Alternative Energy Consortium, Calstart, Celebrates 20th Anniversary

News about electric powertrain vehicles, hybrids, charging stations, plug-in hybrids, and the alternative fuel vehicle industry at large is plentiful nowadays. The industry is burgeoning, but where, or rather when, was the industry conceived?

No single person, agency, or company can lay claim to birthing the green car revolution. But for the past 20 years infrequently heard of Calstart has been instrumental in advancing the notion of alternative fuel vehicles and related business from hopeful fantasy to a viable industry and an accepted aspect of many of today’s lifestyles.

Founded in 1992, Calstart was the brainchild of Dr. Leon Bell, an engineer that saw an opportunity to utilize the scientific minds of so many that were finding themselves idle following the then-pending wind down of the aerospace industry.

Bell wanted to pool resources with fellow engineers, scientists, and aerospace businesses to find ways to help automakers meet California’s mandate that a percentage of carmakers’ vehicles for sale in the state must be zero-emissions.

To show it could be done, writes Autoweek, Bell built an electric car using technologies from 20 different companies and started showing it off. However, laws sometimes do change, and California’s electric vehicle mandate was shelved.

Following that hurdle, Calstart forged ahead to focus on assisting large-vehicle fleets operations become environmentally friendly. The consortium then pursued big-picture thinking by impacting legislation and forming coalitions benefiting the green energy industry at large.

And now that California is back on board with zero-emissions, courtesy of Governor Edmund (Jerry) Brown’s mandate known informally as the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program, Calstart will likely continue a legacy of guiding the clean energy community to new, landmark standards that much of the country, if not the world, will embrace.


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