Millions of drivers around the world struggle to afford gasoline at record prices, more than half of the earth’s population lives in cities and suffers from severe air pollution. The solution: Zero-emission electric cars. But state-of-the-art electric cars such as the Tesla Roadster which costs $100,000 are just upper crust vehicles. Even the less expensive mass-market electric vehicles which are to be launched in 2009/2010 might not be widely accepted at once because of the higher price than conventional cars. However, there are electric cars on the road in countries where the average annual income is about $470.
Poverty is a big problem in Nepal. Thus, most Nepalese rather tend to care about having a job than about conserving the environment. However, the Nepalese government outlawed fossil-fuel burning three-wheelers in an attempt to combat air pollution in the capitol Kathmandu where streets are congested with rickshaws and mopeds. Shree Eco Visionary is a company producing electric vehicles in Kathmandu on a small scale. SEV claims that running one of their EVs is much cheaper than conventional minibuses and costs just 7 cents per kilometer in comparison with 10 cents per kilometer for the conventional mini buses. The electric rickshaws are not as technologically advanced as electric cars produced by American and Japanese car makers as they use 12 car batteries for power, however, they’re functional and affordable. They can be charged easily by plugging them in a normal household socket and the vehicles can run up to 70 kilometers on a charge. As most electric vehicles in Kathmandu are buses and cannot wait 8 hours until the batteries are recharged, there are 32 power stations where the batteries can be swapped in just a few minutes. Electric minibuses are carrying around about 125,000 people a day in Kathmandu. Though the initial purchase price of $13,500 is not cheap by Nepali standards, the investment will pay off especially when used for public transport.
Another place where electric vehicles become more and more popular is Palestine, though it’s for different reasons. Since the Gaza strip has been cut off from the outside world, fuel shortages are a daily problem and gasoline bought on the black market is expensive. Therefore, two Palestinians converted their car into an electric one by installing 32 car batteries. According to them, the car has a range of 193 kilometers (120 miles) on a charge and the batteries cost about $2,500. Converting gasoline-driven cars into EVs could become a profitable business in Palestine as the blockade by Israel forces Palestinians to turn to cooking oil to run their cars or to stay at home. However, daily blackouts in the Gaza strip limit the access to electricity.