Electric Cars: Often Expensive, But So What?
One of the criticisms that’s often thrown at the nascent electric vehicle (EV) industry is that in a few notable cases—think Tesla and Fisker—the cars being offered and/or developed are either comparatively impractical and/or expensive.
On Monday, Li-ion Motors, which won the Progressive Automotive X-Prize in the Side-by-Side Alternative Class for its Wave II EV this past September (a $2.5-million win, by the way), unveiled the INIZIO, which the company is describing as “the world’s first all American-made, fully electric, emission-free ‘supercar.’” It has a 145-kW electric motor that provides a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.4 seconds. It has a lithium-ion battery pack, regenerative braking, and an energy management system that provides the possibility of going 250 miles on a single charge—although one can only imagine that mashing the accelerator frequently would have a range-reducing effect, as is the case with gasoline-powered cars. The car can be fully charged in about eight hours on a 220-v outlet.
The car’s doors rotate up 90-degrees, and ingress and egress are facilitated by a hydraulic lift system that raises the car three inches. There is a digital sound system, high-definition cameras that contribute to a 360-degree view around the car, and a number of other amenities.
The car, which is to launch mid-2011, starts at $139,000.
Can’t you hear the criticism?
One thing seems to be lost. Although Henry Ford certainly put the world on wheels with affordable transportation, if you consider the early years of the auto industry—and even some of the not-so-early years—it is evident that a lot of design and technological development occurred in vehicles that were not accessible to the common driver. Spend some time at places like the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana, and you’ll see some truly magnificent vehicles that pushed boundaries—and emptied bank accounts.
Cars like the INIZIO should be celebrated as they’ll help push the technology to a place where we can all afford it.
Although the term “continuous improvement” is generally associated with another company, Honda is certainly pursuing that approach, as is evidenced by the Accord, which is now in its ninth generation.
The engineers at Munro & Associates have taken a perfectly sound BMW i3 and taken it apart. Completely apart. And they are impressed with what they’ve discovered about how the EV is engineered.
Chrysler pioneered the modern-day minivan more than 30 years ago and has been refining and improving that type of vehicle ever since.