Drivers spend more and more of their money at the pump and there’s no relief in sight. Gas-guzzlers have become unsalable and a new era for drivers is about to break. All major auto manufacturers have come up with their own models of electric cars. Japanese companies have taken the lead and will launch numerous fuel-efficient, hybrid and electric vehicles in 2009 and 2010. But U.S. manufacturers have also caught the wave in this key trend and featured electric cars that should hit U.S. roads in 2010.
GM has probably realized that the future (and the survival) of the company depends largely on the success of the heavily promoted semi-electric Chevrolet Volt that covers the first 40 miles running solely on electricity. I guess that the Chevy Volt has the potential to become a smash-hit and will turn out to be the saving grace for the troubled automotive giant. However, it’s not enough to have one electric car in the product lineup. All major car makers offer dozens of gasoline-driven cars for all purposes. As it has to be with electric cars. Electric cars with a range extender such as the Chevy Volt have great potential as they can cover long distances, have a good fuel economy and on short distances, they run on nothing but electricity and therefore consume no gasoline unless driving more than 40 miles. However, there are numerous applications for electric cars. For the average family, the Chevy Volt could serve as the vehicle for longer trips and commuting from the suburb to the workplace in the city center. Smaller electric vehicles and micro-cars would be perfect to take the children to school, leisure time activities, do shopping, to drive around the neighborhood and for short-term commutes and other short-haul travel in an economical and environmentally friendly way.
And all-electric cars with a lower speed are making it to the market, too. In Canada, where low-speed electric vehicles were allowed on the streets recently, manufacturers can’t meed demand for the vehicles that will cost about $16,000. Waiting lists have been set up and there’s a huge interest in locally-assembled purely electric cars. One of the fairly popular models is the low-speed Zenn vehicle. Zenn stands for Zero-Emission, No-Noise. The Zenn Motor Company is a Canada-based company producing and developing small, purely electric cars which are especially suitable for the neighborhood electric vehicle market. The Zenn car can be charged at any electric outlet, it has a top speed of 25 mph and can cover a distance of up to 50 miles on a single charge. It’s light-weight due to an aluminum chassis. The car doesn’t require any gasoline, it’s maintenance costs are low in comparison with conventional cars as there are no plugs or oil to be changed and the electric motors requires less maintenance than combustion engines. On top of that, the Zenn is definitely a green car. No CO2 emissions, no other pollutants emitted and a high energy efficiency. Besides, the Zenn car is convenient to drive and the car provides features that leave the impression of a conventional car. Besides, in cities like London, owners of the Zenn car don’t have to pay the Congestion Charge and incentives such as tax reductions also benefit the driver.
Detroit’s car makers should consider diversifying their new product lineups by including several models of all-electric cars, plug-in hybrids as well as fuel-efficient small and compact cars. Thus, they can provide solutions for both, zero-emissions, economical urban transportation and efficient transportation for rural areas. The future of mobility will be different. There are several possibilities how the average family could manage to maintain its mobility at an affordable price. Some families might have two cars, one for commuting and long-haul trips, another one, probably an electric one, for driving around the community and to do shopping, etc.. Others might purchase one electric car which is suitable for most of their needs and has a range that allows commuting and trips to the surrounding cities. In order to cover longer distances, a modern, efficient and fast car could be rented as long as necessary. This would avoid driving around the neighborhood with vehicles with bad fuel economy and high tailpipe emissions.