The first thing you do when you get into a car is reach for the ignition. In this plug-in electric vehicle, there was nowhere to put the key.
“Put your foot on the brake and press this blue button,” the man in the purple golf shirt indicated.
The lights came on. The white “extended range electric vehicle” (E-REV) woke up.
“Now shift the gear stick to D so you can drive. Are you going to be okay?”
“Yes,” I nodded. Was that all the instruction I was going to get?
With that, he and his colleague waved goodbye and left on a jet plane.
I was late for my first social media users group (#MauiSMUG) meeting in Kihei. I would not have registered to attend this 4 pm meeting if I had not been “given” this Chevy Volt to try for a few days. I needed a car to pick up my guests and drive to the West Side. I did not want to drive my own car — an unreliable gas guzzler. It had to be an electric car, I decided.
The Chevy Volt did not make any noise as I cruised around Kahului Airport to find my way to Dairy Road and onwards to the South. At 4:15 pm, I still had a chance to arrive not too late.
The brightly lit “fuel gauge” showed that the power had gone to zero on the left hand side but there was still 226 miles on the right hand side. I had deliberately chosen a Volt for the action-packed day because I knew that we would not have the time to charge the zero emission Nissan Leaf. There was too much uncertainty about the exact schedule for the day, the people we were meeting, and the locations of the site surveys for charging stations.
The Volt speedometer showed that I was going faster than I felt I was going. How could I be going 50 miles per hour when it seemed effortlessly slower? Was it my imagination? Did I not read it right? Or was it measuring something else?
At the Maui SMUG meeting, I felt comfortable and inconspicuous opening my iPad, checking my e-mails and tweeting while listening to the speakers talk about a variety of social media hot topics. Everybody else was typing away and multi-tasking. I sent out a couple of e-mails, baiting my colleagues and contacts in Kihei. “Does anyone want to have dinner with me and check out my new toy?” I nearly invited a musician to join me in my quest for emergency electric juice for the Volt.
I did not want to go home on gasoline. Where could I get the car charged? I had to get to the place where it all began.
On 9th March 2012, I witnessed the Hawaiian blessing of a new charging station at Kihei Foodland, right between Cuatro and Sansei Restaurants. I had discovered the station while having dinner at Cuatro a month earlier.
People showed up an hour before the “Drive Electric Maui” event and stayed an hour after it ended, signing up for test drives in electric cars brought by owners and renters — the largest gathering of electric vehicles (EVs) on the island. If an auto dealer had been present, he would have sold a dozen EVs.
The 5th Episode of Maui EVA TV airs on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th July at 5 and 11 pm HST on Channel 55 and simultaneously LIVE STREAMING on UHMC MCTV via desk-top computer and Internet. Find out how you can pay just $18 per month for all your energy needs on Maui.