With the electric future in full swing, more and more automakers hope to join the wave and deliver an EV that consumers will choose for their next vehicle purchase. The average battery range for newsworthy models may seem higher and higher, but the truth remains that most affordable fuel-efficient cars are still on the brink of range anxiety. However, as battery capacity and motor efficiency increase, there will be further evolutionary steps that influence the future of transportation and mobility.
A range of less conventional transportation options already adapted for battery electric power is currently solving many of the outstanding EV problems for a large subset of potential customers living in urban environments. Automakers and companies looking to revolutionize the way people travel can work together to raise awareness for electric alternatives through events such as the 2022 inauguration Electrize Expowhich I attended last weekend at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.
Welcome to Electrify Expo!
A huge, encouraging line greeted me after I entered the parking garage, where I parked my V8-powered gas-guzzler somewhat guiltily. It’s clear that the Electrify Expo marketing team did the talking by promoting a wide variety of companies who planned to offer demos and test drives of their products. The first booth that caught my eye after entering the gates featured four Polestar 2s, which I explored in the hopes of seeing nicer interiors than the stripped-down Long Range Single Motor 2 I reviewed earlier this spring.
Lucid Motors leads the way
Then I sauntered over to where a large crowd gathered around a Lucid Air. Lucid Motors made a huge splash with last year’s delivery to customers of an EV capable of more than 500 miles on a single charge. A hefty price tag well into the six-figure range prohibits entry for most consumers, though the company plans to release a range of crossovers and cheaper options in the coming years that will hopefully offer only a slightly lower range rating.
People wanted to get to know the Air up close in order to experience Lucid’s highly coherent design and advertising principles, although the California-based startup also brought a few cars to drive demos. Unfortunately, by the time I got to Electrify Expo, the list of actually getting behind the wheel of an Air (rather than riding along, which I did in Monterey almost a year ago) already looked like about four hours to wait.
Demo drives for consumers and skeptics
Nevertheless, I went to the driving and demo area – but with FuelFest somewhat ironically on my agenda for the afternoon, I couldn’t commit to waiting that long for a chance to drive one of the most highly anticipated cars of this century. Instead, I watched people pull off in Polestars and Kias, or pull on helmets to take Harley-Davidson’s electric LiveWire motor spin-off on high-speed rides. Having experienced the convenience of a Vintage Electric Shelby e-bike and recently obtained my motorcycle license, an electric motorcycle seems likely to be the perfect solution for my own minimal commute.
Electric motorsport attracts big names
As the auto industry as a whole, including aftermarket enthusiasts, continues to adopt EV technology, some of the credit lies with motorsport. Formula E using batteries and motors instead of petrol was definitely a pioneer of electrified competition, although Nitro Rallycross (stylized as RX) also made an appearance at the Electrify Expo with a newcomer to the new Group E class. The FC1-X pumps out a peak of 1,070 horsepower and can launch to 60 miles per hour in 1.4 seconds – which should be enough for drivers Travis Pastrana and Conner Martell as they chase a title in the new EV built to withstand dirt. shred and bridge leaps while spreading awareness of electrical performance potential.
Usually a consumer fair
While motorsport offers a format intended to raise EV awareness, the public attending the Electrify Expo clearly knows or wants to know more about electric options that are available now or soon. The broad demographic clearly cast a much wider network than any average auto show, though I did wonder why fewer companies showed up to show off charging options beyond the proprietary technology automakers sell with their vehicles. I’m on board with EVs, but without somewhere to charge in my apartment, I just can’t bring myself to make an actual purchase.
Alternative electric transport
Of course, after riding the Shelby e-bike through West LA, it sounds even better to dump cars. And plenty of full alternatives to what we can now call traditional electric vehicles also came to Electrify Expo, ranging from skateboards to scooters that run on battery power.
A big e-bike boom
An entire section of the show devoted to e-bikes offers a middle ground, combining human leg power with varying levels of electrical assistance. I tested a few Super73 short-loop e-bikes and setting up a few media loans to further explore how e-bikes can meet most of consumers’ urban transportation needs.
New names in a growing field
I also saw a few as-yet-unknown EV companies that presumably showed up in hopes of increasing their reach. India EV based in downtown Los Angeles, released their electric crossover with a promising 300-mile range and are now available for pre-order. Whether a new company will deliver a vehicle so similar to the one nearly every automaker unveiled at the last LA International Auto Show remains a question only time can answer.
Divergent visions of the electric future
More radical visions of the electric future depart from the four-door, five-seat crossover design that most automakers apparently believe every driver on the planet needs. These little ElectraMeccanica tricycles seemed to steadily attract curious visitors, although creating curiosity doesn’t always lead to business success in such a challenging and growing market segment.
OEMs get into the mix
Major OEMs still represent the biggest players today, jumping headlong into electric vehicles in hopes of reclaiming some of the market share Tesla earned with early, impressive EV options. Volkswagens like Volkswagen, plus siblings from Subaru and Toyota (and Kia and Hyundai), all now offer entry-level electric crossovers. The issue of range anxiety lingers, though, as a base bZ4X offers an EPA-rated range of 252 miles — or less than a Tesla Model S when the company’s first four-door debuted more than a full decade ago.
Now that I’ve driven more than a few EV options, I can of course report that the range figures above a few hundred really meet the needs of anyone who has regular home charging and plans to use their car for commuting. Electrify Expo was clearly aimed at exactly such curious consumers, with an eye to the future and promises of sustainability that could be seen on just about every company’s booth. As I drove to FuelFest in my V8-powered car that afternoon, I wondered if the trip from Santa Monica to Long Beach to Irwindale and back home before the end of the day would leave me fretting about range if I made the trip. would make in one of the entry-level EVs currently available on the market.
Sources: electrifyexpo.com, fuelfest.com, super73.com and driveindi.com.