Technically Speaking

TS (JanFeb16) – Going Electric

By: Matt Vallez

There is a brand new car in my driveway and it has no gas tank or exhaust pipe, and I drive it to work on the freeway every day since I brought it home. Unfortunately, for my wallet, it is not manufactured in Augusta or Newnan Georgia. However, there will be more than just golf cars that the big three golf car manufactures will be manufacturing in the feature and some already are. The car I am referring to is a Nissan Leaf, 100% electric car with no gas engine; it came complete with a charger that resembles an oversized laptop brick charger and I have had it up to 95 miles per hour, it has impressive speed from 0 to 60 with not the same feeling from 60 to 90 but never the less quick by any standard. It is by far the quietest car I have ever owned, and or driven before. The electric motor noise is barely detectable at takeoff and when rapidly decelerating, otherwise you can’t hear a thing. I wanted to see if I can make something like this work for my commute to and from work, even with the limits of the current electric car has 90 miles a charge and the charge cycle time, so far so good. I have to admit, I am not all in on the electric technology so the car is a leased vehicle

If I can use this type of car to make a 23 mile a day commute to work one way, who else will use it or a similar type of vehicle, my bet is a lot of people. With the price of gas where it is now my commute was costing me around $300 a month in gas alone. There are many choices of electric car leases, mostly on the west coast at this point, that are between $179 and $250 a month with a $2500 down payment. Almost every manufacture now has a model that is fully electric available in the line, and our government is offering a $7,500 instant discount as part of any lease deal. It is still a roll of the dice; will I have to do something with the battery pack before I turn this in? How much will the monthly utility bill go up? Only time will tell on these important aspects of the economics of this type of transportation.

The question for most reading this is how far this goes, as a trickle-down effect. Prior to the last few years an electric car replacing a gas powered one was only happening in a few communities around the US, Sun City AZ, Villages FL, Peachtree City GA. These areas are famous for retiring couples moving in and replacing at least one of their two gas automobiles with electric golf car, and in some case a gas golf car, but let’s stick with the electric example so we do not muddy the waters. Many are just stock golf cars with an enclosure and set of lights. Others come from one of the big three golf car manufactures and have settings for 25 mph or 15-mph. Then my favorite variety is the electric golf cars that have been modified to go 35 miles per hour. The point is they were cars mostly manufactured in Augusta or Newnan replacing something made in Detroit, or Japan any ways.

Now we have a lot of options, from the Tesla model S to a stock electric golf car, (I will not use a brand name here for obvious reasons) okay MELEX. When we decide that we want an electric vehicle as part of our own personal fleet of cars, we can buy any one of them, provided that they get the job done. At present I could not make a 23 mile commute with some highway travel in an electric E-Z-GO. But what if I stayed on the beach and was a lifeguard, if I only needed to go a few miles a day, the E-Z-GO would be a viable option. The laws are changing fast across the country, LSV are invading neighborhoods everywhere, beach communities and anywhere, where the weather is warmer most of the year are allowing LSV’s and the like on the street. E-Z-GO has been manufacturing a hybrid golf car for a while, the Freedom RXV with exceed hybrid technology; this is just one example of a golf car type vehicle that fills the gap between an auto and a golf car. What is next? Are the boys in Augusta and Newnan going to be able to fill in more of the gaps with road ready vehicles that replace our gas powered automobiles, or will companies like Nissan and Ford be the ones doing that. Will the government allow us to ride around in golf cars without roll protection and air bags? The feature of electric powered vehicles is brighter than ever. The question is who is going to lead us into the feature of electric travel?

This is a reprint from November/December 2014.