As we said, we were not able to make our annual pilgrimage to the Santa Monica Alt Car Expo last weekend. But that doesn't mean we didn't have friends there. Reader Gint Federas. was able to go for a few drives and shared a few pictures of the event. He also sent in the following report:
You can see a lot of Gint's photos in the gallery below and more here.I test drove the Leaf, Volt, most of the fuel cell vehicles, and wasn't disappointed by any. The Volt's main battery died just as my test drive began. The range extender was much quieter than I thought – barely noticeable. The Leaf burned rubber accelerating, but the Volt was sluggish which I attribute to range extended mode. With the exception of the Monotracer, if there is a dashboard picture, I drove it.
BTW, Chevy only had one Volt for test drives, and cut the waiting list off at 60. I was #53 signing up at 10:30 a.m. By 4 p.m., most sign-ups were no-shows. If you were still there, you were allowed to drive the Volt.
Nissan was much better organized with at least 8 cars active on the test loop. Nissan's spokesman said they are traveling with 10 cars. I saw another Leaf behind the Auditorium that was quick charging (30 min to 80 pecent charge, DC). The quick charger was a biodiesel-fueled genset charging a battery pack that dumped charges directly DC to DC to the on-board pack. The car I drove had 63 miles on the trip odometer, with 31 miles charge remaining. The AC had been on all day as it was 93 and humid in LA on Friday.
New Nissan Leaf salesman Paul Scott was also on hand, and he shared some thoughts over on his personal blog. The takeaway point: after four years or promises and hopes, people could actually place orders for mass market electric vehicles this year. Also, around 2,000 people, Scott estimates, test drove either the Leaf, the Volt or both. Well done.