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With Current Owners Cheering, Nevada EV Adoption Grows

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Brent Holmes/Nevada Public Radio

Las Vegas EV owners Stan Hanel, left, and Jo Ann Munz check out Munz’s Tesla S, which she named The Rock.

Nevada has one of the nation’s fastest adoption rates for electric vehicles in the country, but still, fewer than 2 percent of motorists drive EVs.

Who are these people?

Some, like Stan Hanel, have been electric car buffs for years.

Hanel, a lifelong tinkerer, got interested in EVs when he worked in Silicon Valley. It’s an affection he brought to Las Vegas when he retired.

Here he found Al Sawyer, a Nevada Test Site engineer and founder of the Southern Nevada chapter of the Electric Vehicle Owners Association.

Long before Tesla built its Gigafactory, Sawyer’s Lectra Motors factory in Las Vegas produced more than 1,000 electric cars after gas prices skyrocketed in the 1970s.

Hanel's first electric vehicle in Las Vegas didn't go very far. 

"It had about 26 full-lead acid batteries that I had to charge up and I could only get about 40 miles,” he said.

Now, he likes to take older cars and retrofit them with new battery technology.

For Hanel, one of the main reasons he loves EV's is the performance and speed. He said because the batteries have electromagnetic motors EV's have a lot of speed right away.

“That gives you that torque right off the line," he said, "So you get that thrill. It’s like a magic carpet ride. It just picks you up and thrusts you forward and there is basically no gearshift needed in some of the Tesla model cars.”

Support comes from

Others like Jo Ann Munz, a Las Vegas real estate agent, are new to EVs, attracted by their quick pickup and energy efficiency.

“I’m a Realtor and I drive 100 to 200 miles a day, and I pretty much could have bought an oil company to support my gas,” she told State of Nevada. “So I knew my next vehicle was going to be electric.”

Now, she allows others to drive her Tesla Model S during NV Energy demonstration events. She said the reaction from first-time drivers is the same: “Wow! They’re very excited. They’re very nervous and when they get out they’ve got a grin that cracks their head in two.”

T.J. McCormick is also an enthusiastic owner of an electric vehicle.

“It was like WOW! Why did I wait so long?” he said.

McCormick bought a used Chevy Spark. Prices on used vehicles can be a lot less than new. However, the average battery life is about eight years. So, car that is five years old will need a new battery in three. 

Hanel said replacing a battery can be expensive but most carmakers offer discounts.

Munz suggests people get the biggest battery they can afford when they're buying an EV because the larger the battery means the car can go for a longer time.

Guests

Stan Hanel, Jo Ann Munz and T.J. McCormick​, enthusiastic EV owners

 

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