Most people don't know much about electric cars. The knowledge gap prompted the creation of a new L.A.-focused website, ElectroMotiveLA.
"People tell me not only do they not know about electric cars, they don't even know where to start," said Stefanie Garden, co-creator of ElectroMotiveLA, which launched Jan. 18.
Automakers have drawn criticism for lack of aggression in marketing electric cars. ElectroMotiveLA — which receives no money from the auto industry – hopes to be a first stop.
The website suggests models to fit individual needs. You can browse cars available in the Los Angeles area, and there are primers on range, charging and the paperwork needed for tax credits and other government incentives.
Garden said ElectroMotiveLA confers with marketers at the car companies and dealerships but accepts no money from them.
It's funded by San Francisco-based 11th Hour
Project, an arm of the Schmidt Family Foundation. The nonprofit grant maker's mission includes reducing fossil-fuel reliance and accelerating the transition to renewable energy.
"We're trying to decarbonize the transportation sector," 11th Hour program director Jamie Dean said. "There's not enough information available about electric vehicles. Too many people don't know that these are real cars, not golf carts."
But the website focuses less on the environmental benefits and fuel-saving advantages and more on the qualities of the cars themselves.
Most people know that electric motors are cleaner than internal combustion engines. The plan is to get potential buyers to take a serious look at the electric option by appealing to the cool factor and making the education process simple and fun.
In an era of low gasoline prices, electric cars are still in search of popularity. Although California boasts the largest share of the electric car market in the U.S., with nearly 50% of sales, and L.A. is the largest regional market, with about 20% of the total, the unit sales figures are puny. In 2016, according to EV Volumes, only 157,130 electric passenger vehicles were sold in the U.S. out of 17.55 million total.
Dean hopes that rising sales will build more support for California's zero-emission mandate, or ZEV, which requires that 15% of passenger vehicles sold in 2025 emit no tailpipe pollution. Some policymakers worry that the Trump administration could crimp those plans.
"The more we can demonstrate that people want electric vehicles and are buying them, the more it strengthens support for ZEV requirements," she said.
If the website is successful in L.A., its creators say they'll probably try it in other markets.