Plug in: New class will offer electric alternatives

-A A +A
By Gabriel Vasquez

Thinking about removing gas expenses from your budget and plugging into a new future?

If you’re considering kicking the internal combustion habit and going electric, Tony Tomei has the class for you.

“There is no class like this that I know of offered in New Mexico,” Tomei said. “We want people to know what’s available to them, what options they have – in a price range that they can afford.”

His upcoming class, “Electric Vehicles, Hybrids and Conversions: Their Time Has Come,” will start July 2 at UNM-LA, and is designed for newbies, tech junkies – anyone from housewives to teenagers, he said.

“Think about the environment. Think about your pocketbook,” Tomei said. “There is a plethora of electric vehicle manufacturers that have vehicles on sale now.”

Students in the class will delve into the history of electric cars, from the early crank vehicles that competed with Henry Ford’s Model-T, all the way up to the Tesla roadster, a fully electric sports car that does 0-60 in under four seconds and can travel 220 miles on a single charge.

The class, however, is far more than just a history lesson.

“Everyone will get a chance to get a ride in an electric vehicle, so they get hands-on experience of what it’s like,” Tomei said.

Whether it’s the electric-powered Porsche 914, or the smaller, more limited “neighborhood car” that will be available to students, they will get to see for themselves what it feels like to quietly glide across city streets without releasing a single ounce of carbon dioxide.

“The cost to operate an electric vehicle today has several factors,” Tomei said. “One is high gas prices and how to avoid them. Another is the air pollution aspect of it; for every gallon of gas that you burn you produce 19 pounds of CO2, which is then released into the atmosphere.”

Not only will electric vehicles eliminate carbon pollution, but noise pollution as well, Tomei said.

“There is no vibration or noise from the engine,” Tomei said. “When you come to a stop, it’s a brand new feeling because everything is quiet.”

The class will feature a car-to-car comparison of what electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are, why they are efficient and what their advantage is over the traditional internal combustion engine (ICE).

Tomei will address how to pick the best EV/PHEV vehicle for students depending on their individual needs, including: cost, manufacturer, availability and specifications.

A section on how to convert one’s existing car from ICE to EV, which Tomei says can be done for $5,000-$10,000 in most compact cars, will also be incorporated into the curriculum.

For those not ready to take the plunge, Tomei will also explore options on how to improve mileage in existing ICE cars, such as the addition of low rolling resisting tires and aerodynamic modifications.

The class will be held from 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays, and will run for four weeks.

It is listed under course L417, call number 30289.

Students interested in signing up for the class should contact UNM-LA Student Services at 662-0336.