The Santa Monica Alt Car Expo is consistently packed to the brim with useful people and experiences, which makes it one of the best events at promoting plug-in and alternative fuel vehicles. Year after year, I look forward to attending to not only see and drive the latest electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles, but to also meet up with the team of people who actually know all the ins and outs of the car.
This year at Alt Car, the team paired up with National Drive Electric Week for an event that did not disappoint. The new 2018 Nissan Leaf was the crown jewel of the show for me. Although it was on display, Nissan was not offering any test drives in it, unfortunately. Nevertheless, it was a nice treat seeing a production vehicle that isn’t yet available anywhere else in the world. Japan is set to be the first to receive the vehicle (in October), followed by the US, Canada, and Europe in early 2018.
On the other side of the expo, the Honda Clarity was out in full force with a large display area and test drives of the Clarity Electric. We took it out for a spin and found it to be everything we were hoping it would be, but its 89 mile range pales in comparison to the 150–250 mile range EVs coming out from other major automotive manufacturers. Look for a dedicated writeup on the Clarity Electric soon.
Honda also had the much more compelling Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid out on display for the first time — though, like the new LEAF, it was not ready for test drives. The plug-in hybrid iteration of Honda’s Clarity eco car platform sports a 47 mile all-electric range, then cuts over to a more traditional hybrid mode. 47 miles of all-electric range allows the Clarity PHEV to cover more commutes with fully electric driving and is second in all-electric range amongst plug-in hybrids only to the current model of the Chevy Volt, which offers an EPA rating of 53 miles of all-electric range.
AltCar is the place to go for individuals, businesses, government agencies, solution providers, and entrepreneurs looking to connect with thought leaders and automotive manufacturers in the space. This year was no exception, with a fantastic array of vehicles from a variety of manufacturers:
- Toyota brought out its Mirai and Prius Prime
- Kia came out with its Optima Plug-in Hybrid, Nero Plug-in Hybrid, and Kia Soul Electric
- BYD brought out one of its electric buses
- Volkswagen had the new and improved e-Golf with 124 miles of range per charge
- Nissan was in the house with the 2018 Nissan LEAF and the new and improved Nissan Rogue Hybrid
- Honda was all about the Clarity lineup this year, with the Fuel Cell, Electric, and Plug-in Hybrid models on hand.
- Chevy came out with the 238 mile Bolt in a variety of configurations available for test drives
Alt Car isn’t just an expo, but rather, brings together many of the thought leaders in the space for a virtual shotgun blast of information in the panel discussions being moderated in the conference area. Several panels focusing on fleets brought together informative trainers, utilities, and sustainability advocates working to clean up city fleets across Southern California for impassioned debates on topics as varied as the merits of CNG vs battery electric vehicles, total cost of ownership of the various options, and whether or not the electric grid is on track to be able to support mass adoption of electric vehicles.
All in all, Friday was a great day at Alt Car where I was also able to connect with CleanTechnica reader Calvin Holic, who paired a Southern California vacation with a trip to Alt Car this year. Keep an eye on him for great things to come in the EV space as he ramps up his sustainability activism in the coming months. The festivities continued today with even more of the general public attending to get some facetime with the latest and greatest electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
— Dave Kunz (@abc7davekunz) September 16, 2017