The San Diego EV Scene
by
Dave Cutter

Far enough away from the hustle, the bustle, and the smoggy ruins of Los Angeles there is a simmering pot of great EV ideas and creations that are changing the world as we know it, Jim.

Sedately settled twixt the pearl blue Pacific Ocean and the forbidding deserts of southwest America, is where a quiet revolution is developing into something quite timely, full of life and purpose. Take San Diego County and its brave and wildly eccentric group of grass-roots EV enthusiasts, scientists, engineers, movers, shakers and candlestick makers who see opportunity and promise in the rapidly growing electric vehicle industry.

The Electric Vehicle Association of San Diego (EVAoSD) would be a good first point of reference for anyone wanting to marginalize their carbon footprint by converting a gas-powered car to run on pure electricity. Saving money on travel might be the chief interest most people would share in such an enterprise. As gas prices goes up, interest in alternative ways and means will go up too.

It already has. Monthly EVAoSD meetings have grown significantly in attendance numbers due in large part to public response to two very important documentary films - Who Killed the Electric Car and An Inconvenient Truth.

During recent years Southern California has played a significantly huge part in helping to blaze the revolutionary trail forward to a new and exciting electric car future.

From AC Propulsion in San Dimas, L A County, to Aptera Motors in Carlsbad, CA, where I live, and from Hollywood (where I was born), to San Diego, where I am currently part of the steering committee for an industry first, the Electric Dragin Family EVent (scheduled for January 26-27, 2008), amazing things are taking place at a quick march pace.

And with good reason, I might add. Not everyone knows exactly what’s going on with climate change but we all need to know the facts, and here they are:

Experts were stunned this past summer by the loss of Arctic sea ice. An area almost twice the size of Great Britain disappeared in a single week.

The Greenland ice cap is melting so fast that it is triggering minor earthquakes as pieces of ice weighing several billion tons break off the ice sheet and slide into the sea. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is also melting faster than predicted.

If we cannot curb CO2 emissions quickly enough to save these two huge ice sheets, sea level will rise 39 feet, inundating many of the world’s coastal cities and creating over 600 million rising-sea refugees.

There are real and pressing reasons why we all must do very specific things in order to begin to address worldwide climate change effectively. We need to learn to live with the new climate change reality that will only grow worse if we ignore the consequences and do nothing.

A global mobilization to save civilization seems like a good idea to me.

“We need to pool our technology, know how, technical skills, resources and finances. Many hands will do the job sooner.” – Abran Quevedo San Diego EV conversion expert.

Abran is a retired high school car shop teacher who has mobilized car conversion instruction courses and is currently seeking assistance in setting up a San Diego EV Conversion co-op garage where people could get help and more converting their cars from gas to electric.

This approach inspires me more than all the promises of one day soon because it makes lots of sense that everyone can learn to build an electric car, or make their own bio-diesel, or get solar panels for the home for that matter. If we add to those great ideas the concept of generating our own power at home and even grow our own crops in rewardingly productive raised-bed gardens

I’m sorry, this article started out to explain a little about the San Diego EV scene. Then it morphed into something altogether different. Is the right side of the brain trying to tell me something?

"The choice of vehicle that you drive has a greater effect on the environment than any other choice you make as a consumer"
- Union of Concerned Scientists

Burn Rubber, and NOT Gas, Baby.

I love retelling the story how I was first to be test-driven in the famous Tesla Roadster immediately after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hair-raising quarter mile streak along the tarmac of the Santa Monica Airport runway. Arnold (and sons) had flown in specially to experience the EV’s amazing acceleration rush. Once the test-ride was over, the Governator got some laughs when he stepped out of the car grinning ear to ear, brushed his hair back into place, and parodied himself by saying, “I’ll be back!”  …and off he went to do some more governing.

Meanwhile, I was signing a waiver where I think I agreed to donating my body parts to science if the car happened to come unstuck while having my mind bent at warp speed or some such. Anyway, now it was my turn to feel the force, The G-Force that is. I was about to find out what a super-fast electric sports car could really do full out over a quarter mile stretch. What does zero to 60mph in 4.2 seconds feel like, I wondered? I climbed down into the low slung sports car with no hesitation and a smile on my face, then cheekily inquired of the driver why my seat felt so wet?

“Is it?” says he with an astonished look on his face. I looked back at him with a knowing smile waiting for the penny to drop. As his face lit up and he realized I was making a joke we both had a good laugh and then prepared for takeoff down the quarter-mile airport runway marked by orange and white safety cones. A few nervous hiccups and I think I’m A OKay!

The driver tells me to buckle up my racing-harness and adds by the way that I can change the radio station if I want different music. I’d already decided a long time before that ‘accordion music’ was truly not my favorite kind of music and an oxymoron after all. So just as I’m gamely reaching forward to change the channel, the driver flashes me this wild-eyed look of sick evil madness as he stomps on the ‘electrolizer’ and off we jet in that little roadster at such a speed I think maybe now I shouldn’t have made such light fun at the governator’s mishap, you know, for fear of maybe having a moment of my own if I wasn’t careful.

I gripped on hard as I watched the road being eaten up beneath us at a frightful burst of high-velocity acceleration that makes me wonder for one split second, are we gonna make it? And are those my fingernail prints embedded on the dashboard? The G-force kept me firmly in my seat which made me and the driver laugh even more before making the reverse trip!

Oh boy, that was fun! (No wonder Tesla successfully took nearly 200 orders that night, at $80K - $100K a pop). The Tesla Roadster is unquestionably going to be one of the fastest cars money can buy. You could easily tell by the EV Grins on faces and by the blown back hairstyles who had taken their test ride and hadn’t got rid of the grin yet. I decided I had to have one, some how, some way. But where or where does one get the one hundred grand?

I cannot leave Tesla Motors without remarking specifically about their talented team of young visionaries, leaders, engineers and creative designers, a tremendous source of inspiration to me personally and others as well. Tesla Motors is doing something quite extraordinary, positive, and in so doing, are leading the way forward to a more energy-efficient future. Elon Musk, and Richard Eberhard’s vision for Tesla has been to design and build the very best electric roadster (car) possible while competing head on with Big Auto as a fully qualified competitor and rival.

Nikola Tesla himself would weep with joy to have been honored by this sleek, sexy, powerfully hot, bitchin' Super Car, loaded with torque and state-of-the-art technology!  We've seen the future and IT'S ELECTRIC, BABY!

 Register for the Electric Dragin’ EVent at www.electricdragin.com more vehicles, EVen better.

‘V’ is for Vectrix

Village Energy’s EV Rider reports from Santa Monica (11.13.07)

Take California’s sun-soaked Santa Monica Pier, mix generous amounts of fresh air, blue sky, beautiful babes and balmy beach breezes, and you my friend have discovered the perfect place to test ride the all-electric Vectrix Maxi-Scooter.

The Vectrix Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) resembles a motorcycle more than a scooter; however the similarities end there. Changing the standard for electric travel, the Vectrix ZEV is a highway legal, zero-emissions luxury vehicle with a built-in rechargeable li-ion battery that recharge from any 110 Volt socket. The scooter's sleek, sporty design is not only attractive to the green set, but is a money-saving means of travel for anyone seeking a practical, smart, fuel efficient way to zip around town.

Vectrix is the first ZEV to offer performance and style along with a clean, efficient, electric motor. It was designed to provide reliable and affordable transportation for commuting and recreational needs, help relieve traffic congestion and pollution, and mitigate parking hassles and chronic traffic congestion. The patented DAaRT regenerative deceleration system feature enables acceleration and braking to be controlled by one hand using a bidirectional throttle, resulting in recovered energy and an extended battery life. The scooter reaches a top speed of 62 MPH using no gears, or clutch, and can go in reverse from a standing start.

Cara Morrissey, our girl-guide and model for the day, arranged to meet me at the famous Santa Monica Pier for some great shots of her riding the eye-catching Vectrix. I was intent on finding a setting that would show off the attractive side of this plug-in performance scooter now receiving rave reviews in Europe, (where it was first launched earlier this year). With the recent launch of Vectrix California in San Francisco, the maxi-scooter is continuing to make headlines over here too.

We drew plenty of admiring glances from passersby as soon as we pushed the bike down the wooden walkway, eventually arriving in front of the pier’s fun zone.

“Ah, yes, this is where I want to get some shots of you, Cara.” I said, and we began what was to be a short but sweet little photo session in the fun zone. The fun didn’t last long however, before home security or some other arrived and began to firmly but politely inform us we were not allowed to take commercial photographs without a permit, and oh, yes, this is L.A. isn’t it? I mean, right over there is the merry-go-round carousel where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid filmed The Sting, but we can’t shoot a girl on a Vectrix? Okay rules are rules and we aren’t troublemakers, so let’s go, says I. Without a permit our photo session on the pier was over, so we were off in search of a new venue.

We soon found a vacant section of parking lot just down from the pier towards Venice Beach (and on the beach) and were able to take more snaps; this time with a little more freedom and a lot less officialdom.

You will see by the photos that we got some good shots of Cara and David from Vectrix as they demonstrated the bikes many attractions and features. Some interested spectators stopped by to watch the Vectrix going through its silent paces and wanted to know more.  We list here some clear advantages for Vectrix owners and potential customers:

Electric vehicles do not pollute
With a scooter you can reduce travel time by as much as 20% to 45% compared to a car.
Maintenance costs are lower for a scooter than for a car.
Driving a scooter give a sense of freedom.
A scooter can be as much as 50% smaller than a car while moving and while parked.
Scooters are a practical and economical way to avoid traffic jams.

Watch a video preview.

Vectrix scooters are now available in California from British Motor Cars. A Santa Monica location is opening soon. Stay tuned for upcoming celebrity endorsements and events. Please go to www.vectrix.com for more info.

The Vectrix ZEV retails for $11,000.
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All photos accompanying this story by David Cutter of Village Energy.

Evrider at www.drive-electric.com

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