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5th annual AltCar Expo in Santa Monica

October 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The electric car is making a big comeback and just in time. The government says higher mileage standards are on the way.The future is here. Electric cars of the future are being showcased at the AltCar Expo in Santa Monica.

"I was on the fence, but now I am completely over that fence and onboard," said Kristin Ude of Manhattan Beach. "It was really fun."

Ude took a spin in the electric Nissan Leaf, which is at the AltCar Expo for test drives to show people it's just like an ordinary car to drive, but way quieter.

"The Prius is second because the only problem with the Prius is that the engine comes on," said John Hollenberg of Brentwood. "This one doesn't. It just stays quiet all of the time which is what I like."

The electric Chevy Volt is also at the show, as are alternate fuel cars from many other companies.

Why this renewed interest in cars that conserve petroleum? 2016 will bring a government standard of 35-plus mpg for an auto company's entire fleet, and this week new proposals that would boost the number way up to perhaps as much as 62 mpg by 2025.

Auto makers large and small are going electric, like Santa Monica based CODA Automotive.

"We think that there is a need out there," said Darryll Harrison, Coda Automotive. "We think that their time has come. Consumers want options."

Within a few years there are going to be thousands of plug-in electric cars on the road and all types. The big question is whether or not there will be enough electricity to go around.

"There is plenty of power at nighttime. But also there is plenty of charging capacity from 8 to 11 a.m. So you can drive to work and plug-in as well," said Bob Graham.

So the race to electric and other green forms of driving is on. The dual winners of the automotive X Prize are at the AltCar Expo basking in their earth-conscious glory.

Other forms of propulsion are showing off too, everything from hydrogen to propane. Anything meant to move with zero or little gasoline in the future.

"It's not something that I am actively going after a green car, but if I can do a little something I would," said Jennifer Fan of Santa Monica.

The AltCar Expo is open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Admission is free.


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