9 Comments

  1. Danny

    Good to see the electric car come to Australia. I think the biggest hurdle for the average consumer will be the cost. Seems like at this price range it would be suited more as a business car than the average household owner. Its exciting to see this car be released though. Still many hurdles to overcome, like the power issue you mentioned. Maybe we should be thinking about over-unity engines 😉 I know, where would the profit be there?!

    • @Danny: Yeah, the cost I’m sure is a temporary glitch because it’s brand new technology with very limited supply. Stuff like HD TVs, DVD players, BlueRay players, etc always came in at very high initial prices, and then found equilibrium at a much lower cost once the economies of scale kicked in.

      So if cost becomes less of a factor, I think the remaining issue for many will be the limited range. It’s fine for a commuter car, so it’d be OK for two-car households, but a lot of people still need to travel longer distances occasionally so I’m not sure it could serve as the only car for most households. Maybe attitudes will change over time, and we’ll rent a long-range car or travel by train and hire a car at our destination for those occasional needs.

  2. Chris

    The lease is interesting, it reminds me of the cars GM were making in that ‘Death of the Electric Car’ movie, they were lending the EVs to celebrities like Tom Hanks for promotion. Mitsubishi are probably aiming for the same kind of promotion as that, either getting celebs to have more exclusivity than a Prius or companies wanting to demonstrate a greener image. The torque figures are impressive, similar to a diesel engine, but it shouldn’t run out of gears!

    • @Chris: Yeah, it reminded me of the GM electric cars too. I suspect that they maybe want to retain ownership in case something goes wrong, or the batteries don’t last very long, or something. If they sell you the car, they have to keep a certain amount of spares for a certain number of years, and offer warranty etc as well. If they just lease it, they have the flexibility to recall them, junk them, terminate leases, etc. It’d be a PR nightmare if they sold you the car and then found it only lasted a couple of years or something. I guess the lease is a way for them to keep a closer eye on the cars, kind of like a public beta test. They might even use it as a way to refurbish and continue leasing the cars for many years to come, which would help their green image.

  3. EVs might be accessible to a small number of rich folks, but I think as a response to resource depletion and even climate change it’s weak.

    There’s more potential in permaculture design incorporating alcohol fuel production. This is a relatively low-tech, carbon fixing, distributed, small-medium scale and clean approach. Internal combustion engines, diesel and petrol, can be run on alcohol blended with a small amount of another liquid (biodiesel and ether respectively). That means you can run powerful engines for long distances, and without buying a new (expensive) vehicle.

    David Blume has been researching and educating about this for a few decades. Check out his web site: http://www.alcoholcanbeagas.com/node/518. He publishes an excellent DVD and thorough book on the subject.

    There are other interesting approaches such as running vehicles on biodigestor methane or compressed air from trompes, but I think alcohol from appropriate crops is the most promising at this stage.

    • @Tim: I tend to agree with you. I think the first stage we’ll see as oil begins to increase in price is the switching of current engines over to gas (LPG). There’s lots of gas exploration and drilling going on at the moment. I’m not saying it’s a good solution, but I reckon it’ll be the first stage of the response.

      Then stuff like biodiesel and alcohol and methane will begin to rise in popularity.

      Electric motors may still have a part to play, charged by wind, solar, and other renewable sources. I fear, though, that they’ll be charged with coal-fired power that won’t help much.

      I’m also hopeful that with decreasing oil availability (i.e. rising oil prices), we’ll start to rethink how much we actually travel and transport stuff. Relocalising food production and eliminating the daily commute would have a massive impact on the amount of energy we consume (and pollution we cause) with transportation.

  4. Localising food production, efficient travel… of course. I wouldn’t have to drive much if my work was done 🙂 In the meanwhile, we don’t have to settle for what we are offered regarding fuel to get there.

    For the farmer who wants to earn a living – integrated food and alcohol production (or methane) may be suitable. Drivers should also be able to patronise renewable, clean and ethically produced fuels, which in turns strengthens the local economy and food movement (that capital is no longer draining away). There is E85 available in some Australian cities now, made from Sugarcane. Not the cleanest production, but it’s a start. Let’s work out the systems, put our money where our mouth is, and invest in it.

    • @Tim: I totally agree. According to Wikipedia, 54% of pre-war Germany’s fuel production was derived from non-petroleum sources, much of it alcohol. Apparently this made it hard for the Allies during the war – normally you’d target fuel and resource supplies to limit an enemy’s war efforts, but with alcohol production being so distributed and small-scale it wasn’t easy to take out.

      I think we could learn a lot from studying the pre-war German fuel production model. I think other parts of Europe had similar systems, too.

  5. There are other interesting approaches such as running vehicles on biodigestor methane or compressed air from trompes, but I think alcohol from appropriate crops is the most promising at this stage.

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