Ashley Van Dyke at the Plug in America Santa Monica Parade!

Santa Monica Civic Centre, Saturday 17th January 2009
Text by Ashley Van Dyke
Photos by Dave Cutter and Stefano Paris

A new year, a new administration and Martin Luther King's Birthday. A beautiful southern California day and a message for Congress, Detroit, and President-elect Barack Obama that was crystal clear - America wants pure electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, the most fuel-efficient cars ever made, and we want them now!

The event kicked off with a very impressive array of inspiring speakers giving us all the impression that we really are on the verge of some bright new dawn in automotive history. Linda Nicholes of Plug in America headed the cast, with contributions from the legendary Chris Paine – the man who made “Who killed the electric Car” and its upcoming sequel - plus support from State Senator Fran Pavley who represents Santa Monica in Sacramento.

Over fifty cars lined up in the front of the Santa Monica Civic Center for the start and the buzz was akin to the beginning of a Gumball 3000! Santa Monica Police were in attendance just like in a Rally escort as we cruised up and down Main Street. I was lucky enough to have a drive in an AC Propulsion eBox.

Its quicker than it looks!
Check it out here...

The eBox actually goes to sixty in about seven seconds, which puts it on a par with an eighties Corvette or a Jaguar XJS, so you can beat more than a few away from the lights. Plus it has room for four people and their luggage and a range of a very respectable 150 miles.

It might look like a Scion but it ain't!

One of the most noticeable things about an electric Car versus a conventional engine is that the electric car is so noticeably quieter. You hardly know its running until you put your foot down. It accelerates beautifully and is almost a one pedal car as you can do the vast majority of braking simply by judicious use of the throttle. Not even the eBox's most ardent fans could claim its the most beautiful car on the EV scene – and for the time being a strong contender for that title must be the Gadget conversion of the beautiful Porsche 356 Speedster – the car in which Jimmy Dean lost his life. Its hard to believe that the Porsche is a design that was penned by the great Dr.Ferry Porsche himself over fifty years ago as it still looks totally fresh and modern.

Still a great looking Car after over 50 years!

In all, roughly 250 drivers, spectators and supporters attended the parade next to the City of Santa Monica's 40-kW solar carport equipped with EV chargers. Edward Kjaer, director of electric transportation for Southern California Edison, which sponsored the event, said that nobody should think that plug-in technology is not ready.

Time is of the Essence !

A few days after the EV Parade the opportunity to go and hear Tony Locricchio – head of Renewable Electronic Transportation International, hosted by the Petersen Automotive Museum. I'm sure Tony won't mind me describing him as a veteran of the Electric Car scene of many years standing.

Tony's vision of the sensible and sustainable transportation of the future is radical and brilliantly original, and been under construction for many decades. Never before have I seen a presentation with the words “Steal This Plan” written all over it!

Tony's basic premise, and I wouldn't disagree with him, is that we need a multitude of electric vehicle solutions – hence his willingness for us to steal his plan. He points out that the vast majority of journeys are short distance, journeys for which the technology already exists. For longer journeys and freeway travel Tony has a unique solution – drive your electric microcar onto the big electric bus and let it recharge while you are whisked along the freeway. Add to that a quick change battery system akin to the calor Gas bottles used for Barbecues and the like and Tony is a man with a mission.

Now he's on his way to Washington to talk to Congress. Lets hope he succeeds !
This is Ashley Van Dyke signing off ! Check back for the latest EV news at my new site