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Dec 01st
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The Electric Wave

revengeSANTA CRUZ > Electric car documentary, charging stations come to Santa Cruz

This Friday, Jan. 13, Santa Cruz will join the ranks of the few U.S. cities selected to stage a public viewing of the 2011 documentary Revenge of the Electric Car. The film is directed by Chris Paine, who will be on hand at the event to field questions, and is a follow-up to his widely viewed and discussed 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?

Revenge of the Electric Car chronicles the resurgence of electric vehicles (EVs) by documenting the efforts of four individuals who are making waves in the automobile industry. A General Motors executive, the heads of Nissan and Tesla, and an independent car converter are each profiled, highlighting the effort that goes into bringing a viable EV to market. The film is a departure from Who Killed the Electric Car?, which largely focused on the destruction of several thousand EVs.

 The Rio Theatre will host the event, which was organized in part by the Monterey Bay Electric Vehicle Alliance (MBEVA). Founded in 2009, MBEVA is a volunteer-run organization that aims to spread awareness and establish infrastructure for EVs in the region. Thus far, MBEVA has secured grants to install as many as 70 charging stations throughout Monterey Bay. Sharon Sarris, MBEVA’s co-founder and co-facilitator, sees Friday’s event as one of many opportunities to prepare the Monterey Bay Area for a future filled with EVs.

“Most people don’t know a lot about electric vehicles, especially the new plug-ins coming to the market, and we want to educate the public,” says Sarris. “We’re just trying to get the word out.”

Sarris, herself, has been familiar with EVs for decades. She founded Greenfuse energy in 2001, an Aptos-based company that provides consulting services for the adoption of green buildings and alternative fuel vehicles.  In the mid-90s, she worked at GM with the team that launched the EV1, the first mass-produced electric vehicle and the subject of Who Killed the Electric Car?

“That’s what ignited my passion when we first started meeting,” she says about MBEVA’s early stages. “I just wanted to do what I could to make another release of electric vehicles work this time.”

Sarris knows that vehicles like the Chevy Volt, the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Roadster are a long way away from becoming mainstream. But she believes that the Monterey Bay Area is uniquely poised to take advantage of EVs.

“Given what we know about this region as a whole and its interest in both technology and the environment, I think that EVs will be successful here,” she says. “I think that as people become more familiar with the technology and understand the reduced cost of ownership, they’ll adopt them more and more.”

Friday’s 8 p.m. movie screening will be preceded by a display of electric vehicles in the Ace Hardware parking lot, located across Soquel Drive from the Rio. The film will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Jay Friedland, of Plug In America, and featuring Paine, Greg "Gadget" Abbott (one of the film's stars), Dorian West, Tesla’s director of Powertrain Engineering, and Tim Gallagher from Nissan’s Western Region Corporate Communications. 

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