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Test drive the cars of tomorrow

December 01, 2007|Martin Zimmerman | Times Staff Writer

Tired of just reading about electric cars, plug-in hybrids and other alternative-fuel vehicles? Want to actually drive one?

Upcoming events in Orange County and the San Fernando Valley will give you the chance to get behind the wheel of some of the most advanced vehicles under development -- including sport utility vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells and hybrids topped with solar panels.

On Sunday, the 23rd International Electric Vehicle Symposium kicks off at the Anaheim Convention Center with a public ride-and-drive from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring more than two dozen alternative-fuel vehicles.

The modified Chevy Equinoxes entered in the Challenge X competition will be available for test drives, as will a converted plug-in Toyota Prius, all-electric vehicles from Global Electric Motorcars and a variety of electric scooters.

Other public events include a forum featuring the mayors of Anaheim, Irvine and other Southern California cities discussing sustainable transportation plans, and appearances by the authors of several recent books about the auto industry, world oil supplies and clean-energy alternatives.

Admission is $10. For more information (and a $2-off coupon), go to /evs23 and click on Public Day.

The event is sponsored by the Electric Drive Transportation Assn., whose membership includes automakers, energy companies and suppliers of alternative-power systems and components, as well as government agencies and some environmental groups.

The symposium continues through Wednesday with a series of panel discussions and seminars on battery technology, fuel-cell development and other issues.

Next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., promoters of greener living will hold the first annual Renewable L.A. festival in the parking lot of American Hi Definition at 7635 Airport Business Park Way in Van Nuys.

In addition to solar-power demonstrations, "consumption lite" holiday spending options and continuous screenings of the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?", the free event will feature several alternative-fuel vehicles, including a ZENN neighborhood electric vehicle, a biodiesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta and a Prius with a rooftop solar array.

Some will be available for test drives, others just for demonstration rides.

The aim "is to raise awareness of solar electricity as a clean renewable energy source and to raise awareness of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles," said Zan Dubin Scott, who organized the event along with Aby Gil, owner of American High Def.

Dubin Scott, whose husband is in solar power sales, owns a Toyota RAV4 EV, one of the handful of survivors from California's abortive attempt to promote the production of electric cars, an effort chronicled in "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

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