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Electric backers hope to give folks a jolt

THE pride and joy of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association is its 1912 Detroit Electric – yep, you read that right, a 100-year-old electric car. Take that, Nissan Leaf.

The machine in question had a range of about 160 kilometres originally, and was once stored in the basement of the Empress Hotel in Victoria, ready to leap into action at any moment to ferry its wealthy original owner about town without any of that tricky Model T pedal work.

Today the car lives in the Stave Lake hydroelectic dam, and the original nickel-iron batteries have been replaced with lead-acid ones, reducing the range to a still-respectable 60-80 km. If you’d like to clap eyes on the thing, why don’t you mosey on down to this year’s ElectraFest, held at the Concord Pacific lot, just east of BC Place.

It’s free, in case you were wondering, and all sorts of other electrified transportation will be there, from the lightning-quick Tesla Model S to the aforementioned Nissan Leaf, to electric bicycles, to battery-powered skateboards and plug-in hybrid work trucks – I think someone’s even bringing an electric unicycle. The atmosphere will be. .. exciting. Ha! Thought I was going to say “electric,” didn’t you? Not to worry – I displayed considerable. .. resistance.


Anyway, some of you may be saying, “Oh who cares? A clunky old relic and a bunch of niche products designed to appeal to engineers with pocket protectors.” Now hang on. I did mention the Tesla was going to be there, right? Perhaps you’ve heard of it: seats seven, shows its taillights to a Dodge Viper down the dragstrip.

Furthermore, Vancouver is something of an electric vehicle hub.

Yes, some of the backyard conversions aren’t really going to appeal to you unless you’ve got a bit of Mad Scientist in your blood, but our unique hemmed-in geography makes the electric vehicle a much more practical proposition than someplace like Calgary.

The VEVA first officially formed in 1988 and has been spreading the gospel of EV machinery ever since. Their membership is highly active at any car show you’d care to name, and they’re often out and about with that 1912 Detroit, as well as any of the numerous conversions and/or factory-built electric vehicles that members own. Why? It’s simple really. While the internal combustion engine still rules the road, the practical drawbacks of electric vehicles (availability, range, ownership know-how) are rapidly falling by the wayside. In fact, the only impedance (again, sorry) to more widespread ownership is prejudice.


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