There’s a lot of room in there to work, but I don’t see much to work on,” was how Whitney England described her first look under the hood of an electric car Monday at Salina Area Technical College.
England and Kody Nimmo, both juniors at Smoky Valley High School and enrolled in Salina Tech’s Automotive Technology program, got a sneak peek at the 2013 Nissan Leaf the school recently purchased with a $12,294 grant from the North Central Regional Planning Commission in Beloit.
The first thing both students noticed was the amount of space under the hood, especially compared to most modern vehicles. England and Nimmo quickly started pointing out parts common to most cars that an electric car doesn’t need: No air intake, no oil filter, no spark plug wires, no emission controls, no vacuum lines.
“No belt?” England said, moving from one side of the car to the other so she could check both sides.
“It all looks pretty simple – but I bet it’s complicated under there,” Nimmo said, pointing to the large metal cover over the electric charger and motor assembly.
They’ll get their chance to find out this spring, said Automotive Tech instructor Tom Conway. The college has taught a spring class devoted to electric and hybrid vehicles in the past, Conway said, but actually having one available for students to see and work on will be a vast improvement.
Electric and hybrid cars are becoming more popular, Conway said. “We wanted to stay out in front of that trend.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates there were 3.1 million electric and hybrid cars on the road in the United States in 2014, and predicts that number will double to 6.2 million by 2020.
In addition to the grant from the North Central Regional Planning Commission to purchase the Nissan Leaf, acquiring the electric car also included about another $3,000 in safety equipment, a charging station and insulated tools for working on the vehicle, paid for by Salina Tech. The charging station was installed by students in Salina Tech’s Electrical Technology program.
The North Central Regional Planning Commission has supported Salina Tech with several grants in recent years, including a $14,914 grant in 2011 and another $12,797 in 2013 for a Practical Nursing program in cooperation with Hutchinson Community College, $14,350 in 2012 for equipment to provide enhanced training to employees of local heating and air-conditioning companies and $4,332 in 2015 for equipment and supplies for Salina Tech’s Allied Health Program.
Automotive Technology is a two-year program concluding with a Technical Certificate; students also have the option of taking an additional 15 hours of general education credits to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree. High school students can enroll in the program as juniors and attend half-days their junior and senior years tuition-free. After graduating from high school, they can come back to Salina Tech for one additional year to complete the program.
Story from Salina Technical College / Mike Strand