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Pittsburgh automotive segment unites to power-up electric vehicle instruction

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 07:00
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In the not-too-distant past Pittsburgh’s air was so smoky from belching blast furnaces that the Steel City’s streetlights would come on during the day. With the once-mighty iron mills now relegated to roadside historic markers, the Three Rivers Region presents a lesson in how a community can transform itself from a Rust Belt relic to a thriving center of high-tech activity.

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Aftermarket businesses are adapting as well – connecting with an ongoing proliferation of electric vehicles.

“It happened out of necessity,” says Chuck Wichrowski, owner of Baum Boulevard Automotive, which specializes in servicing EVs and other alternative-fueled vehicles. “People realized the steel industry wasn’t coming back, and now we’re open to new things.”

Included in these new things is the population’s propensity to purchase EVs, delivering a jolt of irony to President Donald Trump’s remark that “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris” as he withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord.

Providing the necessary spark for growing an EV market – and developing the proper maintenance and repair training programs – involves many people making many connections, uniting environmentalists, electric utility executives, government officials, public agencies, private institutions, schools, universities and businesses representing a variety of industries.

In addition to being a board member at the Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities organization, Wichrowski is a sponsor of Carnegie Mellon University’s Charge Car program for conducting research and inducing a wider network of charger placements, having installed one of the area’s first EV chargers at his shop back in 2013.

“We did this for two main reasons,” according to Wichrowski. “The first is to demonstrate to other businesses and institutions that it is very easy to provide car-charging service for their customers and employees. Second, it is part of our continued efforts to support and service alternative-fuel vehicles. As automobile technology changes, we will always do our best to keep up with the changing technology.”

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