Renton shown the power behind electric cars

PSE holds event to showcase how electric vehicles are paving the future of transportation

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is offering test drives of electric vehicles. But hesitant drivers should take caution.

“If you’re hesitant, don’t take a test drive because then you’ll be hooked,” said Jay Donnaway, President of the Seattle Elective Vehicle Association, the second largest in the U.S.

The preview event kicked off with a demonstration, July 30 at Renton Technical College (RTC). Five cars, two early models and three newer cars, drove figure eights around the RTC parking lot.

Donnaway sped around in his car, named “Mr. Bean,” and hit a cone in all the excitement. Donnaway drives an early Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle he purchased in 2011. That car was quickly beat out by the Nissan Leaf in the U.S. markets.

PSE’s Heather Mulligan said the car show gets to demonstrate how far electric vehicles have come, but also how older models continue to be hold up.

Newer cars with more range let the average commuter go several days without charging, similar to a gas model. That’s also convenient for people with apartments. These cars are closer to the mileage and feel of a gas vehicle.

Donnaway has proudly driven his car for 105,000 miles. There’s little maintenance involved, and he’s just now replacing the battery. He won’t need new front brakes until he’s reached 180,000 miles, because the regenerative braking means he uses them seldom — he just takes his foot off the “gas” pedal.

He also enjoys the torque of the vehicle, as demonstrated by his maneuvers through the parking lot.

“I live in south Pierce County so every morning I’ve got a diesel pickup truck chewing on my bumper,” Donnaway said. “I scoot away at the green light and they cannot catch up. And when Mr. Bean leaves you in the dust it’s pretty insulting.”

This is all part of PSE’s effort to help the state with its goal of 50,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2020. In this short time window, there’s about 7,500 vehicles left to go.

Washington has the third-most electric cars purchased in U.S., behind Oregon and California. In August, the state will also restart tax credits for electric car buyers, up to $2,500 for a new vehicle under $45,000 and $1,600 for a used vehicle under $30,000.

“We think electric vehicles are part of our clean energy future,” Mulligan said.

The PSE public test ride and drive was Friday, Aug. 2 at Westfield Southcenter Mall, featuring 16 electric vehicle models.