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Mayor meets with fellow electric-car owners

Kenny Kemp
Mayor Danny Jones (second from left) points to his Chevy Volt with fellow electric car owners on Sunday afternoon.
Kenny Kemp Marty Weirick of South Charleston, a Chevy Volt owner, shows his feelings on his license plate.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Larry Harris of Poca says he is approached often by people curious about his electric car. But he's always happy to talk to them about it.

"Most people don't just let anyone drive their car. I let dozens of people take mine for a ride because I want them to experience it -- and they always fall in love with it," said Harris.

He and several fellow Chevy Volt owners, including Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, gathered Sunday afternoon to show off their electricity-powered cars and talk about alternative energy.

"This country is not friendly to these electric cars. When I travel across the state, they look at you like you're crazy when you ask to plug in your car to charge," Jones said. "They're not used to them yet."

Harris, who founded the state's first Electric Auto Association chapter, said the car will save him thousands. The car allows drivers to choose between electric or gas, and a lithium-ion battery guarantees nearly 40 miles gas-free.

In addition, a gas generator produces electricity so drivers can travel almost 400 miles on a full charge and a full tank of gas.

West Virginia has the best state tax credit for a Volt, which can mean a total write-off of $15,000 for buyers when combined with the federal tax credit.

But Harris says it's not just about the financial savings.

"Gas prices are high. We don't want to have to depend on foreign countries and have all of our money flowing out," he said. "When you're running on electricity, you're running on coal."

Lisa Mitchell of Mountain View Solar stopped by the small convention Sunday to talk to the electric car owners about installing solar panels in their vehicles.

"It's exciting to see so many of these cars in one place. You don't see them around here enough," she said.

"People are motivated to make changes primarily for financial savings right now. As more people learn about the Volts and different electric vehicle alternatives and the money they can save versus $4 for gas, I think more and more people will start driving them."

Jones said while the cars are still often misunderstood, he thinks change is underway.

"We're heading to natural gas. When I'm out in California, all of the buses are powered by natural gas. But that doesn't mean the electrical cars wont sell. I think people can get used to them," he said.

Reach Mackenzie Mays at Mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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