Ralph Lubick, 70, of Folsom was admiring a bright green Tesla Roadster on display Sunday in the parking lot of Folsom Premium Outlet Mall.
“I’ll take two of those,” he joked to the owner, Dennis Pinion, 68, of Arnold.
But Pinion wasn’t selling his rare 2011 Tesla Roadster, which has a personalized plate that reads 2PLUG IN.
Instead, it was one of 10 Teslas on display for the Sacramento Plug-In Vehicle Day Ride and Drive Event at the mall. Now in its third year, the event allows people to test-drive a variety of electric vehicles, ranging from the Smart Electric Drive to the Toyota RAV4 EV. This year, for the first time, a 2013 Tesla Model S was available for a spin, and several Tesla owners showed off their vehicles.
“The Tesla (test car) hasn’t stopped running all day,” said Georg Kuhnke, a test-drive manager for the Sacramento Electric Vehicle Association, which co-sponsored the event with Sacramento Municipal Utility District. “It’s been the most popular vehicle at this event.”
At last count, 77 people signed up to test drive the Tesla on Sunday. It was unknown if all of them were able to get behind the wheel of the sleek, dark-blue car, but 250 test drives were taken overall, according to Lloyd Levine, a spokesman for the SEVA.
Stephan Brown, 90, of Cold River was one who got to test drive the Tesla. He was hanging out in the area where eight Teslas were displayed and talking to the owners.
“It’s all power,” Brown said of the test drive. “You touch it and it goes. If you let go (of the gas), it slows up.”
He described the Tesla as “fantastic” and the kind of vehicle that would appeal to him, a retired aeronautics engineer. “It’s technology that should have been available years ago,” he said.
George Parrott, 69, of West Sacramento, wearing a SacEV.org shirt, was handing out brochures for the event out of the trunk of his red 2013 Tesla 85, with a plate that reads: ZERO HC.
“This is a joy,” he said of his car.“You find reasons to drive it.”
Parrott, a retired California State University, Sacramento, psychology professor, had owned a Nissan Leaf and a Chevrolet Volt before deciding to invest in a Tesla. But he said he was impressed by the reviews of the car, which he said were “universally positive.” He plunked down $98,000 in 2011 for the Tesla 85 and accepted delivery this year.
“It’s just striking to me that the word hasn’t gotten out about this car or the other electric vehicles,” he said. “It’s an innovative advancement in technology.”
David Salyer, 75, of Sacramento had come up to Folsom to test-drive the Tesla. His son, David Salyer Jr., 51, also of Sacramento came along for the ride.
The elder Salyer said he was surprised when he was told that the car costs over $110,000. So he took particular caution during his test drive.
“I slowed down because I didn’t want other cars to back into it,” he said.
Call The Bee’s Tillie Fong, (916) 321-1006.