The Dark Side of EVs

Op-Ed by the Editor

Previous we’ve talked about whether or not Tesla vehicles are really maintenance free as they claim. We also covered how Tesla cars sits near the bottom of a list of 300,000 cars evaluated for reliability. And we’ve covered the bright side where Tesla sells one of every 5 EV’s world wide.

We’ve tried in all this to cover both sides of the story, but it may be time to give an honest review of Electric Car ownership in general. Government and the Green Movement seem to have put all their eggs in one basket with Electric Vehicles, citing two basic facts as the justification for what has become a pretty heavy-handed push.

Lithium Mine, Western Australia
Side Note: Joe Biden wants half of all vehicles sold to be EV’s by 2030. Not radical enough for Governor Newsom who has announced that they will no longer allow new cars to be sold in California starting in 2030 unless said car was an EV. Which has caused Jay Insley to follow suit for Washington State.

Fact #1: Electric Cars put out zero emissions so they must be environmentally better than internal combustion engines that emit carbon.

Fact #2: The only way to make EV’s affordable and build infrastructure, the government must mandate that everyone buy them so manufacturers can use economy of scale to make them affordable. Sort chicken-and-egg, if you build it they will come sort of thing.

Of course there is a ton of missing nuance in this topic. For one thing, emission at the place of use is not the only consideration that makes something environmentally sound. A lot of environmental damage occurs when the materials are mined to make batteries. For another thing, a lot of emissions occur when the electricity is generated to power a vehicle. There is potential environmental issues in that the batteries aren’t very recyclable. Then too, EV’s weigh one thousand pounds more than their ICE equivalent which just has to impact fuel economy.

“Line Loss” is the term for Electricity lost to resistance on the way to market.

It’s also possible that industry could have developed affordable cars without half billion dollar grants from the government.

One of the big questions is, if technology has grown to a point to make EV’s practical. To start, recharge stations need put in around the country, which Tesla is doing, but the grids’ ability to service those needs is highly questionable, especially when you factor in at home charging.

Also, and it’s not a small thing, is the tiny range on a battery charge. This is a more complicated issue than we consumers were lead to believe at first. The best way we can address this is the personal testimony/review by a real estate agent and his wife, who leased a Tesla each. We’ll insert a copy of that below.

So the Tesla experiment ��has come to an end.

Heather and I each had one for the past 3 months and here are some things from our experience. When gas prices were $5 per gallon it seemed like a good thing to try.

Here are some Pro’s & Cons’s!

Pro’s:

  • 1. Watching netflix on the huge screen looked and sounded like a movie ��theater!! Amazing actually ! Using the internet to listen to radio stations on line was so cool.
  • 2. These cars are really quick and very fast! Felt almost as fast ��as the Corvette !
  • 3. High end speed was also fast. Easy to go over 100 mph. I always got to places quickly.
  • 4. All kids were in awe of the Tesla!!!!
  • 5. I had some warranty issues. I scheduled through the app and Tesla came to my house. This was cool other than I had to leave it there during that window of time. They fixed my issues at no charge and texted me what they did. Pretty cool!

Con’s

  • 1. My car said it would get 303 miles per charge. It really only get’s 200 miles in my opinion!!! These cars drain so fast! But when it gets to 80 miles left you need to be concerned. So it really only gets 160-170 true miles. This is not good !
  • 2. Range anxiety is a real thing. This past weekend we took the car to New Jersey. Made it there with 60 miles left. Plenty to get us to a charging station. Went to the charging station I found In my phone and it was a mall!!! No charging station. Put the next one in my phone!!! Go to this station and had 6 miles left. I’m glad it was not another mall. So yes this creates unwanted anxiety ��. So I would not want to go below 100 miles ever again. So really this is a 120-140 mile car when its not winter.
  • 3. I heard when winter comes the anxiety is worse. Imagine running electric heat. I heard the numbers go way down from normal usage from other Tesla owners. I can’t imagine what this will do?!?!
  • 4. The tires on this car can easily get damaged. My wife had two flat tires In her 3 months. And flat tires are a pain! She had to schedule through the Tesla app. Only Tesla could fix the tire. She needed a new one the first time $412. The next time it was a hole and it was $150. They will only fix a tire one time so the next time on that tire it needs a new one. Not cool ��These tires cut like butter. Don’t drive off road at all and don’t nick a curb at all!! This tire situation was a deal breaker for Heather for sure because she hits curbs every day!!!
  • 5. The car is too fast ��. I was bound to get a speeding ticket or in an accident. Heather said I drove way too fast everywhere! Driving a 100 mph in this car is not a good thing. 
  • 6. I charged this car on Sunday and it was $43 to charge it at a Tesla super station. This price to drive 170 miles is insane. The charging was free for me because of the rental program I was in. But I would never pay $72k for this car then pay that amount to charge it on trips!
  • 7. My electric bill has gone so sky high at my house these past two months so its hard to actually know how much it is to charge a Tesla at home. My guess is its between $75-$100 for one car for a month. I had thought it would be closer to $50 month. I can only see this cost rising.
  • 8. Running electric to my garage was not cheap. My brother did it for $1,000 in materials but it would have been much more if we hired it out. This prob would have been a $3,500 job.
  • 9. Winter was coming and we show/look at a-lot of houses. We could not risk driving a Tesla based on charge or bad tires in this situation.
  • 10. When going to a Tesla super charging station it will charge the car to 80% in 25 min. But it takes another 25 min to get to 100%. 50-55 min is too long for a full charge. They also dont like you to fully charge the car all the time. What the heck!
Overall I think ��electric cars are not ready for us. They really lack what you need if you really have to drive somewhere. And its risky getting a flat tire on any road.
So we turned in our leases and bought 2 – 2021 Dodge limited trucks with 30k miles on them.

The next new issue to be discovered is the fire risk…

….of Tesla’s bursting into flame after being submerged in salt water. You might be thinking, give pour Tesla a break, how often will a car be completely submerged in salt water. Enter Hurricane Ian, which is causing fire fighters a great deal of issue.

Note the Video of a Tesla Burning after being totaled in a car wreck.

In conclusion

We’d like to humbly suggest that the whole thing wasn’t thought through enough. There are good options that could be part of the solution if you don’t put all the eggs in one basket.

One option is to use all the alternate fuels alongside gasoline as a way to increase competition, lower prices and reduce total carbon emissions. The idea is that some fuel sources would be cheaper in some parts of the country though most of them could be made available anywhere in the country. So by not forcing uniformity the best, most efficient option could be found.

Another aspect of this, besides money, is that fuel could be made and used locally, reducing emissions created by moving fuel to gas stations states away from where it’s made.

Options include, Electricity, Biodiesel, Propane, Liquid Coal and more.

The other cool thing about using multiple alternative fuels is that each kind of fuel has its advantages and disadvantages. What is okay to one person and their lifestyle is intolerable to another. Just like we need to make trucks, commuter cars, and vans, EV’s might work fine for the commuter and sports car markets but not for delivery vehicles, rural dwellers, and the like. These drivers might need a practical option.

Perhaps the problem is not totally with EVs, but with a one-size-fits all, low creativity high government over-reach solution.

Research Link #1

Research Link #2

Best of the Web: 1st EV?

Electric Detroit Model D has a range of 100 miles and can reach 25mph – but was abandoned in favor of gasoline cars. 1910.

Anderson Carriage Company, originally from Port Huron, Michigan, was the maker of this concept car under the name Detroit Electrics.

Anderson was founded in 1884 as a maker of carriages and wagons. Its founder, William C. Anderson, moved his company to Detroit in 1895 and in 1907 began making electric vehicles under the name Detroit Electrics.

In 1909 Anderson acquired Elwell-Parker, the company that made the electric motor and its controller for their car. They already made quality interiors so their product was considered among the best. This particular car has been in the long-term ownership of the Pierce A. Miller Carriage Collection in Pasadena CA.

The Model D Brougham body is a tall, unrestored, with many of it’s original and first of its kind features like curved glass, dual electric carriage lights on the body pillars, embossed decorative interior leather trim and left-hand tiller for steering. It sold at auction in 2013 for $55,200–a steel in our opinion.

Link to Source Research

EV Car Tax Credits

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are becoming increasingly popular – more and more people are switching to electric, and for a good reason! EVs have many great benefits, like reduced emissions, lower fuel costs, and tax credits. If you’re thinking about making the switch to electric or just curious about EV tax credits, keep reading! This post will outline everything you need to know about EV Car tax credits. (We are not licensed tax professionals; these instructions are for informational purposes.)

How Do EV Tax Credits Work?

If you’re considering switching to an electric vehicle (EV), you may wonder if you’re eligible for a tax credit. The good news is that there are several tax credits available for EV buyers, and we’re here to help you understand how they work.

First, it’s important to note that tax credits differ from tax deductions. A deduction reduces the amount of taxable income, while a credit applies to your tax bill. This means that while either one might reduce the amount of tax you owe, a credit would still apply even if you didn’t owe anything for the year.

With that in mind, let’s look at how EV tax credits work. There are two types of EV tax credits: federal and state. The federal EV tax credit is worth up to $7,500 and is available for all new EVs purchased for personal use. The credit is applied to your federal taxes based on the battery’s capacity in the EV. For example, if you purchase an EV with a 100-kWh battery, you’ll receive a $7,500 credit.

State EV tax credits vary by state, but they can be worth up to $5,000. In some states, the distinction is only available for specific EVs, so checking with your state before making a purchase is essential.

How Do I Claim or Receive The Electric Vehicle (EV) Tax Credit?

The first thing you’ll need to do is file your taxes for the year in which you purchased the EV. Then, simply attach Form 8936 – which you can get from the IRS website – to your tax return. The form will ask for basic information about your purchase, such as the make and model of the car and the date of purchase. Once you’ve submitted the form, you’ll receive your tax credit as a reduction in your tax liability.

If you have already filed your taxes for the year you purchased the EV, don’t worry – you can still claim the credit by filing an amended return. Simply complete Form 1040X – which you can get from the IRS website – and include Form 8936. Make sure to indicate that you’re claiming the EV tax credit on line 46 of Form 1040X.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS Review

EQS

Mercedes continues to deliver through its electric flagship car designed for the future. This car’s curvaceous looks go well with the 516 horsepower and 631-pound feet of torque. This make from Mercedes is focused on providing a luxurious car experience with zero emissions.

Mercedes-Benz has also announced that an even more powerful AMG-branded version will debut later in 2022. Whether you’re looking for an ultra-luxurious and technologically advanced electric car or an eco-friendly alternative to gas-guzzling luxury sedans, the Mercedes-Benz EQS should have popped up on your radar.

The Mercedes-Benz EQS is an all-new, all-electric luxury sedan that debuts for the 2022 model year. It’s the first Mercedes-Benz to be built on an entirely new platform designed specifically for electric vehicles, and it boasts a suite of cutting-edge technology.

The EQS is also one of the most aerodynamic cars on the market. Under the hood, the EQS is powered by a single electric motor that produces approximately 328 horsepower and 419 pound-feet of torque. It can go from 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. 

This machine’s battery can run up to 350 miles on a single charge. Speaking of charge, this Merc can charge from 10% to 100% in about 11 hours.

The new Mercedes-Benz EQS offers an impressive blend of luxury, performance, and range. It has a spacious, comfortable interior with plenty of leg room for passengers. The wheelbase comes in at a lengthy 126.4 inches, which is most or on par with most luxury sedans at this price point.  

The seats are upholstered in high-quality leather, and the cabin features a variety of luxury amenities, including a heated steering wheel and massaging front seats. The EQS also has a large trunk that can accommodate plenty of luggage thanks to its huge hatchback.

The all-new Mercedes-Benz EQS is a sleek and stylish sedan that offers an impressive array of high-tech features. The most notable of these is the car’s “hyper screen,” a massive dashboard-mounted touchscreen that serves as the primary control center for the vehicle’s infotainment and navigation systems.

In addition to the hyper screen, the EQS also features several other cutting-edge technologies, including a wireless charging pad for mobile devices and an advanced audio system with support for six USB ports and Bluetooth streaming.

It also features a voice-command system that can control various car functions, including the navigation system, climate control, and audio system.

The EQS also features a Burmester audio system, which includes 15 high-end speakers and 15 separate amplifier channels that combine to give 710 watts. In addition, the EQS comes standard with a fingerprint scanner that activates the different driver profiles.

The all-new and fully electric 2022 Mercedes Benz EQS is an all-around beast with beautiful curves that complement its features. Mercedes is known for its luxurious amenities, safety, driver assistance features, smooth ride, and overall premium feel. This car lives up to the brand’s name, adding electric drive capabilities to its already reasonable frame.

Is Driving A Tesla Really Maintenance Free?

Teslas are often advertised as being maintenance-free, but is that the case? Although Teslas do not require scheduled maintenance, like oil changes and tune-ups, some maintenance tasks still need to be performed.

For example, the brakes on a Tesla will wear out over time and need to be replaced. The tires will also need to be regularly inspected and rotated. In addition, the battery pack will gradually lose its capacity over time and eventually need to be replaced.

For one thing, Teslas require less frequent maintenance than traditional gasoline-powered cars. Teslas have far fewer moving parts thanks to their electric motors than conventional cars, which means there are fewer opportunities for something to break down.

As a result, owners can expect to save money on repairs and maintenance over the life of their vehicles. In addition, Teslas also have much lower fuel costs than gas-powered cars. Although the initial purchase price of a Tesla may be higher than that of a traditional vehicle, owners can expect to save money in the long run, thanks to lower operating costs.

What kind of maintenance is required for a Tesla?

Teslas are designed for minimal maintenance, and many owners report infrequent trips to the service center. The first is to keep the interior and exterior clean. This will help to protect the paint and prevent dirt and debris from damaging the car’s finish. The second is to check the tire pressure and tread depth regularly. Proper tire inflation and tread depth are essential for safety and fuel efficiency.

Finally, it is essential to have the vehicle’s software updated regularly. Software updates can add new features and improve performance, so it is necessary to stay up-to-date. Tesla vehicles require very little maintenance, but paying attention to the car’s needs is still crucial.

What are some common problems with Teslas?

Teslas can have its fair share of maintenance problems like any other car. One common issue is that electric motors need maintenance, particularly during hot weather or when the vehicle is used for long-distance driving.

Another problem is that the batteries can lose their charge relatively quickly, frustrating owners who are used to gas-powered cars with much longer ranges.

Additionally, the high-tech nature of Tesla vehicles can sometimes result in glitches with the infotainment system or other digital features. Software problems are not new for tesla owners, as sometimes you’ll be forced to perform computer reboots to correct a few minor issues.

While these problems can be frustrating, they are usually relatively easy to fix and should not deter potential buyers from considering a Tesla.

Teslas are marketed as being maintenance-free, but this is not the case. While there may be less work that needs to be done on Teslas than on classic cars, they still require some maintenance.

If you’re considering buying a Tesla, it’s essential to know that they require some maintenance, and it’s not quite as “maintenance-free” as the company would have you believe.

Do Teslas Really not have ANY oil in them?

I would be hard to believe a vehicle can run with no lubricant. And you’d be right to be suspicious. The marketing claim is that they don’t need traditional oil changes, which is not the same thing as being oil free. They have “gear boxes,” which is their version of a transmission, which requires lubricant.

How California’s Ban On Gas-Powered Cars Will Effect You

OP-ED For and Against

Statement For

California made history when its regulators approved a bill that will see the state ban all gasoline or petrol-powered cars. This means that residents of the Golden State might have to go shopping for electric vehicles in the future. This comes in the wake of the government’s ineffective efforts to incentivize and encourage the purchase of electric cars. But what does this mean for you?

First, let’s better understand what California regulators are pushing for. At the time of writing, about 16% of all car sales in this state are zero-emission vehicles. Through the new rules, regulators are pushing this number to go up by 35%, especially in deals involving new passenger cars and light trucks.

So, how will you be affected? This bold move was part of the government’s efforts to reduce environmental emissions. Electric cars produce zero emissions, which will help improve air quality in California’s cities and towns.

Regulators in favor of the new rules estimate that this mover could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50% by 2040. This means better and cleaner air for you, reducing your odds of catching respiratory diseases from related emissions.

It also means that you’ll save a lot more money than you typically would on gasoline-powered cars. Electric cars are cheaper to maintain and run than traditional gasoline cars for various reasons:

  • First, electric cars don’t require oil changes, tune-ups, or other regular maintenance tasks necessary for gasoline cars.
  • Second, electric cars have far fewer parts than gasoline cars, which means fewer things can break down or need repairs.
  • Third, electric cars are more efficient than gasoline cars, so they use less electricity and cost less to operate.
  • Finally, electric cars generate no emissions, so they’re much better for the environment. In sum, electric vehicles are cheaper to own and operate than traditional gasoline cars in several ways.

You’re probably wondering if you’ll have to give up your old car, and rightly so. But the new legislation only applies to the sale of new vehicles. This means that you can keep your gasoline-powered machine even after 2035. It also means that you can buy or sell used fuel-powered cars afterward.

As electric cars become more popular and affordable, it’s not inconceivable that one-day gasoline-powered vehicles may be banned altogether. Besides, many businesses and municipalities are already investing in infrastructure for electric cars, so there will likely be more options available in the future. This includes charging stations with similar infrastructure.

You can also expect other states to follow suit as more than a dozen states have followed in California’s footsteps. States like New York, Washington, and Massachusetts have all followed California’s new rules.

So, what would a ban on gasoline-powered cars mean for you? It would likely be very disruptive in the short term as the government and automakers transition to electric vehicles. However, it could also mean significant savings in fuel costs and emissions down the road.

Statement Against

It’s not only possible but likely that California will kick the can down the road and delay their ban on non-electric vehicles as most experts agree that they don’t have the infrastructure in place to implement it, nor are they going to be there before 2035. If that’s true, it makes their new law one of those “feel good” optics kind of laws like taxing booze to help the homeless when they don’t have an effective way to help the homeless attached to the funding.

But that’s not really at the heart of the question, how will it affect you? So, assuming they stick to this timeline…you can expect demand to go up on electric power causing the cost of power to go up. This means that you will not only pay more to drive your EV than you currently do but you will also pay more to heat or cool your home whether you own an EV or not.

This increase in power cost also erases any claim that your fuel costs will go down. Today’s power rates aren’t a good representation of power rates in 2035.

The big push for EV’s is that they are environmentally sound because they have reduced emissions. This position assumes that by 2035 all electric power will be generated via “green” or renewable energy. This position is as impossible to prove as it is to disprove. If they aren’t generating entirely green energy then it’s possible that the generating the power to charge an EV has at least as much environmental impact as burning gas in a car, because of line loss.

Line loss is the energy burned up by resistance when power is transmitted over long distances. Currently California doesn’t produce all the power they need and everything they import from other states has to be brought over long distances. This means more energy is created to get enough power to a vehicle to charge it. Which means if you’re burning any kind of fossil fuel to create EV energy you’re actually less efficient than putting the fossil fuel in the car and burning it for power there.

EV’s weigh about 1,000 pounds more than ICE cars. That means they take more in electricity to move than an ICE car. So again, you need to create more power to charge an EV than to power an ICE car.

What does all this mean for you? You’re cost of living will go up! But wait, there’s more.

The claim that EV’s are better for the environment discounts the environmental impact of mining battery components, which is often done in nations without the kind of regulations the US has on coal or natural gas. There is also a great environmental impact to dispose of car batteries. Not only will the batteries wear out with use, car accidents will also impact attrition. So rechargeable cell phones are nothing compared to rechargeable cars.

On the topic of power costs, gas taxes currently pay for a lot of road maintenance. How does California intend to pay for roads when everyone charges their car at home? The most likely answer is to tax electricity. So people who don’t make enough money to own a car, will still have to pay road taxes when they turn on their TV or try to make toast.

What’s the impact of this law on you? It’s expensive. But wait, there’s more.

By insisting that all new cars purchased be EV’s they’ll create artificial at least initially. Which means the price of new cars will go up. Higher priced cars mean more expensive insurance. Higher priced cars means more expensive transportation which as we’re seeing right now, raises the price of goods that need to be transported.

It’s likely since ICE cars can still be sold as used, that car services will spring up to buy new cars in neighbouring states and then resell them inside California. This will necessitate laws to regulate who can buy and sell private cars when they come from out of state. A lawsuit will follow as this violates the 10th Amendment of the constitution.

So again, California has created a law they know they won’t be able to implement, or enforce long term, but it sure makes them feel good.

How will this law affect you? Short-term warm feelings, long-term expensive.

Auto Makers: US Little Known (Part 4D)

You probably think after writing a post on the big three automakers and three new, start-ups making Electric Vehicles we’d be ready to close out the series with some phased out/defunct car makers, but we have one more post on companies that still make cars–these are the ones you might not of heard of or maybe thought were out of business entirely but they’re not.

DeLorean Motor Company

Vital Stats: 1995-Present, Headquartered in Humble, TX. Founded by Stephen Wynne.

Wait, what? DeLorean still exists? And it started in 1995? What!?! Okay, here’s the story.

As you likely know, if you’ve been around the automotive world for awhile, or if you lived through the 1980’s in the US, DeLorean Motors was started by a man named John DeLorean, an American automobile executive. The company was founded in Detroit, MI, late in 1975. The stainless steal sports car (named after the company owner) featured gull wings and an iconic look, and became the one and only car model for the company.

John DeLorean was already known as an innovator for his work at GM, and raising funds in part through Hollywood connections helped add to the car’s automatic celebrity. The owner ran short on funds and DEA undercover agents offered offered him a quick fix if he’d bankroll a giant drug buy. DeLorean sought to offset the costs of building a factory by government incentives in exchange for locating the factory in a zone of high unemployment.

The UK Government leapt at the chance to build a car factory in Northern Ireland, to the tune of $120 million pounds. They’d easily make their money back on export taxes, a fact they didn’t tell John DeLorean. Upon finding out he’d make $20,000 dollars less per car just to sell it in the US Johnfound himself in a bind. Unfavorable exchange rates didn’t help, nor did the early models terrible reputation for breaking down all the time.

Ultimately, DeLorean was acquitted of drug charges due to entrapment. But the damage to his reputation and by proxy, the highly recognizable car names after him, was too much to overcome. The car went into receivership and bankruptcy in 1982.

In 1985, America was reminded of the iconic car when Universal Studios made a time machine out of it for their blockbuster movie, “Back to the Future.” The car was modified and used twice more in the sequels (1989 & 1990).

Beyond the reliability issues, DeLorean faced a innate problems. The stainless steel body made them all look alike. It was shaped lie a sports car, but didn’t have the speed you’d expect from one (it was a manual transmission), and it cost $25,000 ($70,000 in todays money.) DeLorean seems to have overcome its mechanical issues and found a place in the hearts of Americans which is likely why Stephen Wynne, a mechanic from Liverpool, decided to buy up all the remaining stock, parts and the rights to the name and logo.

Wynne began marketing hats and tee shirts with the logo, and was soon able to distribute parts to existing DeLorean owners. By 2007 you could homebrew your own DeLorean for about $57,000 US by mixing new and factory leftover parts. So the new DeLorean began selling factory “refurbished” models.

When the enterprise became successful, DeLorean’s widow, Sally Baldwin, sued. They originally settle out of court for an undisclosed amount. Her second lawsuit didn’t go anywhere. What made her sue? The new DMC decided to create a brand new model that was all electric. Believe it or not, government red tape has slowed the creation of a DeLorean EV, but the EV climate has massively improved so don’t be too surprised.

Hennessey

Vital Stats: 1991-Present, Headquartered in Sealy, Texas. Founded by John Hennessey…no relation to the cognac.

We’ve included car tuners before when covering UK automakers. So, before we leave the great state of Texas we thought we’d take a look at Hennessey. As a tuning house Hennessey mainly works on sports cars including  FerrariPorscheMcLarenChevroletDodgeCadillacLotusJeepFordGMCLincoln and Lexus. However, they’ve been known to also sup-up pickups and SUV’s, luxury cars and muscle cars…so everything really.

Venom GT by Hennessey, based on a Lotus Exige.

Hennessey is also famous for running a Tuner School where they train mechanics to do what they do. But if you click the tab in the middle you’ll see some of their specialty cars–the venom line. What makes us consider the Venom line it’s own car model as opposed to just a juiced up car is that they use different base cars for different models.

At the Kicker, we’re partial to the Venom GT, built from a Lotus Exige. twin-turbocharged V8 engine that is rated at 1,244 hp in a car that weighs 1244 lbs creates a worlds fastest car three times over. It’s also quite pretty. The original Venom GT came about in 2010, but a 2012 roadster version name the Venom GT Spider was built at the request of Stephen Tyler. Only 6 were made. If we were celebrities we ight steer clear of cars named spider, but Stephan Tyler can make his own decisions.

Commuter Cars

39″ Wide

Vital Stats: 1998-Present, Headquartered in Spokane, WA.

Commuter Cars makes an ultra-narrow electric sports car, the Tango, designed and built by them in their facilities in Spokane, Washington. Well, one of their cars was made in England during an attempt to get manufacturing going, so they’ve only really made a few prototypes, about 20. But they sold them so they are a car maker.

The very 1st Tango was sold to actor George Cluny in August 9th, 2005. The range of the Tango is under 100 miles and it was initially designed to seat only the driver. Car and Driver gave the company a 1.1 out of 10 on survivability. So why are we featuring it. Well this little company did some innovative things. They had some good ideas and are victims of a couple bad bumps of circumstances.

Rick Woodbury and his son Bryan Woodbury founded the company, financed in part by the sale of Ricks yacht. The goal was to produce a vehicle purely for city commuting, with tight, expensive parking. The also banked on continued increased cost of fuel and that the hydrogen fuel cell would be developed by the time they went into production.

Gas prices have climbed, but electricity is also expected to climb in price. The Fuel cell seems to be harder to create than originally estimated and the decision to go ahead an make a standard battery EV meant they entered competition with many other (better funded) startups. Competition is made worse by traditional automakers deciding to also produce EV’s in response to warning signs from the government.

What did they do well? This car is tiny. You can see the specs below, but put it this way–you can split lanes like a motorcycle and park more than one in a standard parking spot. You can also charge it from a standard dryer plug in about an hour. They also put more than one engine in, which is an obvious miss on the parts of almost every major EV maker in the market right now.

Commuter car made sure the heavy batteries are low giving the car stability even at 39 inches wide.

Finally, they got smart and manufactured a separate generator cart that can be drug behind to extend the range. If this seems comical, well it is, but it’s also practical. It allows the owner who lives less than 50 miles from work to drive it normally all week, and still be able to use it to get out of town on the weekend.

Gen Cart (not specifically for a Tango)

Now if the pandemic hadn’t made it so we all work from home…

  • Width: 39 in (990 mm)
  • Length: 101 in (2,600 mm)
  • Weight: 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) (claimed)
  • Batteries: 12 V * 19 Hawker Odysseys or 25 Exide Orbital XCDs or Optima Yellow Tops. Lithium-ion battery options available
  • Nominal voltage: 228 V with 19 Hawkers, 300 V with 25 batteries, 250 V with lithium-ion batteries.
  • Charging: 50 A Manzanita Micro on-board charger with Avcon conductive coupling. 200 A off-board charger under development.
  • Motors: 2 Advanced DC Motors DC FB1-4001 9″,[13] one driving each rear wheel with claimed 1,000 lb⋅ft of combined torque at low rpms. 8,000 rpm redline. or 4 motors, one for each wheel, lithium batteries.

Performance (claimed)

  • 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h): 3.2 seconds
  • 14 mi (0.40 km): 12.25 seconds @ 106 mph (171 km/h)
  • Top speed: 150 mph (240 km/h)
  • Range: 40–60 miles (96–128 km) with lead-acid batteries. 150 mi (240 km) with lithium-ion batteries.
  • 805 hp claimed.

Auto Makers: US Startups (Part 4F)

The best way to tackle Car Manufacturers in the US is to break them up by category. Let’s start with the big three, and within those we’ll take on one parent company per post. Later in this series we’ll get to some of the the start ups and those that have been phased out or gone out of business.

Tesla

Vital Stats: 2004–present, Headquartered in Austin, TX, USA (on Tesla Road, BTW).

The above statement is a tad misleading. Tesla Motors Inc. was born in July 1, 2003 in San Carlos, CA. The Tesla Motors Part lasted until February 2017 when the company was reborn as a Texan.

Noteworthy: Tesla was named after Nicola Tesla, the Romanian super genius who immigrated to America and invented the US invented the Induction Engine and A/C Generator, which were stolen from him by American Industrialist Thomas Edison. You’d think they’d make Tesla cars with 4 Induction Engines (1 per tire) wired in series, giving it 4 wheel drive, four wheel steering and auto power regeneration–but Elon doesn’t consult the Kicker before designing his cars.

Best know as a car maker, Tesla also manufactures related products like home batteries, and solar panels as well as charging stations for their vehicles. The drive behind Tesla is clean energy. While electric vehicles currently use whatever power their local grid provides–by and large fossil fuels–they have created a mode of transportation that doesn’t create emissions in and of itself, which can honestly claim to be doing a big part toward an environmentally friendly future. (If you ignore how much pollution is created mining and making batteries.)

Prototype Roadster

The world’s most valuable automaker with a market capitalization of more than US$760 billion, Tesla owns about 23% and 16% of the full EV and plug-in world market respectively.

Contrary to popular belief Tesla is not the brain child of Billionaire Elon Musk. It was actually incorporated by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, then essentially taken over by a $6.5 million investment by Musk in 2004. Musk’s true objective was to raise capital for a private space company, but Tesla is definitely the smartest $6 million he’s spent so far.

Musk, CEO since 2008, is not without controversy, wracking up lawsuits for creative accounting, workers rights violations, and technical issues in their autopilot. Still, with global sales of 936,222 cars in 2021, a 87% increase over the previous year, total Tesla’s sold tops 2.3 million. Tesla is one of the most successful car companies in the world, becoming the sixth US company history to reach a market capitalization over a trillion dollars in October of 2021.

Tesla Models began with a roadster, then the Model S (Sedan), the Model X (SUV), the Model 3 (first EV to sell a million units), and the Model Y (Crossover). Then of course the Cybertruck. An observant reader might notice that subtle name game–S.3.X.Y.

Tesla’s plans for the future? Cheaper cars for the less affluent in society. A Tesla motorcycle seems unlikely based on Musk’s 2018 statement, “we’re not going to do motorcycles.”

Lucid Motors

Vital Stats: 2007–present, Headquartered in Newark, CA. Founded by Bernard Tse and Sam Weng.

Following a model piloted by Elon Musk, Lucid heavily marketed their design ideas and financed part of their start up by selling slots on their waiting list before they even had a product. The first 20 got their cars the day before Halloween, 2021.

In the tradition Dodge and other American Car makers, Lucid first existed to make parts for other EV makers, as a company called Atieva. CEO Peter Rawlinson of Tesla, and Derek Jenkins formerly of Mazda, rebranded the company when they decided to make their own vehicles in 2016, with some investment from  Tsing CapitalMitsuiVenrockJAFCO, among others.

The Lucid Air

Lucid picked Casa Grande, AZ, as their US manufacturing base, and built a plant projected to make a maximum capacity of 380,000 cars per year. It opened 2 years late, but that’s not too bad considering red tape, pandemics and the like. Lucid was acquired by a Saudi Investment fund and has since merged with  Churchill Capital Corp IV, a publicly traded investment fund. The resulting nearly $12 billion investment will complete the factory through phase 4 and allow them to develop their Project Gravity SUV by 2023, then try to start competing with Tesla’s Model 3.

If you feel like $12 billion is a big investment for a company that’s only sold a few hundred cars, you may want to ask your financial advisor where your 401K is. In the mean time, it’ hard to get a feel for how successful this company will be, but it’s poised to make the next few billionaires.

Rivian

Vital Stats: 2009–present, Headquartered in Irvine, CA. because apparently California is the new Michigan.

Rivian’s an EV automaker with a slightly different approach. Rather than starting with a traditional modern unibody car, Rivian has gone straight to the skateboard model, which allows them to make a standardized powertrain platform, upon which they can build an SUV or a Pickup Truck.

This allows them to develop other types of vehicle in the future, or make that platform for other car makers–existing or yet to come. Given the number of semi-manufacturers out of the UK, the Kicker staff wouldn’t be surprised if a company like Caterham or David Brown Automotive, doesn’t grab an investor and build a plant somewhere in the US Land is cheap and business friendly like Texas or North Dakota, then create a Line of EV sports cars based on Rivian’s skateboard.

Rivian raised money via going IPO. Based on Tesla’s performance as a company, investors leapt at the chance to get in on the ground floor of a similar company–they raised $13.5 billion (153 million shares sold).

Rivian manufactures in 5 locations inside the US, with plans to build another factory in Georgia, as well as Canada and the UK.

Robert “RJ” Scaringe, is an American Engineer, Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of what’s now Rivian. It started as Mainstream Motors and got renamed Avera Motors on it’s way to it’s modern incarnation. The original idea was to make a sports car, but that dream grew as investment dollars came in.

Another early stroke of luck was their purchase of the Normal, Illinois Mitsubishi plant for $16 million dollars, including everything inside it. A ready to make facility can accelerate your plans. In 2017, Rivian revealed its first two products: an electric five-passenger pickup truck (A1T) and an electric seven-passenger SUV (A1C), which it renamed in 2018 R1T and R1S, respectively.

Rivian RT1

Rivian employed 250 people in 2018 and by 2021 it employs 9,000. Although they’ve since announced a 6% reduction in workforce, siting economic downturn.

Despite a few delays, the R1T began shipping out in October 2021, making Rivian the first car company to bring an all electric truck to the US market–not GM, not Ford, not even Tesla (although Tesla has since caught up). Ford was counting on a partnership in Rivian to bring an all EV truck to market, but Rivian backed out leaving Ford with a 12% stake in the company worth around $10 billion.

Rivian made news in March of 2022 announcing a retroactive price increase of 17% for the R1T and 20% for the R1S vehicles not yet delivered, citing increased cost of goods to manufacture. Due to backlash, the company recanted their decision for folks waitlisted prior to March 1. (Only reasonable since locking in a price is one of the big advantages to ordering a new car before it even exists.)

The most recent news, aside from their new COO starting early last month, is that Time Magazine added Rivian to their List of 100 Most Influential Companies (2022).

Rivian R1T

All-electric cars (aka EVs) are becoming nearly as common as hybrid cars. While the technology seemed to take a bit longer to enter the truck world, it’s likely not long before we see a highly competitive market with all the major manufacturers vying for entry.

Enter the Rivian R1T all-electric truck. Not only is this the first year for the model, but the R1T will also be the first-ever all-electric truck to be put into full production.

Under the “Hood”

Rivian is setting the bar for all-electric trucks high with the R1T. There will be other power options in future model years, but the stats for the initial truck are impressive. A 128.9-kWh powers a quad-motor setup, that provides over 830 horsepower to the transmission.

The power is distributed to each wheel with the all-wheel-drive with independent motors powering each wheel. Taking advantage of the quad-motor setup, the R1T is capable of what Rivian calls the “Tank Turn.” The quad motors allow the wheels on each side to turn in opposite directions, causing the R1T to turn completely around at a standstill.

Capabilities

Having so much power in a truck does nothing if its capabilities don’t match. Rivian claims the R1T can carry a payload of about 1,700 pounds or tow over 11,000 pounds. While carrying or towing, the extra weight significantly impacts the range of the truck, the cargo and towing limits are impressive.

Off-Road

Somewhat surprising for an all-electric truck, the Rivian R1T also offers impressive and genuine off-road capabilities. To keep good aerodynamics while on the road, the suspension height is a mild 8 inches. However, this can be adjusted on the fly, and the air suspension can increase the clearance to 14 inches.

The off-road capabilities do not affect the on-road performance. The 835-horsepower launches the truck from a stop to reach 60 mph in just over 3-seconds. This performance has been reported to stay throughout the charge levels in the battery.

Range

Right now, the R1T will only be offered with Rivian calling the “large” battery. The 128.9-kWh gives the truck an estimated range of 314 miles. However, in real-world testing with a payload consistent with an expected payload, a 75 mph speed only gave a range of 220 miles. This translates to an estimated 35 MPGe.

In future model years, Rivian is expected to introduce a “max” and a smaller “standard” battery, which would give ranges of about 400 and 240 miles, respectively.

Interior

Matching other electric vehicles, the interior dash panel is clean with just two multifunction/instrument screens. The two large 16-inch screens sit in a dash made from premium wood and leather.

For security, there are nearly 12 cubic feet of lockable storage space in the cabin, and a large trunk under the hood, upfront. The locking trunk brings a great relief from trying to hide bigger items in the bed.

Warranties

It’s not uncommon for people to have concerns about the durability and longevity of a new model, especially one from a brand new manufacturer. Rivian offers a 5-year or 60,000-mile limited bumper-to-bumper warranty and 8-years or 175,000 miles for the battery and powertrain. This is a great relief for this first-ever all-electric truck.

Price

This performance and capability do not come cheap. Checking in at nearly $75,000 some drivers might be priced out of this first-ever electric truck. However, there are very few downsides found in the R1T, and future models will come with even more features and options.

What are the Different Types of Electric Car Plugs? 

The previously rare electric vehicle is now just as commonly seen as almost all other car types. Nearly every major car manufacturer offers an all-electric version of their most popular models, with some even offering all-electric trucks. This should give you a sense of where the future is headed. But there is likely one thing that might cause you hesitation from taking the plunge, how to charge the batteries.

Gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles are easy. You open the fuel cap and insert the nozzle from the dispenser and your local station. It’s extremely rare to find one that doesn’t work with your vehicle (although some evaporation recovery devices are quite finicky).

Charging an electric car is not all that much more difficult, and can even be easier if you have the right plug.

Power Ratings

The power ratings and the specific type of electric current are vitally important in ensuring not only the correct plug but for protecting the life of the batteries. The rate of charging simply determines approximately how far the car can travel after a certain period of charging. The more power that is supplied to charge the battery, the less time it takes to charge to a certain percentage of battery capacity. However, the amount of power used to charge the batteries can also affect their longevity. Generally, the lower the charging power, the less strain is placed on the batteries, extending their life.

Current Type

Given the designs of the plugs, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to use an A/C system with a D/C charging current. Generally, when the car is at home and simply a top-off is needed, A/C is the better choice with D/C charging better reserved for quick on-the-road needs. D/C does take a lot less time to bring the batteries to the same level of charge, as a consequence, however, of much higher temperatures that can greatly degrade the life of the batteries.

Type 1

As the name implies, this was one of the first plugs developed to charge the batteries in electric vehicles. This plug uses five pins and is a standard for most electric vehicles in the United States. The plug does allow for slow and fast charging at 3.7 kW and 7 kW, respectively. You should exercise caution, as this plug has no locking mechanism and can be dislodged.

Type 2

The Type 2 charging plug is an improvement on Type 1 and adds two more connection pins, as well as a built-in locking mechanism. This plug also adds to the charging rate with the capability of 22 kW (using three-phase charging) if your vehicle allows it.

CHAdeMO

One of the first rapid charging systems has a name to fit its use on the road. The “Charge de Move” or CHAdeMO, is a favorite of many Asian automakers such as Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. This is a rather large plug and tends to require a much larger charging area/flap on the vehicle and is not very common beyond certain carmakers. Charging power for the CHAdeMO can reach 400 kW with plans for up to 900 kW.

Combined Charging System

Perhaps the most convenient of all is the Combined Charging System or CCS allows for a single cord/plug system to be used for slower charging at home as well as rapid charging on the road. The top of the plug looks nearly identical to a Type 2 plug, with two of the five connection pins being located on the D/C section of the plug. This will likely become the standard for D/C charging.