The Case for an Efficient Electric Vehicle

electrictransport
electrictransport

While a motorcycle can provide unprecedented fun, with the wind in the hair effect, as well as being able to maneuver in and out of traffic, a slight downpour resulting in an accident is no fun at all. On the other hand, driving a car can provide a different set of issues, such as traffic and finding parking convenient for you.

According to one specific company, the best option is called the C-1. This is an electric motorcycle encased in a metal shell that is operated in the same manner as a normal car. IT has a steering wheel and has foot pedals. There are features though that help the car remain stable on the road, such as two gyroscopes under the car’s floor that prevents the vehicle from tipping over.

The C-1 can travel at 120 miles per hour at top speed and has a range of about 200 miles on a single full charge of battery.

The C-1 is the brainchild of Daniel Kim under his Lit Motors Company. Kim was tinkering with a SUV on biodiesel engine when the 500 pound chassis of the vehicle fell on top of him. This caused an epiphany on Kim’s side, resulting in a reassessment of his vision and thus the creation of the C-1.

Kim relates, “Most people drive alone. Why not cut the car in half? I was really into bicycles at the time and I thought, why can’t we have the efficiency of a bicycle and motorcycle but all the amenities of a car?”

The goal of many electric car builders is to provide affordable and practical vehicles for mass market use and consumption. Many of the bigger names in the industry, such as Tesla Motors, is having trouble increasing its manufacturing capacity and produces only high end highly expensive sports cars. This is the niche of entrepreneurs such as Kim’s Lit Motors Company, as the benefits of an electric car would be received even by ordinary folk who don’t have the large bank accounts at their disposal. Kim, for his part, says his vehicle platform would be money-saving, safe on the road and simple to build.

The main drawback still of electric vehicles is its battery. According to Dr. Dan Sperling, professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science and Policy at UC-Davis said, that unlike computers and digital storage, which underwent rapid improvement alongside price reductions, battery technology has not made great strides resulting in their bulkiness and high prices. Another factor is the lukewarm response of the market to the electric car revolution. In studies conducted by his Institute of Transportation Studies, many car owners feel nervous about the reliability and maintenance of these expensive vehicles which have more far reaching consequences compared to say a smartphone.

For Kim’s vehicle platform, because of the low weight of the vehicle, batteries can be smaller and thus be cheaper. The system also is equipped with many more gadgets to improve the vehicle’s liability on the road in the long run. There are 2,200 parts to the vehicle allowing easier mass production techniques for the company. Mr. Kim’s initial pricing for the vehicle is at about US$24,000 and hopefully would be lowered to US$14,000 with improvements in technology and supply of parts, making it more affordable for everyone.

Toyota Forges Partnerships

toyotaLOGO
toyotaLOGO

BMW announced that it has entered into a partnership with Toyota Motor Corporation as to the supply of diesel engines and the joint development of car batteries.

This comprehensive technology alliance was announced as part of the Tokyo Motor Show where the importance of green technologies is underscored. This would also properly manage the costs in the development of power trains depending on customer preferences of a varied market.

Toyota has sustained its gasoline-electric hybrid core business while keeping its top spot in the Japanese auto market. The company though has struggled in Europe where diesel power has lead fuel efficiency and compliance with new stringent environmental rules. On the other hand, BMW has great experience in the European diesel market yet has lagged behind in terms of hybrid systems and lithium ion technologies.

The partnership would entail BMW supplying Toyota with 1.6 liter and 2.0-liter engines for its European models starting in 2014. The companies would also start research and development of the next-generation lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars.

According to Klaus Draeger, member of the BMW Board of Management said, “Toyota and BMW are perfect partners. By carrying out basic research together, we want to speed up development of battery-powered technology. Whoever has the best batteries in terms of cost and function will win more customers.”

For Toyota’s part, Didier Leroy, CEO of Toyota Motor Europe said the alliance would bolster both companies efficiency, improve economies of scale, lower development costs and deliver cars to the European market more quickly. The particular provisions of the equity partnership were not made public.

This partnership came three months after Toyota announced its agreement with Ford Motor Company to collaborate on hybrid powertrain development. Toyota has kept its leadership in hybrid sales, refusing to go into production for an all-electric car citing efficiency, infrastructure and range issues. The Ford-Toyota partnership though did not discuss the inclusion on the development of battery technologies.

Toyota’s move of entering into multiple partnerships is no surprise in light of the ever-increasing fuel efficiency standards worldwide as well as the driving need to reduce the overall developmental costs of hybrids and all-electric vehicles. Particular interest is the development of battery technology as it is the most problematic of all the new vehicle technologies.

According to Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s Executive Vice President said “We think that this collaboration will allow for development of next-generation batteries to be done faster and at a higher level,” referring to the partnerships with BMW and Ford.