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PORTAGE — John Beatrice couldn't stop expounding on the benefits of electric cars Tuesday morning.

There are 60,000 moving parts in a gas-powered car, he said, and only 50 in his two-year-old Tesla Model X. He doesn't need to change the Tesla's oil, nor does the St. John man have to have it emissions tested.

He also doesn't have to take it to the gas station.

"You just plug it in and the next morning it is filled to the top, said Beatrice, one of about a dozen owners of electric cars on display Tuesday at the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission offices here during an event to mark National Drive Electric Week hosted by the South Shore Clean Cities, Inc.

The owners also allowed visitors to test ride or drive the vehicles.

It is part of the American Lung Association's seven-state Midwest EVOLVE project, which serves as a catalyst to get people behind the wheel of the vehicle and learn their benefits.

The annual event is to help promote the benefits of the electric plug-in or hybrid cars, said Lauri Keagle, communications director for South Shore Clean Cities.

The alternative fuel vehicles are healthier for the environment, she said, and reduce the nation's dependence on oil. They have fewer harmful emissions, helping people to breath, Keagle added.

Mary Adami of Flossmoor, Illinois, brought her Tesla Model 3 to show it off. That was a feat, she said, adding when her husband first convinced her to buy one, she wouldn't drive it for three months.

An asthma sufferer, she said the diesel cars they had "almost gagged me." She and her husband also decided to take the leap to electric because they were angry over the U.S. involvement in Iraq and wanted to help ease the country's dependency on oil.

Now, she said, she likes it so much better, she's getting rid of their remaining gas-powered car.

"We are honest converts," Adami said.

A group of John Hruskocy's Project Lead the Way students from Portage High School also came out to check out the electric cars.

Students study engineering, design and robotics and talk about sustainability, he said, adding here they are getting to see the final project of that kind of work.

"I think it is a great idea. It is a vision and they are beautiful cars," said Nathan Kunstek, 15, and a sophomore at Portage High School.

Conner Belt, 17, a PHS senior, said the world's resources are temporary and the production of electric cars is one way to reduce the dependence on those resources.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.