LOS ANGELES – Automobile Club of Southern California has received 20 smart fortwo electric drive cars as part of a research project that Auto Club is conducting to test the utility and benefits of EVs. Auto Club intends to test these vehicles in light-duty roadside, insurance, and consumer activities.
"More and more motorists will be driving alternative fuel vehicles in the coming years, including electric vehicles, and the Auto Club is preparing to serve cars of the future by testing these 20 smart fortwo EVs," said Thomas McKernan, Auto Club CEO. "We're going to be exploring and reporting the benefits and challenges of driving electric cars, seeing whether they are suitable for day trips, and how they work as commuter cars. It will also assist us in establishing roadside services that meet the needs of alternative-fuel and electric vehicles."
Auto Club said the smart fortwo EVs will be driven by employees in roadside assistance, automotive services and insurance claims fleets, the Automotive Research Center, and publications and public affairs groups. It plans to publish results of this study in its Westways member magazine.
"We are thrilled the Auto Club is showing commitment to smart's electric technology and demonstrating the benefits of the smart fortwo to its members,” said Jill Lajdziak, president of smart USA. “The Auto Club's fleet is currently the nation's largest private fleet of smart fortwo electric drive vehicles."
The smart fortwo EVs will be used by the Auto Club's roadside assistance, automotive services and insurance claims fleets, the Automotive Research Center, and publications and public affairs groups. Drivers will provide feedback through the program regarding their day-to-day experiences. In addition, editors from Westways, the Auto Club's travel and lifestyle member magazine, will use a smart fortwo EV for day trips. Results will be reported to the Club's six million Southern California members through the magazine.
"Throughout the Auto Club's history, we have taken steps to understand alternate fuel vehicles and prepare for what consumers might purchase," added McKernan. "As far back as the 1970s, the Auto Club had a fleet of Ford Rancheros and Chevy El Caminos that were powered by Liquefied Petroleum Gas. The Auto Club's Automotive Research Center has tested alternate fuel and hybrid vehicles as they have been introduced to the market, and produces a Green Car Guide for car buyers."
Auto Club said it also plans to sponsor a hydrogen vehicle fueling station at Cal State Los Angeles, which the company said will open in the spring.