The Electric Vehicle that Would Take Off Like the iPhone

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Henrik Fisher said the other day that plug in electric vehicles would take off like iPhones or flatscreen TVs. Now, while there is certainly the potential for electric vehicle sales which is starting to become apparent particularly with the Nissan Leaf, and to a lesser extent the Tesla Roadster and Fisker’s own Karma, it seems to me that the real problem for EVs right now is that they don’t do what the iPhone did at its launch: Taking a familiar product to a whole different dimension of performance. In the case of the iPhone, this was usability.

So what does an electric car need to do to take the ICE’s crown?

  • The car has to be the same price as its petrol-drinking counterpart.
  • It has to have at least comparable range and quick refueling.
  • It needs to comfortably out-perform the combustion engine car in terms of speed, but particularly acceleration.
  • It must retain value well.
  • The car should be simpler to maintain.

So what are we talking here? Well, at least a 300-mile range although 500 miles would be a great headline figure. We know that most journeys are much shorter, but the fact is that the average person does feel that they need to be able to jump in the car and go for a drive of a few hundred miles.

Refueling is another thing. 5 minutes at the pump and you are done. Even a 1/2 hour charge time seems excessive in comparison. What if you could have a battery pack switched in without you even needing to leave the car? You could stay warm and dry, and be gone before the other guy has replaced his fuel cap?

When it comes to performance, electric cars have am edge. No gears and a flat delivery of torque from the get-go doesn’t only mean a fun performance car that is easy to drive, but also weight and complexity saved in ditching a multi-ratio drive train. Where the electric car does have weight, it is in the battery pack, and that has the advantage of being able to be put wherever it is needed – in this case down low in the center of the car to give it a low center of gravity for good handling.

So what might an ideal electric car look like? One that would have the instant appeal of an iPhone and ignite the EV market?

  • Batteries by EEStore continuously charged by a minaturized Blacklight Power onboard reactor for infinite range and zero refueling costs.
  • In-wheel motors generating 200PS each.
  • Styling and handling by Lotus – but not the “electric Elise” look again, please.
  • Ergonomics by err…. Apple. (Well, we want it to take off like an iPhone, right?)
  • Manufactured using Gordon Murray’s iStream process and sold in Apple Stores.

What do you think? What blend do you think would create the irresistible EV?

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