NEW MAGAZINE PLUGS INTO ELECTRIC-CAR CROWD

Electric-car drivers, start your engines. The premier issue of ElectricCar - the first-ever electric-car magazine for consumers - reached newsstands Nov. 1.

Geared toward the white-collar, educated, technology buff, ElectricCar aims to educate readers around the world about any and all issues involving the development and marketing of electric cars.

``We've had our eye on the electric-car idea for many years,'' says Donald Werner, president of Argus Publishers Corporation, a Los Angeles-based firm that publishes ``Popular Hot Rodding,'' ``Off-Road,'' and other car magazines read by more than 5 million people monthly.

Though it is uncertain how big demand for the car itself will be in the United States, one publisher is counting on public interest being high. ``[ElectricCar] is kind of a forum for an exchange of ideas from scientists, manufacturers, consumers.... We don't want to be a [public relations] organ for the industry, we want to present the clear picture,'' Mr. Werner says.

ElectricCar editor Greg Brown adds: ``We want to be a pipeline for what really works - we don't feel [automobile] conversions are necessarily the best way to go.''

The magazine's 80-page first issue features, among other things, articles on the General Motors Corporation electric vehicle, the Impact; a photo spread of futuristic-looking EVs; electric carts on the streets of Palm Desert, Calif.; a profile of EV designer/engineer Alan Cocconi; and a comparison of alternative fuels.

The quarterly publication, which costs $3.95, mixes color and black and white photos, but it reads with the sophistication of a magazine for a car enthusiast, not consumer. That, say the president and editor, will change.

``We have a section for news, a [question and answer section], and other sections of the magazine for the consumer,'' Mr. Brown says. ``We'll establish a road-test program that will be more clear for the general reader.''

Though numbers are not in yet, Werner reports that readers of the first issue have responded well, many of them asking about subscriptions.

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