Electric Dreams

Ever since I regularly started writing this blog, the inevitable was bound to happen – writer’s block. 2013 heralded a drought in topics or inspiration, to be more precise. The inspiration finally came in the form of an article about a gyro-stabilized motorbike and it dawned on me that it would be a good idea to chronicle the struggles of the EV or the electric vehicle to be precise. 

Electric cars really competed with gasoline and steam powered vehicles in the twenties but lost out as gasoline cars became more practical and civilized. Increasing motor-car travel between cities and the availability of cheap gasoline after its discovery in Oklahoma made gasoline powered cars the better choice. EVs practically disappeared from the mass-market and existed on the fringes until Tesla caught the world’s imagination. The apparent simplicity of the electric power-train and fawning press reports of the Tesla Roadster probably convinced tinkerers, entrepreneurs and their investors to try their luck with start-ups. 


Though EVs can be broadly classified into 3 types (pure electric, plug-in hybrids and plain-Jane hybrids), I am going to talk about the innovative concepts that I admire.

Aptera 2e


The Aptera 2e




The idea of the Aptera was romantic if slightly impractical. This was a car (or a trike actually) which would appeal to the early adopters. Also a shape that was ahead of its time. Developing a car is no laughing matter, even for the experienced and I am afraid Aptera was like that. So this is what doomed the Aptera
1. Wasting resources in competing for the X-Prize
2. Getting upstaged in the ‘Green Press’ by the likes of the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt’
3. Stretch goals should not be made into impossible goals.


LIT Motors C-1

The LIT C-1



Is this just an electric enclosed motorcycle. or is something more. The C-1’s ace in the hole is a set of gyroscopes which keep the bike upright, even in an accident. Its got range, weather protection, can split lanes where its legal, carry two twerps and can balance on its own – what else do you want?


Tango


Another attempt at lane splitting. Unlike the C-1, this is actually a half-width four-wheeled car. I had a chance to take a ride in this car in the Detroit Auto Show a couple of years back and its stability is amazing. The inventor happens to be  a former Porsche racer who knows a thing or two about building cars. He took me around an indoor course at the breakneck speed and never once did I feel tippy. This is because all the batteries are below the floor  and between the axles – which gives you a super-low center of gravity. Alas, this car has yet to catch the public’s imagination so it is still too expensive for mere mortals like us.
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