Neal Ferris and his family’s fleet of electric vehicles Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Neal Ferris and his family’s fleet of electric vehicles Photo by Danny Fulgencio

To say Forest Hills resident Neal Farris has a passion for electric may be an understatement.

For Farris, it all began when he wanted to resume one of his past hobbies: restoring cars. This time, however, the thought of a typical restoration bored him, so he decided to take a more environmentally-friendly approach.

“I thought, if I do some old European sports car, all I have is some old European sports car,” Farris says.

While converting his Volkswagen Golf to run on electricity, Farris and his wife, Patty Goya, bought a Nissan Leaf two years ago. Their switch to electric did not end there, however. The family has since accumulated five electric scooters and an electric John Deere mower that Farris converted himself.

To hear Farris talk about it, their family helped launch the electric vehicle trend in Dallas.

“Neal likes to say we are the first ones in Dallas to own a Leaf,” Goya says.

Despite the number of vehicles the family plugs in at their house, they say they have seen virtually no increase in their electricity bill. Farris says the couple has saved “thousands upon thousands” of dollars since going electric. He estimates that the Leaf costs about $2 to charge, and a single charge yields about 75 miles. They pay about $25 a month to charge their vehicles at home. The couple does still keep one gas car for road trips with their two elementary-age kids.

The Leaf has needed maintenance only a couple of times, and once was a simple cabin air filter replacement. So far, the only major downside Goya has experienced is what experts call “range anxiety.” When going electric, many people fear they will run out of charge in the middle of a drive. Goya always maps out where she is driving and how much charge it will require before she leaves the house.

“I can’t just get up and go. I really have to think about it,” Goya says.

Farris now serves as the vice president of the North Texas Electric Automobile Association, NTEAA, which works to educate Dallas residents about alternative fuels. The group promotes not only electric vehicles but also other technology such as solar panels and wind energy. He has been a member for five years now, attending monthly meetings and events around the city.

“Our big thing is education,” Farris says. “We try to go to events where we can show people what electric cars are all about.”

Farris has one astonishing fact he likes to tell people when convincing them to switch to electric.

“A 747 [plane] is more efficient than a SUV” in terms of emissions, Farris says. “With an SUV, the power it takes to go to work could power your entire home for a day.”  —Victoria Hilbert

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