PRODUCTION MODELS TO FANTASY ANNOUNCEMENTS
How can we introduce nine electric car models that exist today or could exist in the very near future? This photo essay is one good manner, and the message the EV industry is sending the world in 2007 is “electric vehicles are here to stay.” Nothing is ever going to be the same. Among the samples to follow, every vehicle relies exclusively on an electric motor for traction. Every one of them has a battery-only range that permits various uses. For an affordable car for a short freeway commute, the NMG (which means “no more gas”), a three-wheel all-weather motorcycle from Myers Motors. For a short-haul, freeway-capable utility truck with a range of 120 miles, Phoenix Motorcars already has hundreds on the road – as does Myers Motors.
The notion that electric vehicles have to avoid competing in the heavy vehicle or exotic sports car categories is pretty much unfounded. The Wrightspeed X-1, a prototype all-electric two-seat sports car that has been on the road for nearly four years, has done zero to sixty in 3.07 seconds. Electric motors deliver better horsepower per pound than gasoline engines, and they are far more efficient delivering this energy at variable RPM. They also have a superior RPM range, with over 10,000 RPM of variation possible within a single gear.
The Chevy Volt, a concept car announced in January of 2007 by GM, combines the strengths of an all electric vehicle with avoiding the weaknesses of a hybrid car. With only 400 pounds of batteries, the Volt can never be weighed down by discharged battery mass, like many all-electric vehicles with longer ranges, and even today’s hybrids. The Volt can operate at 50 MPG with no charge left in the batteries, thanks to an onboard flex-fuel engine that turns an electric generator. Because the RPM of this piston combustion engine is kept constant, it can operate at extraordinary efficiencies. The Volt is a breakthrough.
There are a lot of EV’s to choose from these days. The 200+ MPH speedster from Commuter Cars Corp., the “Tango,” or the ZENN car (zero emissions no noise), a practical neighborhood electric vehicle. And alongside niche products, there are signs of a looming explosion in EV manufacturing. AC Propulsion, one of the most respected architects of the electric vehicle revolution, has announced the “eBox,” a conversion of the Scion xB with an all-electric range of 120 miles. And Th!nk, a Norwegian electric automaker, has just announced new financing and plans to begin mass production. The next-generation automotive revolution cannot be stopped and has many movers. Around the world electric automakers are emerging.
Where the next generation car ends up is difficult to predict, but could be embodied in some combination of the qualities of GM’s Volt and the ZAP-X, announced by ZAP Motors in 2007. The GM “Volt” uses an onboard flexfuel engine to provide 100% of the power to an electric motor, with a limited but still very functional 40 mile range on a battery charge. The ZAP-X uses batteries only, but claims they can be charged in 10 minutes and have a range of 350 miles. This rapid recharge is technically possible, although very expensive. Other reputable electric automakers have made comparable claims regarding range. The ZAP-X also aspires to include in-wheel motors, an innovation that to-date has proven elusive but should soon be possible with electric vehicles. But whether ZAP builds it, or GM builds it, or others, this is what’s to come:
|ELECTRIC MOTORS HAVE MORE POWER PER POUND|
Zero to sixty in 3.07 seconds.
|E-FLEX: THE NEXT GENERATION HYBRID|
|The GM “Volt,” 100% electric motor traction with onboard gasoline generator.
Fifty MPG with 600 mile range, 40 mile battery-only range.
|ZERO EMISSIONS NO NOISE|
|The ZENN car.
An affordable neighborhood electric vehicle.
|A PRACTICAL ALL-WEATHER COMMUTER CAR|
|Myers Motors’ “NMG” (no more gas)
75 MPH freeway capable, 30 mile range.
|A CAR FOR THE CITY|
|Think’s “Think” car
A perfect vehicle for tight urban parking.
|A HIGH SPEED MOTORCYCLE|
|Commuter Car’s “Tango”
Top speed 200+ MPH, 4 wheels, classified as motorcycle.
|ELECTRIC MOTORS HAVE PLENTY OF POWER|
|Phoenix Motorcars Truck
Freeway capable, 120 mile range.
|A CAR FOR THE FAMILY|
|AC Propulsion’s “eBox”
120 mile range, good passenger/cargo capacity.
|THE ULTIMATE ALL-ELECTRIC DREAM|
|The “ZAP-X” full size EV.
350 mile range, in-wheel motors, 0-60 MPH in 4 seconds, 10 minute full charge.