The first time we had the Chevrolet Volt it was a rare sight on the road and even in trend-setting Los Angeles – GM’s electric wonder was a rare fish in a sea of Priuses Priui a crap load of hybrid imports.The scene has since changed in the last year and cars like the Tesla Model S fill the roads and planning an afternoon up the coast can often include a search for convenient charging stations. Not only does my office have multiple chargers for employee cars but the Carl’s JR down the road has specific spots to juice up your car while you enjoy a burger the size of your face. Last year I was that strange employee who ran the Volt’s plug to a random outlet at the top of the parking structure and had to wait 8 hours for a full charge. Now I am the fancy electric car driver who gets to pay $2 for 40 min of charging at a fast food restaurant to gain 3 miles of range, an issue that is getting better with the advancement of quick DC charging. But for the moment my $2 only gets me a few extra smug/green points.
The changes in 2013 to allow the Volt in the carpool lane saw a huge boom in sales for Southern California and the highways full of Leafs and Prius were now scattered with bowtie laden plugins. The culture shift to accept the electric and plugin vehicles has taken hold in 2013 and names like Tesla and Volt are no longer spoken in terms of simply novelty cars, but actual contenders for the future of transportation. With charging stations popping up across Los Angeles and other urban ares it is only a matter of time until we begin to move further towards a new era of automotive culture. Many will say that electric vehicles are merely a stop-gap mode of transport until we see hydrogen fuel cells on the road. However, the infrastructure of the hydrogen plan is still decades away and the growing electric infrastructure is still only in a small portion of the country. With exciting cars like the McLaren P1, Ferrari La Ferrari, and Porsche 918 coming out in the next year using hybrid or plug in technology we now have cars with exhilarating performance that true gear heads desire from a driving experience and we are continuing to see further advancements in electric platforms and battery technologies. It is exciting to see how much Southern California has adapted to the electric vehicle in the last year and we are excited to see what the future holds for the different technologies that will move us away from the common gasoline engine that we know and love.