Berkeley car dealership goes green

July 16, 2008 7:12:29 PM PDT
The price of oil has dropped $10 in the past two days, but we aren't seeing it at the pumps, at least not yet. That has many consumers thinking about green.

It is a sign of the times, but a bit ironic, too. The old Cadillac/VW dealership building in Berkeley has been taken over by a company selling nothing but electric cars.

The first thing you see just screams things are different at Green Motors. Inside, it doesn't look like your average dealership either.

There are tiny little two-seaters, odd-shaped single seaters -- even bicycles and scooters. All of them are electric.

"It seems like the anti-Hummer. I call it my electric Hummer," said Marc Korchin from Green Motors.

It does have that kind of appeal. The hood is unexpected.

"It has a charger, battery in this chamber here, a motor in the back and basically it drives like an automatic," said Korchin.

The Zenn Car goes for about 30 miles on a charge and has a regulated top speed if 25 miles per hour in California.

By law, many of these types of cars are only allowed on streets which have posted limits of 35 miles per hour or less.

"This is a hybrid in two cars. I have a four-wheel car that's gas and a four-wheel car that's electric, so it is a perfect hybrid in two cars," said Korchin.

"So it is a hybrid family," said 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney.

"Yes a hybrid family," said Korchin.

So how does it drive? Well, the first thing you notice is there's no sound when starting up. Out on the road, it drives fine, but feels as small as it looks. In fact it drives a bit like a golf cart.

The cost to charge is about $1 a day, so getting from here to there costs about two or three cents a mile. And a fill-up takes place wherever there is an electrical outlet.

"The car plugs in just like a cell phone. You take your extension cord and plug it in and four hours later, it is 80 percent charged overnight it is fully charged," said Korchin.

The cars retails in the $17,000 range. But there's currently a $3,000 discount available. The bikes start at under $1,000, the scooter around $3,000 and the trucks are more than $20,000.

Many of these vehicles have exemptions from many of the laws, and that's why the state says they must remain on city streets and have controls that keep them from going more than 25 miles per hour.


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