Hamden Library Podcast

It's Electric ... Vehicles, That Is!

February 07, 2022 Hamden Public Library Season 1 Episode 5
Hamden Library Podcast
It's Electric ... Vehicles, That Is!
Show Notes Transcript

Hamden EV enthusiast Robert Langdon takes us on a ride into the future with an interview all about electric vehicles. Alyssa accidentally reads an historical fiction novel ("Bitter Greens" by Kate Forsyth) and Michael Pierry enthuses about revisionist historical tome "The Dawn of Everything" (David Graeber and David Wengrow). Plus: Mike Wheatley takes us on a tour of cinematic portrayals of futuristic cars. This is a good one!

Michael Pierry  0:08 
Hello and welcome to the Hamden Library Podcast. I'm your host, Michael Pierry, and with me as always, is my cohost, Alyssa Bussard.

Alyssa Bussard  0:16 
Hello.

Michael Pierry  0:17 
Electric vehicles are an important component of transitioning to a greener economy. On today's episode podcast team member Ryan Keeler interviews Bob Langdon, a member of Hamden's committee on technology, and an enthusiastic proponent of EVs. We'll also have book recommendations from Alyssa and myself and Mike Wheatley's movie recommendation. But first, here's what's coming up in the library.

If you're listening to this episode on the day it comes out, which is Monday, February 7, both Miller Library and Brundage Community Branch library have Grab and Go children's activities available to pick up. Miller has two activities. One is called lovebug magnets, and is designed for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade. The other is a Valentine snake, and is for preschoolers from ages three to five. Those are both available first come first serve, while supplies last at Miller. At Brundage, their grab and go craft is Valentine bookmarks, and is recommended for ages three to eight. Those bags are available through the 24th while supplies last.

On Tuesday, February 15, the Ubuntu storytellers group presents a program entitled "Ase: Our Stories, Ourselves: Personal Narrative Stories". The stories will be performed by multiple tellers who will engage you in a slice of their life. This program is sponsored by the Friends of the Hamden Library and the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven. It takes place at 7pm on Zoom. For more information and to register, check out our website hamdenlibrary.org or call the Information Desk at 203-287-2680.

On Tuesday, February 22 At 6:30pm The library hosts a program presented by Kim Larkin, "Come to Your Senses: Aromatherapy 101". Again, check out our website for details and to register. This program will take place on Zoom.

On Monday the 28th at 6:30pm, we have two programs going on at the same time. For adults, we have our virtual book discussion on Zoom hosted by reference librarian Pam Ross. This month's selection is "The Beauty In Breaking" by Michelle Harper, which chronicles her life as an emergency room physician through the lens of the patients she has treated. At the same time, we have a children's program also on Zoom: In The Kitchen with Mrs. Paula. This time, she'll be making cherry chocolate chip cookies. You can find more information about both programs, including an ingredient list for those cookies on our website, Hamdenlibrary.org. Just click on programs. And that's what's going on at the library.

Alyssa Bussard  3:04 
Okay, so I actually kind of have a lot to talk about today. I read a really cool book, and it was one of those things where I had this book on my shelf for a long time, and someone recommended it to me and I kind of forgot what it was about. Which I like because I often like to go into books and know just kind of, you know, the gist of what's happening and not know anything deeper because I don't really like spoilers. So anyway, I read "Bitter Greens" by Kate Forsyth, and it was kind of pegged as a retelling of "Rapunzel", which I loved, but what I didn't know is that it was also a historical fiction novel. So I'm pretty much halfway through this novel and I'm reading and I'm realizing half of these people I've heard of, so this must be historical fiction. So then, of course, I went back and looked and it was indeed historical fiction. So it was very cool.

So what it had in it was a lot of different elements. It was a very fairytale-esque novel. But again, it was also historical fiction. So I loved the fact that I was able to read about, you know, real people, and then I always go and research them. So we had a few main characters in this novel: Margherita, Charlotte-Rose de La Force, and then Selena Leonelli. So Charlotte-Rose is the only one of those characters who is actually someone from history and in reading about her I was so amazed to hear all the things that she accomplished in her life.

Charlotte-Rose was a person of the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV, and as was the norm back then, when any women kind of got out of line, or let's say had too many affairs or anything like that, they got sent to a convent. So she was sent to a convent and the story begins with her going there, and everything that kind of happens. After that she's very anxious being there, you know, she's used to being in this bright, wonderful, you know, court, castle or whatever you want to call it, and she is now surrounded by just dark walls, and it's just very dreary for her. They make her cut her hair and everything. What happens in history is that she starts writing these secret histories of famous people at court regarding their affairs--and that word can mean a few different things there--and in time, she's actually able to leave the convent due to her writing in a way, and she's still kind of exiled from court.

But anyway, what I'm trying to get at is that with her writing, she actually participated in the 17th century conte de fées, which is fairytales of the time. So there's like this huge surge of fairytales being written, and one of the most famous writers of this time is Charles Perrault, who wrote "Cinderella" and "Little Red Riding Hood", and so they wrote, you know, fairy tales, and she kind of got famous from that, and she actually ended up writing a story of Rapunzel.

And her version of "Rapunzel" was the one that the Grimm brothers used in 1812 as their basis to write their story of Rapunzel. So that was awesome to me. I loved reading about that, that was very cool, and then this whole story, like I said, has different characters in it that are different points of view.

So she was kind of like our, you know, our narrator throughout most of it, but we also had Margherita who was sort of our Rapunzel character, and she is, I don't want to give anything away, but she's taken to a tower by, you know, the evil witch. And she escapes, much like the story that you know, and what's great about it is that she, in escaping, she actually meets Giambattista Basile, who is the writer of the original back in the day, the Italian version of "Rapunzel" and in this story, she meets him and he basically tells her, "wow, that was a crazy story. I don't know if anyone would believe it, but let me write it down". So it's kind of cool. It's like a story within a story.

And then we have Selena Leonelli, who is our witch, and I've always had a hard time, you know, with those gray characters. You see someone who's clearly evil, but then you learn their backstory, and it's like, where they came from, and you see all of the evil that had befallen her. So that was interesting, but what was very cool about her is that she, in this story, was the muse of the painter, Titian. So he's from the 16th century, and he's most known for his Madonnas, and it's actually funny, because that's what made me realize I was reading historical fiction.

Michael Pierry  8:14  
[Michael laughs]

Alyssa Bussard  8:14  
I'm reading this, and I'm all of a sudden--she's talking about how she is, you know, posing for these different Madonnas, and I was like, "wait a minute", because I'm like, "Who is this guy", you know? And then I realized, oh, it's Titian, because we know him as Titian. But, you know, he obviously--that's the English name. So it was very cool to see that, and then I went and looked at the paintings, and they were just this beautiful redhead who Selena was in "Bitter Greens", and it was just really great to see that there was this Muse that, of course, isn't real, but who was his muse? You know, so it could have been real.

So anyway, it was three stories weaved into one and I can't give away the ending, but it was beautiful, and Charlotte's ending, it was very cool, because she--literally the story ends with her saying that she's going to write her way out of the convent, and as I said, that's really what happened. So it was really cool, and I just love this author.

I have another story about, from her, rather, and she writes about the Brothers Grimm, and so I can't wait to read that and see how that kind of, you know, works as well. And then in researching the author, I found out that she writes all of these fairytale retellings that are also historical fiction. And I'm so excited because I love fairytales, and I love historical fiction. So one thing I do want to add is that this was for sure, an adult novel. You know, trigger warnings. There is some sexual assault in it, and so you should just be aware of that if you do want to read it, but I do recommend it. It was one of those novels that it feels like it's taking such a short time to read, but also I'm rereading passages over and over. So it actually took me much longer than than usual because the writing was so beautiful. You can really see the atmosphere, and she just really went in depth with the history as well. So I had a great time with that. So "Bitter Greens" by Kate Forsyth, you should for sure read it.

Michael Pierry  10:17  
Wow, that's really interesting. I love stuff like that, where you get sort of a new perspective on stories that you know so well. It's amazing.

Alyssa Bussard  10:27  
Yeah, and the Grimms--you know, "Grimms' Fairytales"--we know are not the originals anyway, and they talk about "Grimm's grimmest" because Disney's definitely not the same as the Grimms' fairytales, right? So it was very cool to see that there were, you know, there was "Rapunzel", and then before that there was Charlotte's, and then before that, you know, there was Basile's, too. So it was; I loved it. And it was such a surprise for me to find that it was historical fiction. So I was so happy to see that, it was just like a nice little addition. So definitely read that one, I think.

Michael Pierry  10:59  
Awesome. Well, it's funny, because my recommendation this month is a history book. It's a revisionist history book, in the true sense of the term. It's called "The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity". And the authors, it's co authored by David Graeber and David Wengrow. They take great pains to let the reader know that they're going to be closely examining a lot of well worn assumptions about humanity's past, and demonstrating that they are really based on little to no evidence, with a particular emphasis on overturning what they see as a sense of inevitability imbued to the course of history by mainstream historians and scholars from other disciplines, such as evolutionary psychology, about the geopolitical and societal structures we find ourselves in today. So for instance, a recent review of the book in The Atlantic was titled "It Didn't Have To Be This Way", and actually, I highly recommend reading that review for a summary of the book's main arguments.

Rather than getting into those, I want to highlight what I think of as one of the book's main strengths, which is the sheer beauty and fascination of the countless details from archaeological finds that they put in there. And this sort of sense of awe and wonder and curiosity it inspires in the reader, at least in me, contemplating the sort of vastness of time across which human beings have lived these incredibly rich and varied lives. It really is a very hopeful book in a way because it shows that, you know, we're not sort of bound to be one type of thing and one type of society. Anyway, um, I wanted to have a, I wanted to just share a couple of examples that I noted while reading. So here's one:

Even as we write, a cave site on the coast of Kenya called Panga ya Saidi is yielding evidence of shell beads and worked pigments stretching back 60,000 years and research on the islands of Borneo and Sulawesi is opening vistas on an unsuspected world of cave art, many thousands of years older than the famous images of Lascaux and Altamira on the other side of Eurasia.

And here's another passage about a place in North America:

In modern day Louisiana, there's a place with the dispiriting name of Poverty Point. Here you can still see the remains of massive earthworks erected by Native Americans around 1600 BC. Archaeologists believe these structures formed a monumental precinct that once extended over 200 hectares flanked by two enormous earthen mounds. To clarify what this means it's worth noting that the first Eurasian cities began as settlements of roughly the same size. People and resources came to Poverty Point from hundreds of miles away, as far north as the Great Lakes. Seen from the air, Poverty Point's standing remains look like some sunken gargantuan amphitheater, a place of crowds and power worthy of any great agrarian civilization. Some of its mounds form enormous figures of birds, inviting the heavens to bear witness to their presence. These traditions can be traced back far beyond Poverty Point itself to around 3500 BC, which is also roughly the time that cities first emerged in Eurasia.

So you get the sense that a lot more things were going on a lot earlier than most of us have learned in our history classes. Just one more quick little excerpt here.

Çayönü Tepesi in the Ergani plain--this is in Turkey--was the site of a large prehistoric settlement. Near the center of the settlements stood a long lived structure that archaeologists call the House of Skulls for the simple reason that it was found to hold the remains of over 450 people, including headless corpses and over 90 crania all crammed into small compartments.

So apart from page after page of tantalizing examples like these, the book does contain a certain amount of full throated diatribes, say, of the sort that history books aren't really usually supposed to have. These can perhaps be attributed to David Graeber, one of the co authors, who was an anthropologist and scholar with decidedly leftist views. For example, he was an important organizer in the Occupy Wall Street movement. However, even if you completely disagree with the author's politics, this book is a breathtaking close examination of the recent archaeological literature that deserves the amount of attention it has been getting. It's kind of a huge tome, but I recommend it wholeheartedly. Just jump in and enjoy the ride. It's, it's really fun.

Alyssa Bussard  15:50  
That's awesome. Something that our listeners might not know is that Michael and I also do a book club. Each weekend, we Zoom together, or FaceTime, whatever, and we talk about different short stories or whatever. We're reading short stories right now at least, and he's been reading this book that he just reviewed, and he has been talking about it for weeks, because we've been talking about when we're going to do our recording. And he's been saying, "I have to get through this book. It's so great", you know, and he's been telling me different things about and it's actually kind of funny. In our friendship, we always talk about how he reads nonfiction and tells me all the cool parts of them and I love that because I learned so much, but I, you know, I just--nonfiction has never really been my genre, for some reason. But yeah, so I've been learning so much as he's been reading it, and it sounds so interesting. And even now just listening to these excerpts. I had no idea about any of that, and, you know, Poverty Point. I've been to Louisiana a few times, and that's very interesting, and then the House of Skulls obviously, that's something that I'm interested in.

Michael Pierry  17:01  
Yeah, I think those date back to like, 8 or 9000 BC, that's something like that.

Alyssa Bussard  17:06  
Yeah, I just find that so interesting, and it's just so intriguing to me, you know, to think about the things that we don't know, so that's amazing.

Michael Pierry  17:16  
Yeah, there's a reason why you - all our copies are out. There's a, there's a waiting list for it, which is unusual for a history book that's, like, nigh on 1000 pages long.

Alyssa Bussard  17:27  
Yeah. So that's actually - well, that's the best thing you can say about it, right, is that all of our copies are checked out, which is why, which is how we know it's so popular.

Michael Pierry  17:36  
Yeah. And now here's Mike Wheatley.

Mechanized voice  17:43  
All systems go Michael.

Mike Wheatley  17:45  
Thank you KITT. That was the voice of KITT. The Knight Industries Two Thousand was a customized 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am that was built for the show "Knight Rider" with David Hasselhoff, which ran for four seasons starting in 1982. It cost -- in today's money -- about 300 grand to build and the nose -- which if you remember the original show Battlestar Galactica, with Lorne Michaels -- looked and sounded similar to the evil robot Cylons' red flashing scanner. Not surprising since Glen Larson produced both. Futuristic vehicles seem to have had a long life in both film and television media, starting with "Metropolis" in 1927, a dystopian silent film masterpiece by German director Fritz Lang, in which the cities have evolved into two classes, the elite above and the struggling workers below. For the cars on his crowded highways that wound around the tall skyscrapers. Lange chose what was then a radical vehicle design, the Rumpler Tropfenwagen. Tropfen is the German word for "drop" as in "waterdrop", and was one of the first aerodynamic streamlined auto designs, which not only predated the Chrysler Airflow, but had aspects which eventually led to Volkswagens.

Our vision of future transportation has always been shaped by product placement concepts created in the minds of artists and engineers of companies like Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota, Honda, Fiat, Chrysler and the rest. These concepts became real on racetracks, and on screens, both big and small.

Does anyone remember the flying cars of the cartoon series The Jetsons in the early 60s? They're still working on it, but in the beginning of "The Fifth Element", a 1997 film with Bruce Willis as a future flying taxi cab driver, there is a great scene that clearly demonstrates some of the problems with multiple vertical traffic lanes in such a future.

A spectacular Audi sports car destined for the big screen was presented to the public for the first time today at the New York International Automobile Show. The futuristic Audi RSQ sports coupé, the most ambitious product placement project ever undertaken by Audi has been created by Audi designed for the epic 20th Century Fox motion picture "I, Robot" due for release in the US on July 16, 2004 and in the UK around a month later. This starring role will be as personal transport for leading actor Will Smith, a homicide detective in the year 2035, during his quest to solve a mystery that could have grave consequences for the human race.

That was a promo from Audi, who spent 10 months designing the Audi RSQ in 2004 for "I, Robot", based on Isaac Asimov's collection of short stories, that introduces the Three Laws of Robotics. For all those Uber and driverless cars of the future, those laws are: first, "a robot may not injure a human being or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm"; second, "a robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the first law and third"; and third, "a robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law". The RSQ sports coupé was the first car to be developed by Audi specifically for a major Hollywood motion picture. It is a visionary interpretation of Audi's typical design language, yet, despite its extreme character, retains features of early 21st century Audi models, including the single frame front grille. At the request of movie director Alex Proyas, the mid-engined sports car races for the Chicago of the future, not on wheels, but on sphere.

in Steven Spielberg's 2002 fascinating and critically acclaimed "Minority Report", an action detective thriller set in Washington, DC in 2054 based on a story by famed science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, "Minority Report", where police utilize a psychic technology to arrest and convict murderers before they commit their crimes. Tom Cruise plays the head of this pre Crime Unit, and is himself accused of the future murder of a man he hasn't met. In it, Tom drives the Lexus 2054, a concept car designed by Harald Belker, which is meant to run on magnetic highways and capable of moving like an elevator up the side of a building.

1993's "Demolition Man", a fun, almost forgotten action film set in the year 2032, with Sly Stallone, a very young Sandra Bullock, and Wesley Snipes predicts driverless cars, iPads and Skype. It's a future where cops have nothing to do because things are going to perfectly. So an evil character played by Snipes wakes up from frozen sleep to be pursued by Stallone, a cop who remembers a more violent and simpler time. His primary mode of transportation in the movie was the 1992 General Motors Ultralite, a 1992 low emission vehicle concept car, intended to demonstrate the benefits of advanced materials and low fuel consumption.

My documentary recommendations for this month are "Who Killed the Electric Car" from 2006 and its follow up documentary "Revenge of the Electric Car", released in 2011, both directed by Chris Payne, that explore the creation, limited commercialization and subsequent destruction of the battery electric vehicle in United States; specifically, the General Motors EV1 of the mid 1990s. The film explores the roles of automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, the federal government of the United States, the California government, batteries, hydrogen vehicles and consumers in limiting the development and adoption of this technology. "The Revenge of the Electric Car" follows four entrepreneurs from 2007 for the end of 2010, as they fight to bring the electric car back to the world market in the midst of 2008's global recession. The film has unprecedented access to cofounder Elon Musk in the first three years of Tesla Motors, during which Musk suffered several grave setbacks in the dream of a car company without gasoline. His foils include the charismatic Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of General Motors during its 2008 bankruptcy, due in part to its focus on trucks and SUVs instead of fuel efficient and electric cars. Elon and Bob also face Carlos Josiane, the CEO credited with saving Renault Nissan from near bankruptcy. A final character, Greg Abbott, makes the case for independent electric car conversions in California. Danny DeVito is also interviewed as an electric car enthusiast and owner of a Chevy Volt and, earlier, GM's ill fated EV1, as well as entrepreneur and Tesla customer Jason Calacanis. Whereas the 2006 film "Who Killed the Electric Car" ended with the destruction of 5000 electric cars, the new film documents the rebirth of a new generation of electric cars.

Alyssa Bussard  26:51  
Ryan Keeler works at Miller Library. He interviewed EV enthusiast Bob Langdon. Let's give a listen.

Ryan Keeler  26:59  
Okay, we are joined by Bob Langdon. Bob and his wife Beva Nall-Langdon have organized four National Drive Electric Week events at Hamden Library. They're Hamden residents, and they've been EV owners for almost five years.

Hi, Bob. How are you today?

Bob Langdon  27:16  
Hi, Ryan, good to be here.

Ryan Keeler  27:18  
It's good to have you. Do you think you could start by explaining the basics of EV technology?

Bob Langdon  27:25  
Okay, yeah, so all EVs -- electric vehicles -- have electric motors providing the power, and the history goes way back over 100 years. The original EVs were actually almost a dominant technology way back then. Now we have much more modern, up to date technology, but the basic power comes from different sources. So the most common EV is a battery electric EV, which means all of the electricity is coming from batteries on board the vehicle. There's also plug in hybrid EVs, where a lot of the driving is done with electricity, but there's also a conventional gas engine as a backup or to extend the range, and then there's also hydrogen vehicles, which are actually EVs, they just get their electricity from what's called a fuel cell. So hydrogen actually is powering the fuel cells, like a chemical reaction producing the electricity, and most of them are -- or they're all really -- plug in vehicles, meaning that you you plug them in in order to charge the battery. The one exception actually would be the hydrogen because you don't really plug those in.

Ryan Keeler  28:51  
Okay, and what is the charging technology and experience like right now.

Bob Langdon  28:56  
So that's a fast moving target, because it's improving rapidly, and the current newest EVs actually have a longer range, so that usually requires a larger battery pack, so many now have ranges of over 300 miles. But there's different levels of charging. Every EV comes with a simple type charger that you just plug into a standard wall outlet, 110 volts. And that's what I did when I got my EV for, actually, about six months. I just charged it that way.

Then there's a higher level called level two which requires the kind of power that an electric clothes dryer would have. So those are 240 volt chargers, and that's what, that's the most common for people to just have in their garage. They can fully charge the car overnight, and the level two is pretty good charging. It'll charge 25 or more miles of driving range per hour of charging. So you can easily have your car fully charged, you know, just by plugging it in for a few hours. And then if you're out driving any great distance, there's a higher level called level three, and if you see Tesla superchargers -- like at the Hamden Mart, I think they have about a dozen in a row -- and those are designed for highway driving. So if you're going, you know, a significant distance, several hundred miles, perhaps, you have to stop and charge.

And the biggest changes, I think, are in the fast charging. So some of the newer vehicles coming out will charge up to 200 miles of range in only about 15 or 20 minutes. So, one extreme example, the new Kia EV6, broke the world record for driving across the United States and it only required a little over seven hours of charge time, just because it charges so fast, to make that entire 3000 mile trip.

Ryan Keeler  30:59  
That's excellent. What are some advantages to owning and operating an EV over a traditional combustion engine?

Bob Langdon  31:07  
One of the big advantages is actually just the cost of driving because electricity, if you're using electricity as your fuel it's actually a lot less expensive than gasoline. So the equivalent would be if you were paying about $1 a gallon for gasoline, and you can, so it's very convenient to always have your car charged every morning. It's great not to have to go to gas stations. Also, the maintenance is much lower with EV. So electric motors have very few moving parts compared to internal combustion engines, so there's not a lot that can go wrong. So you don't need oil changes, the kind of maintenance and even replacing of parts that you have to do with combustion engines is almost totally avoided. So it's much cleaner, also, not to deal with fossil fuels. Electricity is much cleaner. EVs also have some great advantages, just from the driving standpoint that I have, I really noticed, you know, shortly after getting mine,

Ryan Keeler  32:21  
And could you describe your experience as an EV owner?

Bob Langdon  32:25  
Yeah, so I drive a Chevrolet Bolt, which is kind of like a small SUV, and I bought it actually late, I think it was November of 2017. So as I said -- and I was apprehensive, you know, you wonder, gee, what about the range anxiety? You know, can I depend fully on this car -- and within a few days, I was like, totally comfortable. And then the other thing, a lot of people, they think of it as a barrier that they have to get some kind of fancy charging system, you know, right away, but you really don't, as long as you have a drive -- my daily commute is about 35 miles -- and for me, just plugging into a regular wall outlet with the simple level one charging, my car would be fully charged, you know, in about eight hours. So I actually went for about six months doing that, and then, of course, things are much better now with longer ranges and faster charging. But I think the thing I like the best about my EV is just the driving experience.

So EVs tend to have a low center of gravity, because the battery pack is usually down in the chassis area, so it makes really for great handling. One of the great features is the quick acceleration is called "instant torque", where you hit the accelerator and you know, you can easily spin your wheels, so you got to be careful to kind of tone it down. And then there's a phenomenon where you can actually do almost all the driving just using the gas -- the, not the gas pedal, but the accelerator -- because when you take your foot off the accelerator, the car will automatically slow down. So this is called single pedal driving and it really simplifies driving and it's actually safer because you kind of start decelerating immediately if you need to, you know. You're not dependent on, you know, slamming on the brakes. Of course, you still have the brakes and if you really need to slow down fast you can do that but it's fine, actually, to just drive around, you know, with just the single control the accelerator

Ryan Keeler  34:45  
And how's the heating and air conditioning?

Bob Langdon  34:48  
Yeah, so of course you have no, there's no gasoline engine, you know, generating excess heat. So, I find that for my car I also have some extra features like a heated steering wheel, which is actually the most important thing of all. So your hands are actually a major, you know, part of the body surface area and I -- literally, in the winter -- I just turn on the heating of the steering wheel and that literally keeps me warm because I'm wearing a coat. And you can heat the cabin, and you know, that does require an electric heater, and that will drain your battery faster. I just find it's not necessary, and I have heated seats as well. So the number one most important thing is -- believe it or not -- the heated steering wheel. But with that, and if I need the heated seat, I'm fine. So I'm not really draining much of the battery at all, no matter how cold it gets.

Ryan Keeler  35:53  
Okay, so transportation is the number one source of carbon emissions here in Connecticut, and there are other huge health benefits aren't there?

Bob Langdon  36:02  
Yeah, so we haven't really even talked about environmental benefits, but it is, the most important one, of course, is a great reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. So the car itself, an EV has, you know, zero CO2 emissions while driving and it's possible to get all of your electricity from renewable sources. There have been studies also showing that, you know, throughout the country, because grid power is becoming more and more renewable, that there is a very significant reduction in CO2 emissions from driving EVs no matter where you are, and then health benefits are very significant, because the internal combustion engine produces not only carbon dioxide, but also other harmful emissions. So the most significant are nitrous oxides, and these are gases that cause a lot of respiratory problems. So they really exacerbate asthma, for example. And there's a lot of places, for example, in Europe, they've totally banned internal combustion engines, partly because of the noxious emissions of nitrous oxides. Diesel engines also put out some very harmful particulates, kind of like tiny soot particles, and those are also a significant problem for people with respiratory conditions.

Ryan Keeler  37:44  
Most people have heard of Tesla and the Chevy Bolt, but what are some other models people should be aware of?

Bob Langdon  37:52  
So there's really been an explosion of new EVs. Even now there's at least 30 different models of especially cars and SUVs that you can buy in Connecticut and there's a great many new ones coming out, especially this year in 2022. They now have a pickup. There's a company called Rivian that is making a very highly rated electric pickup. That company also is making 1000s of electric delivery vans for Amazon, but the next major one to come along is the Ford F-150 pickup, called the Lightning Model, which is an all-EV pickup, and then Ford already has a Ford Mustang EV, which is an SUV design. There's lots of other new models from especially from Asia. So both Hyundai and Kia have some new models that have very fast charging and long ranges. I think they each have over 300 mile range, and these are the very fast charging where you can get about 200 miles of range in just 15 or 20 minutes of charging. So so just about every auto company is now shifting to EVs. They pretty much stopped, you know any new research on internal combustion technologies, and they're pretty massive budgets into developing EVs, new models.

Ryan Keeler  39:39  
And what are some government policies or subsidies that have helped in the past and could be effective going forward?

Bob Langdon  39:47  
There have for a number of years been tax advantages from the federal government so it's actually a tax credit of up to $7,500 that applies to most EVs. The state of Connecticut actually has a very good program with an acronym CHEAPR, which is an actual rebate. So you get up to $3,000 as a direct rebate, and both of those programs, the federal tax credit and the state rebate, both of those apply not only to - well actually, they apply not only to buying a car, but also to leasing a car. So you get the full benefit if you're leasing, and the Connecticut CHEAPR program actually even has a rebate for buying a used EV, and then there are some newer incentives.

Actually, in Connecticut, just this month, the utilities like UI and Eversource now have rebates that they're giving for people for charging their EVs that applies during the summer months when there's a lot of stress on the grid from air conditioning. And if you charged, you know, not in a very prime time, when there's a lot of pressure on the grid, they're actually going to give you a rebate of up to $200, just for timing your charging.

And then there are new programs also for installing chargers. Here in Connecticut through the utilities, they now have rebates for buying a charger to install in your home, and even for paying for any electrical upgrades that are needed. In addition, it's not just people who have private homes, people that rent for example, a condo or an apartment, they now have new incentives in Connecticut for the owners of the building to install charging. So if you do live in a multi unit dwelling in a condo or an apartment, talk to your the owner of the building because they they should be able to install charging equipment at a much lower cost with that program. Even right now, it's already taken effect.

Ryan Keeler  42:21  
And could you talk a little bit about National Drive Electric Week in Hamden and around Connecticut?

Unknown Speaker  42:29  
Yeah, so we have had the local National Drive Electric Week. This is actually a nationwide program. There are over 200 -- before the pandemic, they were actually over 300 -- live events. The week is held in the fall, it's in late September, early October, and we started -- my wife Beva was really instrumental in planning the local event in Hamden -- they hadn't done it before. And each of our events has been held in the parking lot of the Hamden Miller Library.

Bob Langdon  43:11  
And the best part of the National Drive Electric Week events are the drivers, EV drivers. We've had up to 30 of them at a time who are there with their cars and out there to answer your questions. So instead of getting a sales pitch from a car dealer, it's great to talk to actual owners and you know, ask them what it is like to drive their EV. What what is it like to charge, how do they charge, that sort of thing. We have had car dealers bring new vehicles as well. We usually have test drives so you can actually, right on the spot, do a test drive. So look for that event, because that is in the fall.

Another event that is happening fairly soon is at Quinnipiac. The Quinnipiac University Car Club actually has a car show that is held in the spring. This one will be, I think it's the last Sunday of April, and it's for all vehicles but they they did ask Beva to organize an EV component. So that will be similar to a National Drive Electric Week event, where you can also talk to EV owners, as well as car dealers should be there with some new models.

Michael Pierry  44:48  
Well, I don't know about you, but I totally want an electric car now.

Alyssa Bussard  44:52  
I know. I was listening to the interview when I was driving in my not-EV and there was that part that was talking about, you know, how it's, we know, that's great for the environment to have an EV. But we were talking about the health benefits, right? And so here I am driving in my car, you know, with my asthma cough, and I'm just like listening to Bob say, especially with people with asthma, and I'm just like, "Okay". And so that's only one of the one of the things that I noticed, but I thought it was kind of funny as I was driving into work.

Michael Pierry  45:25  
Yeah, I was amazed. He's just kind of like, "you just kind of like plug it into the wall".

Alyssa Bussard  45:30  
Yeah. So I will be honest and vulnerable and tell you that I knew very little about electric vehicles. 

Michael Pierry  45:38  
Oh, me too, me too. 

Alyssa Bussard  45:39  
Yeah, I thought I knew stuff. You know, I knew like maybe it was more like what I thought it was and because things have changed a lot, and -

Michael Pierry  45:51  
Yeah, so fast.

Alyssa Bussard  45:52  
Yeah, and so I just kind of had an idea in my mind that it was so unattainable to get one, and I feel like Bob really put it in perspective, that it's not unattainable, and also he really put it into terms that I understood. I was really a little bit overwhelmed with just the idea of "how do you plug it in?" And "what if I have to drive farther, you know, today?" or whatever, and it it's, I'm amazed to hear how many miles you can go. I'm amazed to hear how he, for six months he just plugged it into the wall. You know, all of those things and I'm just so I'm happy to hear all of that. And of course I was, you know, I'm going to be buying a new car soon and an electric vehicle wasn't even on the radar at all, and as soon as I heard it heard this interview, I was like, "Oh, no".

Michael Pierry  46:46  
Yeah, it's definitely worth contemplating for sure. Well, that's all we've got for you this month. Please remember to rate and subscribe. And if you really like us, write a nice review. It really helps us get the word out. Next time on the podcast, interviews with unsung heroes: people who help the Hamden community in many different ways

Alyssa Bussard  47:05  
Do you need affordable internet? Are you feeling left behind by technology? Hamden Public Library's Digital Navigators can help. The Digital Navigator program can help you with general computer questions, find affordable internet, search for a job and so much more. They may even be able to help you obtain a free device if you do not have access to technology at home. This is a free service offered to the public. Call 959-261-0689 for more information.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai