National Drive Electric Week event draws close to 200 electric vehicles to Irving

Electric vehicles are still a small fraction of vehicles sold in Texas, but the drivers who own them are passionate, and many of them vow never to drive anything else.

Shawn Williams waited more than two years for his silver Tesla Model 3, so he could ditch his gas-guzzling Cadillac Denali. It finally arrived in September 2018.

“My wife loved it so much, we bought her one in December,” Williams said. “It’s zero emissions. I have solar panels, so I can charge it for free. I love that. Of course the acceleration, the instant torque.”

Williams’ Model 3 was one of 179 electric vehicles that showed up for the annual National Drive Electric Week event Saturday at the Dallas Area Rapid Transit bus station in Las Colinas. It’s the largest crowd they’ve had in the history of the event.

The event gives the public a chance to get up close and personal with electric vehicles, ride in them and ask questions about what it’s like to own one.

Teslas made up the majority of the vehicles there with the Tesla Owners Club of North Texas.

“It lets us show off the benefits of driving electric to people who don’t normally get to see them,” said Rick Bollar, who owns a 2012 Tesla Model S and a 2017 Tesla Model X.

He’s logged 80,000 miles on the Model S and has spent about $2,000 in repairs. Another Tesla owner boasts 400,000 miles on his Model S.

Bollar said the Tesla Supercharger network has expanded in North Texas with a new station on Seventh Street in Fort Worth and new ones under construction in Burleson and outside Wichita Falls.

“It’s not just the main roads that are being covered; even the secondary roads are getting chargers,” Bollar said.

Other models represented at the event were the Chevrolet Volt and Bolt, Hyundai Kona, Kia Niro and Soul, Nissan Leaf and Fisker Karma.

The Harley Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle debuted at the event and will be in dealerships by the end of the month. The Livewire’s 15.5 kilowatt-hour battery has 146 miles of range and can plug into DC fast chargers, which can give an 80% charge in 40 minutes or a 100% charge in an hour.

The motorcycle sells for $29,999, and new owners will get 500 kilowatts of free charging for the first year.

Jason Martin, riding academy instructor at Harley Davidson, (left) talks about the company’s new, all-electric Livewire motorcycle at the National Drive Electric Week event Saturday in Irving. Nicholas Sakelaris Special to the Star-Telegram

Jason Martin, riding academy manager for Harley Davidson, said there’s an app that will connect to the Livewire’s computer, so owners can manage their charging level and input GPS directions, which will play on the helmet’s Bluetooth speakers.

Not all of the electric vehicles have to plug in, either.

The Winston School’s Solar Car Academy showed off its solar-powered car with co-captain Jacob Timmons doing laps through the parking lot.

The solar panels charge the lead-acid batteries, which power the DC motor. It has a top speed of 25 mph, and the team will race it at Texas Motor Speedway later this year.

Jacob Timmons, a junior at The Winston School in North Dallas, is the co-captain of the Solar Car Academy. He drove his team’s solar-powered car through the parking lot Saturday at the National Drive Electric Week event in Irving. Nicholas Sakelaris Special to the Star-Telegram

In 2021, the team will enter a cross-country trip to Colorado, said Timmons, a junior. The solar-powered car requires direct sun and doesn’t get as much charge when it’s cloudy. The class of vehicle doesn’t allow for more efficient solar panels or lithium ion batteries, so the vehicle can’t continuously run off the solar panels while it’s driving. The batteries can only charge when it’s parked.

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