With the electric future well underway, 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 might seem on the up and up but the truth remains that most affordable economy cars still sit on the edge of range anxiety. As battery capacity and motor efficiency increase, however, further evolutionary steps affect the future of transportation and mobility will continue to emerge.
A swath of less conventional transportation options already adapted for electric battery power currently solves many of the outstanding EV concerns for a large subset of potential customers who live in urban environments. Automakers and companies hope to revolutionize the way humans travel can work together to help expand awareness for electric alternatives through events like 2022’s inaugural Electrify Expo, which I just visited at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center this past weekend.
Welcome To Electrify Expo
An enormous, encouraging line greeted me after I walked in from the parking garage, where I parked my V8-powered gas guzzler somewhat guiltily. Clearly, Electrify Expo’s marketing team got the word out, advertising a wide range of companies planning 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 checking out fancier interiors than the stripped 2 in Long Range Single Motor trim that I reviewed earlier this spring.
Lucid Motors Leading The Charge
Next, I ambled over to where a large crowd gathered around a Lucid Air. Lucid Motors made a huge splash with last year’s customer delivered of an EV capable of driving over 500 miles on a single charge. A hefty price tag well into the six-figure range bars entry for most consumers, though the company plans to release a series of crossovers and lower-priced options in the coming years that will hopefully offer only slightly reduced range ratings.
People wanted to get up close and personal with the Air to experience Lucid’s extremely coherent design and advertising principles, although the California-based startup also brought a few cars for driving demos. Unfortunately, by the time I got into Electrify Expo, the list to actually get behind the wheel of an Air (as opposed to riding along, which I did almost a year ago in Monterey) already looked like about a four-hour wait.
Demo Drives For Consumers And Skeptics
However, I headed over towards the driving and demo area—but with FuelFest somewhat ironically on my calendar for the afternoon, I couldn’t commit to waiting so long for a chance to drive one of the most highly anticipated cars of this century. Instead, I watched as people drove off in Polestars and Kias, or pulled on helmets to take the electric LiveWire motorcycle spinoff from Harley-Davidson out on quick rides. After experiencing the convenience of a Vintage Electric Shelby e-bike and then earning my motorcycle license recently, an electric motorcycle seems like probably the perfect solution for my own minimal commuting.
Electric Motorsports Attracting Big Names
As the automotive as a whole, including aftermarket industry passion, continue to further accept EV technology, part of the credit lies at the feet of motorsport. Formula E using batteries and motors instead of gasoline and engines definitely pioneered electrified competition, though Nitro Rallycross (stylized as RX) also showed up to Electrify Expo with a new entrant into the new Group E class. Pumping out a peak of 1,070 horsepower, the FC1-X can launch to 60 miles per hour in a claimed 1.4 seconds—which should be plenty for drivers Travis Pastrana and Conner Martell as they chase a title in the novel EV built to shred dirt and jump gaps while further spreading awareness for electric performance potential.
Mostly A Consumer Expo
While motorsport provides a format intended to expand EV awareness, the crowd attending Electrify Expo clearly knows or wants to learn more about electric options available now or coming soon. The broad demographic on hand very obviously cast a far wider net than any average car show, though I found myself wondering why fewer companies showed up to show off charging options beyond the proprietary tech that automakers sell with their vehicles. I’m onboard with EVs but without anywhere to charge at my apartment, I simply can’t bring myself to make an actual purchase.
Alternative Electric Transportation
Of course, after I rode around West LA on the Shelby e-bike, ditching cars entirely sounds even better. And plenty of full alternatives to what we can now call traditional electric vehicles also showed up to Electrify Expo, ranging from skateboards to scooters using battery power.
A Big E-Bike Boom
An entire section of the show dedicated to e-bikes offer a middle ground, combining human leg-power with varying levels of electric assist. I tested a couple of Super73 e-bikes on the short loop and set up a few media loans to further explorehow e-bikes can hope to meet most urban consumer transportation needs.
New Names In A Growing Field
I also spotted a few as-yet unknown EV companies that presumably showed up hoping to expand their reach. Indi EV based out of Downtown Los Angeles brought their electric crossover promising 300 miles of range and available for reservation now. Whether a new company delivering a vehicle so similar to the ones that almost every automaker unveiled at the past 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-seater crossover design that most automakers apparently believe every single driver on the planet needs. These tiny three-wheelers from Electra Canica seemed to be curious to draw curious Mecwheels segment, though creating doesn’t always translate to business success such a challenging and growing market.
OEMs Getting In The Mix
Big OEMs still represent the biggest players jumping headlong into electric vehicles today, hoping to reclaim some of the market share that Tesla earned with early, impressive EV options. The likes of Volkswagen, plus siblings from Subaru and Toyota (and Kia and Hyundai), all offer entry-level electric crossovers now. The question of range anxiety still lingers, however, as a base bZ4X offers an EPA-rated 252 miles of range—or less than a Tesla Model S when the company’s first four-door debut over a full decade ago.
Of course, having driven more than a few EV options now, I can report that range figures above a couple hundred truly meet the needs of anyone who can home charge regularly and plans to use their cars for commuting. Electrify Expo clearly catered to exactly such curious consumers, with an eye towards the future and promises of sustainability on display at just about every company’s stand. Driving up to FuelFest that afternoon in my V8-powered car, I wondered whether the journey from Santa Monica to Long Beach to Irwindale and back home would leave me fretting about range before the end of the day if I made the trip in any of the entry-level EVs available on the market today.
Sources: electrifyexpo.com, fuelfest.com, super73.com, and driveindi.com.