Electric car show displays industry advancements

“I can hardly believe it,” said Ford engineer Ben Garman, gesturing at a battery-powered electric F650. Garman worked on the diesel version of the F650, a medium-duty work truck, and was amazed that the electric version’s maximum load is 14,500 pounds.

A group of people surround the F650 on display at the car show. (Photo by Lauren Werlinger).

Along with the F650, approximately 10 other electric and hybrid vehicles were on display at an electric vehicle show on Oct. 23. 

About 75 people attended, said Peter Coomar, dean of Applied Sciences and Engineering Technology. 

Both cars for the average consumer and vehicles for corporate use were shown.

Among these, there was a Tesla Model 3, which is a fully electric sedan, and a Tesla Model Y, which is a fully electric SUV. Both were available to be test-driven.

Joyce Throwbridger test-drove the Model 3 and said she was impressed by how quiet and comfortable it was. 

“Once you get used to the screen, it’s so easy,” Throwbridger said. 

A Tesla representative explains the controls of the Model 3 to Joyce Throwbdiger while 12 year old Charlie Prater sits in the passenger seat. (Photo by Lauren Werlinger).

Sherkoh Anz also test-drove the Model 3. Afterward, he said he appreciated the modern interior, soft ride and overall fit and finish.

“In these modern comforts, some key characteristics of a vehicle are somewhat lost,” Anz said. “The steering feel was weak and lethargic, there was very minimal road feedback from the wheel, and the one-pedal driving option made it feel like I was operating a forklift.” 

Both Tesla vehicles can get to Chicago in one charge, said a Tesla representative present at the event. Due to Tesla policy, he remained anonymous. 

There was also a 30-foot Gillig hybrid electric bus, a bus in the Lake Erie Transit fleet.

“It’s very cool,” said 6 year old Elijah Boggs.

Richard McDevitt, DTE retiree, and Elijah Boggs, 6 years old, look at the hybrid Lake Erie Transit bus, (Photo by Lauren Werlinger).

Bob Zalewski, a bus driver for Lake Erie Transit, said about half of their buses are hybrids now. 

“In the last few years, the buses have steadily improved,” Zalewski said. 

Zalewski said he has noticed minor differences between hybrid and diesel buses. He said he suspects that the breaking in hybrid buses is electrically assisted. 

Charles Mansfield displayed his hybrid Chrysler Pacifica, a minivan. 

“I drive commercial trucks for a living,” Mansfield said. “I’m the last guy you’d expect to be driving an electric vehicle.” 

Mansfield said the primary benefit of hybrid vehicles is how cost-effective they are. He said he only buys fuel once a month, and charging his van adds about 40 dollars to his monthly electric bill. 

“It’s phenomenal,” Mansfield said. 

Katie Maller, Chargepoint representative, demonstrates how a public charging station works. (Photo by Lauren Werlinger).

When consumers switch to driving electric vehicles, they can save 580 dollars per year in operating costs, according to an informational flyer from Consumers Energy.

Consumers Energy, an electric and natural gas utility company, was a vendor at the car show. 

“We’re here to educate people about EV charging and home charger rebates, and to help EV drivers succeed,” said Karl Bloss, electric vehicle program coordinator at Consumers Energy. 

Richard McDevitt, DTE retiree, said he’s looking forward to the future of the electric vehicle industry.

“They’re so fun to drive,” McDevitt said. “It puts a lot of smiles on people’s faces.”