Westcoast Hippie Project: Electric Cars

The first things many people think of when they hear "electric vehicle”, are slow, small, and limited. However, you don’t have to look far to realize how outdated those assumptions are. Advances have been made over the last several years that make electric vehicles (EVs) faster and more versatile, with range capabilities similar to our current gas-guzzlers.

Let’s have a look at what kind of electric vehicles exist today. A quick search on the internet reveals some very interesting options–most notably Tesla, Zap, Th!nk, and Phoenix– in addition to a fair number of city-speed EVs. You will also find some very interesting prototype vehicles like the Chevy Volt.

The Tesla Roadster is probably the most notable example of how wrong public opinion has been about electric cars. This car is 100 percent electric, goes from zero to 100km/hr in less than four seconds (about the same as a Lamborghini), has a top speed of about 200 km/hr, and can go 400 kilometres on a single charge. Plus with a convertible body built by Lotus, it looks great. The price is about $100,000, which is actually a pretty good deal when you compare it to similar flashy super-cars. If you want one, you’ll have to sign the waiting list – they have already sold out for next year.

The Phoenix Sport Utility Truck is just as impressive, but in a more practical way. It goes from zero to 100 km/hr in 10 seconds (about the same as my turbo New Beetle), gets about 200 kilometres per charge with a top speed of about 130 km/hr, and it’s a four door pickup truck! It’s also much more affordable, at only $45,000 – about the same price as a Ford or Chevy truck.

Th!nk is even more affordable at around $32,500 for a two-seater with a top speed of 100km/hr, and a range of 180 kilometres.

All of those electric vehicles boast some impressive statistics, but I haven’t even mentioned the most impressive fact of all: when you own an electric car, you never have to stop for gas again – just plug it in overnight and the next morning you have a full "tank”, and the electricity costs a whole lot less than gasoline! If you are worried about needing a longer range, consider that, with proper fuelling stations, electric vehicles are capable of a nearly-full, quick charge in just 10 minutes. With enough EVs out there, gas stations will have charging stations up in no time.

Tesla Motors estimates that the Tesla uses about a penny worth of electricity per kilometre. To compare, consider that my New Beetle uses about 10 cents per kilometre. For the average person, who drives around 25,000 kilometres per year, that would be a yearly savings of $2250 — even more if you drive a bigger vehicle.

Now also think of the rest of the things you’ll never have to worry about – no more oil changes, no mufflers, no spark plugs, no emissions tests to pay for, and with some newer EVs, you won’t even have to worry about brake pads! And say good-bye to that check-engine light.

I don’t know about you, but with those kinds of benefits I’m not too keen on wasting any more money on old technology–I’m keeping my little Beetle until the car companies are ready to sell me an electric replacement!

Nico teWinkel, B.Sc., has a passion for alternative energies. He shares his research and provides ideas that can help anyone live a greener life. www.westcoasthippie.com