PITTSBURG — As part of Pittsburg State University Instructor Matt Brown’s Intro to Technology class he brought in a 2016 Tesla Model X — right into the classroom.

Unfortunately, this isn’t Brown’s car, he had to look up how to turn it on before even driving it. Brown said the true car owner, a Pittsburg resident, wishes to be anonymous, but was okay with helping teach the students about alternative fuel.

“I usually would be excited to drive this car, but I had to watch a YouTube video just to get the car moving,” he said.

The Tesla has no engine, instead there is a trunk and a total of seven seats. The car is powered by battery underneath the car. It has Falcon Wing Doors — Tesla’s name for what are commonly called “gullwing doors” — various safety features and auto piloting.

Instead of oil changes the car gets software updates.

“There is nothing on this car as we know it,” Brown said. “It’s a computer with a big battery.”

As part of the discussion Brown talked about different fuel types — including electric cars and hybrids — and each of their advantages and disadvantages for the driver, the environment and the creators.

Brown said electric cars can be charged at home the cost of gas is replaced with the cost of electricity. He said electric cars have less range than a gas-powered car and the driver will need to find a power station if traveling away from home — those who travel over 100 miles a day may not find it convenient, he said.

“In 167 miles the battery is going to have to be charged, that’s a pain in the neck right?” he said to his class. “If you try to drive to Colorado for spring break you will have to charge at 167 miles, that’s why there is such a strangle hold.

“Until we can make this car go 300 miles, 400 miles like a gas-powered car it’s not going to be replaced.”  

He said the marketing teams for these types of cars are also trying to make the car’s aesthetics reach a larger market.

Another alternative is Ethanol, which is made out of starch-based plants and is less harmful to the environment, but it also has a low milage rate in comparison to regular gas, he said.

Biodiesel, which is made from fat, also has cleaner emissions. He said although most do not drive diesel vehicles, most of items or goods people use daily have been transported by one.

Brown said he not only wanted to provide an example, but also keep the students engaged in class, sometimes teachers have to put on a little act, he said.

“This is alternative fuel and the topic of today’s presentation,” he said. “Part of the reason I do stuff like this is to keep students interested and come to class.”

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.