Dixie Transportation Expo
at St. George, Utah

Mark D Larsen

February 7, 2017

Winging It
(Click to enlarge)

A few weeks ago, I received a call from Karen Roundy, who works for the city of St. George. She had seen one of the flyers that I distributed last year to announce our National Drive Electric Week EV'ent in Ivins. Assigned the task of organizing this year’s Dixie Transportation Expo, she wanted to know if I could arrange to have three electric vehicles to display inside the Convention Center at the event. Always happy to promote EVs, I readily agreed to help in any way possible.

I figured that it would prove the most enlightening for attendees to see three different makes and models. I would bring my Nissan LEAF, and contacted Jim Woody, who owns a BMW i3 Rex, and Jim McDermott, who owns a Tesla Model X. They generously agreed to join me with their vehicles at the Expo.

We met at the Convention Center at 8:00 am to drive our cars inside to the Expo area. Because Jim McDermott’s Model X is a comparably large vehicle, the organizer had him park just inside the main doors to the building so that it would be the first display that the public would see when entering the building, as shown in the photo at the top of the page. With its falcon wing doors and whiz-bang features, I'm sure Jim’s Model X was the highlight of the show.

Jim Woody and I were then barely able to shoehorn our EVs through the doors into the main ballroom, and parked them right inside the entrance. As shown below on the left, we were the first participants to arrive so that driving the vehicles into the room wouldn’t get in the way of those setting up the other booths. The organizer had provided a table for us, where I was able to display the posters I had prepared for Earth Day 2016 and provide some Plug-In America handouts and brochures that were left over from NDEW.

Click on either photo to enlarge it:

Because the Expo was on a Tuesday, I didn’t expect to see many people show up. I was wrong! Approximately 880 visitors attended and browsed around the multiple displays, from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm, as shown above on the right. I was surpised and delighted! Many visitors were intrigued by our electric vehicles, and some confessed that they didn't even know plug-in cars were available. We answered questions, touted the benefits of driving electric, and countered the oil’igarchs’ pernicious petrol’ganda. By the end of the day we had talked ourselves hoarse, and were suffering from soar legs and feet. If more residents in this area will now make the transition to EVs, it was all worth it.

The only problem occurred after the Expo was over. To my utter consternation, when I went to start my LEAF... it was “dead.” Apparently, because attendees had been opening and closing the doors, trying out the GPS, stereo system, and other display functions all day long, its five-year old 12V battery no longer had enough juice to initiate the startup routine. To make matters worse, without power it was not even possible to shift my LEAF into neutral to push it out of the building, and a tow truck could never fit through the ballroom doors. Thankfully, the Convention Center had a high-powered, portable 12V battery charger, so I was able to jump start the car and drive it out of the building. I have since replaced the old 12V battery —but that's a different post.

It was fun day, and I really hope St. George invites us back for future Expos.