01. Why Electric?

Reason 1: We are participating in a mass extinction event euphemistically referred to as "global warming."

Polar Icecap, 1979 from NASA
Polar Icecap, 2003

Reason 2: The era of cheap oil is over.

Reason 3: Electric vehicles are low-tech, available, and cheap.

I'm a survivor, or at least I intend to be one. I find value in adversity. It brings out my playful curiousity, optimism, intuition, determination, and alertness. The large automobile companies are moving too slowly for me, they are like dinosaurs.

Plans and supplies for building your own electric vehicle, or converting your car to electric, or even purchasing an electric vehicle, are available on the internet now. Links to some of these resources are on the next page. The infrastructure for delivering the fuel (electricity) is in place, the fuel is far cheaper per unit of energy than gasoline, the batteries recycle easily --- and the big oil and car companies don't want you to know about them! We can develop a lifestyle that is far more creative, productive, and satisfying than anything we could have possibly imagined before. The lifestyle change becomes attractive to others, and soon "everybody's doing it."

Electric cars are a viable option. 80% of our gasoline is expended on round trips of less than 80 miles from our house. When recharged with solar cells on the roof of our house, the energy cost of transportation is basically the amortized cost of the capital investment.

Reason 4: Efficient, equitable use of resources contributes to world peace.

March 8, 2004

My First Electric Vehicle, the scooter: I was driving a 10-year-old Subaru wagon that got 22 mpg, and I was hearing the alarms about the coming crisis in world oil supplies. My teenage son got his driving liscense, no longer wanted to ride the bus, and I thought three cars for three people was the height of financial insanity. Then I saw this extremely cute Chinese electric scooter for only $1200, and I couldn't resist. The construction is very cheap, the speedometer doesn't work any more, I've blown two battery chargers, but otherwise I have been impressed with the reliability and low cost of operation over almost 3,500 miles in one year. Insurance is not required in Oregon, but for $75 I thought liability coverage was a good idea.

I asked the salesman if I could pull a dog trailer, he said it would slow me down, and yes it would be possible. What he didn't explain is that I had to be very easy on the throttle, so I burnt up my first set of batteries in 5 months. Now I push the scooter by running beside it to get going from a dead stop, and jump on, which is just a little embarassing, to say the least. I get weak acceleration from the permanent-magnet, 700 watt motor on the rear hub. It has four 22-Amphour glass-mat batteries which gets me and my dog to work (5 miles), where I recharge for the trip home. I could make it home without the recharge, but the last mile would get pretty slow. I have to keep my speed below 15 mph, stay in the bike lanes or the bike-route streets, and on the streets without bike lanes it gets a bit scary. I ride in all kinds of weather, so I've learned to allow extra time to suit up in the required rain or cold weather gear. The comfort level and visibility at night, in the rain, in the winter is terrible. Thus, the motivation for a semi-enclosed, more powerful vehicle. 

If I were to calculate the cost-to-benefit ratio of this project, I would never do it. To save money on my commute to work, I would continue riding the scooter and endure a few more winters before I retire. No, I am trying to be a small part of the change I want to see. The XP-Humm-E is intended to be a statement of a possibility, an encouragement to the imagination of others.

Copyright 2011, David Hazen. You may download, store, or print a single copy of this page for your personal information. No part of this material may be reproduced, stored or transmitted for personal gain.

David Hazen,
May 20, 2015, 7:56 AM