Fargo man to sell Chinese electric carsMike Clevenger admits the poor public perception of electric cars is too often too true. The small, bubble-shaped vehicles often seen crawling around college campuses and airports are “more like a golf cart” than an actual vehicle, the former electric vehicle executive said.
By: By Erik Burgess , Forum Communications , The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — Mike Clevenger admits the poor public perception of electric cars is too often too true.
The small, bubble-shaped vehicles often seen crawling around college campuses and airports are “more like a golf cart” than an actual vehicle, the former electric vehicle executive said.
Global Electric Motorcars — the Fargo company that sold many of these golf cart-like electric vehicles locally — moved out of the area in 2011 when they were purchased by Polaris, he said.
Now Clevenger, who worked at Global Electric for five years and also owns O’Kelly’s Restaurant at 3800 Main Ave., hopes to pick up the pieces left behind by his former company.
The Fargo man recently received three Chinese electric car models as a part of a deal he struck with a Chinese company called Sunrise. He plans on having up to 5,000 of the cars built for him annually, which he tops to then sell to dealers across the states.
“I do believe that the timing is right for electric and alternative power vehicles,” he said. “These are very, very, very nice compared to the GEM cars we were selling in the past.”
The difference between these new vehicles — which cost anywhere from $12,000 to $15,000 depending on size and options — and Global Electric’s cars is the overall safety of the vehicle and their available features, Clevenger said.
“If you’re familiar with the GEM car, you had absolutely no side-impact protection whatsoever,” he said.
The new steel-framed vehicle is “a step up” from previous plastic-framed models, said Al McDougall, who worked at Global Electric Motorcars for 13 years as the district sales manager.
“The GEM car was a glorified golf cart. Very well made, high quality, but that’s the perception people have of the GEM car,” McDougall said. “This (Sunrise vehicle) won’t have that perception. They’ll see this as a true automobile.”
With features such as air bags, glass windows that can be rolled up or down and side-impact protection, the two said the new vehicle will give owners confidence to drive it out on the streets.
“Safety’s a huge issue, especially when you have a family,” McDougall said.
The Sunrise cars are considered “neighborhood electric vehicles,” Clevenger said, meaning they are street legal but top out at around 35 mph.
Fully charged, they last around 8 hours, can travel 40 to 50 miles and can be charged by plugging into a standard outlet.
“It costs 2 cents a mile to run them,” Clevenger said.
Clevenger will soon be selling the vehicles to dealers nationwide through his Fargo-based company Electric Vehicles Unlimited, which began selling European electric vehicles in 2007.
Erik Burgess is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.