//// Drivers of the Future Learn on Vehicles of the Future
Electric vehicles have steadily become more ubiquitous in the Kansas City community.
Electric vehicles have steadily become more ubiquitous in the Kansas City community. Drivership is at an all-time high and apartment complexes have begun to offer EV car sharing as an amenity. Now future drivers at a local college’s driver education program will earn their hours behind the wheel of a plug-in hybrid — the first EV used for driver training in Kansas.
At Johnson County Community College (JCCC), input from the Center for Sustainability student committee drove the purchase of a plug-in Ford Fusion Energi for the driver education program. “The students sent a clear message about wanting to reduce the use of gasoline-only vehicles for the fleet,” said Josh Smith, JCCC’s transportation program director.
The program already used a Prius for driver education, and Smith hopes this latest purchase is only the beginning of a drive electric transition. He sees it as a fantastic opportunity to introduce EVs to a young audience — and their parents.
“New drivers are getting exposure to electric vehicles, which in turn influence household buying decisions for their families,” he said.
The EV has proved popular among students. (Smith sees a lot of selfies — when the car is off, of course.) Students are surprised by the car’s spaciousness, providing plenty of breathing room for three students and an instructor. The Fusion Energi’s significant get-up-and-go has helped crush the perception that plug-in cars are underpowered.
Instructors also encourage students to test the autonomous capabilities the car offers. “We use these as tools, not cheat methods,” said Smith. “It’s important for future drivers to be aware of and understand automotive technology they might encounter in the future.”
When it isn’t being used, the Fusion Energi often gets a charge from one of the Clean Charge Network stations on campus — when they are open. “We have a number of charging stations on campus, and we see them used constantly. It’s been fun to see an increasing number of EVs parked on campus.”
//// Meet an EV Driver: Amy and Ayax Ron-Carr
Amy and Ayax Ron-Carr have a very important helper when charging up their new electric vehicle: their two-year-old son Patrick. It’s his job to close the door on the charging point and, although he’s not yet strong enough to make it click, it’s a task he takes very seriously. For Amy, the concept of sustainable transportation is a tradition she’s happy to pass along.
“My family is savvy about energy-efficient cars. Within my extended family, five or six people drive electric vehicles,” she said. “And before that they all drove diesel, when it was a more energy-efficient option.” Her father, an engineer, even converted his car to run off veggie oil.
Amy and her husband Iyax drove a Pontiac sedan and a van that got about 12 miles to the gallon, but always thought about a better option. “I’m a teacher and worked just a couple miles from home, so I always justified it because I didn’t drive long distances,” she said. When they heard about the special price on the Nissan LEAF through KCP&L, they made the jump.
“It made sense for us. Our LEAF often charges to 130 miles, and with fast chargers we can make even longer drives,” Amy said.
She pays closer attention to how many miles remain before she jumps in the car and has had a few close calls. But otherwise, the transition to driving electric has been smooth.
She’s enjoyed having access to EV-only parking spaces at busy events, including First Friday and a July 4 celebration at Corporate Woods. “People were walking miles carrying lawn chairs, and we were able to pull up and plug in at an open EV spot,” she said.
Amy’s husband Ayax currently has the longer commute, so he drives the EV most weekdays. Otherwise they take the LEAF everywhere, and have been pleased at how well the car fits their needs. “I recently had to get replacement seats for the van, and I was able to fit them in the car even with my son in his car seat,” she said.
Interested in being profiled for our next issue? We’d love to hear from you.
//// Upcoming EVents and Activities
We’re always out and about spreading the word about EVs. Mark your calendars for these upcoming EVents.
It’s national Drive Electric Week September 9-17 — and Kansas City’s EV world will be hopping.
Jewish Culture Fest Electric Avenue: September 10 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Greater KC
Electric Avenue will feature a wide range of electric cars, from a 1917 Detroit Electric to modern offerings. Visitors can also test drive cars from BMW’s electric fleet.
Drive Electric Week at Jowler Creek Winery: September 10 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Jowler Creek Winery
Celebrate driving electric at Missouri’s first green winery. Electric or hybrid car drivers can show their car keys to get two free wine tastings.
BMW Electric Vehicle Ride & Drive: September 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Black & Veatch Headquarters
Drive Electric Week Community Gathering: September 13 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Village Presbyterian
City of Kansas City Green Fair: September 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Kansas City’s River Market
Art of the Machine Car Series — Electric Vehicles: September 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kansas City’s River Market
Last session was such a hit among drivers and visitors, we’re doing it again! Check out a few electric vehicles — or bring your own! Contact us if you’d like to participate.
Did you know membership in the KCP&L Clean Charge Network comes with special privileges? The latest perk is EV Day at the Kansas City Zoo! This family-oriented event invited members and their immediate family to brunch at the zoo, then admission (including unlimited tram and train rides) for the rest of the day. Want to be sure you don’t miss out on future events? Join the Clean Charge Network today.
We’re always looking for places to spread the word about EVs. Have a suggestion for where we might go next? Let us know.