172. ELECTRIC CARS, PART 2
GM and Toyota may have ditched their plug-in cars, but other manufacturers haven't. There's a wide range of tiny, cheap, customisable EVs on the market today. For instance, there's the It Sedan:
Or the Indian-made Reva:
Or Daimler-Chrysler's E2, as driven by the Italian Police:
These are really sensible, inexpensive cars that are perfect in Europe, but Americans would just make fun of them. If you want a "normal-looking" electric car, what do you do?
The answer lies with the Prius. The standard Toyota Prius has a button that allows it to run in electric-only mode, but it doesn't go very fast since it doesn't have enough batteries. Luckily, a company in California is hoping to sell a modified version of the Prius, the Prius+. By adding extra batteries and hacking the firmware, they've made a Prius that plugs into 120v power, getting economy of 100-150 mpg. You could drive it to work and back without using a single drop of oil. Conversions are expensive at the moment but if oil prices head through the roof, the large installed base of retrofittable hybrid cars could provide a window of adoption for electric vehicles. (Link: http://www.calcars.org/vehicles.html)
Rumour has it that Toyota is now considering building a fully electric vehicle themselves.
-- by Roland