Photo by Jeff Vinnick/ElectraMeccanica
Charged Up – Electric Cars Are Morphing Into Many Species – Forbes
Electra Meccanica Vehicles Corporation, a Vancouver-based Canadian designer and manufacturer, has developed an all-electric, single passenger vehicle, called the SOLO. Released in late 2016, the SOLO may revolutionize the way people commute in the urban world since it gets the equivalent of 150 miles per gallon, goes 80 mph and costs less than most economy gasoline or diesel-powered cars.
Powering the SOLO is a 16.1 kWh lithium ion battery. The chassis is made of a composite aerospace lightweight material combined with an aluminum drivetrain which both contribute to an overall vehicle weight of approximately 1,000 lbs. The IT in the SOLO is state-of-the-art, it can be charged with both 220V and 110V, has ten cubic feet of carpeted cargo space, goes from 0-60 mph in under eight seconds, and cruises along at 80 mph.
“The SOLO will make the urban commute more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly,” says Jerry Kroll, CEO of Electra Meccanica.
Small electric vehicles, or light electric vehicles (LEVs), are emerging as a result of increasing traffic congestion, poor air quality, and lack of transportation options around the world.
In contrast to most internal combustion engine cars, small electric vehicles occupy less space and provide flexibility in travel and parking. Increasing urbanization, and a desire to move away from full-sized cars, are opening up the small electric vehicle market, including low speed EVs and electric-powered two- and three-wheel vehicles.
In China, the most populous nation that could really benefit from EVs, the number of small electric vehicles is exploding as more consumers are demanding low cost, fully enclosed vehicles that can actually carry cargo relative to two-wheelers.
Navigant Research expects global LEV sales to go from $9.3 billion in 2017 to $23.9 billion by 2026.
Morningstar, Inc’s latest Electric Vehicle Observer, “Charged Up: Adoption Will Take Off as Electric Vehicles Reach Cost Parity,” concludes that, currently, the market underestimates EV adoption, citing high costs and low range relative to internal combustion engine vehicles.
But recent advances in battery technologies, both Li and others, bring those ranges into the realm of normal. So, the fully-electric vehicle market should grow faster than its anemic beginnings suggest.
This is not an academic exercise. We need close to a billion fully-electric vehicles worldwide to make any dent in petroleum as our transportation fuel of choice.
Of course, to take full advantage of the environmental benefits of electric vehicles, you have to charge them with something other than coal-generated electricity, the best being hydroelectric, nuclear and solar.
A gallon of gasoline produces over 8,800 grams of CO2 when burned in a vehicle (EPA vehicle emissions). Producing the equivalent of 10 kWhrs of electricity, including the total life-cycle from mining, construction, transport and burning, emits about 9,750 g of CO2 when generated in a coal-fired power plant, 6,000 g when generated in a natural gas plant, 900g from a hydroelectric plant, 550 g from solar, but only 150 g each from wind and nuclear (UK Office of Science and Technology 2006).
In 2040, a billion electric cars will drive ten trillion miles a year, which will require 2.5 trillion kWhrs, or the equivalent of 300 GenIII 1,000-MW nuclear plants or about 1,000 arrays of small modular reactors, 750 combined cycled 800-MW gas plants, or 2,500,000 of the big 1-MW wind turbines.
According to Morningstar, internal combustion engine technologies are sufficient to only satisfy about 60% of the tougher fuel efficiency gains through 2020 on a global basis. The gap will have to be filled by electrified powertrains including start-stop systems, hybrids, and electric vehicles.
The SOLO is just the latest in a series of innovative electric vehicle designs. Green Car Reports provides a nice discussion of electric cars along with their specifications. Listed here in order of increasing cost, electric cars that are available in 2017 include:
– EMVC SOLO $15,500, 16 kWh battery, 100 miles (EPA), 150 MPGe, kW motor
– Mitsubishi i-MiEV $23,845, 16 kWh battery, 59 miles (EPA), 112 MPGe, 49 kW motor
– Ford Focus Electric $29,995, 33.5 kWh battery, 115 miles (EPA), 107 MPGe, 107 kW motor
– Nissan Leaf $31,545, 30 kWh battery, 107 miles (EPA), 112 MPGe, 80 kW motor
– Fiat 500e $32,780, 24 kWh battery, 84 miles (EPA), 112 MPGe, 83 kW motor
– Kia Soul EV $32,800, 27 kWh battery, 93 miles (EPA), 105 MPGe, 81 kW motor
– Chevrolet Bolt EV $37,495, 60 kWh battery, 238 miles (EPA), 119 MPGe, 150 kW motor
– Mercedes-Benz B250e $40,825, 28 kWh battery, 87 miles (EPA), 84 MPGe, 132 kW motor
– BMW i3 $43,395, 22-33 kWh battery, 81-114 miles, 118-124 MPGe, 125 kW motor
– Tesla Model S $69,200-$135,700, 60-100 kWh battery, 210-315 miles (EPA), 98-104 MPGe, 234-396 kW motor
“The entire team here at Electra Meccanica is excited to unveil the SOLO at the Luxury and Supercar show,” said Kroll during the unveiling in December. “It far exceeded our expectations.”
The SOLO even has a drag coefficient of 0.24 – less than the Corvette and the Porsche911.
And given their color palette of Titanium Silver, Electric Red, Raven Black and Arctic White, it should be a fun ride, too.
Dr. James Conca is a geochemist, an energy expert, an authority on dirty bombs, a planetary geologist and professional speaker. Follow him on Twitter @jimconca and see his book at Amazon.com