Self-driving cars and a blue Mustang: highlights of an EV first-timer

Editor's note: This blog post is from the viewpoint of Basin Electric Staff Writer/Editor Angela Magstadt describing her first in-person encounter with electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles from several manufacturers were part of the EV Tailgate Party on June 17 at the North Dakota State Capitol.

Walking up to the parking lot of the North Dakota Department of Transportation on the evening of June 17, I saw a red car pulling out of a parking spot. I’d never heard a vehicle that was so quiet. If I wouldn’t have seen it moving, I’d have thought it was turned off. When I looked through the window, I couldn’t see the driver, so I leaned in to take a closer look. There was no driver. Then when it pulled up to a man standing nearby, he got in the car and drove it away.

The red self-driving Tesla.

This car, which I discovered was a Tesla, was part of the EV (electric vehicle) Tailgate Party, my first in-person experience with electric vehicles. The event was hosted by Basin Electric Class C member Capital Electric Cooperative and the North Dakota Department of Transportation and sponsored by Border States Electric, the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Basin Electric, Lignite Energy Council, DriveElectricND, WESCO Distributing, National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), Puklich Chevrolet, and Bismarck Motor Company

After witnessing my first self-driving car, I started to make my way over to take a peek at Basin Electric’s Chevy Bolt. On my way, I noticed the hood of another car open. Since I am no stranger to classic car shows where the hoods are open to reveal big, beefy motors, I moseyed over to take a look at what was under the hood of an electric vehicle. It was different than what I’m used to, but also strangely similar – a big computer-type box was setting where the engine typically was and wires came out of it just like the spark plugs and wires in a gas-powered vehicle.

Under the hood of an electric car at the EV Tailgate Party.

While I was checking that out, a kid on an electric scooter zoomed past me and I turned around just in time to see him laughing as he maneuvered it down the path between the lines of cars.

Turning my head back to the car, I spotted a fleck of blue out of the corner of my eye. This was not just any blue. It was the exact blue that I’ve only ever seen on my husband’s 1967 Ford Mustang. I did a double take and saw it. A brand-new Mustang Mach-E – an electric Mustang. I knew that it wouldn’t make the rumble I’m used to hearing when “old iron” idles or the scream of the motor when you slam on the gas, but knowing that acceleration is instantaneous when you push on the gas of an EV, it was super cool just the same.

The blue Mustang Mach-E cool name, isn't it?

And there weren’t just cars and scooters. There were electric front-end loaders, excavators, lawn mowers, bicycles, golf carts, and if you can believe it, an electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle – the LiveWire.

Those who attended the Tailgate Party were able to visit with owners of electric vehicles. These two men were likely discussing the electric Harley-Davidson LiveWire.
Even electric lawn-care equipment was represented at the event.

If I’m being honest, there were a lot more people there than I thought there would be, so many that the burgers and brats one of the sponsors supplied ran out – twice. Jeremy Woeste, Basin Electric’s member media coordinator (and a guy who knows a heck of a lot about electric vehicles) said a lot of the people he talked to said it was a nice event with good turnout.  

This is the second time the event was held to raise awareness of the availability, capabilities, and benefits of EVs.

Two young attendees snap a selfie on the back of an electric golf cart. 


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