Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Washington Auto Show II: Many (exicting) ways to go electric

We wrote about the Washington Auto Show last week after touring its “Advanced Technology Superhighway” (its “green” section), but there were so many exciting vehicles and companies on display that we felt they deserve some more attention. Here are highlights of what we saw:
Neighborhood (low-speed) electric vehicles. Columbia ParCar Corp. says it has the widest range of fully electric vehicles anywhere, and from their display and material, it looks like it – including a two-passenger car, its MEGA utility van, a flat-bed truck and even a garbage truck. E-Cruisers uses nifty, versatile GEM (Global Electric Motors) vehicles, carrying anywhere from two to eight passengers, to shuttle people quietly and pollution-free at various venues; GEM also offers other versions.
Small full-speed electric cars. The Wheego Whip Life will be available later this year in dealerships around the country (including locally at Apple Wheego in Columbia, Md.). Wheego anticipates having a four-door full-speed version available next year. THINK’s City can be paired with a charger made by AeroVironment, Inc., that enables a zero to 80% charge in just 15 minutes (as fast as gassing up your car!). THINK is developing this fast-charging capacity in major U.S. cities, which will make the Think City that much more versatile. The Mini-E, made by BMW, is a fully electric version of the nimble and popular gas Mini and can be outfitted with rear seats, too.

Larger full electrics. The Nissan Leaf was awarded Green Car Journal’s “Green Car Vision Award” for 2010 at the show and features “one-stop shopping,” in which consumers can also take care of home charging directly through the dealership. The much-anticipated Chevy Volt, due in showroom floors later this year, will go up to 40 miles without using any gas at all. And for BMW customers who want a full-size car, the company is offering the Active-E. And let's not forget those who are already out there. Toyota of course had its plug-in hybrid Prius on display, while Honda, in addition to its new Insight hybrid, displayed a very sleek-looking, 5-passenger fuel-cell sedan.

Vans. The Boulder, a full-speed, highly aerodynamic all-electric delivery truck, can carry nearly 6,000 pounds – more than it weighs – up to 120 miles before recharging. Bright Automotive offers the sleek-looking, plug-in hybrid IDEA van, and plans to build 50,000 of these useful vehicles annually.

Suppliers. Magna, the fourth-largest auto parts supplier in the world, is making the powertrain for the all-electric Ford Focus, offers an advanced lithium-ion battery – and is exploring how it could use its gearboxes to help run wind turbines as well as solar-tracking arrays.

While at the show, we kept thinking how in 10 years, there will be so many EVs on U.S. roads, saving consumers tons of money while making us more energy-independent and polluting much less, putting us in line with where Europe is now.

make green a reality!

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