A Drive with Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola

Let’s make one thing clear from the get-go. When it comes to electric vehicles, Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola definitely has a dog in this fight.

The city is working on getting federal grant money to install an electric vehicle charging station in the downtown area. City officials — Coppola in particular — believe the amenity will entice visitors from Seattle who own electric cars to venture over for a visit.

Coppola, who also writes automotive reviews for a number of publications, recently got the chance to test drive a Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle or MiEV. When he invited me to accompany him on a spin about town, I hesitated, not wanting to appear party to an infomercial. But I’ll admit I was intrigued. Electric vehicles are still enough of a curiosity that I thought checking out Coppola’s loaner would have adequate general interest to justify at least a blog post. Fortunately for Coppola, Mitsubishi and the electric vehicle crusade in general, my editor agreed.

It was a boxy little thing. Its 110 volt electric umbilical chord was deceptively shaped like a regular gas pump. Coppola simply unplugged it before taking off. The outlet was located inside a garage at city hall. Coppola said it takes about eight hours to charge the car using 110 volts; a 220 volt connection would charge it in half the time. The amount of electricity used is equivalent to an evening of television watching, he said.

“You can plug it in when you get home at night, plug it into your standard outlet, and in the morning, you’ve got a full tank,” Coppola said.

The car’s range is 100 miles, ideal, Coppola said, for commuting, say, from Port Orchard to Bremerton and back. And it has plenty of get up and go.

“I was surprised at how powerful it is. I didn’t expect that,” he said, adding it can easily reach 70 miles per hour on the highway, should one be so inclined.

Coppola’s driving was conservative as we navigated around town. But the car had plenty of power to make it up Dwight Street.

He gave me a chance to drive the car, which was plenty roomy inside, despite it’s small stature. It powered up and handled just like any other car. One weird thing is that it makes no engine noise. All you hear is the whir of the tires and the rush of the wind.

This particular car had the steering wheel on the right, so it was easy to get things backwards. Like Coppola, I more than once went to hit the blinker and ended up turning on the windshield wipers.

Coppola said he wasn’t sure if or how quickly electric vehicles will be embraced by folks in Kitsap County. He sees the most immediate benefit for Port Orchard in the Seattle tourist market.

Coppola, who has driven some honking big gas guzzlers in the course of his automotive review career, said he took temporary possession of the car with an open mind, prepared not to be automatically sold on it just because of the EV charging station venture. In the end, he found more to like about the car than he expected.

“After driving it, I’m more convinced now than ever that they’re going to be popular,” he said.

My question to the general readership is, “Have you considered getting an electric vehicle? If so what are the deal breakers for you, price, range, convenience or lack thereof in access to electricity?”

11 thoughts on “A Drive with Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola

  1. I am considering an electric car, but the deal breaker for me is the high price. When I bought my Prius, in 2003, it was just under $21K. The car holds four people comfortably, or five people, if two of them are tiny. It will hold a long weekend worth of luggage for three people, or my luggage alone for a long cruise.

    I hope not to buy another gasoline powered car, so my Prius needs to keep running until the electrics come down in price or I give in.

  2. A sold a ticket to a driver in a telsa last week at work . When i grow up I hope to buy one . I was told they are about 100 grand .

    Oy yeah Mother Earth . Get a life

  3. I haven’t been tempted yet, the electric cars are simply too pricy and too small. The 100 mile range seems more than enough for my general driving habits. However, my wife and I have decided to cut down to one vehicle, so 100 miles would cut out trips to Walla Walla to see our grandkids. That’s just not going to happen.

  4. I don’t see much utility for family. Add the spouse, two kids, a bat bag, lawn chairs, a car seat, a cooler and some extra blankets and your done. Can’t take the EV

    Have to get a babysitter to go grocery shopping since the kids and food won’t all fit.

    Tourism from Seattle to Port Orchard….I’m not buying it. Our downtown is not a tourist attraction.

  5. Boy, there’s nothing better than an electric car for sneaking up on mischevious Paper Boys in the middle of the night!

    Is there some sort of gizmo you need to blow into to make the car go?

  6. MotherEarth & all who commented on the mayor’s DUI in May, Coppola actually made side references to the incident a couple times during the interview. At one point, after he talked about the car’s ability to reach 70 miles per hour, he said — apparently joking at his own expense — “I’m not sure I want to admit to breaking any traffic laws at this point in my life.”

    It would have been easy for me to mention this in the post, but I thought I’d leave it to general readership to, predictably, give that bone another shake.

    PennyRobinson and Willy, however, do raise an issue that was a topic of discussion in the newsroom Friday, that is … hypothetically, what if the judge had required the mayor to have an Ignition Interlock Device?

    To the best of our knowledge, electric vehicles don’t have an ignition per se, so the technology would not work with them. Our law and justice reporter Josh Farley was interested in this and may blog about it later this week. Stay tuned.

    Chris Henry, reporter

  7. “ ‘I’m not sure I want to admit to breaking any traffic laws at this point in my life.’ ”

    But Larry, you’ve been admitting flaunting the traffic laws at least since you test-drove and then reviewed manufacturers’ cars.

    Is driving-under-the-influence not merely an extension of a callous disregard for the laws governing our roadways?

    Or are some people ‘Special’?

  8. Now my 2 seat Pontiac Solstice GXP convertible gets an average of 30 mpg commuting and 33 mpg on road trips and is not a hybrid. BUT the best part right now is that by just putting the top down, I don’t need to run the A/C at all. I happily use natures own air conditioning. No manmade chemicals needed any extra electricity. We purchased it specifically for better gas mileage and way, way more fun than the V-8 Mustang Cobra I had.

    I see all the Prius and frequently a Cadillac Escalade hybrid here in Poulsbo with their windows up on a hot day running the A/C at full throttle and I wonder how much gas and energy is that using?

    What is green? Does hybrid really mean the best use of or the saving of resources? Did I take the chicken out to thaw before I left the house this morning…sorry I wandered.

    I have talked cars with Mayor Cappola before. We both have a passion for racing. His ability to analyze and review a vehicles overall performance and value is a talent he has. I enjoy reading his auto reviews and think he makes valid points. The DUI was a personal screw up of the worst kind. This article is about his professional work. I prefer to separate the two and let each one stand on its own.

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