Students abuzz over E-cars

2012-05-12T09:00:00Z Students abuzz over E-carsBy Raju Woodward, Corvallis Gazette-Times Albany Democrat Herald

OSU students learn about electric vehicles during expo at Reser Stadium

They all had that new-car look, glistening in the sun. But the 16 vehicles — ranging from a pickup truck to a three-wheel motorcycle — that were lined up on the south side of Reser Stadium had one thing in common: all of them run on electricity.

The display was part of an electric vehicle expo at Oregon State University and featured vehicles from both private owners and local car dealerships.

The event was organized by OSU instructor Hai-Yue Han, who is teaching a class about electric and hybrid vehicles this term. He has 63 students in the class, many of whom are electrical engineering majors.

“I wanted my students to have a hands-on experience, so they could better understand the engineering that goes into these vehicles,” Han said.

Tony Do, a junior in electrical engineering, said the expo helped him to make connections between what he’s learned in class and what owning an electric car entails. He said his favorite electric vehicle on display was the Chevy Volt because of its modern, sleek look.

“Gas prices are insane,” Do said. “So I’d like to have an electric vehicle someday. It’s good to see that they are finding more ways to make cars more efficient.”

Another benefit of the electric vehicle expo was that students and passersby were able to talk to the owners of the electric vehicles.

One of the most popular vehicles was Mark Murphy’s BugE, which he described as a three-wheel, enclosed motorcycle.

His Creswell-based company, Blue Sky Design, sells kits that allow customers to build their own BugE. The kits cost $4,000. In addition to being affordable, Murphy touted the BugE’s efficiency. He said it uses a half-cent of electricity per mile. Plus, the vehicle can be plugged into a normal outlet; they don’t require specific charging stations.

“It’s simple, yet very efficient,” Murphy said. “Electric doesn’t always mean that things have to complicated.”

Han said two factors could lead to electric vehicles becoming more popular: rising gas prices and advances in battery technology. For example, he said, some batteries are capable of fully charging in 10 minutes.

However, Collin Keefer, a senior in electrical engineering, said that he’s not ready just yet to drive one off the lot.

“It’s really going to depend on how much the technology continues to advance,” Keefer said. “I want electric cars to become more comparable to gas cars. Right now, there’s still enough differences that I want to wait and see what happens.”

Raju Woodward can be contacted at 758-9526 or raju.woodward@lee.net.

Copyright 2014 Albany Democrat Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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