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SoCal Car Guru Motorhead Mama Shares Sage Advice for Potential EV Buyers

Context is everything when meeting new friends as an adult. From the farsighted local dad who squinted at my college diploma when in our home and expressed amazement at my (husband’s) achievements, to the moment I clicked an artistic mom friend’s email signature and realized she was in fact a MacArthur Genius winner, we don’t know what we don’t know about the adults we meet. Cue Motorhead Mama! I first stumbled across this hilarious blogger when I was researching our family’s first EV purchase. Packed with information and just saucy enough to keep you reading, Motorhead Mama piqued my interest, especially when I learned it was written by a fellow Topangan.  Just who was this mysterious blogger?  

Turns out Motorhead Mama is my canyon neighbor Amelia Dalgaard, whose veil of anonymity was finally dropped when a male reader commented that she was obviously a fraud because “no woman knows this much about cars.” Mama disagreed, bigly. Amelia’s blog is one of the most widely read in the car universe, and she writes it for the pure joy of it — meaning it’s all free content with no ad or subscription revenue. You might think you have a cool job, but do you get invited to test drive every new car under the sun? Do you secretly record video of LA’s most outrageous cars? Do you get to decide if local drivers are dudes or dirtbags? Amelia’s passion for car culture is as contagious as her sense of humor. You’ll laugh … unless YOU’RE the dirtbag driving that awful car. Amelia describes herself as “an automotive omnivore” who “loves them all … from the guys who wrap their Priuses in duct tape and prayers to that crazy Rolls Royce covered in Swarovski crystals.”  

Motorhead Mama is, in fact, a momma, to two teenage girls. Her path to automotive expert was a circuitous one, though. Raised in Connecticut and a graduate of prestigious New England schools, Amelia once wrote a thousand pages on ancient Japanese literature and has traveled the world as a cultural nomad with stops in Japan, Southeast Asia, and Australia. She eventually landed in NYC and helped launch a nascent little TV channel called VH1. Her work on Pop-Up Video and Morning Music Wire eventually led her to out to Los Angeles, where she found both a gig at Paramount and a husband at a surf shop in Malibu.  Amelia may soon return to her roots in TV production as she completes an exciting pilot about car culture, a nice integration of vocation and avocation for this particular motorhead. As Amelia puts it, “You can be an enthusiast without being a wrencher,” and yes, Virginia, you *can* be a woman and be a consummate expert in all things automotive.

We asked Mama a few questions recently and she had some opinions, as she always does. At the table with Amelia includes cars, coffee and culture … a conversation with her is always a treat, as is reading her blog. And remember that your fellow PTA mom may secretly be cooler than you. This one definitely is! 

What’s the latest with the EV market? With year-end sales pushes and price discounts from Tesla, can other competitors stay in the game? 

My short answer is that competitors can absolutely stay in the game and on some level, the small, startup companies have some advantages. They don’t have to get their entire system (development, production, customer) to pivot, and they benefit from government incentives and private investment. At the same time, EV sales aren’t nearly where they should be to reach the goals set by both the government (California’s 2030 goal) and automakers (Chevy going all electric by 2035). One of the reasons behind this and the real issue is that we frankly don’t have the infrastructure to support an entirely electric fleet. Every time I test drive an EV that’s not a Tesla, I spend the majority of my time going from one broken charging station to another looking for juice.

I know you like the ID4 from Volkswagen. What advice would you offer to first-time buyers in the market for a new EV here in California?  

I like so many of the EVs out there right now, we already have fantastic choices. As for first-time buyers in California, do your research. Unfortunately, if you rely on a dealership for your information, you may be disappointed — most are poorly trained and the margins on EVs are lower so you may find them steering you away. I would also encourage you to go on owner forums, where you’ll get real owner information on what the car is like to own. I can tell you plenty on what it’s like to drive the car for a week, but you should also be getting info on what it’s like a year in. Lastly, I often encourage people to lease instead of buying an EV. Because cars are essentially computers on wheels and the technology (particularly battery technology) is changing so quickly, I am concerned that the resale value may plummet in a short time. Case in point: Look at the resale value of the first-gen Nissan Leaf or VW e-Golf.

In Los Angeles, perhaps more than any other market, we are what we drive. What’s your personal ride and how does it reflect who you are? 

Amen to that! My personal ride is a 2011 BMW X5 M, which I bought new and have enjoyed every single day. She reflects who I am because she can be very presentable and roll up to a back-to-school night with a car full of kids and then, the minute the kids are out of the car, she can use all that her twin-turbocharged V8 has to offer. She, like me, also is sporty and doesn’t take herself too seriously.

You mentioned that you are doing some car content for TV.  What can we look forward to seeing and when?  

Ah, it’s just a pilot, so I’m afraid I don’t have any details to share yet! Fingers crossed.

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