By and large, electric vehicles are an insufficient replacement for most people’s primary forms of conveyance. A lot of people will not like that statement, but it is true. However, I am glad to see that some innovators are willing to take that reality as a starting point, and work around it:
Like the Toyota Supra Mk IV, the EV-1 was a car loved by some but ultimately too expensive for massive market acceptance. With that cautionary tale in mind, we are in the process of designing and building the cheapest street legal car in America: the 100% electric ApocalypsEV.
Our primary goal is creating a vehicle tough enough for an apocalypse, but cheap enough for people to buy using the budget they normally reserve for power toys like boats, ATVs or motorcycles. By combining solar boost charging with cheap plug in charging and low maintenance costs, we plan to make the ApocalypsEV the most affordable vehicle to buy and operate in America.
Ok, yeah, I will grant that it is basically scant more than an intelligently-designed golf cart, and I will further admit that the zombie-niche advertising caught my attention like those kinds of things are wont to do, but the guys behind this product are right – until such time as electric vehicles can be quantified as a worthwhile toy by the masses, they will be nothing more than a flight of fancy for the rich. But if you can make a light, safe, easy-to-drive, road-legal vehicle that can get some/most people to work, the grocery store, and back home again, have it fully recharge overnight at a standard wall receptacle, and keep its pricepoint in the “motorcycle” range, I can guarantee you it will sell.
But, instead, we are faced with, as Michael and Kenny Ham said,
Historically, electric car companies have tried to sell the public the equivalent of the Mustang GT500, the absolute top of the line model with a price tag to match. The Nissan Leaf is a good example of this problem. Incentives aside, Nissan sells the Leaf for $30k on the same lot as the similarly sized, $11k Versa. That $19k buys a lot of gas, approximately 150,000 miles worth. The value isn’t there.
Yeah, the Leaf is pretty slick – you tell it when you are coming back to it, and it starts up its A/C / heat so the cabin is cool / warm by the time you get there. It sends you text messages to let you know its charging status while it is plugged in. Its interior has all of the bells, whistles, and whatnots people expect out of cars today (Including things they might not, including a heated steering wheel. Have we grown so soft?). But good God the price. Score yourself a VW Jetta TDI, and be able to cruise for 700+ miles on a single tank of gas, and you would still have enough money left over to feed it for somewhere north of a hundred fillups… and visit family more than 100 miles away.
But what if your EV was not your primary car, and did not have a price like your primary car? That is what the brothers are hoping to explore… with some funding assistance from you, of course:
ApocalypsEV-1 is an EV that is both street legal and off-road capable. The question is whether it will prove to be usable, which is why we need to build ApocalypsEV-1 as a test mule. If it proves usable, our ultimate goal is to create a company which offers a $5-8k (base price) EV, that can be plugged in or use built in solar to charge its battery pack. At this price, people can afford an ApocalypsEV-1 as a second car for short commutes, errands, and off-road fun.
Now, I have some pretty significant doubts/reservations about this particular project (Specifically: the hope that they do not make that solar panel mandatory on all builds, given its diminutive size; it continues to be scant more than a glorified golf cart; and, really, an open-framed 40HP scooter for the zombie apocalypse? Uh, no.), but I think they are headed in the right direction. Arcimoto could have been the right direction, but they are still focused too much on replacing the existing cars we have, rather than supplementing them.
The future of electric vehicles is promising, but I worry about how much people are expecting out of them in the present… in any case, I keep waiting for an affordable borderline-toy I can secure that would be cheaper to slum around town in than a V-8 Mustang or a four-door Volvo…
(As any aside, does anyone have any experience with these crowd-source sites like “IndieGOGO”? I assume there are no guarantees offered and so forth?)
(You can read more about the ApocalypsEV-1 in Popular Mechanics.)