Yesterday I watched a DVD I bought ages ago about the failure of General Motors EV1, an electric car available to be leased to the public in California. Against the wishes of the satisfied owners of the vehicles who rented them and really liked the cars, not just at the attractively low cost of ownership but the comfort, handling and style as well as zero emissions and better ethics of the EV1 and protested against having their cars taken away, as the leasing program ended, and the vehicles were taken away and destroyed. The film concludes a combination of the state of California, General Motors itself or the oil companies were to blame, as electrics cars require too much investment for their design and for infrastructure set up to fuel them, as well as lack of some kind of business model for the government to receive tax from owners to maintain the roads.
But could electric cars be a reality in some of other part of the world?
A short while ago, some of the Israeli and mainstream world news were looking on a project Renault and Nissan were working on called Project Better Place who are based in California like the GM EV1 and similar electric vehicles made by Ford, Toyota and Honda which also quietly pulled the plug on them leaving just Toyota with their unexpectedly fashionable Prius hybrid model. Better Place wants to sell purely clean running electric cars to test their vehicles elsewhere, in Denmark, Israel and Hawaii more specifically. This is expected to happen in 2011.
Where as the start of the 201xs is still not out of a recession, there must be people happy to pay for a more expensive car with low cost of ownership as well as getting a feel good feeling from the obvious environmental benefits. The worrying large scale of recalls this week Toyota have announced with many models of their cars unexpectedly accelerating probably means that all car makers R&D labs might have to subject more stricter testing to new model vehicles.
I am having to sell my trusty old Peugeot 306 diesel as I am not using it being in between doing charity work in Israel, but this little car was enormously popular, the second best selling car in the UK during the 90s, and as about half of them were diesels, Peugeot were something of a pioneer of diesel cars making them affordable with around 55 miles per gallon economy, decent performance and handling, people bought them who probably wouldnt of consider a diesel before. Therefore its inevitable someone will make a mass market electric car, as the attraction of leaving behind a legacy of over-taxed and dirty petrol to history is a dream I think most of us would like to realise.
If you think about it, Israel doesn’t have oil so has to get it from neighbouring Arab countries who are not always easy to live with, does not have an actual motor manufacturing plant or any conflict of interest from the government. As Israel is a small country, the typically short range of a battery isn’t too much of an issue here. Given the amount of talented engineers in Israel I would say that this kind of project has the best possible chance of success I think. I think this is quite exciting and really hope this comes to fruition.
But wait, the Palestinians are also wanting an electric car, this man in Gaza converted his old Peugeot 205 to electric 🙂 Youtube link.