KINGMAN – The electric car museum that was established at the Powerhouse Visitor Center during the 2014 International Route 66 Festival has outgrown its space and may have to relocate to another town, the museum’s executive director said.
Meanwhile, Laron has offered 12,000 square feet of temporary storage for a year at its plant at Kingman Airport and Industrial Park.
The space is desperately needed as the Kingman museum is receiving about a dozen significant electric vehicles from the prestigious Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, said Roderick Wilde, executive director of the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation.
A late-model Coda, donated by Grace Reamer of Seattle, was delivered in February.
The museum is also receiving a 1922 Walker electric truck donated by Eric Luebben, owner of Cybortronics in Brea, California. There are only about 10 of them left in the world.
“The need for a new facility in order to house the ever-expanding inventory of electric vehicles has never been greater,” Wilde said in an email to the Daily Miner. “Cars are coming in faster than I anticipated and it is hard to predict the future.”
HEVF is seeking a grant writer to raise funds for a new multimillion-dollar facility that will display some 200 electric vehicles spanning a century and a half, and will also house an academic facility, Wilde said.
He’s had discussions with a group putting together a plan for a museum in Maryland, Wilde said.
“Personally, I would love to have our museum stay in Kingman,” the museum founder said. “Kingman has been great to us. If we are not able to make it happen here, we will not give up on pursuing our goals.
“We have sent out some inquiries to other towns and places along Route 66 and elsewhere in case things do not pan out in Kingman. We need to be looking forward and planning for the future of the HEVF museum.”
The Powerhouse has about 3,700 square feet dedicated to the museum, but with 26 cars taking up an average of 140 square feet, expanding the museum to include some 200 cars would require about 28,000 square feet, Wilde calculated.
“The museum should not be a warehouse, but rather an entertaining and educational experience,” said Larry Fisher, curator for the Historic Electric Vehicle Museum and executive director of the NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California.
“When developing an interpretive master plan for the electric vehicle museum, it would be the practice of most planners, myself included, to develop a core long-term exhibition and a plan for changing or special exhibitions,” he said.
Hypothetically, the “core” exhibit might be about the evolution of the electric vehicle. Within that experience would be themes and subthemes such as environmental impact, societal and cultural change related to electric power, and innovations in electric vehicles, Fisher added.
There’s talk about transforming Route 66 into the “Electric Highway,” which is already happening, Wilde said.
Tesla has installed charging stations at Carl’s Jr. in Kingman, at the interchange of Interstate 40 and U.S. Highway 93, and other stations for charging electric vehicles can be found at 25 cities along Route 66 from California to Illinois, including many motels.