The Electric Car Is Alive And Kinda Well In Houston

The electric car is making its way to Houston, and we're not talking about gas-guzzling, 45 miles per gallon hybrids. We're talking plug-in-the-wall, no-gas-required electric cars. Since the start of summer, two dealerships have started selling the cars in the city: Houston Electric Cars, which sells the Zenn, and Apollo Scooters, which sells the Zap! (Their exclamation point, not ours.)

Dale Brooks, president of the Houston Electric Auto Association, recently bought a Zenn, though he's still waiting for delivery, to upgrade from his 1970s era Electrica 007. He's had few problems with the 007, and Brooks said he's driven it for the last 29 years. He just wanted something new. "Electric cars don't rattle to pieces," Brooks said.

The auto association met on Thursday night, and Brooks and William Swann, who has an electric Geo Metro, had their cars on display. Swann's Metro was converted from gas, and the Electric Auto Association focused on conversions for years because factory electrics weren't available. Swann is teaching a class on August 27 on how to convert a car into electric.

Some of the electric car guys have a bit of conspiracy theorist in their talk, and General Motors might as well be Nazi Germany for its role in killing the electric car. "GM said nobody wanted the EV1…but it was the best car I've ever driven in my life," says Ben Chamberlain, a member of the auto association.

If you're interested in more information about electric cars, check out the Houston Electric Auto Association's Web site. The club meets the third Thursday of every month.

-- Paul Knight

Photo by Paul Knight

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Paul Knight
Contact: Paul Knight