Thursday, June 04, 2009
It's getting pretty hard to keep track of all the electric vehicles either out already or in production for release this year or next. Here's a summary of what's going on at the moment.
The first piece of news is from today, and is about how Magna wants to build electric vehicles in Canada (it's a Canadian company). Magna has pretty much created Ford's electric Focus aside from the body, and that will be going on sale later this year, I think. This is in comparison to GM's Volt, which will go on sale about a year from now, and is able to use gasoline to recharge the battery once you drive more than 60 km, whereas the Focus is cheaper and also all-electric, with a range of 160 km. In that way it seems to be aiming at pretty much the same market as Norway's Think.
Jay Leno's Garage also featured a number of electric vehicles in March, and here are two videos worth watching. The first one here is a vehicle called the Aptera that he seemed to really enjoy simply for the fact that it looks completely different from your average car, and I think that's why Jay enjoyed trying it out so much.
At the same time though it looks surprisingly normal on the inside.
The price will also be quite low, at $20,000 to $40,000. This is the car to buy then if you REALLY want the world to know that you're driving an electric car. If you take a look at the comments below the video you can see that opinion on the Aptera is pretty much divided between people that really love it and really don't.
The second video here is of Jay driving the electric Mini Cooper, just two months before they started shipping them out (which started last week) for testing on one-year leases. He's almost bored by the fact that the car is pretty much like a gas-powered one except that it doesn't use a drop of gas, and being bored can be a very good thing if you're at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Aptera (i.e. you don't want to stand out).
You can see that he's almost sad to be going back to noisy, gasoline-powered cars after driving these for a while, and I think this is going to be the general reaction when the public really starts using electric vehicles too. Nor will gas stations be missed, any more than we would miss going to a station outside our homes to charge up our mobile phones vs. simply plugging them in at home.
Finally, there's one more vehicle that seems like it could be a big success when it comes out. Canada has had a vehicle called the ZENN for some time that is fully electric, but it is far too slow and has far too limited a range (40 kph and range of 50-80 km) to be used in place of regular cars. However, it is working in collaboration with a US battery maker called EESTOR that it partially owns, and tests have confirmed that their battery outperforms all other batteries on the market. Apparently they'll be able to create a new version of the ZENN called the CityZENN that will have a range of some 400+ km, and only for about $30,000 or so.