Why I love San Francisco….


I was catching up over breakfast with a friend yesterday morning at my favorite cafe* in San Francisco and from another corner we couldn’t help but overhear some chat about Tesla, battery storage and more… I tried to focus, but with ADD that can be tough.

Once my breakfast pal left, I walked over and caught up with electric vehicle veteran Marcus Hay, founder and CEO of Pi Mobility and the company’s business development man, Curtis Chin.

We talked about a couple things, including when they expected to roll out production. They just closed on some space in Sausalito (just north of SF), and are hoping to deliver some of these hot bikes starting in June.

We had a bit of a “Who Killed the Electric Vehicle” discussion. He’s been working on this particular concept of a sexy electric bike for over 14 years, and it was thanks to CalStart, a now relatively silent incubator that once supported and cross pollinated 200 companies working to achieve electric vehicle success in Lockheed Martin’s donated headquarters.

What silenced it? Well, according to Marcus, funding slowed down, the Zero Emission mandate was repealed, and California started to bet on Hydrogen as a solution.  A shame really, who knows where we would be today if these vehicle  and supporting technology companies had continued to work together – Marcus’ neighbors at the incubator included the founders of Think, né Pivco.

As a career lesson for “breaking into CleanTech” Curtis Chin comes to the company because of his experience at another high performance two wheeled vehicle company, Santa Cruz bicycles.

Sometime this summer San Franciscans can expect a locally designed, developed and built product in the high $2K range… but will it power us up these hilly streets?

Perhaps the more appropriate question is: is this really a cleantech solution? It isn’t cleaner, and certainly not any cheaper than my fully amortized Huffy Power Ranger push scooter (or my bicycle for that matter), but it is a whole bunch sleeker. Thoughts?



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One comment on “Why I love San Francisco….

Thanks for mentioning us – but to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of CALSTART’s silence seem to be greatly exaggerated! Let us assure you that we are VERY much alive and more active than ever on our clean transportation mission. In fact, we now have members worldwide.

CALSTART, which launched in 1992, has been instrumental in supporting and expanding clean transportation technologies, fuels, systems and the companies that make them, from fuel cell buses to biofuel infrastructure, from electric bikes to hybrid big rigs. In fact, CALSTART led the effort to bring out new incentive legislation, AB 118 in California, that will assist clean vehicle and fuel makers and the companies who use their products to get fuel efficient technologies on the road. CALSTART’s Hybrid Truck Users Forum has nationally sped the production of hybrid trucks –some are up to 50% more fuel efficient! Its fuel cell bus program is knocking down the barriers to zero-emission transit. Its electric bike transit connection programs have helped showcase ways to move people out of their cars.

So we’ve been busy! CALSTART’s mission remains the same, though, as a fuel neutral organization, we believe that there is no “silver bullet” answer to the challenges we face. We remain hard at work, helping companies bring new technologies to transportation that can secure our transportation energy future, provide solutions to achieve smart growth, lessen our dependence on oil, and combat climate change and air pollution.

The organization is 140 members strong: check us out at http://www.calstart.org. Better yet, join the companies and agencies, large and small, who make up the leaders in transforming transportation.

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