Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Moto Mundo: Around the World in an Electric Nissan...

I guess I'm going to have to resign myself to someday driving an electric vehicle as it certainly seems to be the way things are going.  For now I'm quite happy with my dino-burning Frontier, Xterra and Altima but at least little projects like this one give me hope that someday I might be satisfied with the performance of an electric vehicle...

What is seen above is a Nissan Qashqai (not available in North America) that has been upgraded by a company (A Future) in Denmark with an electronic driveline and a ton of lithium batteries.  Perhaps the unique feature of the Qashqais available for sale/rent/lease through A Future is that they offer differing levels of vehicle performance depending upon how much you want to spend and what your needs are.  The lowest end electric Qashqai has a range of 100kms and goes from 0-100 km/hr in 25 seconds (holy crap is that slow) while the top end unit has a more robust range of 250 km and takes only (?!?) 12 seconds to get to 100 km/hr.

Given that we are in the very early stages of the electric vehicle movement the underwhelming performance of electric vehicles at reasonable prices should be no surprise.  Did the first car drive faster than a horse?  No.  Did the first steamboat move faster than the big clipper ships of the day?  No.  So we need to understand that we are in just such a time period with electric cars.

Is this to say I'm an electric car convert?  Not hardly, but I'm smart enough to see where the industry is headed.  Regardless of how much coal will be burnt to charge these things, how many mines have to be dug to get the battery material out of the ground (just how much coal will have to be burned and mines dug to power electric cars for a billion Chinese and another billion Indians?) and the host of other evils that surround the production of electric vehicles, fossil fuels are the evil of the day in many mind's eye (funny how now that gasoline is back up over $3 a gallon we don't here the cry of "It's all Obama's fault for trying to make his Islamic, oil loving brethren rich!" or "It's all Joe Biden acting behind the scenes pulling Obama's strings to make himself more powerful" but I digress) and we are going to get electric vehicles whether we want them or not.

Back on topic--the above vehicle gives me hope.  A husband and wife team in partnership with A Future is taking the Qashqai around the world, detailing their trip on the Moto-Mundo website, and has made it from Denmark across Asia, across the US to Detroit where they were showing it off at the NAIAS (Detroit Auto Show) this week.  Charging the vehicle off of regular old home outlets along they way they have encountered numerous weather and temperature variances and all the road conditions one would expect travelling across such regions as Mongolia and Siberia.  I just hope I'm not too old to enjoy the first, reasonably priced, reasonably capable, electric truck/SUV.  Until then, I'll keep burning extinct reptiles.

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