Southern California environment news and trends

Leonardo DiCaprio unites with Fisker Automotive on sustainability campaign


California automaker Fisker make worldwide headlines in July 2011 when actor/activist Leonardo DiCaprio bought the first Fisker Karma ever produced, a plush luxury plug-in hybrid car that cost in the vicinity of a cool $100,000 (Politicos Colin Powell and Al Gore were the next in line). As reported by Bloomberg, this week Fisker and DiCaprio (who is now an investor in the company) have announced a combined global sustainability campaign that promotes both the automaker as well as DiCaprio’s own charitable foundation.

“As an equity investor in Fisker Automotive, DiCaprio will participate in conversations on the auto manufacturer’s future plans for the advancement of sustainable, responsible vehicles,” the company said in a statement, adding that DiCaprio will “work closely with Fisker on marketing and promotional initiatives aimed at bringing attention to sustainability and environmental awareness.”


The iron is hot and the gas is expensive: CODA's first cars roll off the assembly line

CODA Automotive

Los Angeles-based CODA's first all-electric sedans rolled out at its Benicia facility as oil prices strike fear into politicians and consumers alike.

Pacific Swell loves revisiting stories, companies and issues KPCC has covered before. This week it's CODA Automotive. I profiled the Mid-City LA-based company in a story earlier this winter.

CODA clearly believes the best response to the national debate about rising gas prices is to offer a car for sale that needs no gas. "Never has the case for what we do been clearer," said Mac Heller, the company's executive chairman, in Benicia, according to a press release.

Dealerships in Silicon Valley (Del Grande Dealer Group) & San Diego (Marvin K. Brown) will soon offer CODA sedans for sale. In Los Angeles, CODA doesn't seem to have set dealer locations yet, but the company did put its first "experience center" in the Century City Westfield Mall. CODA touts the economic value of the cars themselves AND the jobs it has placed in California--building, marketing and developing them


Song of the Week: "Smoggy Mountain High," by Key Losers, for clean cars and air pollution news

Mercer 15335

David McNew/Getty Images

The Hollywood sign and the undeveloped land that surrounds it are seen against the snow-covered San Gabriel Mountains.

This week's song comes to me courtesy of my Off-Ramp colleague Kevin Ferguson. "Smoggy Mountain High," by Key Losers, is a song from the band's most recent album, "California Lite."

Smoggy Mountain High (from "California Lite" by Key Losers) by P.W. Elverum & Sun, ltd.

Its specific subject is the San Gabriel Mountains, hard to see through particulate matter and smog pollution that gets trapped in the LA Basin. 

Beyond the city they are towering
obscured sometimes, but still they bring
eternal height in a dying world
a deeper look into the sky
beyond the city they are flowering
I see them sometimes when I'm in my car
I often want to go up to them
I get distracted and I forget

Key Losers is a band whose name is perhaps inspired by a Guided by Voices song. According to their website, "Key Losers is a band based in Portland, Oregon, whose songwriter, singer, guitarist, and only constant member is Katy Davidson." Davidson seems to be in several bands I have liked, including Dear Nora (in San Francisco) and YACHT. She says about the record:


Song of the Week, from MGMT, because we're feelin' electric

Molly Peterson/KPCC

FYI, this is just the bottom part of the electric car. Nobody killed this one.

Hey did you know there's an Auto Show in LA this week? Kidding. But between the story I reported with my girl Shereen Marisol Meraji that first aired on Madeleine's show this morning, and the discussions of fuel efficiency, I gotta say, I'm feelin' electric. (Unrelated trivia: did you know that's the original name of the musical Next to Normal?)

I think over at Debord Report Matt is making it clear that it's not EXACTLY the electric car's year over at the Convention Center, even if the Prius is having a Multiplicity moment. The Green Car Journal's car of the year award went to a compressed natural gas car. Ford won "automotive green marketer of the year" for incorporating miles per gallon into its advertising…still not quite miles per charge. Granted, the car industry likes to give itself more awards than a middle school of millenials, so they can't all mean something, but from my brief wanderings around the exhibition halls, it all looks sort of familiar. You can take this with a grain of salt, since I'm not a 10-year-old Matt Debord or his progeny, but if the auto show were a wine, it would have dominant top notes of shine and carpeting, middle notes of women in spandex and the increasingly-plasticky sound of a car door closing, and bottom notes of leather and gasoline.