EV drivers cruise in silence, just for ‘the joy’
Bloomfield Hills — There were no rumbling exhaust pipes or roaring engines, but several dozen enthusiastic car owners participated in a Silent Cruise on Wednesday on Woodward Avenue.
Ninety-five vehicle owners signed up for the event, hosted by Chevrolet EV — as in electric vehicle. They munched at food trucks in a motel parking lot and mingled with other electric car owners, comparing experiences like mileage on a single charge (238 seemed about average in overheard conversations).
“This is our sixth Silent Cruise and more people are participating every year,” said Fred Ligouri, a Chevy EV spokesman. “We average about 40 to 60 cars a year at these but are about double that this year with the introduction of the Bolt EV.”
Unlike other encampments along Woodward Avenue there were no exotic paint jobs, squealing “peel-outs” or bodies crowded around an open hood inspecting a vehicle’s mechanical innards — some of the cars, the Bolts, don’t have any engine.
But that doesn’t detour owners from having a good time.
“I still go to traditional car shows and pay my $10 and for a joke will pop my hood,” said Larry Trakalo, a Kitchner, Ontario, accountant leaning on his silver 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV — as in electrical vehicle.
“You get some funny looks from people when they realize you don’t have something under the hood. Your battery is under your seat.”
Their choice of vehicles, of course, cannot be considered “classic” — yet. Chevrolet has only been manufacturing the hybrid Volt since 2011 in Hamtramck. There are 125,000 Volt owners, Ligouri said. The all-electric Bolt EV is made in Lake Orion. About 10,142 Bolts have been sold.
“The electric car owners like this for the joy of driving down Woodward,” he said. “They just do it silently. They can chirp their tires but that’s about it.”
Rick Gergis of Pinckney is on his third Volt, having bought models in 2011, 2013 and 2017.
“I like coming to the Silent Cruise,” said Gergis. “People like seeing the electric cars.”
Trakalo, who caravaned to Michigan from Canada with four friends, all driving Bolts for the Silent Cruise.
“I like to talk with other owners but I also like hearing remarks from people when they check out our electric cars, like a grandparent telling her grandchild ‘now that’s what you will be driving in a few years.’ ”
Trakalo bought his Bolt in March for $47,900 and has already put 16,000 miles on it. He said the Ontario government reimbursed him $14,000 for going electric and another $1,000 for a charging station. He has recharged at free stations in Canada and the U.S. and figures he has not spent any money to drive his Bolt.
Eleanor Hucker of Ortonville was experiencing the excitement of Cruise Week for the first time, motoring with her husband and son in her orange Bolt that she has fondly dubbed “Juice.”
“I’m pretty impressed with it,” she said of her Bolt. “Most of the cruising cars are pretty loud. Juice has more of a low, but high-tech whirring sound.”