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Earthrise, courtesy of NASA.


Ed Begley Jr. Walks Us Through His Electric Vehicles — 1970 Onward

When you purchase your first electric vehicle from a guy named Dutch in Reseda, it’s safe to say you can officially be called an EV pioneer.

Ed Begley, Jr., acclaimed actor and staunch environmentalist, acquired the car from a phone book search in 1970. It was a Taylor-Dunn, and he describes as more of a golf cart with a windshield wiper and a horn. Over the next several years, he worked with others to have EVs converted from gas cars, one a bit better than the next. Eventually, he leased and owned some of the early EVs commercially available, like the GM EV1 and Toyota RAV4 EV.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Ed for my podcast, “Stu’s EV Universe.” He talks about how he’s seen some of the low points in the battle for adopting cleaner modes of fuel and transportation, yet has remained extremely optimistic.

You can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, Breaker, or elsewhere.

Ed was motivated early on by the terrible pollution in the Los Angeles area in the ‘50s and ‘60s. “Forget about running and playing in the ‘50s and ‘60s,” he said.  “You just sit on a bench, sit still and read a book, your lungs hurt you.”

When he was part of the first Earth Day in 1970, he realized that cleaning up the air and water needed to be a year-round effort.

Ed plants seeds. While he now enjoys his LEED Platinum–certified house and notes that his Tesla Model S is the best car he’s ever owned, he didn’t start out that way. He is a realist and tells everyone that you need to first start with the low-hanging fruit. Things like energy efficient lighting and insulation are key.

Ed believes that everyone can learn, grow, and change their habits to benefit the Earth. He finds inspiration in folks like climate activist Greta Thunberg and her message that immediate action on a grand scale is needed to address climate change — that we all need to be part of the solution.

He says a lot more on my podcast, especially about the future of electric transportation. Will legacy auto gain a foothold? Will EV startups take the lead? How does his family factor prominently into his environmentalism? He also discusses the importance of less consumption and much more. It’s a compelling conversation with my eco-hero.

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Written By

Stuart Ungar has been interested in how technology can help us live lighter on the Earth for most of his life and remembers going on solar house tours as a kid in the ‘70s with his dad (and having to travel many miles to see each site). Stuart is the co-founder of Evolve KY, Kentucky’s non-profit electric vehicle group and has a brand new podcast — Stu’s EV Universe, which can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other major platforms. Stuart lives with his wife and college-age kids in Louisville, Kentucky.


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