I guess I was about 12 years old (1970) when I made a crude drawing of my design for an electric car. At school we had been told that oil was running out and I had been bought a new bicycle as a reward for passing the 11-plus exam, which allowed me to go to Grammer School. My bike was a ‘state of the art’ Raleigh RSW 16 in blue. It had 16 inch white ‘balloon’ tyres, 3 speed twist grip gears, a rear drum brake, and a front ‘dynohub‘ that powered the front and rear lights.
It was the dynohub that impressed me the most as it was a built it generator incorporated into the front wheel hub. This set me thinking – why couldn’t an electric car have something simiilar built into all four wheel hubs in order to generate electricity to help charge the batteries on the move? My next ‘innovation’ was to have solar panels incorporated into the bonnet, roof and boot. Thus my dynohubs, which would actually have been more efficient alternators rather than dynamos, and solar panels would help extend the range of the car, plus the solar panels would also help to re-charge the batteries when it was parked in daylight.
I wish I had kept the drawing, but it’s probaly just as well I didn’t go into the electric car business, as oil stubbornly refused to run out. However, clearly I was 40 years ahead of my time as oil has now reached $126 per barrel and the electric car is now looking much more like a vialble option for journeys of around 40 to 100 miles per day.
Way back in 1899, a French electric car named ‘La Jamais Contente,’ driven by Belgian Camille Jenatzy, reached the then record speed of 105.882 km/h (65.792 mph).
Photo from Wikimedia Commons
For the subsequent 100 years or so, the internal combustion engine has dominated car technology. However, this may be about to change. I’d certainly like to get my hands on a new Mitsubishi i MiEV to replace the small Peugeot 1007 I use on my 40 mile round trip to work and back.
Photo from the GreenCarSite
The i MiEV is due in the UK around 2009/10 at an estimated cost of £15,000. The range will be up to 100 miles on a full charge, with a 0 to 60mph time of just 9.5 seconds and a top speed of 85mph. 10,000 miles should cost about £50 in electricity, compared to around £1000 in petrol for the internal combustion engined version.
For those with around $100,000 to spend, there are sports cars such as the Tesla Roadster available. No doubt as production numbers increase, prices of electric cars will become even more affordable. Personal mobility and climate concerns solved!?