EV Rebirth: Alt-Car Expo Rolls Out the Latest Wheels

Tango photo

Too-too Tango at Alt-Car Expo in Santa Monica. Photos by Julia Borsch

The famed General Motors EV1 was on display and so were high-mileage prototypes from the Society of Automotive Engineers, the new Ford Fusion and BMW's E-mini at the Alternative Car Expo this weekend, October 2-3. Outside, in the "New Car Lot," a Sustainable Bamboo Skateboard, Zapino Scooter, and lots of the latest electric vehicles for sale awaited test drivers at the Ride & Drive. Inside the hall, more shiny wheels wowed the crowds.

plug-in engine photo

Custom golf carts, vintage hybrids, and solar-powered motorcycles were some of the many alt vehicles on the floor of this free alternative vehicle event. Major auto manufacturers were outnumbered by the smaller motor companies at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, where 85% of the city's fleet is run on alternative fuel, including electric, propane, CNG, hydrogen, and biodiesel.

three wheel car photo

Triac, Xebra, and other electric three-wheelers: the new Bucky Fuller Dymaxion?

With more than 150 exhibitors, from sedans to shuttle busses, and real alternative ATVs, the alt-energy vehicles on display included Wheego's LSV and MSV (low- and medium-speed vehicles), Good Earth Electric's 100-range vehicles, and Electrorides' Zero Trucks. There was also skinny Tango, Telsa, Toyota, Honda's fuel cell cars, GM Volt's guts, and the plug-in Mini. But it was ZAP's Xebra, Green Vehicles "huggable" Triac, and other three-wheelers that turned heads.

Meg truck photo

What's good for Manchester United

"It's been 100% reliable and it recharges overnight - you just plug it in like a kettle!" said John Conroy of Manchester United Football Club (that's soccer for the Yanks) about the UK's Mega Van. The stylish vehicle holds the charge for 9-hours, and is available as electric or diesel. Besides zero emissions, 95% of the components can be re-used and in London, it's free from the "Congestion Zone Tax" and gets free green vehicle parking.

Green Vehicle Moose photo

The Moose electric commuter van: the ultimate car-pooler..

Thorny issues addressed on panels such as "Some Inconvenient Questions," included batteries, charging stations and the energy infrastructure. Fleets were also a focus with the latest offering the Zero Truck from Electrorides available through Isuzu.

Speakers included Mike Lewis of Pearson Fuels, which is developing alternative fuel vehicle fuel stations throughout California at the rate one per month, and built the first on the west coast in San Diego in 2003, equipped for nine different fuels including biodiesel, natural gas.

Exhibitor booths presented various transportation technologies and alt-fuel options, including propane and plug-ins, as well as Electric Blue Motors' conversion possibilities. Of course, the electric vehicle was seen in two-, three- and four-wheel versions, and from vans to trucks. Among all the ancillary businesses, there were battery companies, energy storage firms, and municipality departments of sustainability and transportation.

wild ev photo

Quadracycles, Tricyles--and Two-wheelers, too

Brammo's Enertia and the Prometheus' solar-powered motorcycle were some of the hot two-wheel electric options and a section of the hall was devoted to human-powered bikes. A green wedding service displayed a flower-decorated bike and LA's bike advocacy coalition handed out maps of local bike paths and support, plus free bicycle valet was available.

Wheego's mission expresses the green car spirit nicely: "We want to "make safe, reliable, and fun products. We want our customers to be happy and smart advocates for electric cars." Fun? With a name like Wheego, what do you expect?

Next stop: Austin Climate Protection Conference, January 15-16, 2010.

More on the latest green vehicles:
9 Electric Cars That Were The Buzz of Frankfurt Auto Show
Slideshow: Green Wheels of the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show
23 Electric Cars Driving the Revolution

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