07 January, 2009

Electric Cars - Why Don't We Have Them Yet?

Mahindra, who made one of the first affordable small 4WDs I'd ever seen back in the 80's, are now planning to release a 4 seater electric vehicle by (here comes that effing arbitrary date fished out of some sales exec's ass again!) 2010.

At four seats, it handily beats the REVA, which is sold in the UK under some other geewhiz name, ah yeah that's it, the G-Wiz.  The new Li ion battery REVA may just pip the Mahindra in the range stakes though, and seems to have managed to lay down a bit of a track record by now.

ZAP has a whole slew of little electric buzzabouts, but in all it's been a very quiet 2008 for ZAP, it seems.

I notice, reading all those articles, that these little cars are approved in the UK because they are classed as a low speed, low power 4 wheel cycle, meant for low speed traffic conditions.  I also noticed that the REVA has been full front crash tested at 25mph and apparently passed that test, but I guess the question is - who feels safe in a little tiny peapod when they're sharing the road with buses and SUVs the size of a small tank?

I'm not sure what the state of play is in Australia, but I think we classify the EVs as cars, and therefore they all don't pass the roadworthiness tests, and in fact as far as I know, none have been tested yet.  I might lobby for a change of laws, because if it wasn't for them, I could have been driving a ZAP or REVA four years ago, and saving thousands on petrol, as well as producing considerably less pollution.

Look at car sales figures - surely that's saying something?  It's not just that people want to wait for a "more stable market" or a "more opportune time" to buy a new car.  It's that they aren't sure where the price of petrol is going, having been bent over and loved one too many times by petrol multinationals, and I think most would rather just avoid all that happening again.  If ever there was a clear sign that we need to change the roadworthiness laws and the classification of small EVs to allow us to own them, don't our politicians think this might be it?

I've ridden a scooter in between the semi-trailer road trains around Fremantle Port, and I think an electric car would be brilliant in that kind of situation.  And probably safer than a 50cc scooter.  So I'm going to ask you to email your member of parliament, ask them why we still can't import a cheap electric vehicle that makes so much sense in today's stressed ecosystem?  And make the point that you personally would like the choice to buy a small EV rather than feed global warming.

Maybe an email such as this would work: (change the name to your MP or whoever you send it to)
Mr Rudd - Can you please explain why the REVA and ZAP electric vehicles and many others are considered roadworthy in the UK, and are saving UK citizens hundreds of dollars a year, saving the UK hundreds of tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year - and yet I as an Australian citizen don't have this choice?  In a land blessed with more sunshine than almost anywhere else in the world, where a solar charger on my carport roof and an electric vehicle in that carport could save me and my family thousands of dollars, why are we still not changing the laws to allow me to do so?



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