it. The boxy car’s chassis was constructed in France, and its motor and 17 batteries were installed in the United States. Though the car is stalwart and features XM radio installed by Yoder, it remains incompatible with modern charging stations. Yoder had to bring it along in a trailer Saturday.

“I’ve always been interested in anything that’s different,” Yoder said.

Joe Mikulecky, chairman of the Bloomington-Normal Electric Vehicle Task Force, helped promote the event. With abundant charging stations in the Twin Cities and attractive financing options for electric cars, he said the vehicles are becoming more practicable in Illinois. Long hauls still require some planning, but for driving around the Twin Cities, nothing beats a free charge when others are paying upwards of $4 per gallon for gas, he said.

Bill Thomas, a director with the Atlanta Betterment Fund, said such events demonstrate the viability of electric vehicles. Thomas is hopeful Route 66 can give rise to more electric car charging stations the same way the historic road gave rise to the gas station in the first half of the 20th Century.

Promoting the town’s charging stations could also mean an increase in tourism, something Thomas said has already boosted Atlanta’s local economy. Between 2008 and 2012, Thomas said local sales tax revenues jumped 43 percent during the summer months, which he attributed directly to efforts at attracting Route 66 tourism to the area.

“Making (travel) easier for EVs adds to that tourism potential,” Thomas said.

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