Electric Bicycles: Green Cure to Urban Blues

Gas prices may have eased up quite a bit lately, but that’s still nearly twice the price of just 3 years ago.  As one might expect, people are still looking for ways to save money and reduce fuel costs.  One company has seen the future, and brings electric 2-wheeled transportation — lots of different kinds of it — to fill that need. Eco-Wheelz, in Plymouth, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, is the culprit behind it all. They’re bringing electric bikes, electric scooters and electric mopeds all to the market.

What’s the difference between the three groups. Electric bicycles largely resemble regular bicycles. They have pedals, an open frame, and sometimes a narrow basket (to hold the battery). Electric scooters are about the smallest, most energy efficient hybrid concept around. Each resembles a skateboard with handlebars. Some models have seats, while others ask the rider to stand, and propel the machine by pushing off with one’s foot, much as one would do with a skateboard. Small and very light, these could be idea for getting around in tight spaces and bringing up into the office with you. Electric Mopeds most closely resemble modern-day Vespa scooters or motorcycles. Each has a seat and handlebars, some sort of wind fairing, and, to keep them technically within the realm of bicycles, a mechanism that you can put pedals on.

Battery life is surprisingly good with all of these. It’s a realistic possibility to ride your electric bike to work. The Experts at EcoWheelz know their business, and are able to ship these anywhere in the country. Check out their site at Eco Wheelz

Electric Cars Get Real – Out with the ZAP!

After some slow and false starts with “cars” like the ZAP from China, it seems that electric cars are becoming real-world practical. Tesla’s $100k+ sports car isn’t real world for most of us, and the ZAPs don’t seem to be holding up to their claims.

This bothered one guy (who had wasted $100k investing in a dealership for the ZAP/Xebra and never even getting ONE car from them,) so much that he decided to take matters into his own hands. The result was the Triac, built by combining the efforts and design abilities of the US and China. His company is appropriately named Green Vehicles, out of California.

The Triac is an ultra-modern 3-wheel vehicle with a top speed of about 80 mph, and a range of 70 miles between charges. It’s a 2-seater with room for some cargo in back. The Triac comes in at a base price just under $23,0000 USD.

Green Vehicles has two other models available as well. Their Buckshot is also a trike, with the single wheel forward, allowing the two rear wheels to hold the payload of an open cargo bed. The extra-cab design gives the driver or passenger a bit more comfortable seating than similar models from ZAP provided. Sticker shock is $21,995

Green Vehicles’ final offer of this year is the Moose. This time, they’ve opted for four wheels on the ground, and made an electric cargo van. This could be popular for local deliveries and even a budding family. Its 60 mile range is reasonable, and the price is a mere $12,995.

A more attractive and practical vehicle showed up in Paris this year at the car shows. South Africa has offered up the very competitive Joule from Optimal Energy. This is a 6-seater that goes 84 mph, 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds, and has a standard 125 mile range, (250 mile range optional) and 7 hour recharge time on Lithium Ion batteries (at 220 volts AC). Obviously, it’s right up there with most gas cars in terms of performance, space, etc. — without the gas tank or tailpipe. Ready for the kicker? $24,618 USD (presumably FOB South Africa). How do they do it? The designer genius being the Joule is amongst the most convincing aspects. Keith Helfet, who designed Jaguar’s F-type and XK220 is the man, and the car is his baby.

Electric powered cars – Hawaii backs electric cars

A couple of days ago, Hawaii’s government and the Hawaiian Electric Company endorsed pursuing electric vehicles and the technologies and infrastructure that would make it happen. Amongst important features named were that the batteries be swappable, and that their recharging be Intelligent. Behind this concept is Shai Agassi, previously a Silicon Valley computer code exec who seems to know how to get things done.

The intrastructure plan is to team up tens of thousands of recharging stations via the Internet, creating a network that will make plug-in electric cars a real-world solution. Hawaii is not alone in saluting the plan. Agassi has gathered an ever-growing list of approvals, from national governments to regional planning groups and, of course, a major automobile manufacturer who hopes to step in and provide the cars. Other endorsing nations include Australia, Denmark, and Israel. Renault-Nissan is on board to develop a plug-in vehicle with a range of more than 100 miles, and to begin offering them before January 1, 2011. They are preparing to perform testing in 2009, and begin widespread commercial sales of the cars in 2012.

So far, Agassi’s contacts have saluted to the tune of 1.2 billion dollars in private international financing. It would seem he has his eye on the long-term profits as well. “I believe the new asset class is batteries,” he said. “When you have a driver in a car using a battery, nobody is going to cut their subscription and stop driving.” While that may not be the altruistic message we’d hoped for, it shows that he has the business savvy to make this project financially enticing to investors who might otherwise shy away from such an endeavor. He calculates that even if gas prices continue to drop, the electric cars and his recharging network will continue to be competitive in island economies, and become affordable for the mainland as well, as the project takes off.

Agassi is entirely correct about electric cars being ideal for island environments. People don’t often drive more than 100 miles, costs of fuel and vehicles are high, and people don’t drive very fast even when they can. Meanwhile, Hawaiian Electric Company is wisely seeing this as an opportunity to develop renewable energy sources that they could then connect to the electric grid to provide the necessary power for Agassi’s company, Better Place, and their recharging network.

Agassi seems to be everywhere with this vision. Earlier this year, mayors within the Bay Area cities, including San Francisco, gave their nod to Better Place’s concept of creating an electric recharging network with half a million recharging stations as soon as 2012. Better Place expects that charging network to cost about a billion dollars.

Daniel Kammen, PhD, of UC Berkeley’s Energy & Resources Group, projects that there will be the usual difficulties inherent in any new transportation system, but that it has “a lot of promising features,” that could make it attractive to fleet owners and ecologically-minded customers.

Of course, the program works best when teamed up with renewable sources of energy, such as solar farms and wind turbines. We appreciate Mr. Agassi’s efforts in getting Hawaii and the rest of the world going Green!

Hybrid Cars-Top Hybrid Vehicles List

lexus-hybird.jpgHybrid cars are vehicles that run on an interesting combination of the traditional gas engine and an electric motor. This combination increases power and improves gas mileage simply by creating a combined system for propulsion. Both Toyota and Honda are serious players in the hybrid vehicle industry, but nearly every other carmaker is now entering into the race by developing a hybrid vehicle model. Based on great performance and improved gas mileage, here are some of the best hybrid vehicles on the market right now.

2008 Lexus LS 600h – The 2008 Lexus LS 600h is an extremely classy car, but with all of the great technology that you could ever want both inside the cabin and under the vehicle’s hood. The hybrid system utilized by this vehicle allows it to set the standard above all other luxury class vehicle competitors with a better pedigree environmentally, and the driving performance exhibited by this vehicle is simply very good. The 2008 Lexus LS 600h is just now becoming available, but it is already gaining a serious amount of attention.

2007 Lexus GS 450h – The 2007 Lexus GS 450h is a four-door sedan with more horsepower than you would find in a normal sports sedan. This stunning hybrid vehicle has a high list of technical features and a great hybrid engine, making it the perfect package comprised of performance, technology and comfort.

 

2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid – The 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid is fast becoming a front-runner in the new hybrid sedan generation. This vehicle is eco-friendly, user-friendly and extremely easy on the pocket book at only around $26,000.

 

2007 Honda Civic Hybrid – Honda has a great reputation for its practical economy vehicles, which is quite apparent in its 2007 Civic Hybrid, which is designed to be light on fuel, and built well with a plethora of interior options. This vehicle makes a great commuter sedan, and is a fine way to get to work and to be friendly to the environment at the same time.

 

2006 Honda Accord Hybrid – The 2006 Honda Accord Hybrid is a stylish and comfortable car that is an absolute pleasure to drive. However, the wisdom of buying one may be in question considering this vehicle’s limited audio capabilities, lower gas mileage capabilities and apparently much higher price tag. Luckily there are plenty of other Hybrid cars on the market today, and you are not limited to a single or limited choice for hybrid vehicles.

 

2005 Toyota Prius – The 2005 Toyota Prius is best known for its sophisticated power system and the fact that it can deliver comfort and excellent gas mileage. The Toyota Prius is a hybrid vehicle with CVT. Although many new hybrid vehicles have been released in recent years, the Toyota Prius is clearly still one of the best hybrid vehicles on the market today.

 

Green Vehicles Cost More — Fact or Fantasy?

A comment recently left to an article in a national publication states:

“I love the fantasy of creating a green economy. Very few people can afford green. Green cars cost a lot more than the regular variety. Very few are sold. And the payback for the extra cost is years, years. …” — marrtyy, manhattan”

Marrtyy, allow me to retort. HOGwash! The sad part is that people still believe this sort of ridiculous rhetoric. Nearly entirely absent of fact, “marrtyy ” in Manhattan would like to derail the entire “green economy” (as he calls it). Reality: Green need not cost any more. In fact, the opposite is true, when it comes to cars. They start at under $10k, run an average of $25-30k, and can be as high as well over $100k (Tesla). Custom conversions of existing cars can be pricey, but that’s still not mandatory, and less expensive conversions are possible.

Now let’s look at the up-side. Even with cheaper gas, the cost per mile to drive an electric vehicle is just a fraction of a gasoline or diesel car. If you’re paying 2 cents a mile for your electric car, that adds up VERY quickly, when stacked against 6 cents per mile — and 6 cents a mile is for a car getting 30 mpg, with gas at $1.60 a gallon. When it goes back up again, (and you can bet it will) the gap will be even greater. Driving 20,000 miles a year, that difference alone saves you a couple car payments every year. Then there’s the oil changes you don’t need, the cleaner air you enjoy, the money NOT being sent out of the country or handed over to Big Oil, that can be spent in your own neighborhood and here in the States. Sorry to burst your ignorance bubble, “marrtyy”, but electric cars make a lot of sense, and don’t cost more. In fact, they cost less, and that’s before Green is even factored in!

It’s going to be important that we who recognize the importance of this transition are armed with the facts, so that negative ignorance like that presented as fact by “marrtyy” isn’t seen as credible. Going Green doesn’t have to cost more, up-front or in the long run. It’s also important that Green companies not gouge and make his doom and gloom illusion come true.