400 Mile Range? A DEAL CHANGER - Meet Lucid.

400 Mile Range? A DEAL CHANGER - Meet Lucid.

Meet Lucid. A luxury alternative to Tesla, oh and it can go 400 miles without a charge. Let there be no mistake, this is a deal changer. Whether you agree with Elon Musk’s way of doing things or not there is no doubt that Tesla Motors has dragged the electric car industry kicking and screaming to the next level. Created to service the sporting/luxury end of the electric car market, Tesla is now making affordable electric cars available to the masses.


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Electric Car Future in New Zealand


According to an expert, the rewards to be reaped from the use of electric vehicles for New Zealand would be much greater compared to other countries. This was the statement given by Ex-pat Aucklander Ed Kjaer. Kjaer is an expert on electric vehicles and is currently working in one of the biggest American utility vehicles, Southern California Edison.

It is acknowledged that California is the electric vehicle capital in the United States and Kjaer has seen the potential that electric vehicles have in transforming motor vehicles and eventually wean economies from their continued dependence on motor oil.

Kjaer made these remarks during the Electric Vehicle Symposia held in Auckland and Wellington last week. He added that New Zealand suits EVs well as like the United States, there is an excess electricity capacity in the evenings when people are asleep. This is the best time to recharge the battery packs of electric vehicles.

He said, “Urbanites in our main centers tend to have garages where EVs can be charged, whereas half of city-dwellers in the US don’t. New Zealand’s electricity supply is particularly clean, which offers the possibility of cleaner air and a big dent in the country’s carbon emissions. Also, the New Zealand economy is hostage to volatile oil prices as it has to import nearly all its oil compared to the US which is a big oil producer and is ramping up extraction rapidly.”

Kjaer observed that the New Zealand economy is a slave to the volatility of gasoline. Furthermore, New Zealand imposes taxes on petrol more heavily than the United States and a reduction in the consumption would be worthwhile.

Kjaer lives the EV lifestyle, as the lifetime costs of electric vehicles would beat the costs of a the gasoline powered. He only operates EVs in his own household, as he charges them during the evenings in his garage. He claims he gets the equivalent of 100 kilometers from using just 1.3 liters of petrol. This in turn would result in lower overall lifetime costs compared to his use of gasoline powered cars.

Even with the lower long term costs, the electric car revolution is going at a snail’s pace and a major part of the problem is the front loaded aspects of the cost, making electric vehicles more expensive to purchase gasoline powered cars.

This has become a come on for businesses, such as taxis in Auckland. Many have opted to purchase Priuses since they can reap the benefits of being environmentally friendly, which in turn entices customers to use them or their overall cost efficiency. This though is the exception rather than the norm, not just in New Zealand, but the world over.

Until and unless the initial overall costs are lowered, this would remain the major stumbling block that would limit the advancement of the electric vehicle revolution.

The Case for an Efficient Electric Vehicle


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.

Issues with GE’s WattStation


The recent weeks found news reports of WattStation home chargers damaging the on-board charging system in some Nissan Leaf electric vehicles. In response, GE Energy, the makers of the WattStation, admitted that some owners of the Nissan Leaf had encountered issues with the system.

The company added that it was ‘actively working with Nissan to help determine the source of this issue.’ They were quick to add though, that the home charging system had not encountered any similar issues with other electric vehicle models.

The WattStation was designed by Yves Behar, with the purpose of being attractive and easy to use compared to previous chargers. The system was introduced back in 2010 and the first home charging systems were sold starting July 2011.

For its part, a Nissan dealership located in San Francisco had shot an email to its Leaf clientele with a warning to stop using the home charging system. Mr. Rafael Carballo, Hanless Hilltop Nissan EV sales leader, said that Nissan had ‘documented’ cases of GE WattStations damaging the charging systems of the Nissan Leaf. He sent out the email, saying “It is recommended that you don’t use GE charging stations at this time.” He added that the information was sent to him by a Nissan regional operations manager and thought it would be prudent to alert their customers. He did admit though, that he was not aware of WattStations damaging cars sold by their dealership.

Nissan North America, through its spokesperson Katherine Zachary said through an email, “There’s no official Nissan policy instructing customers not to use GE WattStations.”

For its part, GE Energy’s statement was made through Sean Gannon, spokesperson for the power giant. He said, “Since its launch in 2011, GE’s WattStation has performed as designed, thousands of units have been shipped and it has received positive reviews from EV drivers.” He also added that the charging issue had been raised by eleven Nissan Leaf owners.

Other reports came from informal sources, such as the owner’s forum MyNissanLeaf.com. Members have posted their experiences and problems with the charger, such as Benjenn from Edmond, OK, saying that back in June, he had used the system six or seven times. When he plugged it again, his Nissan Leaf just went off. When he had it checked, a local Nissan dealer said that the vehicle’s on-board charging unit had malfunctioned and he related other problems with GE chargers.

The same forum also reported some other members with flawless performance from their WattStations when plugged into their prized Nissan Leafs.

California Enacts Pro EV Measures


In a new measure, the California State Assembly has paved the way to make electric vehicles more affordable, as well as practical, for the ordinary car user. Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield filed a bill allowing for easier access to these vehicles of the future.

Assembly bill 2502 passed the California Lower House by a unanimous 75 to none vote and with that the measure was forwarded to the California State Senate for further review and consideration.

According to Blumenfield, “Electric vehicles must become a more affordable and practical choice for Californians. Getting past ‘range anxiety’ is essential for this technology to be embraced by commuters. Accelerated vehicle recharging can help and we must make it more affordable.”

This bill is just part of the Blumenfield’s overall Clean Car Package. Other aspects of the bill include allowing car dealers to include the cost of accelerated charging systems for the electric vehicle, such as installation costs in the purchaser’s home or the vehicle’s financing charges. The fast charging equipment would allow the homeowner to fully recharge the vehicle through a 220 volt outlet overnight.

Blumenfield adds, “We can encourage more Californians to buy zero-emission cars. A few thousand dollars out of pocket is a barrier we can overcome with this bill.”

New car consumers in the state make downpayments for vehicles ranging from 17.8% or U.S.$5,139 for a U.S.$28,870 priced car in 2011. While this figure is below the threshold level of 20% recommended by car market buying authorities, making additional financing available is important to improve the market acceptance of the electric vehicle platform.

Another bill authored by Blumenfield is AB 2045 and it provides clean car drives with free access to carpool lanes and converted toll lanes. Before this measure, clean cars have never been allowed free access in these specific lanes. This said bill was passed last month and has been forwarded to the California State Senate.

Over and above the current state and federal incentives provided to purchasers, these new measures would help the car market gear more towards the purchase of clean and green technologies for their transportation needs. These new incentives would help tip the scales in favor of the electric vehicle for a cleaner and greener future for all.