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04) 10/07/2011 Reflections on EVCCON

I was privileged to attend the first Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention September 21-24, 2011 in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Sponsored by Jack Rickard of EVTV.ME and largely organized by his "compadre and consigliere", Brian Noto, this conference brought together 150 like-minded electric vehicle builders from around the globe. Twenty five of us brought our converted cars, my e-Bugeye among them.

There were sessions with industry leaders, and it was a real pleasure to meet some of the folks I've corresponded with and who have been so helpful to me; Sebastien Bourgeois of Evnetics and Rebirth Auto, Bill Ritchie of HPEVs, Jeffrey Jenkins of Evnetics, and the guys from RechargeCar. Even more fun was connecting with the other attendees and learning that although we were from all over the US, Europe, or New Zealand, largely working alone, we had so much in common. Likable fellows to a man and relationships that will last. The information was intense, the food fantastic, and the fun beyond my wildest expectations.

I set out on Tuesday with e-Bugeye tagging along on a rented trailer behind a rental 3/4 ton pickup. A friend commented on the irony of towing my zero-emission gas-free vehicle with a soot-belching diesel at $100 per tank of fossil fuel. We arrived in time for the welcome reception open house at the EVTV Motor Verks garage.

Arriving at the airport where the conference sessions were held in Jack Rickard's aircraft hanger (he has two DC3's and a helicopter) we parked in good company. The first day's climax was a preview screening of Chris Paine's new documentary, Revenge of the Electric Car, introduced by Chris Paine himself. It was a fascinating follow-on to his earlier documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car? and much more up-beat and optimistic. Please go see it when it's released in your area.

Revenge of the Electric Car

Since I had finished e-Bugeye scant days before leaving for the conference, I wasn't real sure just what I had in terms of range, so just to be safe, I spent some time in the EVTV garage sipping electrons from the Fire Chief charging station. It was a real honor to share the space with some of Jack's cars. Many thanks to Jack and Brian for graciously allowing me to use their facilities.

The second day of the conference featured more great presentations, but the highlight was the chance to play with our cars out back. The airport had been transformed into a Drag Strip and AutoCross track and we had the time of our lives running our creations and living out some of our fantasies.

E-Bugeye on the Drag Strip

Thanks to Pete McWade for the Drag Strip Video

Photo by Duane Lindsey

The SCCA set up and ran the Autocross. Here's April, the SCCA Autocross Goddess, showing me around the course in the e-Bugeye. The moral of that story is if you can't be fast, at least you should be stylish! Here's a link to all the great videos of the event: 

The last day dawned bleak and rainy, but it cleared just in time for the car show and parade, evidence of divine providence on the electric car converters. As the sun smiled down, we showed our cars to a very interested crowd of local people numbering over five hundred who came out to see what all the fuss was about.

The parade was a special moment as well. We lined up behind police escort and made our way through the main streets of Cape Girardeau at low speed. It must have been quite a sight to have all the cars passing by in silence, powered by the smiles of the drivers and riders.

Electric Vehicle Parade

Thanks to Brandon Hollinger for the Parade Video

After the parade, the cars were assembled for a group photo.

Photo by Duane Lindsey

I overheard a comment as the cars were jockeying into position that "We are seeing history in the making."

Photo by Duane Lindsey

The closing Banquet was held after the parade and with magnificent food and wine, Brian and Jack announced the winners of the various car show and race categories as well as the winner of the Build Your Dream contest, Brandon Hollinger. Truth is we were all winners for having been there. I signed up for next year's conference on the spot and can't wait to see many new friends again.