Charged Up!

WFEC hosts Electric Vehicle Poker Run in celebration of National Drive Electric Week

Charged Up!

Ray Malbrough from Moore purchased his Tesla Model X in December 2017 and now has slightly over 15,000 miles on it. He had a couple of minor problems within a month of purchase, but Tesla sent a technician to his home who fixed the car in Malbrough’s garage. Photo by James Pratt

 

Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC) sponsored the first ever Oklahoma Electric Vehicle Poker Run on a sunny Friday in September in the Oklahoma City metro area. The gathering of cutting-edge automotive technology was replete with Teslas, Chevy Bolts, a Fiat 500, and a Nissan Leaf.

As part of National Drive Electric Week, the event was designed to showcase the expanding electric vehicle market and the infrastructure needed to support it. The poker run took drivers on an 80-mile loop of the Oklahoma City metro area, with stops at various EV infrastructure spots in the area. 

The event began at WFEC’s Moore Office. There participants drew a poker card from a bucket for the start of their poker hand. Hot dogs and refreshments were available; industry executives were there to answer questions and interact with participants.

 


Unlike hybrid vehicles, plug-in electric cars have only one source of power: electricity. Photo by James Pratt 


One of the features offered by Tesla is a large flat-panel display with Google Maps that constantly shows the nearest charging stations within range. Photo by James Pratt 


WFEC staff, Kylah McNabb, manager, commercial & industrial marketing, and Scott Williams, manager, government relations and communications, observe as Angela Hankins, special programs officer, Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), draws a card at the start of the Electric Vehicle Poker Run. After completing the five stops along the EV poker run route, Hankins was the overall winner. Photo by James Pratt 

“We work with businesses to install electric charging stations,” says Matt Ellis with Francis Solar. “We help them with financing, tax credits, and installation. Many businesses are installing EV charging stations to attract customers.”

One such business is the fast-growing convenience store chain OnCue Express. Scott Minton, director of business development, explained that OnCue now has two charging stations in the Oklahoma City metro area— one in Yukon and one at their new Edmond location on I-35 and Waterloo. 

While electric vehicle sales are growing exponentially, there are still hurdles that need to be addressed for wide-scale deployment. One challenge is the variety of plug standards found in EV vehicles. The charging station at OnCue, for example, has two charging “hoses” with different electrical plugs. This is because there are three different plug-in sockets for different makes of cars. The two “hoses” at the OnCue charging station cover most of the current electric vehicles on the market today, with the notable exception of the Tesla. 

“Tesla has their own proprietary charging receptacle,” WFEC Vice President of Member Relations, Mark Faulkenberry, says. “This allows for very fast charging at one of Tesla’s 11,000 Supercharger stations, but Tesla owners will need to use an included adapter to connect their Tesla to a standard EV charging station, which does not charge quite as fast as Tesla’s own Supercharger stations.”

While the charging infrastructure is rapidly growing in the United States, technology also helps EV owners keep their vehicles charged. There are a number of phone apps drivers can use to show the location and distance to public charging stations. And as cars like the Tesla and Bolt expand their driving range, these apps allow drivers to plan their route across country, making sure charging is available along the route.

WFEC’s sponsored Poker Run was designed to highlight EV growth and raise awareness for the challenges—and opportunities—ahead.  And at the end of the poker run, the winner of the $250 gift card was Angela Hankins, special programs officer, Association of Central Oklahoma Governments. OKL Article End