Long Beach residents got a small glimpse into the future of transportation at Houghton Park Saturday morning as they viewed Teslas, electric motorcycles and a prototype of an electric bus that will soon be ferrying people around the city.
The Long Beach Drive Electric celebration was the first in what local advocates and leaders hope will be an annual showcase of electric vehicles and emerging green technology.
“We have lots of homeowners so interest in plug-in [electric vehicles] is high,” said Gabrielle Weeks, president of the Sierra Club, which helped organize the event.
For some Long Beach residents like Cleo Page, just seeing high-performance electric vehicles like a vintage Porsche converted into an all-electric vehicle helped reiterate that the technology is as versatile as it is necessary.
“I’m 100-percent into it,” Page said.
The event was sponsored by a number of local politicians, including Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach and Long Beach Councilman Rex Richardson, who said outreach is crucial for green technology to take hold.
“It all starts with the homes,” he said.
Programs like PACE, or Property Assisted Clean Energy, allow homeowners to finance solar energy systems or energy efficiency boosting additions through a city loan, which is paid back through property tax bills over 15 to 20 years, Richardson said.
Lowenthal said California as a whole really is at the forefront of green technology.
“It’s part of our culture,” he said. “One of the challenges in [Washington, D.C.] is they just don’t think about it.”
Manufacturers like Tesla, Nissan and Chevrolet have made strides in battery capacity of electric vehicles, charging time and in reducing overall cost of purchase. With vehicles like the Chevrolet Bolt potentially costing between $30,000 and $40,000, and having ranges of 200 miles or more on a single charge, electric vehicle technology is poised to become accessible to most middle class people in the near future, Lowenthal said.
“These are long-distance electric vehicles for everybody,” he said. “I think we’ve moved beyond those anxieties. We’re seeing some true believers.”
James Holtz, fleet sales manager at BYD Motors, praised Long Beach Transit for moving toward green technology. BYD Motors, the U.S. subsidiary of a Chinese company that specializes in batteries and electric vehicles, will be delivering 10 electric buses to Long Beach Transit with the first bus expected by the end of the year.
“We’re excited to be a part of Long Beach and for the environment, electric is the only way to go,” Holtz, who is himself a Long Beach resident, said. “As we become less and less fossil fuel dependent we can move to a clean grid, zero emission transit system.”
Press Telegram | Greg Yee at 562-499-1476.