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Sparks Fly at Electrify Expo

Electric vehicle (EV) enthusiasts and curious onlookers flocked to Alameda Point to attend Electrify Expo, one of North America’s largest EV showcases, at its Bay Area event on Alameda Point this past weekend, June 24 and June 25. Spanning over 1 million square feet of tents and test tracks, the family-friendly event offered visitors the opportunity to explore and test electric skateboards, scooters, bikes, and cars of a wide range of brands and models.

Alameda Post - a map of the layoff of the Electrify Expo
Electrify Expo’s layout took full advantage of the spacious area at Alameda Point.

Jessica, an attendee in search of her next EV, saw the event as a chance to teach her 5-year-old son Lachlan about the future of transportation. “They’re powered by electricity, clean energy,” she explained, as Lachlan ran off to drive the electric go-karts in the Kids Zone.

Enthusiasts from around the Bay Area engaged with representatives from numerous manufacturers for a turn to try out sleek, zippy e-bikes around a meandering course. Experienced e-bike owners Paul and Wilma came from Saratoga and meticulously rotated among the Bosch-powered bikes to find an upgrade.



Alameda Post - two people test out E-bikes in a large concrete area. A row of empty E-bikes waits for testers
Paul and Wilma from Saratoga test out a Riese & Müller e-bike. Photo Ken Der.

“We live 6 miles away from my work,” revealed Wilma, “but the company shuttle takes forever, over an hour. My e-bike takes 20 to 25 minutes!”

“It’s a game changer to getting people out of cars,” added Paul, noting that the family is now car-free. “[E-bikes] make American distances more doable.”

A black Riese & Müller caught my eye, and having never been on an e-bike before , I could not resist hopping on and taking it for a lap—actually two—around the course. The Class I bike had a top speed of 20 mph and the electric motor kicked in every time I pedaled. E-bikes of higher classes, less common at the Expo, feature electric throttles (Class II) and speeds up to 28 mph (Class III).

Alameda Post - VW's ID. Buzz electric van
Volkswagen brought the European version of their hotly-anticipated ID. Buzz electric van to the Expo. A larger version for the US is due in 2024. Photo Adam Gillitt.

Despite expansive elements showcasing electric active mobility, the Expo was still very much car-centric. Nowhere was that more apparent than the Ford “Thrill Zone,” where visitors lined up to ride in the electric Ford Mustang Mach-E with a professional driver who performed drifts and donuts. The stunts sent thick, white smoke billowing regularly into the adjacent e-bike zone, leading most to cover their faces to avoid breathing in the stench of burning rubber.

“It’s toxic!” one attendee exclaimed to the Ford representatives in attendance.

Alameda Post - a FOrd Mustang sits in a concrete area surrounded by large white barriers. The Electrify Expo's "Thrill Zone" was a big attraction
The electric Ford Mustang Mach-E featured in the “Thrill Zone.” Photo Ken Der.
Alameda Post - Electrify Expo booths and attendees and a fog of white smoke
White smoke generated by “Thrill Zone” stunts waft across the adjacent e-bike zone. Photo Ken Der.

The Ride + Drive EV Demo zone was much more docile. Tesla, BMW, Polestar, Kia, Toyota, and Mitsubishi were just a few of the manufacturers that allowed Expo-goers to climb in and take an EV for a spin. The test course, set up on a former Naval Air Station runaway, allowed drivers to maneuver hairpin turns and gun it down thrilling straightaways.

George and Tanya test drove a BMW i7 and a Ford Mach-E earlier in the day in the Thrill Zone. “It was fun!” George said. Tanya agreed: “I’m not used to them picking up so quickly!”

Alameda Post - F-100 pickup converted to electric
Ford showed off a vintage 1978 F-100 Custom pickup truck that has been fully converted to run on electricity. Photo Adam Gillitt.

The Electrify Expo continues its seven-city nationwide tour in Washington, D.C. in July and Long Island in August.

Ken Der is a contributing writer for the Alameda Post. Contact him via [email protected]. His writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Ken-Der.

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