Plugged in for the Earth

In Features
Linda Nicholes, co-founder of the Plug In America organization, displayed her electric car, a burgundy Tesla (above) in order to bring awareness to electric vehicles during Earth Week. The car leaves her with a clean conscious that she is helping others breath clean air. (Marciela Gomez / Daily Titan)

The eco-friendly way of driving is ready to purify the earth from smog.

An array of electric and hybrid vehicles from Plug In America, an organization that advocates for the use of electric cars, radiated the outer corner of the Quad Tuesday at Cal State Fullerton’s seventh annual Earth Week. The event was organized by Associated Students, Inc. and the Center for Sustainability.

“We campaign and educate students on environmental issues and implement new strategies and give a lot of promo items and do events,” said Emerolina Cantu, vice chair for Associated Students, Inc. Environmental Sustainability committee.

A Tesla, the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt and the Mitsubishi I-Miev lined up aside its friendly and environmentally passionate owners that answered questions and comments about their vehicle to students.

But the road to electric transportation had a rough start. Hybrids and electric vehicles were initially leased vehicles that were recalled and demolished by vehicle companies, co-founder of the Plug In America organization Linda Nicholes said.

For example, Toyota’s Rav4 EV and GM’s Chevy EV1 were the only existing electrical cars that were being crushed by car companies. But Plug In America worked to protest the destruction of electric vehicles in order to help the environment, Nicholes said.

Among the businesses and governmental agencies on campus during Earth Week, Plug In America, has been an Earth Week participant for the past four years. Nicholes has witnessed the student’s interest for oil-free vehicles increase over time, she said.

“We just get so many more questions, so many more people hanging around, wanting to know, wanting to see, wanting to experience,” Nicholes said. “And they ask such intelligent questions, they know about electric cars now, before I think they felt that they were just an oddity.”

Students walking through the exhibition stopped in front of Nicholes’ Tesla to look inside and snap photos. Its burgundy paint job and blackened rims weren’t the only things drawing attention to the fancy sportscar. The open hood, which exposed Tesla’s revolutionary electric motor. Tesla’s unique electric motor converts electricity into mechanical power and also acts as a generator, turning mechanical power into electricity, according to Tesla’s website. In turn, the traditional engine housing is utilized as a trunk for storage. The Tesla can drive 265 miles on a 20 minute charge and three and a half charger from home, Nicholes said.

Having no engine parts means no frequent visits to the mechanic for maintenance and many owners have solar panels installed at home to produce the electricity needed to power their cars, Nicholes said. It also leaves her with a clean conscious that she is helping others breathe clean air.

On display, two spaces away from the Tesla was the 2012 Mitsubishi I-Miev, one of the most affordable electrical vehicles people can buy, said Jeffrey Ho, owner of the I-Miev and Plug In America member.

The small vehicle can go through the city on a 70 mile range, with a top speed of 85 mph, Ho said. It charges around 80 percent in 40 minutes. “It will get you around pretty quick,” he said.

Ho met Nicholes more than a year ago, where the similar sparked interest of electrical cars and exclusion of oil industry circuited.

Together, Plug In America continues to promote the usage of electric and hybrid vehicles to sustain the environment without petroleum.

“No war has ever been fought for electricity and it never will be,” Nicholes said.

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