Kim Adelman, founder of Plug-In Conversions Corp. in Poway, left, talks with a customer Wednesday about his
at the 2009 San Diego International Auto Show at the Convention Center. (Photo by Robert Benson - For the North County Times)
As gas prices start to tick up again, local car companies are showing off their visions of the next wave of green technology this week.
Presenting at the San Diego International Auto Show, two North County businesses plan to exhibit vehicles that can go dozens of miles with no gasoline.
Escondido's Electra City Motors will push its all-electric conversions. For an average price of $15,000, the company converts virtually any car from a gas guzzler to electricity only.
Even if gas prices shot up, returning to more than $4 per gallon, fuel savings would probably not compensate for the price of the conversion.
"You wouldn't do this strictly for the economics of it," said Joseph Gottlieb, owner of the company. "You have to want all the things that come with it, less pollution, less carcinogens, not giving money to foreign oil producers, helping achieve American energy independence. So there's a lot of good reasons, but the economics are not at the forefront."
The same goes for Kim Adelman's company, Poway-based Plug-In Conversions Corp. At a cost of $12,500, Adelman converts Toyota Prius hybrid cars to plug-in hybrids. The conversion allows the car to run solely on electricity for the first 25 miles before relying on gasoline.
Adelman said his company has completed 13 conversions so far but has since changed the type of battery, sending his company back to testing before completing more conversions.
He said the company will return to conversions by February.
Adelman and Gottlieb are on the leading edge of an environmental movement pushing for the expulsion of gasoline from vehicles. Both cars run on only electricity if the owners drive small amounts each day.
The two companies will be among dozens presenting at the green portion of San Diego International Auto Show held this week at the San Diego Convention Center that started Wednesday and goes through Sunday. Most of the nation's major auto companies will also present their designs of the future at the event.
Compared to last year, the floor space devoted to alternative vehicle companies has tripled, Adelman said.
Meanwhile, major car companies from Toyota to General Motors have announced plans to move toward vehicles that use alternative energies.
But Adelman and Gottlieb said they weren't worried. In fact, one of the main motivators behind their businesses was to convince Detroit that alternative vehicles could be viable financially, they said.
Further, even with the announced plans by major automakers, electric vehicle proponents such as Gottlieb remained unconvinced that a new wave of cars would be unveiled in the near future.
"I don't have a lot of faith they will come out," he said. "If they do, it's not so much competition for us. It's the way we've got to go. I would love it if they came out with all-electric cars. We didn't get into this for the dollars."
Contact staff writer Zach Fox at (760) 740-5412 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog, "On the Realside," at bizblogs.nctimes.com.