Engineer Gary Krysztopik is hoping his design for an easy-to-assemble, three-wheel, all-electric kit car will encourage his fellow Americans to make the switch to battery-powered motoring.
The EZ-EV (‘easy electric vehicle’) project is a 680 kg street-legal trike that can be assembled in one week by one person with basic tools. Expert DIYers can buy open source plans and build the three-wheeled car from scratch.
All parts are off-the-shelf and simple to install, but there will be an option to buy a fully-assembled vehicle.
The kits are sold without a body. Kryztopik imagines a near future where customers will produce their own bodywork using 3D printers, but for the moment the driving experience is entirely open air.
Whilst this is wildly impractical in any climate other than southern California, there is precedent; in the early days of motoring it was common for drivers to buy a car without a body and then commission coachworks to build the bodywork.
It would be easy to discount the EZ-EV as simply the latest in a long line of electric cars that never make it to production. But if battery-powered cars are ever to amount to anything more than a curiosity, it’s possible that widespread adoption will need to bubble up from pioneers like Krysztopik rather than trickle down from large car companies such as Nissan and Renault.
According to Krysztopik: “not even counting the big stuff like Global Warming and the fate of future generations, there is war, terrorism and more oil spills. This will empower people to buy cars that are locally manufactured, will last for generations, and be easily maintained and upgraded while having the capability to make your own ‘fuel’ with solar panels. Even when charged from the grid, electric vehicles are cleaner and keep money local. By promoting these vehicles, we can change the direction that the world is headed. These vehicles will provide local jobs building clean transportation.”
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The future for electric cars
Where electric cars are concerned, the purported lower running costs may be a red herring; the cars can cost more to own than a frugal petrol or diesel powered equivalent.
The primary reason for choosing an electric car should be the environmental advantages of driving a vehicle that can be powered from a renewable source of electricity.
However, the car buying decision for some drivers can have more to do with cup holder design than reducing their carbon tyre print. In America, the land of the big and thirsty car, the move towards smaller, frugal and electric vehicles may end up being driven by the as much by the politics of oil as much its price.
According to Krysztopik: ” not even counting the big stuff like Global Warming and the fate of future generations, there is war, terrorism and more oil spills. This will empower people to buy cars that are locally manufactured, will last for generations, and be easily maintained and upgraded while having the capability to make your own ‘fuel’ with solar panels. Even when charged from the grid, electric vehicles are cleaner and keep money local. By promoting these vehicles, we can change the direction that the world is headed. These vehicles will provide local jobs building clean transportation.”
America is shaped by her ability to move people and stuff freely and quickly. The cost may not be apparent at the pump, but 13m barrels of oil are burned each day in the process – almost three-quarters of all oil used in America and half of it bought from foreign shores.
The high purchase price, long recharge times and relatively limited range of electric cars are often cited as reasons to steer clear of battery-powered motoring, but the barrier to super-efficient motoring is more than a reluctance to swap pump for plug; it has to do with the way we perceive cars, their place in popular culture and what we have come to expect from them.
If it Is naive to expect people to forgo the comfort, speed and range of internal combustion engine cars anytime soon, and with diesel prices over £1.30 per litre, perhaps it is time for Volkswagen to start building its XL1; an t aerodynamic, lightweight and fuel efficient two-seater hybrid that returns returns over 300mpg.
The ‘near-production concept’ has been in development for ten years as part of the company’s goal of producing a car capable of travelling 100km using no more than one litre of fuel. The XL1 combines a small diesel engine with an electric motor and manages to surpass this target by ten per cent – the equivalent of 313mpg.
Despite the impressive fuel efficiency, the L1 is capable of 99mph and a 0-60 time of 11.9 seconds.