by Lisa Tome
In 1978, Stan Michalski saw a photo of an electric car in a magazine.
He decided right then that he was going to buy one.
"I said I was going to buy one and then I found out you couldn't get one. And it did not even work. The battery technology was not at a point that it would work," he said.
Fast forward to 2012 and Michalski bought his dream car, the all electric Nissan Leaf.
But between then and now, he also built an electric car of his own.
He took a 1966 Volkswagen, disassembled it, and removed all the parts that were powered by gasoline. He and an engineer friend then rebuilt it. It took more than one motor and two and a half years to complete it. But it was a success. It would travel at 50 miles per hour and go 50 miles on a single charge.
"It wasn't a hobby. It became a passion. I drove it to work everyday and it was on the Channel 13 news," he said. "For a week and a half or two weeks, I was like royalty. The car was put on display at the Baltimore Convention Center."
But he sold the car for $500 because he needed the money to build his house.
Michalski, may have had some on the job influence. He is retired from his job as an engineer at Delmarva Power. He is also past president of the now defunct Electric Car Society of Baltimore.
"I am like Mr. electric everything. I am a big proponent for using electricity in our lives. Gasoline is not a renewable resource. To charge an electric car you can use anything - wind, solar, hydro," he said. "An electric car is clean and quiet. They last a long time because of fewer moving parts. A gasoline engine has more than 500 moving parts."
He bought his Nissan Leaf two years ago. And loves it.
"What it really is, is a miracle. I think it is a miracle that they brought it to market," he said. He said as far as he knows, there are 14 or 15 other Leaf owners in the county. There are about 10 charging stations in Cecil, most of them are privately owned.
Owning an electric car means that there is more planning required when taking a trip. The car provides the driver with charging station locations. Drivers receive a "charging point" card that is similar to a store bonus card.
"It makes you feel good when you drive it. It feels like there's a rocket strapped to your car," he said.
He said there are so many advantages to owning an electric car. He "fuels" up at home, he can drive 60 miles for $1.80-$2 charging fee, there are also state and federal tax credits. With those credits, the car, which is a four door, costs less than $18,000.
He has other means of transportation - a diesel pick up truck which he uses for hauling and towing his boat. He also has a Honda hybrid.
"How many people have died for a gallon of gas?," he said. "If 15-20 percent of people would drive electric cars, the price would go way down."
He currently works in Oxford, Pa. and can drive back and forth to his job four times on a charge. He said he has been stuck only once in his Leaf. And that was due to a flooded roadway, not due to lack of power. The electric car also can't be driven it the temperature falls below 10 degrees.
"I'm glad I got to see this and experience it before I died," he said.
He said that because it makes no sound when it is being driven, about one in five people ask about it. "Most people look at it and know something is different. I need a bumper sticker that says 'Just so you know, you're behind an electric car".
Michalski, who lives near Calvert, will discuss electric car technology and the advantages of owning an electric car at the Rising Sun Branch Library. That presentation will be held on Wednesday, October 8 at 6:30 p.m. The program is free and open to all. There will be a display of electric cars. Register by calling 410-658-4025.