Want to get your hybrid fixed but don't want to take it back to the dealer? No problem--if you live in San Francisco, where you'll find the country's first garage specializing in hybrid repair. Read an excerpt of the Wired story below:
Luscious Garage, owned by mechanic Carolyn Coquillette, is part of a small but growing movement. A number of independent mechanics nationwide are now servicing hybrids, but Coquillette's shop is the first aiming to build its core business around hybrids.
"There's a critical mass of hybrids in the Bay Area, enough to support a shop like this," she said. "You could have opened it three years ago but there wouldn't have been enough cars, and I don't think enough public interest to really have fueled it."
Coquillette, 29, has been a mechanic for seven years and began working on hybrids a couple of years ago. There is no formal hybrid certification. She first cut her teeth in auto repair not far from Detroit, when she signed up for a community college course just after graduating from the University of Michigan with a dual degree in physics and English.
"I had had this problem with my vehicle and I thought, I've got a God damn degree in physics, I should be able to turn off my dome light," she said.
Luscious Garage claims to be a green business with a formal sustainability plan.
"Typically people look down upon auto repair as dirty," Coquillette said. "A green auto repair facility is so essential in terms of moving into this next stage where we have to be so mindful of our environmental impact. A lot about this shop is saying we're aware of what we're doing and we're going to consistently try and do better."
To keep its environmental impact low, Luscious Garage avoids VOCs (volatile organic compounds), offers re-refined motor oil, uses local suppliers when possible and recycles its scrap metal. To cut paper usage, the shop registers customers and prints receipts online.
The shop is equipped with a high-efficiency air compressor and relies on the building’s skylights more than its electric lights, which are compact fluorescents. In fact, the only devices left on are the Wi-Fi, fax machine, refrigerator and alarm system. And although Coquillette owns a Toyota Prius, she mostly rides her bike to work or takes the bus, she says.
According to the automotive research and marketing company R. L. Polk, 255,000 new hybrids were registered in 2006, and 21,000 of those were in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jack Rosebro, a sought-after hybrid technician instructor who has taught with Coquillette, says this type of specialization will put shop owners ahead of the curve.
"I look at this as a natural extension of the industry," he said. "It's only natural that eventually someone would do this and focus solely on the hybrid so they can give the best service to their customer."
Though hybrids have a reputation as being largely trouble-free, there are lots of components of a hybrid that are unique -- not least the complex electronics.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 22 and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.htm
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