Monday, October 16, 2006

Who killed the electric car?

This is not really about small cars (however, a common thread among small autos is fuel efficiency), but nevertheless interesting. I just watched the recently released documentary "Who killed the electric car?"; I stumbled upon it on Google Video here [2007.12 edit: updated link, but it may go down again due to copyright issues]. There seems to be an agenda in the narrative, but it was filled with interesting historical aspects.

But wait! Is the electric car really dead? Here's one that you can actually buy, right now (well, assuming you live in Europe), and it's solar to boot! The Venturi Eclectic.


  1. Small, low-speed battery electric cars are taking off in cities like London, England, where they are exempt from parking and congestion fees. See for a neat video blog by the owner of one such car.

    Several Canadian provinces already permit similar low-speed electric cars to be driven on roads with speed limits up to about 60 km/h. (Ontario just announced a pilot period to evaluate such cars - but the pilot will happen only in provincial parks, with vehicles driven by government employees.)

    Toronto's own Feel Good Cars Inc hopes to cash in on evolving regulations and consumer taste for small EVs ( as does BC's Dynasty Electric cars:

    The electric vehicle isn't dead. Just hibernating. Maybe waking up a little...

  2. Great links! Thanks. Unfortunately the low speed vehicle regulations you allude to limit the usefulness of these cars. They will be nothing more than glorified golf carts! What we really need is regulation allowing these vehicles on real roads. Limit them from highways, but allow them on other roads, or at least in urban cores. Similar legislation exists; look at the new low speed motorcycle (LSM) license in Ontario now (for mopeds and 50cc scooters).

  3. I agree with you about the limited usefulness of these cars under current regulations.

    Even if the regs were changed to permit them to travel up to 60 km/h instead of the current 40 max., they would become potentially much more useful to a lot more people.

    Of course the reason for their 40 km/h limit is safety: these cars only have to meet minimum safety standards (e.g. lights, signals, wipers, horn, seat belts) and are exempt from modern crash regulations. So the speed limit is a regulatory trade-off.

    I definitely don't think the Feel Good cars / Itiselectric cars are restricted to 40 km/h by their motor ratings or battery power; they're restrained by electronic governors, and could go somewhat faster without them.

    The English seem content to let their supermini electrics run "unrestricted", leaving it to the driver to decide where it's safe to go. Which is part of the reason why London is becoming the electric car capital.