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Electric and hybrid car owners spread the gospel

  • Electric and hybrid vehicles are displayed on City Plaza in downtown Concord during a National Drive Electric Week event on Saturday. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • A Proterra zero-emission electric bus looped downtown throughout the day during a National Drive Electric Week event on City Plaza in downtown Concord, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. This particular model of the bus featured a fast charge of 5 to 7 minutes and a range of 50 miles between charges. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • The power cord used to charge a Nissan Leaf owned by Bob Sletten of Bow is displayed during a National Drive Electric Week event on City Plaza in downtown Concord on Saturday. Sletten charges the car overnight and uses it for his Massachusetts commute. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Mike Fonner, 62, of Weare explains how he uses his electric bicycle to a passer-by during a National Drive Electric Week event on City Plaza in downtown Concord on Saturday. The built-in battery, which can be activated as needed, allows Fonner to continue biking up large hills despite his age. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • The charging port on a 2011 Chevrolet Volt is seen during a National Drive Electric Week event on City Plaza in downtown Concord, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Electric and hybrid vehicles are displayed on City Plaza in downtown Concord during a National Drive Electric Week event on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • The charging port, located behind a tail light on a Tesla Model S, is revealed during a National Drive Electric Week event on City Plaza in downtown Concord, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • A Proterra zero-emission electric bus looped downtown throughout the day during a National Drive Electric Week event on City Plaza in downtown Concord, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. This particular model of the bus featured a fast charge of 5 to 7 minutes and a range of 50 miles between charges. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • A 2011 Chevrolet Volt is seen during a National Drive Electric Week event on City Plaza in downtown Concord, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • A Tesla Roadster 2.5 is seen during a National Drive Electric Week event on City Plaza in downtown Concord, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

Monitor staff
Published: 9/17/2016 10:25:51 PM
Modified: 9/17/2016 10:25:30 PM

Father John Brancich has had two conversions. The first, when he entered the priesthood. The second, when he switched to a hybrid.
“I never thought that I would be interested in driving an electric car. I used to be a forester, before I was a priest. I was used to driving trucks. . . . But the thrill of this has totally replaced that,” said Brancich, one of about 20 electric and hybrid vehicle owners showing off their wheels to the public Saturday morning in a National Drive Electric Week event held in front of the State House.

Brancich said he bought his 2014 Chevrolet Volt last year because of the “handling, the technology, and the low fuel cost.”

“For me, I was very interested in the technology. I’m kind of a techie,” he said. “The fact of not having to go to a gas station, if ever, was also very appealing.”

The Volt has an all-electric engine, Brancich said, which can go about 45 miles on a single charge without help from the gas-fueled generator, which will power the engine for hundreds more miles per fill-up, at about 43 to 50 miles a gallon.

The event was one of hundreds put on across the country – including New London and Durham – this weekend to “bring vehicle owners and dealerships together to talk to people about the benefits and the drawbacks of owning an electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid vehicle,” said Delores Rebolledo, the coordinator for the local chaper of the U.S. Clean Cities Coalition, a U.S. Department of Energy initiative to cut petroleum use in transportation.

Seth Cross, of Salisbury, poked around a Tesla Model S with daughter Danielle and his father-in-law, Robert Laclair.

“It’s great,” Cross said. “It’s the future.”

Drawn to the technology surrounding electric cars – like autopilot – and the prospect of no longer worrying about car maintenance, Cross said he planned to go electric with his next car. But the switch probably wouldn’t happen for another three years or so, he said.

Electric and hybrid cars are still mostly luxury items, Cross said, and models within his price range – $30,000 – will be more widely available later, and with better technology.

“If I could afford to buy one right now, I probably would,” he said.

Some electric cars – like the popular Nissan Leaf, on display Saturday – do retail within Cross’s price range. But there’s a hitch.

“The mileage for a Leaf is about 90 miles. That’s not feasible,” he said, referring to the distance the car can travel before needing to recharge.

Bob Neidorff brought the Nissan Leaf he purchased in 2013 to the event on Saturday.

“The fuel cost is lower, the maintenance is non-existent, it’s quieter. I think it handles better in the winter. Everything about it is better – except it’s not the car to go on 500-mile vacation,” he said. For those trips, Neidorff said, his family takes its other car, which uses gas.

“Range paranoia” is a common reason people don’t want to go electric just yet, said Catherine Corkery, the director for the NH Sierra Club.

“People self-select themselves out of the running,” she said, sometimes without having a clear idea of what their mileage needs really are. But she admitted that such anxiety is sometimes legitimate – and said the solution is better infrastructure.

“I think one solution to that is having charging stations where people work and where people go out,” she said, adding that the state needed to better invest in public transportation and transit hubs equipped with charging stations.

“New Hampshire will miss out if we’re not able to house the workers of the future and the businesses of the future,” she said.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)




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