Current club

Electric vehicles now have a support group in Reno

Bob Tregilus shows off his homemade electric motorcycle.

Bob Tregilus shows off his homemade electric motorcycle.

Photo By David Robert

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Bob Tregilus mounts his 1976 Kawasaki KZ 400 motorcycle. He turns the key to fire up the engine, and there’s nothing—no noise, no exhaust, no rumble. Only the instruments light up.

“That’s why it’s dangerous,” Tregilus says. “My friend left his electric bike on in the garage, and someone came by and pulled on the throttle. The next thing he knew, he had a big hole in the wall.”

Despite this danger, the 49-year-old Tregilus likes his electric bike. He enjoys it so much that within the past few months he decided to create an electric-vehicle club, the Alternative Transportation Club (ATC) so that he can share his love with the public.

He is no greenhorn when it comes to organizing. He has worked on grassroot campaigns for the Libertarian Party as well as an anti-PATRIOT Act campaign for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Tregilus says ATC was started for EV enthusiasts to have events like a “show and shine” and parades where they could educate the public, but he wants to take a two-pronged approach and make a difference in the legislative area as well.

“We would do things like lobby state and local officials for public outlets and an EV corridor where the speed limit would be more EV and bike friendly,” Tregilus says.

According to Tregilus, one of the biggest legislative problems has to do with the jungle of red tape that one needs to hack through in order to get a homemade electric vehicle registered at the DMV.

“I ended up having to buy my bike in Oregon,” he says. “People have all these unused motorcycles lying around in the backyard, but nobody has a title.”

With all of the electric vehicle issues that Tregilus talks about, one is noticeably left out—the green one.

“The environmental issue is one I don’t mention for a reason,” Tregilus says. “From experience, I want to avoid coloring the movement with politically hot topics.”

And hot it is. Carbon dioxide is one of the leading causes of global warming and, according to the Environmental Defense Fund’s 2004 statistics, the average American household with two cars adds 10 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year.

Tregilus breaks his own rule about talking green when presented with the “pollute elsewhere” argument that states electric vehicles will pollute indirectly by the power plants that produce the electricity.

“The fact is, the pollution that gas vehicles produce from the oil well to the wheel of the car is significantly more than an electric,” Tregilus says.

With a tug of the throttle, Tregilus zips out of the parking lot with extension cord in tow, off to inform the next person of what he believes will save the future when the gas runs out—the electric vehicle.