Electric vehicle owners and enthusiasts gather in Corvallis | Sweetened

Visions of a fossil-fuel-free future were focused on the electric car rally and this week’s show at Corvallis.

With major automakers interested in the market and considering moving away from standard combustion engines, the options and accessibility of electric vehicles are expected to expand significantly in the coming years, according to Larry Weymouth, one of the event’s organizers.

In the fight against climate change, Weymouth said, the transportation sector of the economy is a key target because it generates more than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.

“As people switch to electric cars, there will be a huge change in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Weymouth said the event came on the back of a nationwide campaign to promote electric vehicles known as Drive Electric Earth Day. It also grew out of a grassroots community effort by the Corvallis Alliance for Sustainability: local home parties at which electric car owners take turns hosting and talking about their experiences, offering drive and ride experiences.

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Before meeting at the fairgrounds, there was an electric car road rally and scavenger hunt for 30 miles around town. Drivers and navigators searched for clues to answer 50 questions. There were prizes for best score, best time and best distance.

There were many brands and models of electric cars on hand as well as electric bikes, with owners and dealers sharing their experiences and ideas about future transportation. The event was sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Alliance Transportation Task Force and was held on Saturday afternoon at the Benton County Fairgrounds parking lot.

One of the most impressive models on display was the rare Tesla Roadster, of which only 1,500 were built for the American market, according to Corvallis owner Mark Leroux. He said he’s the only one in Oregon and the only one in the country still used as a daily driver. Leroux acquired it in 2014 after a long wait.

After seeing the 2006 movie Who Killed the Electric Car, a documentary about the electric car and the role of renewable energy and sustainable living, Leroux really wanted an electric car. He felt that they could do everything a gas-powered car could do but better and simpler.

“My dad was a mechanic, I went to college to be a mechanic, and I never want to do anything with a gasoline car again,” he said.

Given that, Leroux saw the Tesla Roadster as the next best thing in the near future. With the release scheduled for 2008, there was time to save, and open a savings account for just that car. It took years to get close to $50,000, but patience paid off, as he says the car is now worth $120,000.

“You can go from zero to 60 mph in a few seconds,” he said. “It’s horrible a lot of fun.”

Some of the backtracking on electric cars has been about the price. Investing in one usually costs more than the average cost of a car. But Leroux said the price isn’t much more than that in many cases, and the savings down the road from much less maintenance and no gas makes it a smart proposition.

“I just plug in the device as if you were doing anything else in your house,” Leroux said. “This car costs me about 80 cents a day to ship. If I drive to Portland and come back, it costs me about $3 or $4. That is.”

Cody Man covers Benton County and the cities of Corvallis and Philomath. He can be contacted at 541-812-6113 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter via News_Mann_.

“I just plug it in like you would anything else in your house.” Mark Leroux, owner of Tesla

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