(As written by Laurie Lucas and published by the Press-Enterprise)
Riverside just got a little greener.
Singh EcoCentre at 8043 Indiana Avenue is the Inland Empire’s first franchise to offer some of the country’s most affordable electric cars, trucks and vans that cost little to drive.
Located in the Riverside Auto Center just off Highway 91, the EcoCentre celebrated its grand opening on July 4 with 20 electric vehicles in stock.
The man behind the franchise is Ramon Alvarez, who owns Lincoln and Jaguar dealerships in Riverside. He created Alvarez Electric Motors Co. which imports vehicles from China, for drivers who want to protect the environment, save money and eliminate gas pains.
“The opening of the Singh EcoCentre is a milestone for Riverside and the Singh Auto Group,” Dalip Singh Sethi, President of Singh Auto Group, said in a written statement. “These affordable neighborhood vehicles offer a vital alternative for people who are looking for a low-cost and environmentally-friendly vehicle to get around town.”
Alvarez, who has worked more than 30 years in the auto industry, is selling his green line through outlets called EcoCentres. The EcoE, EcoVan and EcoTruck all plug directly into a standard electrical socket. Each vehicle travels at a maximum speed of about 25 mph, with a range of 25-40 miles. The EcoE two-seater commuter car is $9,995; the EcoTruck is $16,995; and the EcoVan is $17,995. They cost between three and five cents per mile to operate.
Alvarez said he’s talking to another Riverside dealership about selling a plug-in motorcycle imported from China. Called the EcoCycle, it retails for $8,999 and can hit speeds of 65 mph.
Alvarez opened his first EcoCentre nearly a year ago in Irvine, followed by a second franchise in Glendale. He likes to distribute his electric line through dealerships that have a well-respected track record for value and service in their communities. Alvarez said he’s impressed with Singh Auto Group, which has been serving the Riverside community with Chevrolet and Subaru franchises since 1997.
Alvarez Electric Motor Co.’s three franchises currently stock 130 to 140 vehicles.
“Sales have absolutely met my expectations,” Alvarez said. “I’m pleased and excited.” Dealers have sold 20 of his import plug-ins within the past four months, he said. Plans for his next franchises include the Coachella Valley and San Diego.
Also known as neighborhood electric vehicles, or NEVs, the juiced-up vehicles are touted as ideal for in-town driving and short distances on most city streets, on corporate campuses, at colleges and universities and for new student drivers.
Alvarez’s company also is targeting retirement communities, Metrolink commuters, golf courses, airports, military bases, shuttle vans, food deliveries, landscaping companies and government fleets.
“The vehicles are ridiculously inexpensive and easily charged in any 110-volt outlet,” Alvarez said. “The cost is $5 a month if they’re charged every single day. And there’s no oil change.”
To read more from Laurie Lucas, including this article, follow her blog at www.blog.pe.com/retail.