Tucked in the trendy SOMA neighborhood of downtown San Fransisco is Luscious Garage, an auto repair shop that is taking on the reputation of its industry norm of noise, waste and greasy men.  Its unique business model promotes sustainability and technology, two terms that can also describe their target market: hybrid vehicles.

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Ones first impression upon arriving at the shop is a tire hanging over the garage entrance filled with plants… a nice little teaser of what’s to come once inside.  A comfortable, apartment-like reception area with vintage furniture and modern art greets visitors.   The floor (logically made from recycled tires) is clean enough to eat off of and fresh air is plentiful…  plants are scattered about, acting as natural air filters, absorbing not only greasy toxins but also sunshine from the skylights above.  Solar panels line the roof, supplying power for lights and electric… and of course there are hybrids everywhere!  Sounds like an eco-geek’s utopian auto shop, eh?

Clearly Luscious is not your run-of-the-mill garage… this can be attributed to the fact that it is lead by not your run-of-the-mill owner: a woman!  Carolyn Coquillette started Luscious in 2007, recognizing the opportunity to set her business apart by focusing on sustainable solutions.  Hybrid specialization became a logical plan of attack, not only because it is the wave of the future, but because it is the wave of now in the bay area: there over 20,000 hybrids already on the streets of San Fran!

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Coquillette and her team designed some innovative features into the Luscious concept that further put them ahead of the curve.  Setting up appointments, paying bills, and viewing interactive work orders are all taken care of online with a system called Hyspace, which virtually eliminates the need for paper.  Also, in addition to maintenance and repairs, Luscious has added modifications to their services.  This includes taking an existing hybrid and converting it into a plug-in.  Their current kit adds a 25 mile electric-only range to hybrids, which covers speeds up to 70 mph.  Beyond the 25 mile electric limit, traditional hybrid capabilities kick in, switching between gas and electric.  A 110-volt charge will take about 6 hours, and a 220v will shorten that to 2 hours.  The kit runs the hefty sum of $13,500, but the Luscious team sees this as a good value if one converts a used hybrid instead of new.  They claim that for the price of a new Prius, you can modify an older one to perform significantly better….

… and a cool WIRED magazine interview that pretty much sums it up:

Coquillette: “Typically people look down upon auto repair as dirty.  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.”

A link to the Luscious site HERE.

-j

About Joshua Foss


Joshua is a leading voice for transformational change. He is the editor of Metro Hippie, co-founder and director of development of the Ecala Group, and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is also an ambassador for the Living Building Challenge and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, trade shows and summits.