In the debate over alternative transportation, hybrids and battery-electrics are often posited in competition. After the EV1 fiasco (re: WKTEC?) EV enthusiasts are understandably miffed by all the hybrid attention. “If not for the ZEV mandate, we would never have seen today’s hybrids!” “Hybrids are a conspiracy to keep us using gasoline!” “You want low emissions? How about no emissions at all!”
In fact, hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) need each other. For all its benefits, the hybrid is still a transitional technology, a bridge to full electrics. And full-electrics need battery R&D—which hybrids help motivate and finance. Then there’s cultural shift and acceptance (topics for another blog).
Whether you love HEVs or BEVs, the San Francisco Electric Vehicle Association (SFEVA) is a safe-haven, a sewing-circle, and a spearhead for progress. It’s closely affiliated with Plug-In America, the primary advocate for plug-in hybrids as well as conventional electrics. Plainly, it’s the best way to talk to people at the forefront of this movement. It’s an honor to have this exceptional EVA chapter right here in San Francisco.
Needless to say, Luscious Garage does not view hybrids and electrics in opposition, and supports the SF Electric Vehicle Association both as a commercial member and, now, by proudly hosting its monthly meetings. The first is Saturday, September 8th, from 11am-1pm.
For more information, check out the SF EVA website:
and Plug-In America:
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One of the uglier parts of business, I find, is asking for business. Some people have no problem with this: advertising is just another way of exchanging information, awareness even. But I hate to bother. I hate to monetize information, let alone my passions.
That said, we are now “open for business” and most people have no idea. So we are faced the challenge of letting people know. The best approach has been an initial guerilla effort where we leave some kind of notice on hybrid cars around town. It’s obvious, but it’s also polite and appropriate: people can absorb the information without an audience, in the context of their car.
The exact kind of “notice” has been a subject of debate. At first I thought flyer, like a concert notice. But a piece of xerox paper feels disposable, like impending waste, an obvious insult to our environmental goals. So the flyer gave way to postcard with some kind of technical tip, something glove box caliber. That gave way to a business card. A business card, something tangible but still managable, can be saved without too much imposition. If it is disposed, it is small. FYI, our cards are 100% post consumer recycled product printed with soy based ink. Great job Bacchus Press.
To our recipients, I apologize for interrupting your life with an advertisement. Your car is an important part of your life, your contribution, including your environmental impact. LG exists to support this part for the better. Hopefully you’re excited about the prospect of a hybrid-focused garage. I met a woman today, in the course of leaving cards, and during our conversation I said of LG, “It’s time.”
Green is a great movement; you can help yourself and everyone else at the same time. This fact resonated yesterday when Thomas from SF Green Cab returned my solicitation to service his hybrid fleet. This is not a charity case. Taxi is all business, green or no. We need to keep their cars on the road—efficiently and economically— and he is willing to pay: so he can rely on his fleet with confidence, to protect his manufacturers’ warranty, and to know his cars are not compromising all his green efforts when they take a break in the shop.
I approached SF Green Cab because, at bottom, they supported hybrids. But I support green business as well, with equal emphasis on “green” and “business”. You cannot be green and price gouge, because you effectively punish people for doing the right thing. This applies to all LG services, for individuals and fleets. We are priced to support environmental consciousness.
Beyond price, doing the right thing ultimately comes down to service. Two weeks ago, after seeing SF Green Cabs around town, I arranged for them to give me a ride to the airport at the crack of dawn. Anyone who’s called for a cab in this town can appreciate this leap of faith; SFGC did not disappoint. Prompt and capable of hauling all of my crap with the efficiency of an 07 Civic Hybrid, the driver Beyen not only got me there, he charmed me with his knowledge and appreciation of the technology onboard his car. He is a believer.
Welcome Thomas, Beyen, Mark, and the rest of the SF Green Cab family to Luscious Garage. Here’s to a prosperous future making people happy, pushing the status quo, and doing right by the environment.
The world of auto repair can seem very small. You work on cars from your service bay, a concrete slab some twenty feet square, the only company the adjacent technicians and the machine itself. It’s up to you to get the job done with little help from this company (cars tend to obstruct rather than help, actually) and you go to sleep knowing you’ll do the same thing the next day.
Working this way when I still lived in Michigan, I got lonely. I loved my coworkers, especially my comrade Dave who worked in the other bay, but the shop was entirely isolated from the rest of the wrenching community. Training was the only time I met other techs, and they all seemed like idiots. More than once it occurred to me that maybe I was an idiot too.
My savior turned out to be iATN, and iATN members know what I mean. One day you discover a network of thoughtful, compassionate, car-minded individuals not unlike yourself—tens of thousands of them—and you suddenly realize that you are not an idiot, nor are you alone. For me that day arrived on February 23rd, 2003.
iATN stands for the International Automotive Technicians’ Network. Comprised of 56,968 members (as of this posting) from 150 countries with over a million years of experience, it is by the far the best single resource for information and support in this industry. More so, over the last four years I have met so many talented, intelligent, and caring people. This point was reinstated yesterday when I received flowers from a fellow member, Mark Jorgensen of Mark Jorgensen Automotive in Hervey Bay, Queensland, congratulating me for achieving my dream of opening Luscious Garage. Is anyone else tearing up about this?
Ok, ok, auto technicians (or “mechanics” when you’re feeling sentimental) are tough. They don’t say “I love you” as much as other people. So I feel as though I’m distancing myself when I say I love iATN. But I really do love it. Thank you Mark all the way down (under) in the Southern Hemisphere. Your gesture is very kind and much appreciated. I put the flowers on my tool bench so I can look at them while I’m working, to remind me of you and all the other members out there wrenching away.
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Who: Me, You, and Everyone We Know
What: Luscious Garage **GRAND OPENING PARTY**
When: Saturday, September 15th, 6-10pm
Where: Where else? 459 Clementina, San Francisco
Drinks, snacks, and happiness provided.
Back in the spring, before we had a space (or knew we would ever find one), I came across a commercial unit on Howard St—ground floor, cross street Seventh (I believe) right next to a gas station. It was a little big (6000 sf) and correspondingly expensive, but it was recently remodeled and clean, and it had neat skylights along the back wall. I thought, of all the property thus far, this is the best. This is doable.
I did a lot of driving during that period (I’m sorry to admit), putting five thousand miles on a brand new Prius in the span of a few months. Half of those miles were spent cruising the streets of SOMA, trying to go as slowly as possible without eliciting honks (I find that it’s easy to pass as well-meaning but distracted in a Prius) while simultaneously manifesting “For Rent” signs. I called on so many signs—repeatedly, I’m sure, as I would forget who I’d already contacted—that I think I spoke to every commercial agent in the city. “Oh yeah, you’re the one with the hybrid shop,” was a common response.
Anyway, I watched the space on Howard lay vacant for a week or two, and then BAM!—it was full of furniture with a huge, flourescent banner out front, announcing “GRAND OPENING!”
I thought, “now that’s a quick turnaround.”
Luscious Garage has not emerged so quickly. We signed the lease on May 10th, after much nail-biting over our landlords (strangers at the time) and then the city planning department. Destruction preceded construction, followed by equipment decisions, coordination, and purchases. Contractors, inspectors, accounts, meetings, paperwork, sleepless nights. Let’s just say that auto service is not furniture.
The greatest news is that we have completed the start-up process. We secured our permits in early August and have been tidying up the details—on the website and on Clementina—over the last couple weeks. While there remains a great deal to do, we are ready for our customers and the public beyond.
All of this leads me, with great pleasure, to host our own grand opening party. There may not be a banner, but the emotional state is flourescent for sure. The Evite is out but everyone is welcome. You too reader! Luscious Garage lives, and it’s time to celebrate!