The TACH Report: First ever Electric Car Expo Portends the Future
22 May 1998
They called it the EV-Expo. Borrowing from the parlance of yesteryear's race promoters explaining low attendance, one could call the event a "sneak meet." What the show of 40 electric vehicles lacked in ticket sales, however, it made up in "qualified intenders." Most of the car makers had some sort of electric car or van on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum, plus event promoter Emmanuel Lupe brought in five never before seen electric models. Most of the vehicles were available for ride and drives, either on a tight slalom course on the roof of the Petersen, or via a course down Wilshire boulevard in Beverly Hills. While there were no noticeable crowds of people circling exhibits and asking questions, we determined that most attendees were prospective buyers and were out taking test drives. In fact they were lined up for test drives. Here are some of the highlights of the show: Phil Hodgetts, President of E.V. Associates, explained what the club was doing to further promote electric vehicles. Allan Cocconi, A.C. Propulsion, showed his snappy and sporty two-seater with lots of performance--it comes with a mini-trailer and a gas generator for the cars battery pack. Inventor Ed Dempsey displayed his White Lightning electric dragster (237 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats). Carl Watkins, NEVCO, had his Gizmo two-seat neighborhood car/vehicle--its steered with a tiller and driver/passenger sit tandem, a big golf cart designed for mail carriers and short hops to the store. Joe Irvin of the California Air Resources Board showed off that departments all new, one-off electric four door and he explained that CARB feels the future is electrics and they are investing in this future. Honda, Nissan and GM displayed their electric vehicles and offered rides and brochures. Ford's Ken Stwertnik showed off the Electric Ranger that is on the market and is even being used in prisons. From Toyota, Ed Larocque discussed the virtues of the electric Rav4 mini SUV. The Canadian Bombardier company, makers of snowmobiles and airplane components, had the most serious display bringing eight two seat "neighborhood" electrics which were touted by area manager Joel Prescott. Lots of people took rides in the units and liked the experience. Joel explained that celebrities were buying their vehicles and that racers Mark Martin and Richard Petty had models as did singer Celine Dion and NBA star Shaquille O'Neal of the L.A. Lakers.