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For me, the highlight of the weekend's panel discussions at the Santa Monica Alt Car Expo was two guys just sitting around and chatting. The reason the hour-long freeflowing discussion between the men was so good was that they - Dan Neil (left in the picture above) and Ken Bensinger, both writers at the Los Angeles Times - were smart, funny and unafraid. Basically, it's what you want in a discussion of where things stand today in the automotive industry: two people calling it like they see it.

Finally, we've discovered the BMW Hydrogen 7's perfect refueling station. A new Shell station that sells both hydrogen and standard gasoline opened yesterday in West Los Angeles (oh so close to Hollywood, which is providing most of the the drivers for the dual-fuel luxury vehicle). The station is located on Santa Monica Boulevard and Federal Avenue, near I-405. If I'm not mistaken - and I might very well be, so feel free to say so in the comments - this is right near the recently-opened Tesla Mo

Ford is providing Los Angeles County Ocean Lifeguards with 45 customized Escape Hybrids. The Escapes will be used to patrol 72 miles of Southern California coastline. According to Mike Frazer, chief of Lifeguard Services for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, "We wanted to be the first public safety agency in the country to go green." The Escape Hybrid qualifies for California's PZEV standard. The lifeguards are switching from pick-up trucks to the hybrid SUV after they verified its perform

In Los Angeles for a short visit, I heard that area highways - famous 'round the world for bad traffic - have actually been making headlines because of high gas prices. Seems that the era of $4+/gallon fuel here in the Sunshine Golden state is bringing traffic levels on the freeways down to 1980s levels, or thereabouts. Public transportation, on the other hand, is picking up riders. Another big trend in California is a move towards hybrids and away from big vehicles.

I know this is not the most important issue facing the country at the moment but there seems to hybrid parking mayhem going on in Los Angeles. If you're there, driving around right now, pay attention to the road and read this later or pull over or something. Geez.