Sunday, April 25, 2010

Electric car update: Mainstream is just a stroke away

Electric cars are nothing new, and yet they're the newest thing.

(Image: the Aptera 2E electric vehicle. The company claims the equivalent of 200 miles to the gallon. Image: Aptera.)

Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor, made the point at the recent world congress of the Society of Automotive Engineers:

“All the early cars were electric. They've been around really for the past century or so, but they really haven't had mass-market appeal.”

Ford, both the company and Bill, are betting that the industry and the mass market have changed.

“It appears the biggest game changer will be electric vehicles,” he said.

Some electric vehicles are already in the market and changing perceptions, like the Tesla Roadster. Somewhere in the neighborhood of half a dozen of them are cruising the roads in Hawai'i, on several islands.

The electric car getting the most press these days seems to be the Nissan LEAF, which promises 100 miles to a charge. It will sell for roughly $33,000, but qualifies for a $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit, bringing it into the mid-$20s.

Reservations for the LEAF started April 20. Nissan is reporting strong demand, although the car isn't due until the end of the year.

BMW, whose Mini was tested extensively as an electric car (the Mini-E) is preparing to launch an electric vehicle with a 160-mile range. It's called the Megacity. If you want it as a pure electric car, you can buy that, but a high-efficiency gas version will also be available. More here.

General Motors, which still isn't sure the public is ready for pure electrics, at the Auto China motor show today (April 25, 2010) was to unveil its expanded Volt. Like the standard Volt, to be released next year, it has a 1.4-liter gas engine that kicks in when its 40-or-less-mile electric range is reached. The new MPV5 is just a little longer, wider and taller—and gets less range.

Those of course, are all pretty standard-looking cars (Well, the Tesla Roadster sizzles when you touch it, but it's still a hot little Lotus—nothing fundamentally un-carlike.)

Then there's the Aptera. Unlike everything above, this looks like a high tech, aerodynamic cross between a car, a motorcycle and a small plane. And it gets the equivalent, the firm says, of 200 miles to the gallon.

Would you feel save leaving it unattended in a public parking lot? I don't know. But it sure looks cool.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2010


  1. There is a gorgeous red Telsa here on Kauai. I wish we could get a "showing" at KIUC or KCC of all the electric cars already on-isand.

  2. electric cars become one of the trends in car technology..