5 things: National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day, Oct. 17

Friday is the day to stroll around the fountain at Wenatchee Valley College to check out and ride electric, hybrid and high-tech vehicles, during National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day. This photo is from the 2012 event.

WENATCHEE — I’m Blake Murray , a retired automotive technology instructor. I taught for 16 years at Wenatchee Valley College. Before that I worked at Valley Auto Dodge in Wenatchee for 20 years, 17 of them as service manager.

My first degree was in Forestry Technology from Wenatchee Valley College. I’ve always been passionate about the environment.

In 1995 the college partnered with the Port of Chelan County in plug-in electric car projects. We jointly participated in several conferences. The state’s first conversion of a Toyota Prius to a plug-in hybrid was done in the WVC auto shop. Later, with the invaluable assistance of Randy Brooks, a tractor was converted to electric in the WVC auto shop.

Alternative Fuels and hybrid vehicles are now part of the curriculum in the automotive program at WVC.

National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day is a nationwide, biennial celebration conducted to educate the public on the importance of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.

This event is called “Odyssey” because it is a journey toward a clean, secure energy future with reduced dependence on foreign oil and more protection of the environment.

Odyssey was created in 2002 and is coordinated by the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (WVC is a member), a program of West Virginia University.

Friday is WVC’s 4th Odyssey event. Stop by the fountain from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to view, ride in and learn about some of these amazing vehicles from their owners and builders.

Five things to know about this event:

1. This event is held to educate the public on alternative fuels and advanced-technology vehicles. People won’t adopt it if they don’t know about it.

How many people know that 30 percent of the vehicles registered in New York in 1930 were electric? Not many people know that street cars in 1920 were using their electric motors as brakes and putting power back into the grid every time they slowed down.

2. People still think electric cars look funny or are slow. Anyone who has seen or ridden in a Tesla knows better, and they can do both at this event. Electric cars are cool and fast.

3. It’s not just about electric. There are also biodiesel and ethanol, natural gas and propane, and hydrogen and fuel cells. The same solution may not work for everyone but there are choices.

4. When I talk to people about electric they are always concerned about limited range. When they come to this event they will learn that range really isn’t an issue. A few weeks ago I helped bring three, all-electric Nissan Leafs from Bellevue to Wenatchee. With a couple of 15-minute sessions at fast chargers in Sultan and Skykomish we had ample range.

5. This isn’t just a local phenomenon. In 2012 there were events nationwide, as well as in Sweden and France. This year there will also be events in Canada, Mexico and South Africa. Since the first Odyssey event in 2002 more than 760,000 people have attended Odyssey events.