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icerose
07-31-2008, 10:10 PM
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121746229279198963.html?mod=yhoofront

Around here people drive actual golf carts, ATV's, and the scooters to, well, scoot around town in response to the high fuel costs.

Electric cars that are similar to golf carts and are actually street legal are gaining steam. I really like the zap. If they could ever get it to go faster and the charge to last longer, I would so get one. I also love how the zap is both solar and plug in, so you can even save on electricity costs.

A school campus, I can't remember which one so forgive me, changed all their on campus vehicles over to something similar and they set the cars out in the sun, let them charge and recharge while their maintenance and security guys as well as students do their jobs and classes around campus. I love the movement and I hope it continues.

Would any of you buy one of these small cars, and if so under what conditions?

Shadow_Ferret
07-31-2008, 10:14 PM
Why tiny little clown cars?

What the heck, don't any of these developers have FAMILIES?

Make me a viable, reliable family sized electric and I"ll buy two.

Williebee
07-31-2008, 10:29 PM
If they were street legal around here, I'd already be driving one.

As it is, the local city council has even made those little electric scooters illegal on the streets.

misslissy
07-31-2008, 10:48 PM
I would like to drive one on principal, but right now as it is, they're just too small and have too short of a range before they need to recharge. I'd need a car that could do more than 30 miles on one charge if I was ever to get an electric.

Also, considering most of the time my passengers are over six feet and also that most of the time, there's more than two people in the car, it just wouldn't be very practical, or comfortable for me at this point.

kuwisdelu
07-31-2008, 10:52 PM
A bunch of our professors here are starting to buy these:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/dayart/wheels/472_2004smartcar.jpg

Danger Jane
07-31-2008, 11:24 PM
I'm off to college in a month, and my car (still gets around 28 mpg...pretty good for an eleven-year-old mid/largesize sedan, IMO) will be staying home for my sister to torture with her terrible taste in music. But if all goes according to plan--and dammit, it will--I'm hightailing it out of the US after college, and I'll definitely be downsizing to a tiny tiny car, or hell, a scooter. Assuming I can't get by without my own transport.

MissLissy pointed out something major: head space. I'm 5'10 and I can barely fit in my friend's Audi Cabriolet...feels like a clown car, like the whole THING is just a big blind spot.

A friend of mine just graduated high school and bought himself a 70-80 mpg Vespa. $3000 is hardly a big investment, considering he probably spent more than that in the last two years fuelling his aged pickup truck. If only it weren't that much more dangerous riding around Massachusetts on a scooter than it is in a car...

benbradley
08-01-2008, 12:41 AM
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121746229279198963.html?mod=yhoofront

Around here people drive actual golf carts, ATV's, and the scooters to, well, scoot around town in response to the high fuel costs.

Electric cars that are similar to golf carts and are actually street legal are gaining steam. I really like the zap.
As the video said, these are only "barely" street legal in areas that allow them, and these things don't have to pass the same stringent safety tests that "real" cars have to pass to be legally driven on highways. I hesitate to use the word safe in describing them.
If they could ever get it to go faster and the charge to last longer, I would so get one.
All you need is love money.There IS an electic car that goes (much!) faster and goes 220 miles per charge, but it's somewhat quite a bit more expensive:
http://www.teslamotors.com/
If I had that much money to waste (I could be wrong but I just don't see it as an investment), I'd buy THAT electric car. Here's a nice quote:

The Tesla Roadster is the only highway capable production electric car of any kind for sale in the United States.

http://www.teslamotors.com/media/press_room.php?id=841
I also love how the zap is both solar and plug in, so you can even save on electricity costs.
I'd want to see some actual numbers - the cost of the solar panel vs. the cost of the electricity this thing saves over its lifetime by having the solar panel on it. What I've read says photovoltaic panels are NOT cost-effective compared to the cost of electricity from the grid.

A school campus, I can't remember which one so forgive me, changed all their on campus vehicles over to something similar and they set the cars out in the sun, let them charge and recharge while their maintenance and security guys as well as students do their jobs and classes around campus. I love the movement and I hope it continues.

Would any of you buy one of these small cars, and if so under what conditions?I might buy one if it were the last thing on Earth. And if this size car was the only thing on the road (not likely to happen, big trucks are still needed to keep Wal-Marts stocked) I'd feel safer riding my bicycle.
Why tiny little clown cars?

What the heck, don't any of these developers have FAMILIES?
Did you see the video? Toward the end was a girl wearing a seatbelt sitting in a seat next to the "no door," just the open roadway going by at 20-30 mph, saying how much she liked it. It freaked me out a little, and I don't have children.

There also this tiny gasoline-powered thing:
http://www.smartusa.com/
It says it gets great grades on all safety tests, but just looking at the size of the thing makes me long for my "large" 1973 Volkswagen Beetle (if there's any possible evidence for a benevolent Supreme Being, it's that I drove that thing so long without getting in a wreck that caused death or serious injuries. OTOH, statistics show that NOT EVERYONE in an unsafe vehicle gets mained or killed in it - someone has to luck out).

clintl
08-01-2008, 01:00 AM
All you need is love money.There IS an electic car that goes (much!) faster and goes 220 miles per charge, but it's somewhat quite a bit more expensive:
http://www.teslamotors.com/
If I had that much money to waste (I could be wrong but I just don't see it as an investment), I'd buy THAT electric car. Here's a nice quote:

The Tesla Roadster is the only highway capable production electric car of any kind for sale in the United States.

http://www.teslamotors.com/media/press_room.php?id=841

I

That is one awesome looking car. I wish I could afford one.

Don
08-01-2008, 01:02 AM
IMHO, the three biggest things going against the current generation of small electric cars are suburbia, inertia and lack of mid-range mass transit.

The small, slow, limited-range electric car would be wonderful in small, self-contained communities where 30 MPH is the express route and it's only a few miles across town.

The commuter model encouraged by surburbia makes a short, slow commute to work near your home fairly rare. Those are just the people who would benefit most from these small, slow, limited-range cars.

Both social and political inertia have a negative impact. In communities where they make sense, some people look down on 'golf carts' and that social stigma discourages their adoption. It's funny to see them starting to become 'cool.' I can't wait to see the ones with tailfins and massaging, reclining leather seats. Politically, everybody from HOAs to FedGov has restrictions on what defines an automobile. Many of these little critters don't qualify at some level.

A lot of people could probably get by with a small electric except for those special trips to more distant cities, relatives, etc. The options are own two cars, rent a car for those trips, or take a bus or plane if they go where you're headed.

Williebee
08-01-2008, 01:15 AM
The Smart Cars are pretty cool. A very comfortable ride. Much quieter than I expected.
And there's (last I checked) a TWO YEAR waiting list. (St. Louis area).

Now, if I could just find someone who would offer to let me test drive that Tesla....

Bartholomew
08-01-2008, 01:47 AM
I get like, six gallons to the mile. Sign me up.

Clair Dickson
08-01-2008, 04:28 AM
If I get the house I want that's not even five minutes from work, one of these would be a beaut to putter into town and up the hill every day.

I'd like to see more alternatve fuel cars. That and mass transit. Being in the home of the Motor City... there is a massive, conspicuous lack of even the most basic of mass transit. It's awful. There's barely even sidewalks in most of the places out here, even just a quarter mile out of town (aka still close enough to bike or walk if folks wanted to.)

But I'm a tree hugger.

mario_c
08-02-2008, 08:48 AM
The Smart Cars are pretty cool. A very comfortable ride. Much quieter than I expected.
And there's (last I checked) a TWO YEAR waiting list. (St. Louis area).

Wow! There is actually a Smartcar dealership here in CT (blue collar Bridgeport, not Westport. In yo FACE yuppies!) and there's a few still sitting out front. Guess that won't last.
It gets 33 mpg and it costs around $11k. That is AWESOME. The bike/ski bumper rack option is really cool too. And don't worry, you'll see thrifty immigrant families piled 10 deep in one of those in a few years...:tongue I KEED

Inkdaub
08-02-2008, 03:11 PM
If I had a car at all I would want one like that, yes.

L M Ashton
08-02-2008, 06:46 PM
If we had a car, if it were available here, I'd get that one. It's all we'd ever need. :) But I didn't see any mention on the kind of gas mileage it gets.


ETA: Nope, I wouldn't get it. Manual transmission. Problematic for me. I'd dislocate my hips, knees, shoulders, or something else while shifting gears. Must have automatic transmission. Drat! :(

kristie911
08-02-2008, 06:49 PM
Uh...no.

I just don't think an electric car is going to get me through a couple feet of snow in the winter...or through the drift that builds up at the top of the driveway at work.

Besides that...where the hell would I put all my Sam's Club purchases? I don't see much of a trunk on those things.

maestrowork
08-03-2008, 12:15 AM
I love small electric cars. Sure, they won't fit all your needs and probably not street legal in many places, but when they're viable, they're a lot of fun and get the job done without costing too much and wasting too much fuel. It's a good alternative.

icerose
08-03-2008, 08:58 PM
That Tesla is sweet looking. If I could afford a sports car, that would be the car I would go after. Here's the UK electric sports car still in development.

http://editorial.autos.msn.com/landingpage.aspx?cp-documentid=567196&landing=newcarresearch&topart=newcarresearch&icid=573&GT1=22017

There's some skepticism on their claims and rightly so, but some of their designs are pretty neat, like having an engine on each wheel.

kristie911
08-03-2008, 09:52 PM
I love small electric cars. Sure, they won't fit all your needs and probably not street legal in many places, but when they're viable, they're a lot of fun and get the job done without costing too much and wasting too much fuel. It's a good alternative.

I agree, they're very cool. The problem is, for some of us, is the cost. I couldn't afford to buy one because I can't afford two cars. In my case, it's an either/or situation. I could have one of these or a regular car. Not both. And obviously, a tiny electric car is not going to do what I need it to. For people that live in the city and close to work, they'd be a great alternative to gas cars.

benbradley
08-03-2008, 10:27 PM
That Tesla is sweet looking. If I could afford a sports car, that would be the car I would go after. Here's the UK electric sports car still in development.

http://editorial.autos.msn.com/landingpage.aspx?cp-documentid=567196&landing=newcarresearch&topart=newcarresearch&icid=573&GT1=22017

There's some skepticism on their claims and rightly so, but some of their designs are pretty neat, like having an engine on each wheel.
I've been reading about the Tesla for the past couple years, specs such as its 0-60 time and distance on a charge have been changing as they were working things out going toward production, but even worst case the specs are still really good.

The Lightning GT's engine-on-each-wheel design is a big benefit for many reasons - it gets rid of a differential (or a tire-wearing straight axle) compared to conventional two-wheel drive, and up to THREE differentials compared to conventional four-wheel drive vehicles. And of course it powers each wheel completely independently, rotating it at the "right speed" during turns, giving best possible traction. In fact, it can give the acceleration equivalent of ABS braking - if a tire hits a slick spot, loses traction and speeds up, the motor for that tire can reduce power until it's again going at the road speed.

From the specs and design it sure looks like they're wanting to compete with the Tesla, which is a Very Good Thing. The long-term business plan for Tesla is to make a more "reasonable" cost family vehicle, and that depends on the success of the Tesla Roadster. If the demand of the Roadster is a good measure, things look good for a "reasonable" electric car comparable to current gas-powered cars.

Bartholomew
08-04-2008, 02:00 PM
The Lightning GT only uses 30 batteries? Uh... are they, you know, lying?

Because that's nothing short of an earth-shattering claim in the electric car field.

Perhaps the smaller motors over the wheels are more efficient?

VGrossack
08-04-2008, 03:21 PM
There's an alternative to some of these problems. In Switzerland (where I live part of the year) many people join something called Mobility. Instead of owning a car, in Zurich, for example, where parking is expensive and public transportation is terrific, people often join a rental car club. They sign up for it when they need it and then return it at the end of the time for which they signed up. This permits them to haul groceries (although you can also get them delivered for a five franc charge) or to go to some distant spot which can't be reached by public transportation.

Of course, this only works in cities but then it's a great solution. Even for others it might be a workable solution. Imagine that you could use a tiny car for most of the time - why not get one of them? Then, for the occasions when you need a larger vehicle, rent or borrow. Renting cars isn't expensive these days - and if you have a little car for most situations, you'll have money to spare for those times when you need to rent one.

icerose
08-04-2008, 07:37 PM
The Lightning GT only uses 30 batteries? Uh... are they, you know, lying?

Because that's nothing short of an earth-shattering claim in the electric car field.

Perhaps the smaller motors over the wheels are more efficient?

The article was extremely skeptical of their claims on their batteries, but it also only has a 10 minute charge. So who knows. It's still in "development" so I think they're talking about where they'd like it to end up instead of where it actually is, but we'll find out I guess if they ever release it.

There's an alternative to some of these problems. In Switzerland (where I live part of the year) many people join something called Mobility. Instead of owning a car, in Zurich, for example, where parking is expensive and public transportation is terrific, people often join a rental car club. They sign up for it when they need it and then return it at the end of the time for which they signed up. This permits them to haul groceries (although you can also get them delivered for a five franc charge) or to go to some distant spot which can't be reached by public transportation.

Of course, this only works in cities but then it's a great solution. Even for others it might be a workable solution. Imagine that you could use a tiny car for most of the time - why not get one of them? Then, for the occasions when you need a larger vehicle, rent or borrow. Renting cars isn't expensive these days - and if you have a little car for most situations, you'll have money to spare for those times when you need to rent one.

Only problem is we're talking about the US here. We have a TERRIBLE public transportation system. Out west it's nearly non-existent, as well as many other places. The freedom of the automobile and such cheap gas for so long pretty much killed it.

They're working to get it back, and someday that system might be viable here, but right now it isn't, certainly not in rural areas where there is no such thing as a public transportation system.

VGrossack
08-04-2008, 08:01 PM
Only problem is we're talking about the US here. We have a TERRIBLE public transportation system. Out west it's nearly non-existent, as well as many other places. The freedom of the automobile and such cheap gas for so long pretty much killed it.

They're working to get it back, and someday that system might be viable here, but right now it isn't, certainly not in rural areas where there is no such thing as a public transportation system.

I know - I live in the Southwest part of the year - and it's not only a matter of building a public transportation system. Houses are spread out to the point of insanity so that having a feasible transportation system is nearly impossible. (I have one, myself, but only because I married the owner.)

I guess there are some places where it would make sense, though.

I sometimes have visions of getting rid of most of suburbs and building nice ecologically minded apartment complexes - and putting trees on all those lots which were full of houses. Seems like this is my best opportunity, what with the gas and the housing crisis. Ah, but I would annoy all those people who want to be "free."

benbradley
08-04-2008, 09:21 PM
The Lightning GT only uses 30 batteries? Uh... are they, you know, lying?

Because that's nothing short of an earth-shattering claim in the electric car field.

Perhaps the smaller motors over the wheels are more efficient?
Efficiency would have to be high, like 80+ percent regardless, or the motor would burn itself up (or need water cooling like gas motors have).

I think four smaller motors would weight more in total than one motor with four times the power output, but then you save by not having a power train: transmission, differential(s), driveshafts and whatnot, so it could be a wash.

The Tesla has a two-speed transmission, not because it really truly NEEDS one from what I've read, but with the motor directly connected to the wheels it doesn't give "good" (as in sports-car class) acceleration at low speed. I'm wondering if the motor-on-each-wheel design has a similar "problem."

But how much is "30 batteries"? How big is a battery? How many CELLS is that, and how big is each cell (what's its voltage, and what's its ampere-hour capacity)?

I'm guesssing they're using "fewer batteries" in their prototype to get good acceleration figures. To get lots of mileage on a charge, it might need enough batteries to make the thing weigh as much as a Caddilac.

The Tesla uses something like 1,600 batteries, but they're of the small computer-laptop variety.

Shadow_Ferret
08-04-2008, 09:47 PM
The Lightning GT only uses 30 batteries? Uh... are they, you know, lying?

Because that's nothing short of an earth-shattering claim in the electric car field.

I remember almost 10 years ago Johnson Controls was working on a super-secret small battery that had as much output as a regular sized car's 12-volt.

And they've been working on lithium-ion batteries for several years, too.

icerose
08-04-2008, 11:59 PM
It'll be interesting to see. I just hope they keep pressing on and we don't drop all this new stuff and settle back into the old stuff just because gas droped a few cents a gallon.

Shadow_Ferret
08-05-2008, 12:47 AM
It'll be interesting to see. I just hope they keep pressing on and we don't drop all this new stuff and settle back into the old stuff just because gas droped a few cents a gallon.
I certainly hope no one is looking at prices and feeling relieved it's under $4.

Personally, I've been anxious about prices since the day they went over $1. But then I'm a cheap SOB.

In fact, I'm outraged that the gas companies made the highest profits in history--again--breaking last year's 4th quarter records. $15,000 a second while the rest of the country teeters on the brink of a recession just makes me ill.

benbradley
08-05-2008, 02:06 AM
I certainly hope no one is looking at prices and feeling relieved it's under $4.

Personally, I've been anxious about prices since the day they went over $1. But then I'm a cheap SOB.

In fact, I'm outraged that the gas companies made the highest profits in history--again--breaking last year's 4th quarter records. $15,000 a second while the rest of the country teeters on the brink of a recession just makes me ill.
Okay, so how many thousand dollars per second would be acceptable?

I hear a lot about windfall profits, but no one says where the line is. Well, actually, they're starting to say, as this article finally gets around to saying:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121780636275808495.html?mod=opinion_main_review_ and_outlooks

Apparently, the only way to stop people being outrageed at gas companies making profits is to "Nationalize" them, have the Government take over. Gas prices will be beyond obscene, we will have The Benevolent Hand Of Government saying who can buy how much gas when, but at least there will be no windfall profits involved.

Shadow_Ferret
08-05-2008, 02:14 AM
I hear a lot about windfall profits, but no one says where the line is. Well, actually, they're starting to say, as this article finally gets around to saying:

I don't recall saying anything about windfall profits or suggesting that they need to be taxed. Capitalism and free market are still the rule of the land.

I don't like that they're making these ginormous profits while the rest of the country suffers because of it, but I'm not suggesting that congress should get involved. I think Obama is guilty of pandering to a panicked public with his proposal (and I'm guilty of aliteration).

Besides, taxing a company for making "too much money" just sounds unAmerican to me and where do you think the consumers fit into all this? Between a rock and a hard place.

Don
08-05-2008, 03:19 AM
I certainly hope no one is looking at prices and feeling relieved it's under $4.

Personally, I've been anxious about prices since the day they went over $1. But then I'm a cheap SOB.

In fact, I'm outraged that the gas companies made the highest profits in history--again--breaking last year's 4th quarter records. $15,000 a second while the rest of the country teeters on the brink of a recession just makes me ill.
I keep hearing about these huge profits, and I'll grant the raw numbers are big.

I think it's poor math to talk in terms of raw dollars, however; what's the Return On Investment? At least then you can argue whether the the ROI is reasonable for the risk involved, and try to justify the case. Just saying that some arbitrary amount is too much is an unfounded argument.

On edit: I found this in the WSJ article, which seems to back up my argument.


Maybe they have in mind profit margins as a percentage of sales. Yet by that standard Exxon's profits don't seem so large. Exxon's profit margin stood at 10% for 2007, which is hardly out of line with the oil and gas industry average of 8.3%, or the 8.9% for U.S. manufacturing (excluding the sputtering auto makers).
If that's what constitutes windfall profits, most of corporate America would qualify. Take aerospace or machinery -- both 8.2% in 2007. Chemicals had an average margin of 12.7%. Computers: 13.7%. Electronics and appliances: 14.5%. Pharmaceuticals (18.4%) and beverages and tobacco (19.1%) round out the Census Bureau's industry rankings.

benbradley
08-05-2008, 04:41 AM
I don't recall saying anything about windfall profits or suggesting that they need to be taxed. Capitalism and free market are still the rule of the land.

I don't like that they're making these ginormous profits while the rest of the country suffers because of it, but I'm not suggesting that congress should get involved.
Using the 10 percent figure for Exxon, if they totally eliminated their profit, they would then be selling gas for $3.60 instead of $4. Gas was selling for a lot less than $3.60 a couple years ago, so the profit clearly isn't the greatest cause of the increase in price over the past few years and "the rest of the country suffering."
I think Obama is guilty of pandering to a panicked public with his proposal (and I'm guilty of aliteration).

Besides, taxing a company for making "too much money" just sounds unAmerican to me and where do you think the consumers fit into all this? Between a rock and a hard place.
Okay, but you're so wound up by these profits, you sure give the impression you want "something done" about it.

blacbird
08-05-2008, 05:15 AM
Using the 10 percent figure for Exxon, if they totally eliminated their profit, they would then be selling gas for $3.60 instead of $4.

You're speaking only of "downstream" profit here, that is, the profit from refining and marketing the crude. When the "upstream" cost of crude oil is high, big integrated companies like ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, ChevronTexaco, etc., make huge profits on the crude they produce. Their only concern then is that the price of crude doesn't get driven up so high that it significantly reduces demand. They are always looking for the highest optimum price they can get, that price at which they net the most profit. This summer's unjustified runup in crude prices, driven by investor speculation, was nothing more than a test of what the world market would support, and at what level that "highest optimum" could be set. My guess is that we've returned to something like that level now, with crude in the $120 per barrel range. Notice how so many people here are ecstatic about that. A year ago, we'd have considered $120 crude an outrage.

caw

Bartholomew
08-05-2008, 11:13 AM
A year ago, we'd have considered $120 crude an outrage.

caw

What do you mean "would have?"

I've got my bike routes all planned. My car exists solely to ferry groceries once a month, and the weekly trip to downtown KCK for my SO to her parents.

icerose
08-05-2008, 07:49 PM
What do you mean "would have?"

I've got my bike routes all planned. My car exists solely to ferry groceries once a month, and the weekly trip to downtown KCK for my SO to her parents.

Exactly, I'll be happy when gas is under 2 bucks a gallon. As it is, I'm waiting for a good family electric car and you'll NEVER see me pumping gas again.

We're planning to get a motorcycle next year for most of my husband's running since he doesn't really haul anything. It would give me freedom of having a vehicle, and cut down our gas usage by about 50%, which we don't use that much to begin with, but hey, every bit helps.

Shadow_Ferret
08-05-2008, 10:18 PM
Okay, but you're so wound up by these profits, you sure give the impression you want "something done" about it.So? I can't get wound up and angry about things? We're just supposed to BOHICA and take it quietly?

Bartholomew
08-06-2008, 11:16 AM
BOHICA?

That sounds like a native american princess or something.

Joe270
08-06-2008, 12:34 PM
I got nothin', I'm just stalking Bart to creep him out.

Bartholomew
08-06-2008, 01:23 PM
I got nothin', I'm just stalking Bart to creep him out.

They should add an internet space clause to those damn restraining orders.

Duncan J Macdonald
08-06-2008, 05:09 PM
BOHICA?

That sounds like a native american princess or something.
<sigh>
BOHICA = Bend Over Here It Comes Again

Youth today, no classical education at all...

Duncan J Macdonald
08-06-2008, 05:10 PM
They should add an internet space clause to those damn restraining orders.
Hard to do. Even having a 4 million electron space means he's right there behind you.