Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mar Vista Eco Car Expo

Are you thinking about purchasing or leasing a plug-in vehicle? Wondering which plug-in is the right choice for you? Check out the info from last years Mar Vista Eco Car Expo below. 

We had a wide variety of electric vehicles on display, not by car companies or dealers, but by your neighbors. They showed their own plug-ins and talked about their EV experience. We had questions. They had answers. 

We hope to hold another Eco Car Expo at a future date. Follow the  Mar Vista Community Council Green Committee on Facebook or subscribe to our weekly eblasts for updates! 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Are You EV Curious?

Mar Vista Eco Car Expo at MV Farmers Market -- April 10, 2016

Are you EV curious? Have you wanted an electric vehicle, but been too swamped to do the research? Come to the Mar Vista Farmers Market on April 10, from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. and ask eight EV & plug-in hybrid drivers all your burning questions. We’ll have real live owners of the following vehicles: Nissan Leaf, Fiat EV, Ford C-Max Energi, Zero S Electric motorcycle, Chevy Volt, Tesla Model S, Toyota Rav 4 EV, and the newest addition to the EV arsenal, BMW i3.
We’ll also have “car-free living” representatives on hand offering alternative transportation options including Santa Monica’s bike share program, an electric scooter, a bamboo bicycle, demonstrations of several car-free ridesharing apps, and a hover board.

Want a preview? See each presenter listed on the side bar to the right - click on each link to read about the presenter.

Join us for the fun right in the middle of the Farmers Market, at the Grand View / Pacific intersection. Look for the Green Tent and the MVCC tent and a bunch of really happy EV drivers. 

Bike Share

You've seen the bright green bikes pop up throughout Santa Monica. But how does it work? What does it mean to us? Will we get them in LA?

CycleHop is joining us at the Expo to answer all of our questions! They operate Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and WeHo's bike share programs.

Just think about it - with the Metro opening the line to Santa Monica in May, bike share means you can spend time in Santa Monica car free! Let's have some discussion about these bikes becoming regional and integrating between these systems and serving Los Angeles neighborhoods like ours with their flexible technology.

Toyota Mirai

Mar Vistan  Julia Greenberg works at Toyota and has had the chance to spend a lot of time driving the Mirai. She's excited about sharing the new technology at the Expo.

The Mirai runs on a fuel cell, which uses hydrogen stored in a carbon fiber tank to produce electricity to drive the motor. The car uses oxygen from the air--scooped up through the extra large front vents--and combines it with hydrogen from the tanks to create water, generating clean electricity in the process. It’s a clean, efficient, powerful drive--and the only tailpipe emission is pure water.

The most interesting thing about the Mirai, to me, is that I don’t have to think about driving any differently. On a full tank, I still get just about 300 miles. Filling the tank works exactly the same way as filling a gasoline-powered car--I attach the hose to the filling port, wait five minutes, and I’ve got a full tank. I don’t have to retrofit the electrical system in my home to plug in the car, and I don’t have to worry about how long it takes to charge. I can make the road trip from LA to San Francisco in a single day!

The only obstacle for Mirai owners right now is the number of hydrogen fueling stations. Fortunately, there’s already a lot of hydrogen infrastructure in place--there are a lot of industrial uses for hydrogen, so hydrogen is being shipped around to a lot of major cities already. Retail hydrogen fueling stations are popping up all over Southern California, and the Mirai has a built in mapping app that helps you find the nearest one.

The Mirai is an eco car for people who don’t want to have to change the way they drive. Can’t wait to show it off!

Visit us at the Mar Vista Eco Car Expo on April 10th at the Mar Vista Farmers Market . We'll be on Pacific and Grand View. See the Toyota Mirai, meet the owners and learn more!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Tesla 90s

A Two Tesla Family!

In December 2014 I purchased my first Tesla.  She was a holiday gift from my husband Ken and I named her “Big Red.” Although I really liked my previous car, a 2004 Lexus coupe, it was beginning to rattle and I was tired of constantly fueling up a car that only got 15 miles per gallon.  My husband and I were happy to be decreasing our carbon footprint, but honestly the idea of no longer having to pay more than $3.50 per gallon for gas was my primary consideration.  Big Red is a 60s model and it can get up to 200 miles per charge. 

Fast forward a year.  In December 2015 my husband’s Audi was coming off lease.  We have been so pleased with Big Red that we decided another holiday gift was in order.  We have now added “Black Beauty” to our family.  Black Beauty is a 2 battery Tesla 90s model that can get up to 300 miles per charge.  We are now a two Tesla family!

There are a number of exciting features about the Tesla - 

It drives practically silently
- The sound system is terrific
- The displays are very impressive but also highly intuitive
- There are periodic updates that automatically improve aspects of the car          while we sleep
- Our electric bills have hardly increased
- And the most amazing feature is that it can both drive itself and park itself!

Visit us at the Mar Vista Eco Car Expo on April 10th at the Mar Vista Farmers Market . We'll be on Pacific and Grand View. See the Tesla 90s, meet the owners and learn more!

Friday, March 18, 2016

BMW i3

Hi, my name is Sara and I'm driving the BMW i3. I must confess I drive a lot of different BMWs. I work for the company! But one of my go-to cars and one of my favorites, is the All Electric BMW i3.

Why do I love this car when I could drive any of the BMW lineup? 

1. First off I'm a sustainability/environmentally-minded person. I love the car because it is not only electric, but has many other incredible sustainability features. Such as the interior materials are made from recycled plastic bottles. The dashboard is made from renewably farmed eucalyptus. The entire line at the factory is run on 4 wind turbines; 100% wind energy fuels the production. And, the body/chassis is made from carbon fiber that is created using 100% hydroelectric power.  The car itself is recyclable, according to German law. It's a true, mass produced environmental concept. 

2. Speaking of carbon fiber, outside the car business, I don't know how well known this material is. It is far lighter and stronger than aluminum. The i3's entire core is carbon fiber, just like the brand new BMW 7 Series. For me, that means I feel safer. I have a long commute and often drive to Orange County 4 times a week. I have watched the crash videos and the way the i3 holds up vs. other cars is incredible. I've seen higher speed crash videos showing the car bouncing off surfaces when crashed, with the main cabin completely protected. Very few mass produced cars use carbon fiber because it has traditionally been more expensive, and we are the only one at this price point, and in an electric vehicle. 

(I saw a photo last week from an accident in the i8 which is the sports car hybrid electric also with a carbon fiber core. It was one of my dealer's clients. A cement truck landed ON TOP of her i8. Other than a broken bone in her shoulder, she suffered minor injuries. The cabin was protected by this high tech material. And she was incredibly fortunate)

3. Car pool stickers. The i3 BEV (all electric) gets the white sticker, and the i3 REX gets green. As I said, I have a long commute. 

I guess for me, the fact the i3 is electric is just the starting off point for why I love this car. It drives like a dream with 50/50 balance, corners tightly, and accelerates like a BMW. 

I love it, but I know I'm a bit biased. Come by the market and see for yourself!

Visit us at the Mar Vista Eco Car Expo on April 10th at the Mar Vista Farmers Market . We'll be on Pacific and Grand View. See the BMW i3, meet the owners and learn more!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Electric Scooter


I was looking for a way to get from a public electric charging station to a destination that was more than a few blocks away. I found this folding electric scooter that travels at up to 18 mph and can brake by transferring some of the lost forward energy back to the battery. It’s also a nice plus that it fits perfectly in the back of my Volt and is easier to take on public transportation than the electric bike.

Join us for the fun right in the middle of the Farmers Market, at the Grand View/Pacific intersection. Look for the Green Tent and the MVCC tent to meet the presenters with car free options - near a bunch of really happy EV drivers

Electric Assist Bike


Back in the early 2000’s, I knew I wanted an electric vehicle, but didn’t have time to convert a car. One day while surfing the net, I came across a kit to add electric assist to my bicycle and knew I had found the solution. Before I bought my electric car (a Chevy Volt), I took my electric bike everywhere. But now that I have an near-zero emission vehicle with leather seats and a nice stereo, my two-wheeled friend gets out less often, but from time to time it does make it to the Santa Monica bike path or my local ATM.

Join us for the fun right in the middle of the Farmers Market, at the Grand View/Pacific intersection. Look for the Green Tent and the MVCC tent to meet the presenters with car free options - near a bunch of really happy EV drivers! 



Wondering what it will take to charge your EV? We have a presenter who can answer your questions! 

Learn about the Charge Up LA residential EV charger rebate program! 
Almost all electric vehicles come standard with a Level 1 (110V) EVSE that plugs into a standard electrical outlet and gives the vehicle about 3 to 5 miles of range for every hour it charges. For some EV (electric vehicle) and PEV (plug-in electric vehicle) owners, that rate of charge is just fine. They plug in overnight and in the morning, they’re good to go. For some owners they need to charge at a faster rate. A Fiat 500e takes about 10 hours from zero to a full charge at 110V (Level 1). That may be a little too long for some owners and they may decide to have a Level 2 (220V) EVSE installed. The Fiat then only takes about 4 hours for the same charge. At the moment, Level 2 EVSE’s sell from about $300 to $700 (depending on the number of amps it supplies and a few other factors). The installation costs range from about $250 to $1200 (and sometimes more if an electrical panel upgrade is needed). I live in an older neighborhood where most of the homes were built in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. My driveway is too narrow for my car to get to my garage, so I had to install my EVSE in the front of my house (note the green box in the picture above). I did the work myself, but was told that it probably would have cost me $1200. I sell Level 2 EVSE‘s and work with electricians to have them installed. Please call me if you have any questions: 424-372-9440.

Join us for the fun right in the middle of the Farmers Market, at the Grand View/Pacific intersection. Look for the Green Tent and the MVCC tent to meet this presenters  - near a bunch of really happy EV drivers

Friday, March 4, 2016

Ride Sharing

It was the summer of 2014 and I had been hired to manage the social media for 4 busy political campaigns (on top of my private client workload.)

A typical day would goes as follows; wake up at 5 AM and head to Crenshaw Blvd for an Alex Johnson for LA School Board Event.  From there I would race to Santa Monica for a staff meeting at Bobby Shriver's HQ (he was running for LA Supervisor).  Without breaking for lunch, I would then head to Inglewood for an event for Autumn Burke (running for Assembly) and then back to Santa Monica for a Meet and Greet for Santa Monica Mayor Pam O'Conner.  The evening would invariably end with a fundraising event for one of the candidates, getting me home at 11 PM- exhausted and cell phone battery drained.

I turned to taking LYFTs to enable me to keep this schedule with a minimum of stress and maximum of work between the appointments.  Looking back, I don't think I could have done it without ride sharing.

First, let's address stress.  Driving in LA is always a chore (with traffic, bad drivers, etc).  My phone would be continually going off and and the stress caused by being offline during drive time was real.  I was extremely distracted and, frankly was not a good driver.  Not good.  Having someone else drive me lessened the stress considerably and ensured I arrived safely wherever I needed to go.  As a father of a 12 year old, that was important!

The cost savings were an astounding surprise!  When factoring in how much it costs to drive in LA (and how much you could save using a ride share) don't just add up your car payments and gas.  You need to factor in the following realities; parking costs, parking tickets (!), repairs, insurance and your time spent looking for a parking space.  Taken together, depending on your car and insurance costs, one can easily spend over $1,000 a month.  At the time, ride share costs averaged me about $40 a day.  If I calculated that I used them 20 times a week (sometimes less when I could hitch a ride with a coworker or friend), I was looking at spending around $800 a month.

While that number may feel expensive, it was still less than what I would pay for driving my own car.  Starting a small business meant that cash flow was one of the most important "drivers" of my success and any savings was crucial to growing my consulting work.

Lastly, the best benefit for me was that I could WORK and recharge my cell phone between appointments.  This increase in productivity allowed me to double my work output and service all my clients in a timely and professional manner.  I would simply call the LYFT, wait on a corner, hop in the car and get to work.  If there was bad traffic and the ride took 30 minutes to go 3 miles I didn't care, because I was able to work the whole way- posting on my clients social media accounts, making phone calls, researching relevant hashtags and, very importantly, preparing my monthly invoices and reports.

I made it through that busy campaign season and most, but not all, my clients were successful in their campaigns.

I don't particularly like driving. I was was never one of those guys in high school that seemed to attach their identity to a car. I enjoy meeting the different drivers and learning about their lives in LA. I have heard some incredible stories, made some friends and feel more connected to many varied communities I would otherwise never had met.

Ride sharing is not for everyone, but run the numbers and see if it would work for you.  You will be surprised the freedom you obtain when you ditch your automobile.

Visit us at the Mar Vista Eco Car Expo on April 10th at the Mar Vista Farmers Market  at Pacific and Grand View. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Bamboo Bike

I started biking on a regular basis when I was an art student at UC Santa Barbara. Bicycling was the best way to get around because the campus has bike lanes and a bike co-op. Isla Vista, the small town next to campus, was also a pretty safe and relaxed place to get around on a bicycle when I was there in the 80's.

The streets in Los Angeles are not as inviting as the streets in Isla Vista, but if you venture out and explore, you find that there are ways to get around town on a bicycle. There is a bicycle renaissance these days and there are many people in our city working in order to improve the infrastructure for biking safely. I joined the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition because there is a lot of work that still needs to be done to make Los Angeles into a safe and enjoyable place. We should all be able to move around without having to get in a car to do it. There are serious issues in our city that have to do with mobility and pollution. We all need to get involved because if we don't nothing will happen. It's politics at the grass-roots level.

I started biking to work after my truck was stolen. I got it back, but I found out that I enjoy riding my bike more than driving a car, so I sold my truck and now my wife and I share a car. We're saving thousands of dollars and we are exercising more that ever. It's great!

About six years ago I became aware that there were people making bamboo bicycle frames. They are so beautiful that I decided to get one. Once I had it I rode it to work and all over town. People stop me and ask me about it all the time. I don't mind talking to people about it because bamboo bikes are still very rare and I know how attractive and exotic they are. Thanks to the people at The Bamboo Bike Studio I learned how to make the frames myself. I made one for my wife and one for myself. We like to go to the farmers markets on Sunday mornings. That is the best day of the week to ride a bike in Los Angeles.

Visit us at the Mar Vista Eco Car Expo on April 10th at the Mar Vista Farmers Market  at Pacific and Grand View. See their Bamboo Bike, meet the owners and learn more!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Chevy Volt

I’m driving the new 2016 Chevy Volt.  I had purchased the first generation model 3 years ago and though I liked the car I felt that a number of things needed to be improved in order for me to lease another when my lease was up.  Well, Chevrolet made it easy for me.  First they sent me an email offering me the opportunity to test drive the new 2016 model by having one of their representatives come to my home with the car.   Once I got in and drove it, the car blew me away.  First of all the interior cabin was much more comfortable than the prior model.  The controls were changed to be more ergonomic, interior cabin details were improved, the bose speaker system seemed much sharper than the earlier model, and the onboard computer interface with ApplePlay is sensational.  

The electric range  went from 36 miles a charge for the prior model up to 54 miles a charge for the new one, an approximate 50% increase in range.  On my last Volt I often drove beyond the 36 mile range and the gasoline engine had to kick in to power the electric generator.   At the end of my lease I averaged 175 miles per gallon.   With the new model I mostly use gasoline just on lengthy trips or on days when I’m spread out driving all over the city, which is very rare.  Also, now when the engine does kick in, it’s much quieter than the earlier model, it uses a lower octane gasoline, and the cars overall range has increased to around 400 miles.   

On the new Volt they have increased the number of sensors that surround the vehicle and in doing so increased the overall safety as well as the comfort and ease of driving.   The low center of gravity makes handling fun and the hatchback design is versatile providing plenty of room, especially with the fold down rear seats.  

I think that anyone who is contemplating the purchase or lease of a new car should consider all of the electric and alternative fuel cars on the market.   Not everyone’s needs are the same, but if you share my concern for the environment and the impact driving a gasoline car makes I highly recommend testing out the new Chevy Volt.

Visit us at the Mar Vista Eco Car Expo on April 10th at the Mar Vista Farmers Market . We'll be on Pacific and Grand View. See the Chevy Volt, meet the owners and learn more!

Toyota RAV4 EV

When Francisco Arias was in the market to replace his Mercedes Benz E-Class, he knew he wanted a plug-in hybrid as his next car. While he was at the dealership to test out the Toyota Plug-in Prius, the Toyota RAV4 EV caught his eye. He knew that an EV would be a big commitment. But, after seeing the RAV4 EV, he decided he would go “all in.” Because the RAV4 EV was built as a “compliance car,” there were only 2,600 in production between 2012 and 2014. Luckily for him, he was one of the few that was able to find and lease the 2014 Toyota RAV4 EV.

As soon as Francisco leased the Toyota RAV4 EV, he had a Level 2 charger installed in his home garage, which he received a $750 rebate from LADWP. He only charges the RAV4 at night, to take advantage of reduced electricity rates. Francisco is also fortunate enough to have a plug at his parking spot at CBS Studio Center, which he uses to top off his charge. When he’s really in a bind, he can also charge at one of the Level 2 charging spots at CBS. The RAV4 has decreased the cost of his daily commute to Studio City.

The RAV4 EV’s range averages between 90-110 miles. Sometimes it requires Francisco to plan out his trips, in order to avoid “range anxiety.” He uses charging stations to fill up when he is short on charge. Or, for a long trip, he uses his wife’s gas guzzler. The interesting thing about the RAV4 is that the motor and battery was designed by Tesla. Francisco likes to call his car the “poor man’s Tesla.” He plans to buy the RAV4 after the lease is over.

Visit us at the Mar Vista Eco Car Expo on April 10th at the Mar Vista Farmers Market - we'll be on Pacific at Grand View. See the Toyota RAV4 EV, meet the owners and learn more!

Fiat 500e

Ever since the Tesla was first announced, a sexy, long range electric car has been a goal for this driver.  While the Tesla remained outside of her budget, other electric cars were finally being made that could handle the mileage for this driver’s multi-stop days.  When the deals were advertised for the lease on the Fiat500e, getting into this delightful little car was a no-brainer.  Calculating that the lease cost less than gas and maintenance on her current car, this driver traded in her Prius in July of 2015. 

The Fiat 500e is her every day car to drive around town.  With a full charge of 80 miles, this baby makes the drive out to Santa Monica and back to Glassell Park easily.  Heading out to Calabasas to see family and back is easily doable, although the Fiat usually gets plugged in during the visit.  It take 4 hours to fully charge the car on a 240v, and 11 hours with 110v.  With solar panels, it is easy to top off over night at reduced rates. 

Quick to respond and tight around corners, the Fiat is a fun car to drive and cute as a button.  The fold-down seat and hatchback door allow enough room for a bike and other equipment for training days.  For most days, having a small car with one driver with little to no baggage, this is the perfect size.  Oddly, it is more comfortable for her 6’4” husband than the Prius was due to leg room. It has great heated seats, syncs via Bluetooth to her phone for hands free talking, and has controls on the steering wheel for audio input and cruise control.  The carpool stickers are also a big help during rush hour.  

Visit us at the Mar Vista Eco Car Expo on April 10th at the Mar Vista Farmers Market. We'll be on Pacific at Grand View. See the Fiat 500e, meet the owners and learn more!

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf Love
Andrew Cheeseman and Christy Wilhelmi put themselves on the waiting list for a Nissan Leaf before the car was available to the public. The day they got the call from Nissan that their car was ready, timing couldn’t be worse: the recession, job loss, and austerity measures firmly in place. But the early bird gets the worm, so they say, and with government rebates at the time that included $7500 federal tax credit, a $5000 rebate from the State of California, and the Ecotality program that gave them a free charger plus free installation, Andrew and Christy went for it. Andrew hasn’t filled a gas tank since 2011.

The couple drives as far as Simi Valley on a single charge and carries a backup charger in the trunk for extra juice. The car includes Level 2 and Level 3 (DC quickcharge) charger options so they can juice up faster where Level 3 chargers are available. Ecotality included that $700 value for free. While it lasted, they also enjoyed free parking at LAX, and of course, still use the carpool lane as a single driver every chance they get.

Both Andrew and Christy work from home, so they drive to meetings and clients all around town. Between the Leaf and their gas guzzler, a 2007 Prius, they spend less than $50 per month on gas. Andrew used to spend $40 a week filling up his pre-Leaf car, a Volvo. Their electric bill increased about $50 per month.

Andrew and Christy love their Leaf. They love how silently it drives, the lack of exhaust while driving and idling, and they love being part of the electric car community. 

Visit us at the Mar Vista Eco Car Expo on April 10th at the Mar Vista Farmers Market. We'll be on Pacific at Grand View. See the Nissan Leaf, meet the owner and learn more!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Car Free With a 2013 Zero S Electric Motorcycle

In 2002, Paul Scott and his former wife bought their first electric vehicle (EV). They were early adopters for certain, but they instantly met a whole group of people who had been driving electric vehicles for months, and in some cases, many years. Granted, they were a small group, maybe five thousand at its peak and on its way toward decline since. As they were to learn, the very industry that had made the cars was busy crushing them by the hundreds as fast as they could get them back from the drivers who loved them. You may remember Paul from the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car. But this attempt to kill the electric car did not succeed. Quite the contrary.

After 13 years driving an electric car, with four of those years working as a 
Nissan Leaf salesman, Paul is now going to go car free. His lease ended on the EV and he turned it in. He'll be going carless for the rest of his life. He has an electric motorcycle (a 2013 Zero S with a modified controller) that affords him very inexpensive and extremely efficient transportation for almost all of my needs, and then there is car sharing for the rest.

Paul is truly a visionary! Stop by to meet him and discuss the future of the automobile and the role that autonomous vehicles will play. Read more about Paul and his decision here - I'm about to give up my car, forever.

Paul Scott is a long-time electric vehicle advocate and Nissan Leaf salesman. He is a founding member of Plug In America and a former president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Southern California. He's currently working on a documentary about his attempt to talk to President Obama about electric cars. This is his first article for 
AutoblogGreenThe picture above is from 2005.

Visit us at the Mar Vista Eco Car Expo on April 10th at the Mar Vista Farmers Market. We'll be on Pacific at Grand View. See the 2013 Zero S, meet the owner and learn more!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Honda Fit EV

This couple has been the very proud drivers of the HondaFit EV since 2012! Having driven exclusively hybrids since 2005, they were ready to get past the range anxiety and take the plunge.

Still a two car family, the Fit EV is always their first choice and the 2010 Prius lives mainly in the driveway for the occasional trip to Santa Clarita or Santa Barbara and the times when two cars are needed. The possibility of going down to one car is being strongly considered.

With solar panels and a home charging station, it is easy to top off over night at reduced rates. They are happy to report that in over 5 years, they have never run out of battery. Maintenance in 5 years has consisted of two tire rotations. There is simply nothing to fix or maintain.

The Fit EV is a limited edition – only 1,100 were made. Owners refer to it as ‘the Blue Unicorn’ because sightings are rare. It was offered on lease only and they dread the day when they have to give it up.

Visit us at the Mar Vista Eco Car Expo on April 10th at the Mar Vista Farmers Market. We'll be on Pacific at Grand View. See the Honda Fit EV, meet the owner and learn more!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Ford C-Max Energi

When she purchased her second Miata in 2006, this owner vowed to herself that her next car would be very fuel-efficient; the Miata is not. 

In 2013, circumstances required this owner to trade-in her Miata for something sensible. Sensible meant space for five people—including two over 6 feet tall—and space for cargo. While this and fuel efficiency were the primary requirements, she hoped the new car would also be peppy and good looking; she was, after all, giving up a beautiful, fun Miata.

An electric car didn’t seem practical for a one-car household—Tesla wasn’t within the budget—but she hoped to find a plug-in hybrid. Ideally, it would be a small SUV. In 2013, only the Ford C-Max Energi met all of these requirements. 

The owner enjoys driving her C-Max. It’s peppy and fun to drive and—in the owner’s opinion—good looking. Giving up the Miata does not feel like a sacrifice! She’s averaged 150 MPG and spent less than $400 on fuel to drive over 17,000 miles. Her electricity bill has increased less than $20 a month. Most charging is done during the night, but she plugs in during high-peak hours several times a week. The owner has solar power and received a $2000 rebate from DWP for her fast charger. 

Visit us at the Mar Vista Eco Car Expo on April 10th at the Mar Vista Farmers Market. We'll be on Pacific at Grand View. See the Ford C-Max Energi, meet the owner and learn more!