Santa Monica Alternative Car Expo 2006

By Noel Adams


- Marco (Dawg), Alexandra Paul, Jon Mack (EV Pin-Up Calendar) & Bill Moore of EVWorld -

On Saturday December 9, 2006 the City of Santa Monica, CA hosted an alternative fuel vehicle show that showcased a host of alternative fuel vehicles including Electric, Plug in Hybrids, GNG, Biodiesel ethanol.
The Expo was opened by Ed Begley Jr. at the Santa Monica Pier where Universal Electric Vehicles announced that they have started taking orders for their Electrum Spyder electric sports car. 

Universal Electric Vehicles Electrum Spyder


This was followed by parade of alternative fuel vehicles traveling the three miles from the Pier to the site of the Expo in the Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport.
Inside the Barker Hangar was an extensive array of vehicles along with displays put on by several alternative fuel advocacy groups. The set-up was well attended and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Alexandra Paul chats with other conference goers


I enjoyed just walking around the displays and it was nice to renew a few old acquaintances such as Paul Scott and Chelsea Sexton, who were managing the Plug-in-America booth. Plug in America is one of the most active groups dedicated to getting out the word about Electric Vehicles and Plug-in-Hybrids. They were giving a lot of information to the crowd about these vehicles and were also selling copies of Who Killed the Electric Car and Sherry Boschertís new book ďPlug-in Hybrids: The Cars that Will Recharge AmericaĒ.


Paul Scott mans the Plug-in-America Both


Chelsea Sexton at the Plug-in-America Booth


Talking of Who Killed the Electric Car, the Petersen Automotive Museum had their EV1 on display. This bright red sports car was originally leased by Chris Trexler who drove it from Los Angeles to Detroit. The car is now non-operational since GM removed the batteries and most of the electrical components before donating it.

GM EV1 now in the Petersen Automotive Museum collection


I stopped by the Universal Electric vehicle stand to admire the Electrum Spyder. The Electrum Spyder is a very good looking open topped roadster with a range of about 140 miles using NiZn batteries. I asked them if they had been through crash testing procedures and they told me that as a low volume manufacturer they had three years to complete crash tests and were planning on selling cars during that period. For safety their production cars will be fitted with air bags.
There were several people there that had Bio-Diesel and Ethanol vehicles on display, including a Chevy E85 SUV.


Chevy Ethanol vehicle


There were a couple of plug-in Prius on display including the one from Greg Hansenís company Energy CS, and a second one from Plug in Partners. And also a Prius that had been fitted with solar cells to help keep the battery charged. These cars didnít seem to be getting too much attention, probably because the Prius is such a common site in the LA Area.


Energy CS plug in Prius


Left Coast Conversions were also there and they were actually converting an old Triumph sports car to electric during the show. They were drawing a large crowd and I couldnít get near enough to snap a decent photograph.
I stopped by the Sustainable Transportation Club booth to talk with Russell Sydney who I have corresponded with for some time and never met face to face. The Sustainable Transportation club is a big supporter of bicycling and electric scooters. They had two electric scooters on display, the Falcon EV eRunner and an EVT 168. John Breza, the local EVT dealer and another old acquaintance I hadnít seen in a long time was also maning the booth so I had a chance to chat with him for a few moments.

John Breza at the Sustainable Transportation Club booth


After spending about an hour looking around the different displays in the Barker Hanger I went outside again to check out the ride and drive. This was actually quite disappointing as manufacturer after manufacturer told me that they werenít giving test drives.
I met with Dana from Phoenix Motorcars who told me that they had hopped to give rides in their Electric Truck but the car hadnít been ready on time so the one that they had on show was just a glider. Their truck will have a range of 140 miles and, using a 250 KW charger, they are able to charge the car in about 10 minutes. Now, the 250 KW charger costs about $100,000 so you arenít going to install it in your home, but it would be viable for large fleet operations. The Phoenix vehicle is going on sale to fleets in 2007 and should be offered to individual consumers some time in 2008.

Phoenix Motorcars electric Truck


Myers Motors were giving Test drives of their single seat NmG but at the time I was there it was out of service being recharged so I didnít get a chance to drive it.

Myers Motors NmG


Honda were giving rides of their fuel cell vehicle but they had a film crew shooting video of one of the cars and line for this was long for the other so I decided not to wait to drive it.

Honda Fuel Cell Vehicle


Miles Motors had one of their ZX70 electric cars there but they werenít giving rides. Feelgood also had a ZEN there but that also wasnít participating in the ride and drive. 


Miles ZX70 Electric Vehicle


The same can be said for the two Xebras that were being displayed by Los Angeles ZAP dealer Little Radio EV, and the Columbia ParCar Summit, though there was a Dynasty IT Sport that was being taken on the test track which I had already driven on a previous occasion.


Xebra PK (Pickup Truck)


 In the end I did manage to snag a test drive in the California Roadster, which I really enjoyed, even though it was just a couple of laps around the Car Park.


California Roadster NEV


Scott Robinson Honda was there offering test drives in the Honda Civic CX CNG and the Civic Hybrid, and Toyota had a lot of Prius on display. Now, I drive a Prius regularly so I wasnít that interested in testing a Hybrid and the CNG driven car didnít appeal to me either so I decided it was time to leave.
As I pulled out of the parking lot I noticed that the Myers Motors NmG was being brought back into service.
The car show was well attended and got real busy in the afternoon as they started to bring people down from the LA Auto show using a free shuttle service. The show continued on Sunday, December 10, 2006.