Salina Tech’s automotive program gets electric car

September 1, 2016 GMT

Salina Area Technical College’s 38 students in the automotive technology program now have a brand new toy to work on.

Thanks to a $12,294 grant from the North Central Regional Planning Commission in Beloit, Salina Tech has purchased its first electric car from Briggs Auto in Manhattan — a 2013 Nissan Leaf.

Compared to most standard vehicles, the Nissan Leaf has more room under the hood and doesn’t feature an air intake, oil filter, spark plug wires, emission controls or vacuum lines.

“It doesn’t have an engine or a transmission,” said automotive technology instructor Mike McKain, who recently joined Salina Tech after 33 years working with diesel engines and automotive repair with Long McArthur. “They’re pretty safe to work on, if you follow procedures.”

The electric car can charge in eight hours or 24 hours, depending on whether or not a 120 or 220 volt charge is used, McKain said. The charger port is located on the front of the vehicle, near the hood.

100 miles on full charge

The Nissan Leaf, which allows you to push a button to start, can travel up to 100 miles on a full charge and doesn’t have to undergo routine maintenance such as oil changes. The faster you go, the quicker the power runs out. The car also notifies the driver of how many miles it can be driven before power is lost.

Another feature on the vehicle is its regenerative braking system, which acts as an energy recovery mechanism that stores energy to be used by the car later. It also extends the life of the braking system.

The vehicle is environmentally friendly, having no tailpipe emissions and not burning fossil fuels.

The car will first be used by the students in the Hybrid/Electric Vehicles course during the spring 2017 semester, McKain said.

“Having the electric car will give them experience learning different systems, diagnostic and repair.

Working on the electric car will be completely different than what they’re use to. The electronics and parts on the electric car are more complex. It will be a good experience for them.”

Automotive technology is a two-year program concluding with a technical certificate.

Enrollment qualifications

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 attend Salina Tech for one additional year to complete the program.