CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Dozens of electric vehicles with potential buyers at the wheel moved slowly and carefully around a section of Koka Booth Amphitheatre's parking lot Sunday. It wasn't a theatrical performance, but an opportunity for curious people to see, touch, and drive EVs after recent ads from the Leith Automotive Group urged people to get up close and personal with the rolling technology.
Vanessa Scott had plenty of questions for a BMW representative as she inspected one of the company's EVs.
"Well, I want to find out more about the dynamics and the technology and the interior and exterior of the vehicle in terms of the functions, how it works, the difference between gasoline versus EVs," she said. "I learned with this BMW, you can't open the hood. So that diminishes the mindset of you don't need an oil change, you don't need a transmission, you don't need those mechanics that make the vehicle work. So stuff like that to me contributes to why the price is what it is, and why technology is advancing. So I just came out to check out the vehicle, test drive it, look inside to just see what I'm missing."
Most of the people checking out the EVs knew that they don't run on internal combustion engines, referred to as ICE in many online forums and critical writeups.
"And you never have to stop for gas," said Danny Williams of the Leith Automotive Group. "You do have to charge it. But, you know, I've been driving one. It's great. I'll come home at night, I'll plug it up, I'll get up the next morning. I go weeks before I stop at a gas station. Only reason I stop is because I'm thirsty."
While many current EV owners like Williams prefer to plug in their EVs at home and using a standard outlet is an option, it takes much longer than using what's known as a Level 2 charger. Those are sold separately, require installation by a licensed electrician, and depending upon their location at a home, can significantly increase the cost of owning an EV.
Some people wonder if it's risky to take long road trips in an EV. Williams says that shouldn't be a problem with today's onboard tech.
"For all the cars here, there's an icon on the dash. It'll tell you where the charger networks are, where there's an app you can put on your phone...You know, most of the cars here are going to have anywhere from a 240 to probably 340-mile range, which should be sufficient for most driving now," he said. "The beauty of where we live or 2 hours to the coast and 2 hours to the mountains."
"So you've got plenty of range to get there and it's just a matter of a little more planning to know where you can charge it and where you can't. Most hotels now have some chargers in. I mean, it's getting more and more popular to have chargers."
Duke Energy does offer rebates for some of those costs when owners notify the utility. Public charging stations, while available, are not as widely available as traditional gas stations used by ICE cars.
For those reasons and more, Scott said "I just want to know the pluses and the minuses of it all. But I'm interested in looking at all of them."
Full disclosure: Mustang Mach-E is my current EV. After a 2021 test drive in a very quiet model at a Ford dealer and a purchase last October, it's a pleasure to drive. But it provided a real reality check when the bill for registration came. That was much higher than most people would pay for a car that's fueled by gasoline.
Online research revealed one reason: EVs have batteries that make the vehicles heavier than ICE cars that travel along local, state, and regional roads as well as interstates.
"So they do charge a little bit more tax because they're not getting the fuel tax," said Williams, "a little bit more of a highway use tax on them. Not a lot but a little bit more. You know the government has a lot of incentives to buy one depending upon the make of a car."
Those are reasons and reminders to do your own research before making a decision to buy an EV.
"Because I do look at it as my next investment in a vehicle," Scott said.