Kipper on Cars

Kipper on Cars: Into the electric future

2013-05-23T02:00:00Z Kipper on Cars: Into the electric futureTravis Kipper Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
May 23, 2013 2:00 am  • 

For most urban areas, electric cars are a growing convenience. Charging stations are available on every other block, and as long as residents are only driving a short distance within the confines of the city, a long range tank of gas is not needed.

Not so in the outer reaches of the suburbs. A city-dweller may be tempted to think these areas are backward, without the modern conveniences of charging stations taken for granted in places of high population density.

Though the suburbs and rural areas are beginning to catch up to the technological wave, most transit in this country is still based on standards in place by the mid 20th century, including that of large, established American car makers, like Ford, Chevrolet and GM.

Before World War II there were more than 100 different models that the American consumer could choose from other than The Big Three carmakers. Subsequently as time passed and the war surged on, many of these smaller carmakers started to lose their footing in the market and eventually disappeared.

Today is a new day, there are more and more independent car manufacturers starting to gain praise. Some of these new makers are focusing on technology started at the turn of the century—electricity.

These new automakers are now pushing the limits of technology to provide greater convenience and performance for avid and casual drivers alike.

Tesla Motors, a company founded in the United States, received fame with positive reviews for their Roadster model, the first fully electric sports car. The company, named after the physicist Nikola Tesla, based its Roadster engine design from a 1882 Nikola Tesla blueprint.

But there is one thing Tesla Motors is doing that people may not know, other than making some of most popular fully electric vehicles, is making powertrains for other big carmakers. One such company gaining from Tesla innovation is Toyota. According to The New York Times, Tesla began selling Toyota the powertrain to the new RAV4 EV.

In addition to Toyota, Tesla has begun contracts with Mercedes-Benz and Germany’s Daimler AG, according to Bloomberg.com. They also have partnerships Japan based company, Panasonic, according to Forbes.com, for the use of their electric batteries.

With that said, are the independent car manufacturers actually receiving the praise they deserve?

One company best demonstrating that sometimes, electric powered vehicles are not the best source of innovation, is Fisker.

As of April 23, 2013, CNNMoney reported doubts on the Fisker company’s ability to repay its almost $200 million loans from taxpayers, state and Energy Department loans. The company also came under fire both figurative and literal for its business practices.

Fisker laid off more than 75% of its workforce and has faced poor reviews from consumers due to recalls because of their batteries catching fire. Finally the car, centered on being green and friendly, still has a 260 horsepower turbocharged 2.0 liter direct injection that is used a generator to power the electric motors on the back wheels.

But don’t rush to the plugs yet. Although fully electric cars have come a long way in terms of convenience, performance and popularity in recent years, it might be wise to hold off on that purchase until more kinks are worked out of the system.

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