Movie studios, car rental companies, government agencies — all were wooed by proponents of electric cars, test drives and all, at Bob Hope Airport this week in an effort to increase the use of the zero- and low-emissions vehicles.
“An airport and a studio can serve as living laboratories of these technologies,” California Energy Commissioner Carla Peterman said after addressing the audience at a hangar at the airport, where several models were on display Thursday. “I would encourage airports and studios to not only adopt electric cars [and] alternative vehicles, but also alternative energy: solar panels, fuel cells.
“Imagine powering your car with solar panels. That's like driving on sunshine. That's where we're trying to go to in this state.”
She compared studios and airports to small cities — they have shops, security needs and significant on-site infrastructures that make them ideal testing grounds for adopting alternative vehicles and energy, she added.
Michael Walbrecht, vice president of public affairs for Warner Bros., said the studio has installed five electric charging stations in two parking structures that are available to employees and visitors.
“We're developing a long-term strategy as to what we are going to do, because right now, maybe about a dozen employees have [electric vehicles] at the studio, but three years from now, that could be 150,” Walbrecht said.
Peterman, who said FedEx and UPS are also looking into electric vehicles, encouraged businesses with fleets to make the switch.
“The government can and wants to help you,” Peterman said in her address to the group, which included Burbank Water and Power officials, car company representatives and city officials.
The California Energy Commission manages a fund of $100 million annually for investments in alternative fuels, vehicles and infrastructure, and electric vehicles are a part of that, she said.
So far, the commission has invested $65.6 million in electric-vehicle-related projects, and of that, $21 million has been in the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena area, Peterman added.
Audience members had the opportunity to test drive a slate of electric vehicles at the event Thursday on an outside course.
The electric-vehicle ride-and-drive event was sponsored by Burbank Water and Power, Bob Hope Airport, the California Electric Transportation Coalition, Mercedes-Benz and Chevrolet.
Chevrolet's Volt, a Nissan Leaf and a BMW Active E were on display, as was a Tesla Roadster — the $109,000 sports car said to travel about 245 miles on a single charge — and a 1912 electric Baker on loan from Jay Leno's collection.
The models from General Motors, Nissan and Toyota were the only cars available for test drives.