Saturday, October 9, 2010

What's so "alt" about Alt-Cars?

With high hopes and expectations in hand and mind, I gamely headed over to the Alt-Car Expo in Santa Monica last weekend. Nothing against the event itself... it was a nice gathering. But it was completely bogus.

 Pictured here is what we did NOT see at the Alt-Car Expo. THAT car, the Tango, is a true alt-car. Most of what was actually AT the Expo was more of the same by all the same companies. At a place where I expected to see mind-blowing MPG's, I saw mostly hybrids with 31-51mpg. Seriously??? Shit, my 1998 Hyundai Accent (white, 4-door, all manual but I loved it) regularly got 33mpg. I know it did. I kept track religiously. It was a matter of pride. So now the major players trot out cars bragging about 30-40mpg, and I'm supposed to be impressed???  Um, NOT. Show me 150mpg. Show me a car that runs on algae. Show me an electric car that charges itself by solar. THAT'S "alt". What they had was just another car show.

There were some cool things there. I test-drove the Nissan Leaf, which, while I still wouldn't buy it, was really fun. It had impressive features, it had great pick-up, and it was whisper-quiet. I got back in my car and nearly went deaf. So it felt, anyway! So yeah it was cool, but I still want my smartcar. Electric, preferably, but that probably won't be available here in the States for awhile. Boo.

TRUE alt is the smartcar (http://smartusa.com/index.aspx), the think ( http://thinkev.com/ ), the Aptera (http://aptera.com/). Where were they? I'm not fooled. You shouldn't be either. Demand more. I was at a talk by the creators of Fuel (http://thefuelfilm.com/), and they had arrived in their Prius that they had converted. It got 150mpg, and those gallons were algae bio-fuel, not petrol. Now THAT'S "alt" for sure.

Even the electric cars, which are seriously impressive, still run off the grid. They still suck coal power and nuclear. Unless you have a total solar set-up, you're still contributing. Sorry, but it's true. Unless you are riding a bike or walking, you're pretty much still contributing. Oh, by all means, you are doing better, but we're still not THERE. We can demand to be there. We really can.

And it's up to us, cuz ain't no one gonna do it for us.