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Little car, big dreams

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THE BUZZ :  Cars such as this one from SLO's Revolution Electric Motors could provide carpoolers with an option for running errands around town. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • THE BUZZ : Cars such as this one from SLO's Revolution Electric Motors could provide carpoolers with an option for running errands around town.

# Gas at $4 per gallon may be a burden to most, but it's a sign of opportunity for the folks at SLO's Revolution Electric Cars.

CEO Jules Rogoff, a '70s-era graduate of Cal Poly's engineering department with a long track record as an entrepreneur and developer, said the combination of high gas prices and the new "tremendous social consciousness" regarding people's impact on the environment spells good news for his business plans.

The company is importing new mini cars from China that have been converted to run on electric motors.

Defined as neighborhood electric vehicles, under state law they're limited to 25 miles per hour and they have a range of about 50 miles between charges, so they aren't meant for highway use. But that doesn't interfere with the company's vision.

In addition to selling the cars nationwide--he's thinking about retirement communities, where people will find the vehicles more attractive than golf carts--Rogoff hopes to establish a car-share program in San Luis Obispo.

In the short term, he's trying to get city officials on board with his idea of avoiding certain city parking lot requirements concerning a three-story mixed-use commercial and residential development he has planned in the city.

His idea: Allow people who live in the building to share the electric vehicles in exchange for not having to build as much parking.

He's optimistic about the idea, although there haven't been any commitments from the city yet.

In the longer term, the company hopes to establish a consumer-friendly car-share program in SLO that would take away some of the barriers that might keep people from carpooling into the city.

The company wants the mini-cars to be available for short-term use, available for nothing more than an appointment made online and a swipe of a credit card to unlock and start the vehicle.

People might pay, for example, $10 a month to be members in the service and then $3 an hour to take the car.

Car shares are nothing new, but Rogoff said he wants San Luis Obispo to be the first to have one based on all-electric vehicles.

To that end, he also hopes city officials will dedicate regular 110-volt charging stations in parking structures so the cars can be recharged.

"It's just like plugging in your toaster at home," he said.


This week's Strokes and Plugs was compiled by Managing Editor Patrick Howe. He can be reached at phowe@newtimesslo.com.

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