Saturday, May 17, 2008

EV shopping

Well, I felt I wanted an alternative energy vehicle. I had around $7000 cash but felt I could go as high as $15K if I could finance it (meaning it had to be turnkey). So I looked at my choices. Here's what I found:

Getting a new EV was one route I investigated. During my search for a NEW vehicle, I found quite a few artist conceptions, lots of promises and some waiting lists (most requiring deposits). However, I did not find any new car models that were ready to go in my price range. I'm sure this will change soon. However, I didn't feel I could wait for the market.

So, I considered the lower cost (and lower performance) cars. Vehicles in this category include golf carts (that aren't street legal) and vehicles from EZGo and Cushman. These "Near Electric Vehicles" are, in my opinion, an almost useless category of cars. They may look like normal cars, complete with standard lights, standard looking body, license, insurance and even seat belts. However, the speed is limited by legislation to be 25MPH. Since all but a few streets are 30MPH or higher, the NEV's of today have severe limitations on where they can be driven. For this reason, it was easy to eliminate this category of car from serious consideration.

Converting an existing car to be an EV was another option to consider. There are lots of motivational sites on this topic that show what kind of activities are involved. One good site on this is Jerry's EV conversion that show what conversion involves. There is also a good series of videos on YouTube called Gav's EV conversion. If I was to do a full size conversion, the simplest kit would probably be for a chevy S-10. However, the cost of the conversion kit and a full size donor car and batteries makes the conversion option rather pricey.

At the same time, there were some interesting 3-wheel alternative vehicles available. These include the Aptera, the Sparrow, the T-rex and the Carver one (or venture one) and several offerings from ZAP. However, all were expensive, had waiting lists, or were otherwise unavailable. However, there was one low cost electric vehicle that looked hopeful. It's a kit called the BugE. It was available either in kit form from Blue Sky Design or assembled from a company called Harvey Coachworks. Although it was VERY tempting to buy a ready-to-roll model, I opted to assemble my own instead. It wasn't so much to save money as it was to say I build my own car!

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