Sunday, October 4, 2009

AltCar #4 The Last of its Kind

I spent both Friday and Saturday at the AltCar Expo in Santa Monica. This convention has been showing alternative vehicles to the public for four years now, but little in the way of highway capable cars that the masses can buy.

On Friday night, Gov. Schwarzenegger dropped by with an entourage that included CARB Chair, Mary Nichols, and former CA EPA head, Terry Tamminen, the subject of an earlier blog. I watched as the Gov spoke about his Hydrogen Highway with a smug Tamminen beside him. I had to bite my tongue.

At least the Gov was able to see that the rest of the show included plug-in vehicles almost exclusively, and by the time he left, my hope was that batteries had mostly replaced pie-in-the-sky fuel cells in his mind.

As for the show, it was smaller than last year, both in attendance and vehicles. However, there was a palpable feeling in the crowd that wasn't there in years past. Everyone seemed to understand that this was the last AltCar at which you would not be able to buy a highway capable EV from a major OEM. Thus, the countdown has commenced. By the time of next year's AltCar Expo, several major, and a few minor, car makers will have vehicles in the market.

As a testament to this, the parking lot had a sprinkling of Teslas and Mini Es. I expect that next year's event will have much, much more.



  1. That's hilarious Paul! The governor droning on about the future of hydrogen vehicles surrounded almost exclusively by plug-ins which *are* the future. lol

  2. Our leaders are followers.

    Thanks Paul.

  3. As I'm sure you've probably heard it said before, Paul, but it bears repeting for anyone who hasn't; "Hydrogen powered cars are the way of the future, and always will be."

    Our family has attended several Altcar Expos in Santa Monica over the years, and as interesting as they are, they have of late produced this feeling of longing for something really substantial to be shown. It seems that countless organizations are represented, new products abound, like waterless car cleaning products, and we always come away with a new weird supply of pens and keychains, but there's never a real car. Well, your words give me hope for next year. Paul, we appreciate what you do.

  4. Hydrogen powered cars have nothing but potential. No reality, just potential. Leave them for the research we do in our caves after the poles melt.

  5. Yes, it was strange there was such a heavy presence of Hydrogen and gasoline(?) cars there; Ford Transit, Fiesta etc.
    Hganookie has a point too; no in-production, highway capable cars yet; just $$ Low-Speed-Vehicles(LSV's).

    One high point for me was following the move to standardize and get movement on developing the category for Medium-Speed Vehicles(MSV's), to 35 or 40 mph.
    Maybe this will be a moot point once HSV's are available, but I think there will be a market for those who get sticker shock on production HSV's and are forced to reevaluate their REAl transport needs. 45mph would suit me fine if it saved me $20k ;)

  6. Hydrogen power? Beam me up Scotty. Oh, wait, we don't have that technology either, damn it. I'd really like to be able to visit other planets at warp speed.

    Okay, so researching hydrogen power really isn't such a bad thing to do. In fact it might produce all sorts of good intel.

    But we have solar. And I'd rather see more research being done there.

    My question is since there's such a resistance to it, how do we change that resistance? By telling Arnie he's a lame duck for thinking hydrogen is the way of the future? I mean that's good. But is the underlying resistance because auto mfgs don't want to give up oil based engines because of what it would cost them to retool? Or what?

  7. Follow the money. Who will you buy the H2 from?

    Answer: The oil companies.

    This is why the Gov is funding this stuff.

  8. The whole hydrogen debate has taken a turn to the silly. It needs to be put back into perspective.

    No highway capable electric cars? Surely you must have blinked. I test drove the AC Propulsion eBox that is very highway capable and a fraction of what a hybdrogen car costs. Mini e anyone? And the list goes on, Tesla, Commuter Cars, etc...

    The problem with hydrogen, with whom backs it currently is we need to tackle the water problem, something we are very short of in California. Last I checked (last week) we cannot water on certain days and unless we find something less expensive than platinum, another rare ore, we are putting much effort into making a square wheel go round decades down the line.

    Considering the lastest lithium chemistry breakthroughs; IBM's lithium air, lihtium sulfur and lihtium zinc, etc, the innovations are pouring at a very fast pace. Should we talk about ultracapacitors and their growing role?

    In the dire economic reality we find ourselves, we need to concentrate on short term environmentally friendly solutions, not 20 to 40 years down the road technologies that could eventually work with a lot of money thrown at it.

    Hydrogen is best treated as the aeronautic industry sees it for the future, burn it, it's not a medium storage device.

    The team with the Electric Car