Monday, August 10, 2009

Plug In America's Fundraiser

Plug In America held its second annual fundraiser yesterday at the Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside, CA. Last year's party was held at the home of Director Chris Paine and was a big success. Yesterday's party matched that one in terms of excitement and surpassed it with an abundance of high-end EVs and plug-in hybrids. Pictured above is the t-Zero, considered to be the mother of the Tesla Roadster. The LiIon version of this rare, hand-made car from AC Propulsion is the only EV that can surpass the blindingly quick acceleration of the Roadster with a 0-60 time of 3.6 seconds.

Other vehicles on display were the stylistic Aptera, eagerly awaited by several thousand enthusiasts who have $500 deposits securing their place in line. An Aptera representative told me yesterday they fully expect to be in production by the end of this year. This was sweet news to several people in attendance who are early in line for the car. An interesting note, as we were leaving just after dark, we got the see the Aptera driving toward us on the winding mountain road. The profile and lights were unlike anything we've ever seen. I can't wait to see my first Aptera cruising the 405 here in LA.

Another rare EV is Rick Woodbury's Tango from his Commuter Cars company in Spokane, WA. There were two of these narrow two-seaters parked side by side taking up about the same space as a single passenger car. Looks aside, these babies can move! Acceleration approaches that of the Tesla, and with the batteries keeping the center of gravity super low, the car can corner much better than you would think seeing its tall, narrow shape.

Ten Tesla Roadsters rounded out the high performance EVs providing some flashy color to the line up, and the many RAV4 EVs driven to the winery from around the Bay Area once again flouted the contention of Toyota that these cars would not last 5 years.

In addition to the cars were several high performance motorcycles from Zero Motorcycles and Mission Motors. I rode the Zero off-road bike last year and was astounded at the acceleration. I told one of their reps that they should videotape a Tesla/Zero race to see how long the Zero would hold off the Tesla. I'm pretty sure it can take it off the line.

The Mission Motors bike is a monster! I've been invited to test drive it, so rather than tell you anything here, I'll save that for its own post.

EVs aside, the purpose of the party was to raise funds for Plug In America. We were successful in large part due to the many donations of goods and services that we auctioned off, so thanks to all who donated and who bought the great items at the live auction and the on-line auction. Attendees of note included many luminaries, but Google's Larry Paige had to be the highlight from my perspective. His brother drove one of the Tangos, and Larry drove over in his Tesla. I can only wonder whether any traffic laws were broken on the drive over.

Our speakers this year included California Public Utilities Commissioner, Rachelle Chong, and Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-11). Both were very positive on the outlook of plug-in vehicles, but it was Chong who got me excited. The Public Utility Commission isn't known for its advocacy of electric vehicles, but Chong impressed me with her personal passion for EVs stating that the PUC was going to be soliciting public input starting this month on charging infrastructure as well as EV-friendly electrical rates. These are very important issues that can accelerate or slow down implementation of plug-in vehicles. Knowing the PUC has on its agenda these two items gives me even more hope that EVs are imminent.

The momentum continues to grow!


From left to right, Felix Kramer's iconic PHEV Prius, Don Cox's red Tesla, followed by the bright orange Roadster and then one of the Tangos.

Zan hiding in shadow between two of Tom Gage's vehicles, the super fast t-Zero and a converted Toyota Scion xB, now called the ACP "E-Box". The E-Box is a real sleeper. Driving one of these around LA, you can smoke most Beemers off the line without a sound. It's running the same drive train as the t-Zero, the vaunted ACP 150.Here I am sitting in the cockpit of the cool Aptera. I hope to drive one soon so I can tell you all about it. Those who have driven it have been saying good things.


  1. Hi, Paul... Simon here. Glad to see you blogging! I'm going to be a regular visitor here to get the electric low-down.!

    As you know I'm waiting for my Aptera but I'm getting kinda tired of their production start date being repeatedly put back. The last I heard it was September '09, now it's "by the end of the year".

    Now they've got some government money behind them I expect their next statement on the subject to be specific, firm and immoveable! To be honest, even though I like the futuristic, eye-catching design of the Aptera but if there's any more significant delay (let's say they don't start until the first quarter of next year) I'm taking my deposit back and heading for the absolutely gorgeous Telsa S - even if I have to wait longer. Electric vehicle manufacturers have to know that loyalty to a concept can only go so far. Tesla now looks like a manufacturer that delivers what they say they can deliver. Meanwhile my girlfriend will probably trade in her Nissan Versa for the Leaf and get her plug-in before I get mine!!

  2. Hey Paul thanks for the article! We are hosting an event for sustainable technologies and we want electric cars present! We have some really cool ideas. Check out our webpage at and contact me so that we can further discuss.

  3. Great pics - I believe that eBox is V2G capable if I'm not mistaken - we work with the ones that are. You are right, they are real sleepers.

  4. Hey, Paul, thanks for the kind words. If any EV user or company wishes to follow what is going on at the CPUC, here is a link to the Smart Grid proceeding - look at the July 15, 2009 workshop on EV's to see the presentations from that day and agenda.

    This is the caption to the proposed Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR) on Electric Vehicles which we hope to vote out on August 20, 2009 at the PUC public meeting at 10 AM that day at 505 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102. The public may come at 10 AM and make 3 minute comments on any item.

    Item 53 [8765]

    R______________ - Order Instituting Rulemaking on the Commission’s own motion to consider plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and battery electric vehicle infrastructure, tariffs, and policies to support the Commission’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals

    (1) Opens a rulemaking to consider consistent, near-term changes to tariffs, infrastructure, and policies regarding light-duty passenger plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles, and possibly other electric vehicle classes and natural gas vehicles.

    (2) The rulemaking will:

    (a) Consider consistent policies and standards to guide and encourage development of electric vehicle
    metering, home electric vehicle charging infrastructure, commercial and public charging infrastructure, tariff schedules, and incentive programs;

    (b) Be informed by Commission and State policy goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
    reducing petroleum consumption, improving electricity system asset utilization, expanding the use of renewable energy, and ensuring electric service reliability; and

    (c) Coordinate with other governmental entities with interests in this area, and encourage their input and participation.

    Not known at this time.

    This is a link to the White Paper on EVs produced by our Policy and Planning Division Staff:

    Commissioner Rachelle Chong

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