Monday, August 5, 2013

Electric car convention makes return visit to Cape

About 150 people will be in Cape Girardeau this week to learn more about converting cars to run on electricity at the third annual Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention.
Caleb Lander of Brewer, Maine points out a part of his 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle to Rick Bay of Lincoln, Neb., during 2nd Annual Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention's Electric Car Show Saturday, September 29, at Capaha Park in Cape Girardeau. Lander has converted the car to electric.

The convention, scheduled for Tuesday through Sunday, will take place at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport and the Arena Building. Attendees will be in for educational sessions and shopwork, but there also will be some time devoted to showing off nearly 45 electric vehicles to the public.
"What we think is key is to show people these cars so they can get familiar with them," said Jack Rickard, a co-organizer of the convention. "I believe that we're going to see a lot more of these vehicles in the future, particularly if gasoline hits $7 to $9 per gallon."
Rickard, a Cape Girardeau resident and host of the weekly Internet electric-vehicle program "EVTV," said electric-conversion enthusiasts will be coming from across the U.S. and from countries such as Canada, Australia, The Netherlands and Great Britain.
"A lot of them have projects that they've been coordinating with people on other continents," he said. "The convention is a great way for everyone to meet one another and discuss those projects in person."
Brian Noto, a co-organizer, said attendees have different motivations for coming to the convention.
"Some are people who are tired of being held hostage by oil companies," Noto said. "Some are interested in the environmental aspect of clean energy, and some see building electric cars as a business opportunity. Whatever the motivation, we want them to learn about electric conversion and take that knowledge with them when they leave."
According to Noto, the educational sessions and panel discussions are expected to be highly technical with topics that include battery operations, electric motors and the theory and practice of circuitry. But there also will be some "playtime" for attendees and the public during electric-vehicle drag races and autocross starting at 1 p.m. Friday at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.
"The races and the autocross is a way for attendees to prove and test their electric vehicles," he said. "A lot of them haven't been tested yet, and we're happy to invite the public to come and see how electric cars handle the races and the course."
The public also will have an opportunity to see the electric vehicles when they are on display in front of the Arena Building from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
"They'll be able to see electrically converted Porsches, Audis and Corvettes," Noto said. "The oldest vehicle will be a 1939 Dodge truck. But the most important part of the vehicle show will be for the public to interact with the builders and ask questions. We're hoping that some of them will get the bug to convert their own vehicles into electric ones."
Scott Williams, recreation manager for the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department, said the vehicle show at the Arena Building will allow people to see something out of the ordinary.
"We don't see many electric cars in Southeast Missouri," Williams said. "This is a great way for residents to get to know the technology of the future."
According to Williams, the convention also will be a boost for the local economy.
"With the number of people coming, that means hotels and restaurants could benefit. The attendees should visit a lot of places over six days."