Before we answer that question, let’s just say that talk is easy and everyone wants to jump on the electric car band-wagon but actually walking the walk and talking the talk is another thing. So we set out to find out if any U.S. officials actually drove a pure EV and were surprise to find out the Mayor of Long Beach, California drives his Toyota RAV4 EV to work everyday.
The gist is that we wondered if a U.S. official was actually driving an electric vehicle, EV instead of talking about them. It brought us to a city that has actively been working on going green since the 1970s. We found Long Beach, California has a steady track record since the 70′s when it started investigating a new phenomenon called, the liquid compressed gas. In its drive to become green and ween itself from petroleum dependency, the city has explored other technologies throughout the decades. Today, Long Beach is hailed as the greenest fleet city in north America. We also found out that its mayor, Bob Foster is a long time electric vehicle, EV driver and daily drives his Toyota RAV4 EV to work, making him, to our knowledge the only U.S. mayor who actually owns and drives one to work every day. Here is our interview with him.
Seeing The Electric Light. For Mayor Bob Foster, it all started when he was the President of Southern California Edison, SCE and saw the fleet of electric cars Toyota had sold them, the famous and revered RAV4 EVs. After trying driving them, he soon found out they were no golf cart, functioned like a normal cars with enough performance for highways cruising. He was hooked and used his service one for 4 years. The car made perfect sense to him, both economically and suited his needs
Moving On, Keeping The Jolt. After leaving SCE, Mr. Foster didn’t want to do without his RAV4 EV, so he went to a Toyota dealership and after much, much paperwork, left with an “as is” RAV4 EV. In three and a half years, he put 18,000 miles on it with the only maintenance being new tires and brake pads. When talking about the economics of owning an EV, he says it makes complete sense. Charge it up at night and voila, you can drive for single digit sense on the mile instead of double for gasoline.
Life As An EV Mayor. And currently Mayor Foster still drives his EV to work where he parks in front of a special electric recharging station in the city hall building basement. What makes the car perfect for him is that as a Mayor, he is often called to go to Los Angeles and driving alone legally in the carpool lane is a time savior. Other benefits to driving an EV include, free parking in most places, whether going to LAX or the Santa Monica city hall, he can find having charging stations and free parking. We asked him how did he managed trips that took him beyond metropolitan Los Angeles? He told us his handy EV book lets him know where he can find charging stations and plan accordingly. Mayor Foster is proof that an EV is practical, both economically and well suited even for an elected official.
What Will Be Your Next EV? We asked Mayor Foster what would be his next EV of choice and the answer was a resounding Tesla Model S. Why? It seats 7 people, can go anywhere from 160 miles to 300, depending on battery configuration. It is the second generation of EVs and it is setting the level high.
Final Thoughts. Long Beach impressed us in many ways as a city that has the greenest fleet in northern America, one that hosts the greenest and one of the world’s busiest port in the U.S., as well as a mayor who actually drives an EV to work. Next, we will talk to a Long Beach Council member who has been so enthused, she upgraded her Toyota Prius to a plug-in hybrid, PHEV and the person in charged of the city fleet.