AltCar Expo Vehicles In Pictures
By EV World
Santa Monica Airport was host to the first of what we certainly hope will be many AltCar Expos. The event, held at cavernous, but dimly-lit Barker Hangar, attracted some 120 exhibitors who brought scores of electric, hybrid, alternative fuel and hydrogen vehicles ranging from bicycles to Bus Rapid Transit. I found myself taking nearly 100 digital photos, only a little more than a dozen are reproduced here, with the focus mainly on electric-powered models. The event offered rich photo and video opportunities -- and you'll see those videos on EV World in the coming weeks -- but taking pictures in the hangar itself was daunting without my larger flash unit, which I left at home, of course!
I also discovered that after returning home that I had failed to take photos of AC Propulsion's eBox, though we did do a video interview with Tom Gage that you'll find here in the near future, along with about a half dozen others that we did on Sunday, December 10, 2006.
Not only did I get to interview a number of EV pioneers and entrepreneurs, but I also ran into a lot of old friends and acquaintances, as well as made new ones.
For starters -- eat your hearts out -- I got a hug and kiss from actress and activist, Alexandra Paul. I then discovered Ed Begley, Jr. manning the iZip Electric Bicycles booth after I suggested a couple months ago that he and Larry Pizzi get together and feature some electric bikes in Ed's new series, Living with Ed.
I briefly shook hands with Jim Woolsey as he was being followed by a television crew (I'd had dinner with him in DC the previous week). Paul and Zan Scott generously opened their home to me and let me sleep on their sofa bed. I met more people from the local California EV activist community including Marc Geller, Stefano Paris, Ivan Workman and Bill Korthof. Sherry Boschert -- author of Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars That Will Recharge America -- dried dishes while I washed them after a small group of us got together at the Scott's home Saturday night for pizza and politics. I finally met the towering Forbes Bagatelle-Black, a frequent contributor to EV World. Honda's Stephen Ellis took time to talk with me and share his perspective of Honda's rapidly advancing fuel cell program.
Fascinatingly, Chelsea Sexton gave me the background on the Petersen Automotive Museum segment in "Who Killed the Electric Car?". It turns out that the museum wasn't at all happy with her or Chris for filming Chris Trexler's EV1, which the museum has stored in a secure vault. Presumably, the museum feared GM would retaliate and take back the car. Neither Chelsea nor Chris are welcome at the museum any more, she told me with a mischievous twinkle in her eye.
Oh, the stories I hear... a lot of them that I can't talk about publicly. More's the pity.
Anyway, here are just some of the many vehicles on display at this year's AltCar Expo.
Biodiesel VW New Beetle -- Volkswagen is currently one of the few carmakes to offer in North America modern diesel engines commonly available in Europe. This vehicle has been adapted to burn biodiesel.
GM EV1 -- Originally leased by Hollywood film editor Chris Trexler and driven across America, this EV1 is now in the permanent collection of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles and appears briefly with Chelsea Sexton in "Who Killed the Electric Car?"
Myers Motors NMG -- Formerly the Corbin Sparrow, the "No More Gas" EV offers all-weather, highway capable performance for one peson while being classified as a motorcycle, though its price has nearly doubled from the original Sparrow.
La Vie City Car -- Engineering 'mule' of prototype electric city car that has slowly, but steadily progressed from concept to chassis and fiberglass body shell. Louis Weiss (pictured) says his company plans to make it street legal, including the use of airbags, rather than going the Low Speed Vehicle route.
H3 Neighborhood Electric Vehicle -- Built under license with GM by American Custom Golf Cars, the H3 starts at $10,750.
Hotrod EV -- It's not legally a NEV and it certainly isn't your traditional golf car, but kids had a lot of fun driving this battery-powered hotrod replica around the Expo parking lot at Santa Monica Airport.
Electricar Chevy S10 Conversion -- Originally converted to electric drive, this S10 pickup apparently belonged to the city of Santa Monica and was to be auctioned off on the last day of the Expo, along with about a dozen CNG Ford Grown Vics, also from the city's fleet pool.
Dynasty IT NEV -- Built in Canada, the IT is available as sedan-type NEV, a pickup and an open, golf car-type low-speed electric vehicle. It, along with other NEVs that qualify under FMVSS 500, can legally operate on streets with speeds of 35 mph or less in all but a handful of States.
Bus Rapid Transit -- It's not a bus and it's not a train. It's a BRT or Bus Rapid Transit and it's designed as an affordable alternative to expensive light rail train service since it can operate on city streets, though to get maximum utilization of the concept, it should have its own dedicated lane, stops and traffic light control system to insure it avoids getting stuck in rush hour traffic. This particular vehicle is apparently powered by a conventional diesel engine.
Honda FCX Generation One -- The Honda FCX hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is the first to be leased to a consumer. It is an outgrowth of Honda's all-electric EV-Plus. A sleeker, more advanced version of the FCX will be leased to consumers starting sometime in 2008.
ZAP Xebra -- Billed as the first $10,000, street-capable all-electric car, some 125 ZAP Xebras, which is available both as a four passenger sedan and two-passenger work truck, have been sold in the U.S.
Hydrogen Chevy SSR -- This Chevrolet SSR sport truck boosts a dual fuel system that includes a hydrogen tank that stores just over a kilogram of hydrogen, which is roughtly equivalent to just over one gallon of gasoline. The vehicle's converted Corvette engine can run on either gasoline or hydrogen. In hydrogen mode, the truck will travel 30 miles. The vehicle belongs to Judd Boyer, the former publisher of H2 Nation.
Solar Bug -- Designed and built by Bozeman, Montana electric engineer Steve Titus, the 48-volt Solar Bug is a engineering prototype based on a salvaged Polarias ATV chassis. It has a range of about 30 miles and can go 35 mph, though the production model, which is considerally more attractive, will be limited to the federal limit of 25 mph. Free Drive EV began production four weeks ago using ATV chassis imported from China. The selling price will be $9,500.
Phoenix Motors All-Electric SUV -- A collaboration between Ojai, Californa-based Phoenix Motors, Boshart Engineering and Altairnano, this crossover-style SUV is expected to qualify as a Type 3 (Gold standard) Zero Emission Vehicle under CARB's ZEV mandate. It has a dynamometer-tested range of 130 miles on a charge and a top speed of 95 mph. This Korean-built vehicle and its pickup version will initially be sold to fleets in California, with consumer sales to follow. The price for both will be $45,000. Watch for EV World video interview with Phoenix Motors CEO Dan Elliott.
ZENN Motors NEV -- The ZENN (Zero Emissions No Noise) is first true car-type NEV to appear in North America. It is built by Microcars in France and imported to Canada as an engine-less 'glider'. ZENN (formerly Feel Good Cars, Inc.) adapts them to electric drive. Prices range from just over $12,000 to $14,500. Watch for EV World video interview with ZENN marketing manager Bill Williams.
UEV Spyder Electric Sports Car -- The 'hottest' car of the Expo was Thousand Oaks-based Universal Electric Vehicle's Spyder electric sports car. The company is now starting to take pre-orders in a platinum and gold priority scheme. According to company co-founder Diane Lane, 16 people have already signed up for the $70,000 vehicle. The modular design of the chassis and drive system allows it to be adapted to a number to different body types, including a less expensive three-wheeled commuter vehicle now in development. Watch for EV World's video interview with Diane Lane.
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