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July 24, 2006




If it's as good as it sounds...

Kinda looks like a miniturised "Smart Car"TM ...

Hmmm... I'd get one if the initial purchase price were cheaper. I like the fact it has a luggage compartment. (A "boot" as they call it here - or a "trunk" to you Yanks!).

Also - I was sat outside a railway station last week at 06:00GMT (in the UK) waiting for an FTR bus ... and I counted the number of cars going past into the city centre of the city of York. I would say at least 95% of 50-odd cars WERE SINGLE OCCUPANT. Seriously I was disgusted...

Using that - could seriously improve traffic considerations in major cities.

The governments want to give tax breaks to purchasers and users... and to Electric companies to build the necessary infrastructure.

I would call that an "Ultimate commuter vehicle" ...

Well done Dana Myers...


DANA - If you read this... I would seriously consider contacting JEREMY CLARKSON of the BBC's "Top Gear" TV program...

He is a very well known Car reviewer... and notoriously PRO-COMBUSTION ENGINE...

He's known for DESTROYING (by blowing up or flattening or literally sledgehammering - cars he does'nt like!!!).

With that NmG car's low centre of gravity - if it drives like a "GO-KART" ... it might even impress him? Talking about it going over 70mph!!! It should be pretty good!

And if it impresses - him - TRUST ME - it will impress anyone.

Although - He is 6'2" so ... leg room and head space are important to him.


A conversion car is under 20k now. With mass production type conversions? Who knows?

I think an 8k conversion is likely. That is if you supply the vehicle to be converted. With a used internal combustion economy car (with a bad engine for instance) available for a few thousand bucks, that makes this vehicle a bit too costly for mass adoption.

Say an assembley line accepts a certain make and model for a given period of time. Then those conversions can occur with maximum efficiency of labor and materials using mass produced parts.

I think this developers efforts would be better focused on that sort of business model.

Advertise for conversion service of a popular vehicle line, like Toyota economy cars between certain production years where the conversion parts could be standardized. Line up enough conversions to get the factory going steadily, then offer conversions for additional makes and models of vehicles.

Startup of a whole new car company faces huge roadblocks from government working to enforce auto company monopolies. Remember Tucker and DeLorean.

Those who learn from history are doomed to watch others repeat it.


This reminds me of the BMW Isetta. I wonder how they would compare in a head-to-head competition?




The website seems to indicate a 30 mile range. With a range that short I think most folks for whom it would be useful would be better served by public transit or biking. Basically if your commute is over 10 miles I wouldn't want to use this vehicle (since you don't want to get stranded if its not fully charged) and you don't want to make side-trips on your way to or from work.

But hopefully this will be a start and in a few years we'll have EVs with a 50 or 100 mile range.


Amazingdrx, that's an interesting idea- mass conversions of existing cars. Does anyone sell a reasonably priced kit for a DIY conversion? (Not AC Propul$ion, I can tell you that...) As for the goofy little trike above, they only plan to sell 4-600 of them, so OK, but otherwise I think gas would have to go to $100/gallon before you'd see significant numbers of Americans in these. They'll have about as much impact on transportation as the Segway.

Michael Cain
The website seems to indicate a 30 mile range. With a range that short I think most folks for whom it would be useful would be better served by public transit or biking.

At a somewhat lower price, think second car in the suburbs. Drop the kid at day care or school, seven miles to work, stop at dry cleaner, grocery and drug store on the way home. Plug it in to recharge. Repeat five days each week. Save 90 minutes each day over trying to do those trips on the minimal mass transit that's available. The trip's not really practical for most people on a bike much of the year due to weather, darkness, lousy bicycle lanes, etc.


$25k for an errand runner with only a 30 mile range? Even at $5 a gallon, that much money will buy 5,000 gallons of gas.

How about a Vectrix electric scooter instead?


Range is 68 miles at 25mph.


This is why I don't like the GoinGreen neighbourhood EVs that are spreading like wildfire in London right now - with 2 seats and little load space, 40mph top speed and 30 miles range, essentially all the journeys they substitute are journeys on public transport - which makes the whole thing pointless.

Bring on that Saab flex-fuel PHEV!


Michael Cain -

The problem is I don't know anyone who lives in the suburbs that has only a 7 mile commute. Real Estate prices have forced most folks I know to move 30-60 miles away from their job.

The people who could most use this are the ones who do only have a 5-7 mile commute. Except those people generally seem to live in areas that already have good public transporation (i.e. Boston, Seattle, Chicago, New York... in the actual cities, not 50 miles out in exurbia) or are largely bikable.


"Does anyone sell a reasonably priced kit for a DIY conversion?"

I haven't found one yet George, but am expecting that to occur soon.

The problem is that these devices are not mass produced. Many have very expensive electronic controllers that use really high power silicon parts. Those parts are expensive because silicon is in such short supply, used up by computer, solar cell, and other manufacturers.

Silicon fabs are the choke point. Since silicon, derived from sand is one of the most plentiful elements on the planet, this is a problem of capital allocation.

Solar powered silicon fabs would already have blossomed in desert areas all over the world to meet soaring demand from the solar power industry alone, if capital markets were not largely controlled by banking interests that back fossil fuel monopoly.

A possible solution for the kit market? Adapt plentiful, inexpensive,even salvaged, mass produced three phase industrial motors. The three phase AC current produced by a simple rotary brush type system from the DC of the battery bank.

No expensive, high power semiconductors or expensive low production motors like those from AC Propulsion. Brushes were good enough for all kinds of DC motors, why not for DIY car conversions. So they need replacement ocasionally? So what.

My 40 year old Milwaukee power tools need brush replacement every 20 years or so too.

The big thing is battery cost. Use cheap lead acid with all their problems or go with the latest ultra-expensive, quick charge lithium ion nano batteries?

Either way a 40 mile range or so on batteries will be all one can afford in cash or in weight.

My answer is a fuel pellet/corn powered high RPM trunk sized steam turbine generator. It fires up for longer trips or for high acceleration situations. High RPM means high power output in a small package.

If you saw the video of Jay Leno's Stanley Steamer (it must be somewhere out there on the net) zooming along in LA traffic, you will remember Leno explained that the reason internal combustion replaced steam was that it took 20 minutes or so to get the steam pressure up in the Stanley.

So the more convenient instant on gas engine replaced it. With an electric car, the steam turbine generator would have the time it needed to get going, as batteries would power the first 40 miles or so.

The equivalent gas mileage powered by wood or cellulose waste fuel pellets? What would it cost compared to a gallon of gas? The internal combustion engine can maybe reach 14% efficiency. The steam turbine typically exceeds 30%.

And if one only needs the steam backup on trips over 40 miles between charges? Well we are talking huge savings that would more than justify the cost of the turbine.

I am thinking of a turbocharger normally designed for boosting power from a car engine to run from a flashboiler powered by pellets. The compressor side of the turbocharger would have a permanet magnet rotor mounted on it that generates power through fixed coils around it.

And who knows, a high temp fuel cell that can use fuel pellets maybe along soon to boost that 30% efficient steam turbine to 70%?

Michael Cain
The people who could most use this are the ones who do only have a 5-7 mile commute. Except those people generally seem to live in areas that already have good public transporation (i.e. Boston, Seattle, Chicago, New York... in the actual cities, not 50 miles out in exurbia) or are largely bikable.

I was thinking in terms of my own experience -- smaller cities in more lightly-populated states. Take the Denver area. The first ring of suburbs is home to more people than live in Denver, and there are quite a lot of people living in that ring whose jobs are in those suburbs, within seven miles or so of home. Lots of people who don't fall into that category, of course, but the 'burbs are more than just bedrooms for Denver. Or at least if they are bedrooms, they're bedrooms with services -- doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, retail, etc. Mass transit in those 'burbs is focused on the people who commute into Denver -- trying to use buses to run errands on the way home from a local job can easily add over an hour to the time needed to do the same tasks with a car. I argue that Denver is one of the places where an electrified version of the suburbs will be viable.

As someone else noted, the price still needs to come down -- $23,900 will, I believe, buy me a new Civic hybrid, and within a few years, will probably buy me a plug-in version of that.

Michael Cain

And who knows, a high temp fuel cell that can use fuel pellets maybe along soon to boost that 30% efficient steam turbine to 70%?

Once you're willing to have pellets for fuel, zinc-air fuel cells may be attractive without going the high-temp route. Cottage industry selling the fuel cells for DIYers and operating a small recycling/recharging business on the fuel?


Why is everyone so fixated on the "30 miles is enough to get you to work" thing? The reason current-tech electrics are impractical is that work is the _least_ of our worries.

I live five miles from work, a location chosen many years ago to save gas. Yet, I typically drive at least 60-70 miles at least three days a week, to stores, movies, friend's houses, to socialize, etc. I married a woman who lived 350 miles from me; every few weeks I drive 1400 miles (pickup and dropoff/2 round trips) to spend a few days with her while we were engaged. Today, I visit my deathly-sick mother near the same place every few weeks, often on only a couple hours notice when she needs something.

A car is a _huge_ investment for the average American, and if it can't do a lot more than just get its owner back and forth to work upon demand, it won't be bought. Nor will it do much to enrich the owner's quality of life. Which, of course, is why he spends the money to begin with.

BTW, this vehicle appears to be a new incarnation of the Corbin electric car. (I suspect Myers bought the tooling from this failed venture.) A pawn shop near me owns a Corbin. It never moves, even with gas at $3 a gallon. I suspect this is because it _can't_ move, and it's not more than a few years old.

I want to see practical electrical cars, too. It would be a wonderful thing. Until there's a battery breakthrough, however, it's not gonna happen. Even with all its woes and technical difficulties, burning hydrogen in a piston engine remains a far more viable choice with current tech. Picture an electric car towing a boat, and you'll immediately see what I mean.

I _will_ say, however that the _worst_ thing that could be done by electric car proponents is to try and _force_ people to buy cars that are not, today, proper solutions to their daily problems. If someone tries that, it'll be the 55 MPH speed limit (which became a national joke) all over again...


It looks like a Corbin Sparrow:


Paul Dietz

It looks like a Corbin Sparrow:

There's a reason for that.


"zinc-air fuel cells may be attractive"

I have always liked the energy density of zinc/air. But the complication involved is problematic. I have considered ways to make zinc/air a DIY system. It would be possible. At least it is affordable, unlike limited production high tech batteries.

But if we consider going to this kind of system on a nation wide scale why not just go all the way to mass production of nano-layer lithium ion batteries? It would be much less complex and costly.

And if your DIY convesion is caught far from home with no more zinc, what can you do?

On the other hand, this fuel pellet steam turbine could run on anything that burns in a pinch.

Jim has an entry here on the coal fueled direct high temperature fuel cell. It might run on cellulose as well.

Then the waste heat could power either a gas or steam micro-turbine. There is also a new infrared photo voltaic cell that could boost the efficiency of this design, with or without the fuel cell.

By operating at multiple efficiency figures of internal combustion vehicles this design could greatly reduce global climate changing greenhouse gas emmissions as well as reducing transportation costs.

The elimination of imported oil that sends petrodollars off to support terrorism and oil war would also be a major benefit of a fuel pellet system.

Sumyung Guy

"Until there's a battery breakthrough, however, it's not gonna happen."

Here's some encouraging news on that front:


and ultra-capacitors may be on the horizon that are significantly better:


So, who knows? That battery breakthrough that EV's need might be here quite soon.


The only "breakthrough" needed is mass production of these new nano tech lithium ion batteries in order to bring down the cost an order of magnitude.

Similar cost reductions occur regularly in the computer industry.

Subaru is very close to making this technology affordable for mass adoption, give it two more years.

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The range problem may be going away soon, along with a large part of the cost. EEStore was profiled in this same blog last January. Take a look at that and, while you are at it, do a Google search for EEStore AND Kleiner Perkins; also try EEStore AND Feel Good Cars. I think you will find it interesting reading.


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Most, however, will save time and money by also owning an all electric vehicle and utilizing it for short trips the trips that presently use the most gasoline and create the largest amount of pollution.

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Today I was randomly looking over my Amazon profile, and found a list I made of products that help build fine-motor skills in babies, toddlers, and children. I wrote it in 2007 when Jake was 5 and in still in Occupational Therapy - we were really focusing at the time on his fine motor skills. I owe a lot of what I know about such things to our lovely O.T. Rachael, and to many of the books I have listed to the right.

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