Monday, April 4, 2011

Little Electric Cars

I've been spending some time with my dad in his retirement park. It's the land of the little electric golf cart, the main form of transportation around here. The park is big enough that walking is inconvenient. Bicycles work well too, but cargo space is limited. It's also too hot to pedal some days.

Electric cars have been around for over 100 years. The new Nissan Leaf is supposed to have a 100 mile rage. Electric cars back in the old days also had 100 mile ranges. Doesn't seem like much progress, does it? What's changed? The Nissan can travel at highway speeds. The old electrics topped out at about 20 mph. That's about the speed of the golf carts around here.

Golf carts make sense here: warm climate, relatively short distances, and low speed limits. Where people around here get into trouble is when they sneak out of the park to go to stores down the road. The cops are always busting people for driving their carts on the highway. A slow golf cart doesn't stand up to well to 40 mph car and truck traffic.

Will electric cars make sense in the future? I'm really not sure if any cars will make sense in the future. Japan just lost 40% of its grid power. Will Japanese people be willing to use their reduced electric capacity to power cars? Will that be the best use of their reduced capacity? Our grid is falling apart, even with a major natural disaster. Japan gives us a glimpse into the future of rationed power usage.

Short, slow distance trips might be all we'll be driving, no matter what we have for vehicles. Infrastructure is falling apart. Roads will be less well maintained. Already, many roads are being depaved and turned to gravel. The slower speed of an electric probably won't be the hindrance it is today.

Will we be more likely to have gasoline or electric power? There are many ways of generating home electric. It might make sense to have a small electric vehicle for the occasional trip into town. Something like an electric ATV like a Bad Boy Buggy might be just the thing. It's designed for off road use.

Personally, I wouldn't mind adding a few more solar panels to my house array to charge a small electric vehicle. Beats the heck of feeding a horse.



  1. add an electric motor assist to your bicycle along with a small rechargable battery. no power? then can always pedal home..

    have seen adaptors for the front wheel to hold an portable power drill with rubber wheel on some local bikes...

    anyhow you could get via rickshaw and a trained yuppie to pull it for you..


  2. I do like your trained yuppie idea. I might feel bad for a horse doing that kind of work, but a yuppie . . .

  3. hm, I feel like we've seen that elec. bike motor idea before.... ;)

  4. Phoenix Brute 3640 looks good to me.

  5. Hell I wanna wagon, Powered by 6 nubile Yuppie Wenches !
    Bring on the collapse, sounds more interesting every day...

  6. Vlad -looks interesting.

    Spud -you are a twisted dude, but I like the way you think.

  7. My problem with electric cars is their battery life. The first set of gel cells for my Dad's scooter lasted over three years, the last few sets haven't made it to one year before dying. Even so-called deep discharge batteries are being made with thinner plates and not lasting as long.
    Do you have a line on folks that make decent long-lasting batteries?

  8. I run my house solar electric on Interstate 6 volt golf cart batteries. Happy with the company. Of course, they are heavy as all heck -not a problem in my house.