SALT LAKE CITY — Three years ago, Kaysville resident John Loveless spent hours online watching videos that taught him how to convert his gasoline-powered Geo Metro into an all-electric vehicle.
After working more hours in his garage, he was successfully able to remove his old internal combustion engine and replace it with an electric motor that today powers the car he uses every day to commute back and forth to work and around town for various other errands.
In fact, today his wife drives a Nissan Leaf hatchback, which the family uses to transport their four kids to activities as well as make trips to Costco when the need arises. That vehicle — which they’ve had for more than a year — is also battery powered.
“We don’t own any gas cars,” he said. “We totally went cold turkey off gas.”
After driving traditional gasoline vehicles for years, Loveless said they became disenchanted with the high operating costs and environmental impacts and decided to try an alternative fuel vehicle.
“We were tired of paying high gas prices, and then there was the air pollution,” he explained. “We just thought, 'Let's try it out.'”
After making the conversion, he is now a true believer.
On Tuesday, the Governor’s Office of Energy Development announced the launch of the website www.utahdriveselectric.org aimed at aiding current electric vehicle owners by providing up-to-date information on the increasingly popular technology, as well as educating Utahns about the many benefits of electric vehicles.
The site will also explain how technological advances have brought a variety of vehicles to the market while also facilitating the expansion of charging infrastructure statewide, said Jeffrey Barrett, spokesman for the office.
The website will serve as a “one-stop shop” for information regarding electric vehicles, featuring an interactive charging station map, facts and figures about the benefits of the technology, a buyers’ guide with facts on Utah-available electric vehicles, and a savings calculator that provides information on fuel cost savings, emissions reduction and post-incentive vehicle cost, Barrett said.
“Utah Drives Electric is focused on electric vehicles in particular because of the technology’s unique position at the nexus of the transportation and utility sectors, and because of its potential to positively impact air quality,” explained Laura Nelson, the executive director of the Governor's Office of Energy Development.
“Our comprehensive goal is to promote the shift to a more diverse transportation system, one that includes electric vehicles, natural gas vehicles, alternative liquid fuels, and even public transit and pedestrian infrastructure,” she said.
This year, the department partnered with Nissan, the Utah Clean Air Partnership and other stakeholders to deploy the first publicly available high-voltage charging stations along the Wasatch Front. Next year, the department will join with Utah Valley University and the Utah Clean Air Partnership to install four new charging stations in Orem.
The office will collaborate to expand the deployment of these important technologies, Barrett said. The site is meant to facilitate the private investments that will be truly essential to the diversification of Utah’s transportation sector, he added.
The agency hopes the site will become a community tool powered by community interest and input.
Heiner Fuchs of Sandy purchased a Leaf early this year and said the benefits of driving an electric vehicle far outweigh those of traditional gasoline-powered cars. He hopes the state’s efforts to promote electric vehicle use will be successful.
“Having consolidated information for vehicle owners in one website will actually be useful,” Heiner said.