CHAMPION - Greg and Bill's Excellent Adventure brought a Chevrolet Volt electric car and a message Thursday to local Delphi Packard and a union joint training facility: Electric cars have power, both on the highway and in the auto industry.
"I had to pass a truck on a two-lane road and it was no problem. The torque is there. The acceleration is tremendous," said Greg Kuss, the driver for the Green Energy Ohio Tour del Sol trek that started Monday in Columbus and included Cincinnati and Toledo before coming to Champion and ending in Cleveland.
He noted the Volt will go 70 to 80 mph with no problem, and can reach 100 mph.
Kuss took the journey with Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, giving rise to the movie inspired "Excellent Adventure" nickname.
For tour sponsor Delphi Packard, the electric vehicle market means growth for electrical wiring harnesses and components the auto parts division produces.
"The typical car has about one mile of electrical cable; electric vehicles generally have 1 1/2 miles. This is significant growth," said Randy Sumner, Delphi's global director of hybrid and EV business and technology development.
The Volt's thick orange colored wiring harness wasn't made at Delphi Packard, but the parts maker did supply high-voltage connectors for the harness, Sumner said. Some of them were molded at its Vienna plastic injection molding plant and were designed and developed at Delphi's 300 worker technical center in Champion, he noted.
Delphi developed the plug-in charger used to "fuel up" the Volt with electricity. It also is developing a wireless charging mat that allows drivers to pull their electric vehicle over it to be charged without having to plug it in.
The mat, which Sumner said is about three years from being marketed, will cost about $3,000 and be able to charge a vehicle in four hours, the same as a Level 2 charging station that delivers 220 volts and costs $1,500.
Level 2 charging stations can fully charge an electric car in six to eight hours, while the 110 volt charger that comes with the Volt needs 10 to 12 hours.
Kuss, who is chief executive of solar power company SolarVision, said one goal is to use electricity that's generated by sun, wind and other renewable sources instead of coal-produce electricity. He estimated about 60 percent of his power is solar-generated because he has solar panels at work.
He said he's averaged about 167 miles per gallon because he's used only 80 gallons of gasoline for the 13,545 miles he's driven the Volt in almost a year.
The high voltage equipment, plus growth in wind turbine and other renewable power sources, requires special skills from installers and repair workers, something International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 573 is working on.
The local's training center across the street from the Delphi technical center has 25 apprentices training to handle the work, said Eric Davis, training director for the Warren Joint Apprenticeship Training Center.
Workers installed a Level 2 charging station in the parking lot to provide hands-on experience.
Spratley acknowledged widespread acceptance of electric vehicles will take time, largely because of the hefty price tag of $40,000 for the Volt. A federal tax subsidy of $7,500 defrays some of the cost, but lack of charging stations also is a challenge.
A price in the mid-$30,000 would encourage more sales, he said.