Auto manufacturers built electric vehicles in the 1990s. They leased these cars but would not sell them. When the leases expired, the car companies didn’t give their extremely satisfied electric car drivers an option to buy. Instead, they towed the cars away and crushed them. Then they shut down production, claiming there was no demand for the vehicles.
No demand! We’re talking vehicles that don’t use gas, pollute the environment, or require costly maintenance. Plus, their operating range is sufficient for 90 percent of the commuters in this country.
A few of the electric vehicles survived and one is being driven by Forest Parker Howard Hansen.
Hansen provided me with the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?, the gist of which I summarized for you. It’s as chilling and suspenseful as any slasher film and identifies several murder suspects, including the oil companies, auto parts manufacturers and the government.
Hansen’s Ford Ranger had only 12,000 miles on it, when he bought it in 2007. The previous owner had replaced its 39 eight-volt batteries with 26 of the 12-volt kind. Hansen added a new charger and popped on a fresh set of tires.
The only problem with Hansen’s Ranger is, well, its lack of range. Shortly after Hansen bought it, the truck’s operating distance shrunk to 20 miles. This allows for local errands and for Hansen to drive it to meetings of the Fox Valley Electric Auto Association. The meetings are held exactly 20 miles away in Naperville where he recharges his truck for the drive back to Forest Park.
Hansen is an environmentalist and has the solar panels on his roof to prove it. He’s a great champion of the electric vehicle and is as disgusted as anyone that car companies cannibalized their own cars to keep them from becoming popular with the public.
Right now, Hansen is fighting his own electric vehicle battle with the government. Illinois encourages electric vehicle ownership by discounting the registration fee from $78 to $18. However, due to an outdated law, the state won’t allow Hansen to get his discount. The law says that only “first division” vehicles are eligible and Hansen’s truck is second division.
I spoke to Henry Haupp at the Secretary of State’s office and he said that when the law was written, no one could foresee a vehicle as large as Hansen’s being powered by batteries. Haupp’s colleague, Ernie Dannenberger, suggested the law be rewritten to accommodate all electric vehicles.
State Rep. Karen Yarbrough concurred. She said she would introduce a bill changing the vehicle code so that environmentalists like Hansen can pay the lower fee.
So, someday you might see Hansen, with his new electric vehicle license plate, tooling down the streets of Forest Park. You’ll be able to tell it’s him because electric vehicles whisper along, making hardly any noise.