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Electric Cars: Often Expensive, But So What?


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3. November 2010

One of the criticisms that’s often thrown at the nascent electric vehicle (EV) industry is that in a few notable cases—think Tesla and Fisker—the cars being offered and/or developed are either comparatively impractical and/or expensive.

On Monday, Li-ion Motors, which won the Progressive Automotive X-Prize in the Side-by-Side Alternative Class for its Wave II EV this past September (a $2.5-million win, by the way), unveiled the INIZIO, which the company is describing as “the world’s first all American-made, fully electric, emission-free ‘supercar.’” It has a 145-kW electric motor that provides a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.4 seconds. It has a lithium-ion battery pack, regenerative braking, and an energy management system that provides the possibility of going 250 miles on a single charge—although one can only imagine that mashing the accelerator frequently would have a range-reducing effect, as is the case with gasoline-powered cars. The car can be fully charged in about eight hours on a 220-v outlet.

 

Li-ion Motors

The car’s doors rotate up 90-degrees, and ingress and egress are facilitated by a hydraulic lift system that raises the car three inches. There is a digital sound system, high-definition cameras that contribute to a 360-degree view around the car, and a number of other amenities.

The car, which is to launch mid-2011, starts at $139,000.

Can’t you hear the criticism?

One thing seems to be lost. Although Henry Ford certainly put the world on wheels with affordable transportation, if you consider the early years of the auto industry—and even some of the not-so-early years—it is evident that a lot of design and technological development occurred in vehicles that were not accessible to the common driver. Spend some time at places like the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana, and you’ll see some truly magnificent vehicles that pushed boundaries—and emptied bank accounts.

Cars like the INIZIO should be celebrated as they’ll help push the technology to a place where we can all afford it.

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