"Electric cars are the future," the 54-year-old East Norriton resident said.
To that end, Davis co-founded the Eastern Electric Vehicle Club in January 1980. The club, based in eastern Montgomery County, boasts about 80 members
from several states including Kansas, Texas and Florida. The group holds a meeting once a month at the Philadelphia Gas Works in West Conshohocken. Its goal is to promote electric cars and educate the public on their advantages.
And the advantages are many, according to Davis and other club members.
The electric car itself produces essentially no pollution, and it is more convenient to replenish. "You've got your own service station at home," said Dan Carlin, another club member. "You plug it in, go into the house and forget about it. The next morning, it's powered up."
Club members also note that, while it costs 3 cents per mile to operate a gas-powered car, it costs only 1.5 cents per mile to operate an electric car.
It is 12 miles from Carlin's home to his job at Diversified Electronics on Colwell Lane in Plymouth Township. At 1.5 cents per mile, a 24-mile round trip would cost him about 36 cents per day.
By comparison, it costs about 45 cents per day to operate a dryer, 24 cents a day to light a six-room house and $2.50 per day to operate a 12,000-BTU air conditioner, according to Philadelphia Electric.
While the cost to purchase an electric car would be higher than a gas- powered car, the costs would even up because the electric car requires less maintenance, Davis said. The electric car doesn't need tuneups, has no exhaust system and no spark plugs. If mass-produced, purchase prices would be 10 percent to 15 percent higher than for gasoline-powered automobiles.
Whereas a gas-powered car may die out around 150,000 miles, an electric car can go for 250,000 miles.
A ride in one of Carlin's five electric cars is a soothing experience. The engine in his Volkswagen Rabbit, a former gas car converted to electric by Philadelphia Electric, barely makes a sound, and it doesn't vibrate.
It is powered by 18 six-volt golf-cart batteries in the rear.
Carlin, 37, has been interested in electric cars for 15 years.
"It's neat to drive them," he said. "They're different. I have an electric car. How many people can say that?"
Electric cars have been around since the turn of the century, Davis said. At that time, they accounted for 40 percent of the cars on the road. But three factors spelled their demise: the development of the modern-day starter, replacing the crank; a steep drop in the cost of gasoline, and the price tag on a Ford Model T, which was about $250, much lower than electric cars.
In the '60s, the cars made a comeback as pollution became a major concern. Currently, Davis estimated, there are about 5,000 to 10,000 electric vehicles in the United States.
When club members speak to the public, they are asked three questions about electric cars, Davis said: How far do they go? How fast do they go? What do they cost?
The big disappointment comes when people find out that they can travel only about 100 miles on a single charge, Davis said. But the cars can travel up to 65 m.p.h.
"They all think 'Aw, gee, I can't go to the shore,' " he said. "But they don't go that far that often. The normal need, on average, is less than 25 miles per day."
Nevertheless, Davis is closely following development of a "range extender," which may lead to unlimited travel for electric vehicles.
There are also several ways to produce electricity without depleting natural resources, Davis said. Renewable energy sources include solar, wind, ocean currents and hydroelectric.
As for when electric cars will become more than just another futuristic development, it's anybody's guess, club members say.
Davis doesn't buy any conspiracy theories that oil companies are trying to impede production or development of electric cars.
"It's not true that the oil companies are fighting it," he said. "They are trying to get into the development game. They know their day is coming."
Carlin doesn't share Davis' view on that point. He doesn't believe the oil companies will accept change that easily. He says the change to electric vehicles will be forced on the world when there is no other choice.
But one thing both men agree on: The day of the electric car will come. It's just a matter of time.
"The technology is here; all we have to do is apply it," Davis said.