AltCar Expo offers alt cars that can actually be driven ... by you

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We’ve been hearing about them for months: The all-electric Nissan Leaf, the extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt, the Mercedes-Benz B-class F-cell. During this weekend’s AltCar Expo at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 20 alternative-propulsion vehicles won’t just be on display. They can actually be driven. By you. Click anywhere on the above image for more information on the cars available for ride and drives.

‘Interest in alternative technologies is intense and has remained intense despite the fluctuating prices of gasoline,’ said Christine Dzilvelis, producer and co-founder of AltCar Expo, now in its fifth year. ‘There’s just this momentum with this technology that’s pushing forward, even more so because of the economy.’


The free two-day event is scheduled to kick off Friday with a speech from Terry Tamminen, former secretary of the California EPA. Peter Ward from the California Energy Commission is to follow, with a moderated panel reviewing advanced automotive technologies -- from electrics and hybrids to fuel cells, natural gas, propane and biofuels. The day is to conclude with a session on EV infrastructure.

Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, is scheduled to give the keynote speech that opens Saturday’s program. Los Angeles Times business columnist David Lazarus is to give a talk about public transportation, followed by a panel on consumers’ real-world experiences driving hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles. The day is to end with a technical review and debate about the latest automotive technologies. Moderated by state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), the panel is to include representatives from General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Automotive X-Prize winner AC Propulsion.

Scheduled exhibitors include major auto manufacturers, such as General Motors, Honda and Toyota, as well as start-ups such as AC Propulsion, which will show off its X-Prize-winning e-Tracer, and Brammo, the Oregon-based manufacturer of electric motorcycles. Also planned are free bicycle checkups and booths from government agencies, solar and wind companies, electric-car and natural-gas-conversion firms and others.

-- Susan Carpenter

Composite image photos courtesy of the respective auto manufacturers