A Drive with Port Orchard Mayor Lary CoppolaAugust 13th, 2010 by Chris Henry
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.
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?”