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Thinking About An All-Electric Car?

September 19, 2013, 4:10 PM HST
* Updated September 19, 4:57 PM
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See and ride some of the latest electric vehicles on the Big Island at National Plug-in Day celebrations being organized by the Big Island Electric Vehicle Association.

The BIEVA will have public demonstrations of electric cars in Hilo and Kona on Sept. 28 and 29.

The public is invited to meet electric car owners and discuss their experiences with all-electric vehicles on the Big Island.

The Hilo event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Home Depot at 380 Makaala St. The event in Kona will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29, at Kona Commons near Sports Authority.

A “good turnout” of Nissan LEAF, Ford Fusion, Chevy Volt, Tesla Model S and Think City owners and their vehicles are expected to attend, said Doug Teeple, BIEVA president.

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Doug Teeple, founder of the Big Island Electric Vehicle Association, stands in front of an all-electric Tesla Model S. The BIEVA will be promoting electric vehicles at public events on each side of the Big Island on Sept. 28 and 29. Courtesy photo.

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“We will offer the public test drives and rides and a chance to get the facts about EV ownership in Hawaii,” Teeple said.

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The market for “green vehicles” is increasing statewide. Auto Outlook, published by the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association, reported last month that hybrid and electric vehicles accounted for 6.8% of sales in Hawaii (1,638 units) during the first six months of 2013, up 6.4% from last year’s number. Auto Hawaii projected that sales of hybrids and EVs would set a new annual record in 2013.

De Luz Chevrolet sales consultant Alika Medeiros in Hilo said sales are being fueled by the popularity of home photovoltaic electricity generation and and net-metering, an agreement with Helco that requires consumers who produce more energy than they need to contribute it back to the grid.

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De Luz Chevrolet EV sales consultant Alika Medeiros will drive his own all-electric powered Volt to the BIEVA’s electric vehicle demonstration in Hilo on Sept. 28. Photo by Hunter Bishop.

Consumers with too much PV energy on their hands are starting to plug in their automobiles instead of giving it away, Medeiros said.

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Medeiros specializes in sales of the all-electric Chevy Volt and said he’ll bring a Volt to BIEVA’s Hilo event at Home Depot.

The BIEVA was formed in 2011, the year the Nissan LEAF was first introduced in the United States. The majority of BIEVA’s 70 members, like Teeple, are Leaf owners. Members promote ownership and use of electric vehicles, share information about new developments in EV technology, and discuss their experiences owning an electric car on the Big Island.

As of fall 2013, there were 60 registered Nissan LEAFs on the Big Island and more than 100 electric vehicles total, Teeple said.

The shortage of charging stations in Hawaii County is an important issue for EV owners. Long trips are difficult if they can’t recharge on the island’s rural highways.

“We campaign for better charging infrastructure on the Big Island,” said Teeple. “With electric vehicles becoming ever more affordable, addressing the infrastructure now becomes more crucial.”

Teeple said BIEVA’s motto is, “We will not stop until every vehicle on the Big Island is electric, and powered by local energy.”

The BIEVA events are co-sponsored by Plug In America Association, The Sierra Club, The Electric Automobile Association , and in part by Nissan Corporation.

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