Electric vehicle donation sparks interest
December 8, 2017 Wren Propp
[images / WREN PROPP/Monitor
Tony Tomei, left, explains his electric vehicle to students of the EV crew –
a class studying the vehicles – at Los Alamos High School on Wednesday. From
left, Tomei, Kurt Michael Benner, Ryan Swart and Graem Taylor
Tony Tomei converted a 1983 Honda Civic station wagon into an electronic
The electric vehicle “crew” – seven advanced auto shop students at Los
Alamos High School – assembled in the dry cold of Wednesday morning outside
the classroom/shop building.
[image] Auto shop students, members of the EV crew, talk with Tony Tomei in
the auto shop building Wednesday following Tomei’s donation of an electric
vehicle he modified from a 1983 Honda Civic station wagon. From left, Kurt
Michael Benner, Cameron Harlow, Colin Hehlen, Ryan Swart, Andrei Popa-Simil
They were going to take their first look at the innards of Tony Tomei’s
converted Honda Civic station wagon.
Tomei had decided more than a year ago that his hand-assembled electric
vehicle, or EV, a masterpiece of simplicity and silence, needed a home where
it would do the most good.
What better good than educating the future?
Still, there’s a little bit of a feeling of loss, he said.
“I’m a little sad. It’s been a lot of work and a lot of love. I’ve used it
to promote the use of electric vehicles,” he said.
Tomei’s neighbor, LAHS auto shop teacher Scott Pomeroy was one of those with
access to students. Tomei also considered the University of New Mexico-Los
Alamos and Santa Fe Community College, he said.
A long-time proponent of the EV movement, Tomei said he hoped to pass on the
knowledge he had acquired in the ways a four-wheel vehicle powered by
electricity by way of rechargeable batteries is different than one powered
by gasoline from fossil fuels.
The rise of EVs – advancing technology of batteries and lower costs – is the
one bright spot in what he sees as today’s fraught political climate, Tomei
said, before talking to the students.
“It’s blossomed and I think it will get better in 2018,” he said.
For more than an hour Wednesday, Tomei fielded questions, explained details,
and gave the seven students, and teacher Pomeroy, some hands-on knowledge.
The students said they hope to learn more from Tomei’s Honda in order to
convert a donated, small race-style vehicle into an electric-powered one.
He suggested that his EV is like a “Model T.”
It will provide tangible information for them, said student Colin Hehlen.
“Ninety percent of the vehicles in the future will be electric,” said Hehlen
Taylor explained that students in the auto shop had built an EV scooter,
which is still there for students to study and adapt.
Kurt Michael Benner and other members of the crew asked Tomei questions to
delve into the nuts and bolts of electric propulsion.
“Torque is going to be tough,” Benner said.
Driven by challenges in building robots, Andrei Popa-Simil said he’d like to
learn about how to make electric-driven engines go faster.
Tomei took the students on a tour of the vehicle, starting with an
explanation of the batteries under the hood, all the way to the little
station wagon’s back end, also with batteries.
He explained that when driving an electric car, drivers should rarely pass
up a charging station. That led to some hands-on understanding of the
batteries he installed in the Honda – and advances from battery developers
are dropping the costs of electric-car batteries and improving the length of
“Make sure you plug her in,” Tomei told Pomeroy after they had wrapped up
Before Wednesday’s meeting, Tomei explained that creation of electricity
used to power an EV, such as charging a battery, pollutes 50 percent less
than the gasoline used to power a traditional vehicle.
The system that makes EVs go feature far fewer parts than traditional
vehicles – compare less than 10 to 4,000-plus, he said.
Asked if they had been in electric vehicles, few of the students said “yes.”
So, one of the Wednesday’s strongest lessons may have occurred during their
first EV car ride.
Their expressions of surprise – and excitement – helped assure Tomei that he
had done the right thing.
They were wide-eyed, he said, as he drove the car – with no engine sound or
rumble, and shifted gears without a clutch
“They said `it’s not supposed to be like this.’”
“I said `this is exactly how it’s supposed to be.’”
[© 2017 Los Alamos Monitor]
POMEROY, G. SCOTT, TECHNICAL ED, HIGH SCHOOL, s.pome...@laschools.net
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