On the Eliica


No, this isn’t the gag Funny Car you saw at the county strip. Although it is every bit as fast, making a Porsche 911 Turbo and a Mitsubishi Lancer YouTube fodder.

Eliica stands for Electric Lithium-Ion Car, and you will most likely never see it on the street. This 640 hp monster was developed by a team at the University of Keio in Tokyo, Japan. It boasts a 0-62 time of 4 seconds and is capable of cruising up to 230 mph. This is no small feat for a car that weighs over 5000 pounds, due mainly to the Lithium-Ion batteries that line the undercarriage. This power is needed to activate the 8 electric motors, one for each of the eight wheels. Each motor is 80 hp, hence the 640 hp total output. Only about 200 cars will be made, given the right amount of corporate sponsorship. And each will be sold for $240,000.

However, this car is more of a statement than anything else. What combustion vehicle do you know can seat five people comfortably, out sprint a Porsche, and travel 230 mph almost silently. The Eliica bypasses limits that are set on normal combustion engine vehicles. You cannot put eight engines on a station wagon; the input, exhaust, and cooling system necessary are only the beginning of your troubles. Electric motors are much more flexible, and Lithium-Ion batteries will inevitably improve. We’ve reached the limits of combustion engine capabilities given their century old, antiquated design. Still, automakers claim the technology for electric cars is not here yet. If a team at Keio University can design and build this wonder with a measly $320,000, I think the technology is here; and its in Tokyo.

Below is the first clip of a five part series on the Eliica. They’re very informative, and you can find the rest on YouTube if you can get through all the languages being thrown around.

On the Zap Alias

Zap Alias

This is Zap’s more conservative and realistic electric model, but you wouldn’t know just by looking at it. With a 0-60 at a modest 7.7 seconds, a top speed of 100 mph, and a driving range of 100 miles on a charge, the Zap Alias doesn’t quite live up to its futuristic body style. However you can reserve on of these now at a list price of $32,500; which will make it one of the cheapest highway capable electric vehicles on the market. Normally I cannot get over the oddness of three wheel ev’s. But this particular car makes it work with an aggressive, wide back wheel. The car might be classified as a motorcycle, which seems reasonable, because I’ve seen sport bikes that are nearly as oddly designed. Still, it should be able to seat two semi-comfortably. Here’s a recent video capturing footage of this extraterrestrial craft among us. The car is expected to be delivered in mid 2009.

On the Zap-X


The Zap-X concept has been around for awhile now. Potentially, if the vehicle comes to fruition, it will be capable of charging in a mere 10 minutes, driving 350 miles on a charge, and will be packing 644 bhp. Originally the vehicle was set to release in 2008. The delay most likely comes from an inability to back up these audacious charging and driving range claims; because the battery capable of these fetes has not actually been developed yet. There has not been much news on this car in the past year, but Zap keeps the car specs up with a release date of 2010 tentatively set.

The car is technically a SUV crossover and will be longer that a Prius. They are also implementing a new technology called “solar glass”, which will allow the car windows to trap solar energy. Since the technology is so new, it is unlikely the windows will produce any significant charge. Zap claims the price of the car will be around $60,000. However, as with all electric cars set to release in the not so distant future, you have to take it with a grain of salt. There is a strong chance this car will never be released judging by Zap’s track record. I encourage you to read this provided link to understand the nature of the electric car business. Since the electric car industry is relatively new and uncharted territory, some companies may come up with miraculous car concepts simply to generate hype, with no intention of selling them. So keep a discerning eye, but don’t be discouraged, because as long as gas prices are high, alternative energy sources continue to be developed, and there continuous to not be any existent infrastructure for alternative fuels, electric cars will become the next mode of personal transportation.

On the Th!nk Ox

Think Ox

The Think Ox (the company now spells it Th!nk, though…confusingly) is a 5-seat, fully electric, concept vehicle set to be released by 2010/11 in the Asian, European, and North American marketplaces. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 8.5 seconds (nothing spectacular, but peppy); and a single charge will allow you to travel 125 to 155 miles.

Think Ox

The design seems absolutely perfect for the American market (except for that ridiculous rear window). They keep the simple dimensions and curves of popular modern compact cars, but they have a slight edge to them, similar to the hugely popular Toyota Scion line. I’m glad to see the electric vehicle industry has stopped trying to break down the concept of traditional exterior design. Otherwise we’d still be getting electric cars like we did in the 90’s:

Corbin Sparrow

How far we’ve come. By the way, you can visit the site of the company that heaved this thing.

On the Chevy Volt

Chevy Volt

The Chevy Volt is starting to look more and more like a GM pipe dream every day. For instance, this little bit of anecdotal evidence:

NHTSA, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, proposed earlier this year that U.S. automakers must achieve a 25% increase in fuel economy from the 2011 to 2015 model years. When the NHTSA asked GM why they left out the Chevy Volt in their submitted plans, GM basically responded by saying the Volt was a low-volume application and would not really be widely produced in that time frame. GM spokesman Greg Martin was quoted,“We’ve been very cautious in terms of the volume, just because of the innovation and the technology associated with that vehicle. There’s a note of caution that, yes the technology is breakthrough, it is a game-changer, but as with any new game-changing technology, there needs to be a reasonable expectation set in terms of volume.”

Game-changer… Right.  If privately owned companies like Tesla are coming out with cars that travel 220 miles on a charge, than I would hardly refer to 40 miles on a charge before a gas generator has to kick in to recharge the battery as game changing.  GM has access to vast amounts of resources and this is the best they can come up with? And they continue to beat this FlexFuel ethanol horse to death, which will never take off.  We might as well run our cars on fresh produce and livestock, rather than still relatively cheap, useless in any other application, oil.  Anyways, I’m sidetracked and I’ll have to write another post on the Volt later when they give me a good reason to. But for now, I don’t have much hope for this still very much a concept vehicle. Hope they prove me wrong.