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EcoCentre dealerships to offer cheap (but not fast) electric cars

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August 6, 2012

Established Lincoln and Jaguar auto dealer Ramon Alvarez has announced the opening of a ne...

Established Lincoln and Jaguar auto dealer Ramon Alvarez has announced the opening of a new low cost electric vehicle showroom in southern California

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As any early adopter of consumer electric vehicles will tell you, being a clean transport pioneer might be kinder to the planet but it can cause the average wallet to suffer a seizure. Chevy's 2013 Volt, for instance, is priced at a snip under US$40,000 and Ford's Focus Electric is only a few hundred bucks cheaper, and a new Nissan Leaf is over twice the price of a new ICE-powered Dodge Dart. The owner of Lincoln and Jaguar dealerships in Riverside, California is hoping to strip away the high cost barrier to the mass adoption of electric vehicles with the opening of his first all-electric EcoCentre showroom later this month. Three EVs are to lead the charge, including a small commuter car for under $10,000.

San Diego-born car dealer Ramon Alvarez founded the Alvarez Electric Motors Company in 2010 and is due to open the first of a planned national network of electric vehicle sales centers in Southern California this month. All three of the electric vehicles initially available through the new Fladeboe EcoCentre (housed within Orange County's Irvine Auto Center and operated by the Fladeboe Automotive Group) are manufactured in China by Liuzhou Wuling Special Purpose Vehicle Manufacturing Co. Ltd and are being offered at a fraction of the price of other electric vehicles currently being sold in the U.S.

Ramon Alvarez, founder of the Alvarez Electric Motors Company, with the two-seater eco-E

The eco-E is a two-seater EV with a 3.1kW motor powered by a 48-volt absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery. The vehicle's range is quoted as between 30 to 40 miles (48 - 64 km) on a single charge, and has a charge time of between 8 and 10 hours via a standard household (110-volt) electrical socket. This model carries a suggested retail price of US$9,995.

The eco-Van gets a top speed of 25 mph and a range of 25 - 40 miles from its 13kW peak mot...

The vehicle of choice for ferrying a few more than two people around is the eco-Van, which has bucket seating up front and one or two bench seats behind. The 13kW peak motor gets its power from a 96-volt AGM battery with the same charge time as the small car and a range of 25 to 40 miles (40 - 64 km). This EV is priced at $17,995 with factory-installed air conditioning available as an optional extra.

The eco-Truck features over 1000 pounds of cargo capacity

The remaining EV on offer is the eco-Truck, which has the same motor and battery specs as the eco-Van but features over 1000 pounds of cargo capacity. This model has a price tag of $16,995 (with the same optional extra of factory-installed air conditioning also available).

In each case, local, State or Federal tax incentives could reduce the cost of purchase even further and the typical cost of operation is being given as 3 to 5 cents per mile (or about $5 per month). But there's just one catch for all budding electric speed monkeys hoping to zoom up and down the highway in a budget EV - all of EcoCentre's neighborhood electric vehicles detailed above have a (regulation limited) top speed of just 25 mph (40 km/h).

The EcoCentre has been designed to offer customers a friendly and engaging place to take their first steps into the emerging world of electric vehicles. A Connection Counter will be the focal point for customer queries about the vehicles on offer, as well as any applicable rebate or incentive information. Initial sales are expected to be from corporate, institutional and government fleet buyers with retail sales projected to follow after. It's hoped that the EcoCentre will expand to all of the top 75 U.S. markets by 2015.

An electric scooter and a quad/ATV are expected to be added to the catalog by the end of 2013.

Source: EcoCentre, via Inhabitat

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
26 Comments

The speed restriction allows the manufacturer to avoid costly crash testing

Mike Donovan
6th August, 2012 @ 12:32 am PDT

Electric cars are not 'clean'. The batteries use toxic chemicals, which uses enviromentally hazardous method and produces toxic gasses and byproducts during manufacturing which needs to be dumped somewhere, are not 100% recyclable and requires more energy and cost to recycle.

The power used to charge it comes from somewhere else powered by mostly burning coal.

SpaceBagels
6th August, 2012 @ 03:33 am PDT

Glorified golf carts and the taxpayer gets it in the wallet as well.

Slowburn
6th August, 2012 @ 03:54 am PDT

@Spacebagels

Electric cars are essentials because firts they are far more efficient than combustion one, then you have to worry only on how to produce electricity to charge them. Second air in the city will be cleaner if everybody will drive electric car, and the amount of lung and respiratory problem would greatly decrease. Third an electric car is much more simple than a mechanic combustion one, so the cost of maintenance would drop to zero, instead now it's a great amount, every time you have to rapair a car it's always really expensive

Francesco Baldacchini
6th August, 2012 @ 06:15 am PDT

This will be useless unless someone figures out how to de-restrict it.

dpark76
6th August, 2012 @ 08:04 am PDT

so the average speed is 3 mph?

30 miles then you have to wait 10 hours for it to charge?

lets see how much the optional AC [or worse - heater] cuts the top range..

wle

wle
6th August, 2012 @ 09:49 am PDT

If the electric car is not clean enough for you invest in a few photo-voltaic panels and use them to charge your new pickup ... mount them right on the truck bed instead of a camper shell ... be a trend setter!

Jansen Estrup
6th August, 2012 @ 09:55 am PDT

Spacebagels, are you a paid troll for big oil? You certainly sound that way using their old lies as facts.

First off coal is no longer the big electric sources as NG has matched it at 32% and gaining ground as coal plants shut left and right.

If toxic batteries are a problem them why do every vehicle have one yet causes little problem as they are the most recycled product in the US. No?

Lead batteries are only recycled in closed factories so no wastes, gas, liquid or solid excapes as 98% of them are made into new batteries. The one in your cars is likely on it's 10-15th recycle already.

As long as 4wh vehicles must be done to Fed DOT it costs so much just for legal that stops most new 4wh ones. Though one can even do better in 3wheels if designed right especially with 2 front wheels and the low battery weight/CG.

My EV's run at 25% of a similar ICE/gasoline car does. So say what you want, but next time you fill up , remember for the same miles, mine only costs 10% of yours for fuel. I'll be the one laughing all the way to the bank.

jerryd
6th August, 2012 @ 12:33 pm PDT

dpark76>> so the average speed is 3 mph?

No, as the article says: "(regulation limited) top speed of just 25 mph (40 km/h)."

George Warner
6th August, 2012 @ 01:52 pm PDT

What's wrong with the bicycle?

More efficient, less costly to buy and maintain and build infrastructure for, and massive health cross-benefits.

Most people in the west well exceed the required calorie intake so there are no extra carbon emissions.

Robbie Price
6th August, 2012 @ 02:39 pm PDT

If they could double the specs and keep the price low they got something.

frogola
6th August, 2012 @ 04:53 pm PDT

The main problem with vehicles like these is the hate expressed here by SpaceBagels and Slowburn when it is translated into aggressive behaviour toward slow vehicles on the road.

It is instructive to watch the change in driver behaviour when they know there is a policeman watching.

Fit slow vehicles with conspicuous cameras and other evidence-gathering equipment and watch the accident rate (and fuel consumption) plummet.

Also, jerryd is just plain wrong. Discarded car batteries are a major environmental problem wherever you go.

nutcase
6th August, 2012 @ 07:06 pm PDT

re; nutcase

The only time I have a problem with slow vehicles is when they are in the fast lane on the highway on scenic drives I am often the slow vehicle.

The problem is that these inferior vehicles are being actively subsidized by the government. (As opposed to a tax reduction on oil companies but with motor vehicle fuel taxes it balances out. Let the people see the taxes they pay replace all taxes on business with a sales tax.)

The horse and buggy were not legislated off the roads the automobile were the superior and healthier technology. (Horse exhaust is stinking piles of pestilence.) I don't think that batteries will ever be the superior energy storage medium.

I designed this for submarines for a small car the energy density is low but for commercial trucks it is superior to battery electric. Enclose the ICE into a C02 atmosphere feed it both oxygen and fuel and 'filter' excess water cooling the working 'fluid' with a Sterling Cycle engine. If you use a nontoxic lubricant and an oxygen rich 'fluid' the water should come out drinkable, and if the pressure in the inclosure is high enough the chilled C02 (room temperature) comes out liquid. There are reasons that using argon as the 'working fluid' might be preferable or necessary requiring that the C02 be filtered out as well rather than just 'vented'.

Slowburn
6th August, 2012 @ 08:55 pm PDT

Re Slowburn...

***The problem is that these inferior vehicles are being actively subsidized by the government. (As opposed to a tax reduction on oil companies but with motor vehicle fuel taxes it balances out. Let the people see the taxes they pay replace all taxes on business with a sales tax.) ***

That's pretty selective. It may have escaped your notice but the fossil fuel and energy industries receive huge subsidies from the public purse. Old, well established industries that don't need them get get far more subsidies than emerging technologies that do need them. There's evidence that strongly suggests the old guard is is deliberately trying to stifle the new technology.

apprenticeearthwiz
7th August, 2012 @ 02:34 am PDT

@Francesco Baldacchini

They're efficient mechanically but the energy storage and density is very very very inefficient, slow charging, underpowered, heavy and downright dangerous. Plus chemical batteries ARE inherently toxic. Only the government subsidized EV industry kooliad drinking green facists wouldn't admit to this fact. Given that they're produced in china it is a given that no stringent enviromental regulations are followed in producing these cars.

FYI I'm not advocating the use of infernal combustion engines, I'm just saying there IS a better technology invented here in the US than the chinese made EVs out there that has a much better efficiency both mechanically and in energy storage, capacity, range and future conversion and sustainable bio fuel options for existing cars like the Cyclone Power engine. The engine module can be adapted much easier to existing cars by the use of adapter to the car differential and appropriate engine mounts than a highly custom, underpowered and difficult EV conversion.

Chemical batteries, even by using non recycleable nano expensive unsustainable technology will never exceed the energy density, convinience sustainability and safety of bio fuels.

What are you going to do with the millions and millions of cars in existance once there is a need to convert to a much more efficient engine with engineered obsolence like the ICE and freeing our dependency on Big Oil? Should we all convert and produce the millions and millions of motorcycles, cars, and get this buses, trucks, trains (highly impractical to use electric motor and batteries) to use electric motors that use rare earth (which is dominated by china) until it runs out? Should we also use the ridiculous amount of toxic batteries to sustain the EV demand until the soil and water can no longer sustain llife? So in the future, instead of fighting over oil, we will be fighting over rare earths?

Like wind and solar, EVs are one of the biggest government funded green scams in this century.

SpaceBagels
7th August, 2012 @ 03:07 am PDT

Ok, real fact - Car batteries are the most recyceld item per EPA, and here is EPA link:

http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/msw2008rpt.pdf

page 3 shows auto batteries.

amx-69
7th August, 2012 @ 08:33 am PDT

I'm also looking forward to the first cyclone engine (which is likely to come from china btw) but not to Slowburn's AIP trucks with their heavy dependence on BOC and AirLiquide. Try to stick to the subject here which is about affordability.

Also, if some of the contributors here could be more honest about just how much of our hard-earned taxes goes to propping up the oil companies and the dinosaur automotive industry there might be a bit more balance to this discussion.

Yes batteries are the most recycled item but that statistic does not account for the millions that are not recycled. I have a nice little lead foundry in the backyard here and I'm constantly amazed how easy they are to find in unexpected places.

As for "what are we going to do with the millions and millions of cars blah blah" Most likely what we do already just wait 3 years till it's completely worn out (or just too unfashionable to be seen in) and upgrade to the next model on some ripoff finance plan.

In the meantime put up with this affordable intermediate technology.

nutcase
7th August, 2012 @ 07:47 pm PDT

re; nutcase

The AIP system eliminates N0x, C0, and particulate emissions. Granted if you are using Argon in the AIP system you will have to buy a little from time to time this is the least of the reasons I would prefer to use C02 but hydraulic power transmission will almost completely eliminate that line of gas loss and there is no reason that oil changes will lose any. For that matter if you are using a pressurized system most of it will be recycled when you under go heavy maintenance or repairs. Also oxygen concentrators completely remove the need to buy LOX or compressed oxygen.

As for affordability what is the cost of the subsidies and financing or the loss of what you could have done with the money otherwise. All this for a car that you can't take more than a few dozen miles at 25MPH. If you take it on a main street (non highway) you are guilty of obstructing traffic. Even the good electric cars aren't good for anything but a short commute or trip to the corner store.

First this fiat money we are using is not worth what it used to be. How much does a liter of milk cost compared to 10 or 50 years ago? A dozen eggs, a kilo of potatoes, or gold.

I don't know where you are from but. Why are fuel prices so much higher in Europe than the USofA? The distribution systems are of similar efficiency and the oil comes from the same international markets. However the USofA average fuel tax of 49.5 cents per gallon for gas (13.07 ¢/L) and 54.6 cents per gallon for diesel (14.42 ¢/L). How much of what you spend on motor fuel is TAXES.

IF ALL THE CARS ARE ELECTRICALLY POWERED WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO GET THE ELECTRICITY?! The Electrical grids are already straining under the load and demand is going up faster than production even with increasingly fewer incandescent light bulbs.

Slowburn
8th August, 2012 @ 01:57 am PDT

I'm a self confessed petrol head but I think I'm smart enough to know that something has to change.

It's sad that on every blog that covers Electric Vehicles there are those who aggressively deny the inevitable. Those who believe that the ICE vehicle is the transport of the future, that believe that any alternative is the work of the devil.

What is so hard to understand? The US and Europe are net importers of oil. We generally import from unstable hostile countries. Regardless of the environmental arguments, we must invest in viable alternatives to oil.

Electric Vehicles give us choices, and they give us control. We can generate the electricity from coal, gas, nuclear, wind, solar etc etc.

So we can't fit them with a big bore exhaust that makes us feel like a new age Steve McQueen. Well guys, live with it! Your country's future is more important.

Loyd Davies
8th August, 2012 @ 12:58 pm PDT

Re; Loyd Davies

Thinking that the so called solution being pushed on us is a bad idea does not mean that it is the work of the devil.

Electrical demand is already out pacing production without mass use of electric cars.

ICE not being the future of automotive propulsion does not equal chemical battery electric propulsion being the future. There are a variety of options available that are better, cheaper, and cleaner than electrical propulsion.

Electric cars are dependent on rare earth elements.

Slowburn
8th August, 2012 @ 03:35 pm PDT

Re Slowburn:

"Electrical demand is already out pacing production without mass use of electric cars."

Then buil more power stations and develop the distribution network. We can do that. We can't create more fossil fuels, what we have is what we have.

"There are a variety of options available that are better, cheaper, and cleaner than electrical propulsion." Cool, which ones do you have in mind? If they are better, cheaper, and cleaner than the alternatives then they will be commercially successful at the expense of the EV and the ICE. However, the major motor manufacturers are all investing in EVs right now so they clearly don't agree.

"Electric cars are dependent on rare earth elements."

Which rare earth elements are referring to? You can't mean Lithium as it's one of the most plentiful elements on the planet. From Wikipedia:

"According to a 2011 study conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California Berkeley, the currently estimated reserve base of lithium should not be a limiting factor for large-scale battery production for electric vehicles, as the study estimated that on the order of 1 billion 40 kWh Li-based batteries could be built with current reserves." ..... and when the batteries come to the end of their useful life the Lithium can be recycled.

I'm all for positive arguments about better alternatives but right now, EVs look like the best alternative we have to the ICE, fossil fuels, and dependence on the Middle East.

Loyd Davies
9th August, 2012 @ 02:57 am PDT

re; Loyd Davies

We keep trying to build power plants but the same people who want us to use electric cars keep doing everything possible to prevent the construction of additional generating capacity.

Try looking in the motors, the rear earth magnets in particular.

If you want to not depend on the middle east get the green work on getting the country with the worlds largest untapped oil resources to allow widespread drilling. The USofA.

When the USofA's congress decided that electric cars were the future it passed laws to make sure of this, auto manufactures followed the mandates and subsidies.

As for alternatives steam is the most obvious, it only uses power when being used, air compressed during regenerative breaking can be stored in the boiler, it does not need a battery or starter, and the fuel choice is almost unlimited.

Slowburn
9th August, 2012 @ 06:26 am PDT

Asking what I would have done with my money otherwise is called "junkie logic"

Opposing renewable energy subsidies is asking for an oil well or frack drill in your back yard. Fine if you like that sort of thing.

Comparing components like rare earth magnets with consumables like fuel is just plain stupid.

The cyclone Rankine engine is a good develoment but a weakness is it's dependence on distilled water. I got a feeling putting tapwater in a cyclone engine will rot it away pretty quickly.

Steam cools down. Batteries stay charged.

Horses produce fertiliser. It might be putrid but you grow food in it.

Maybe the Amish are not so wacky after all ;)

nutcase
9th August, 2012 @ 10:39 pm PDT

re; nutcase

When going out to buy a car first you have to decide what you need whether it's commuting to work and the weekly trip to the discount groceries, carting the tribe to soccer practice and pulling the boat to the lake, or whatever your individual need is. Then you add your wants whether it's leather seats and a sound system that makes it possible to tell if it's a slide or valve trombone, or looks and performance that is suppose to make your desired sexual partners decide to chase you down. Then you look at what you can afford and what you called "junkie logic" do I spend the extra money to buy the hybrid or do I spend that extra $2500 or more plus financing costs for the extra fuel economy that probably won't pay for the expense over the life of the car for the smug feeling of helping the environment and driving a car subsidized by the government. Or do I put that money in a college fund for Jr. and little Missy, a retirement account, the fund for a down payment on a house, or just a rainy day fund. make the rational decision and then plant a few fast growing trees to pay off your conscience It is better for the environment anyway.

The resources are consumed either way and there is a lot more fuel available.

Use a good condenser and your requirement for new water is vastly reduced, and while we are on the subject of steam a well insulated boiler doesn't loose energy that fast and batteries loose a lot of energy during charging (Some thing about having to cool them to keep them from exploding during charging.)

Draft animal's stinking piles of pestilence can be properly dealt with and when properly digested and sterilized safely used as excellent fertilizer.

It is not a lifestyle I want to embrace but on average the Amish do look happier than the average camper.

Slowburn
10th August, 2012 @ 12:16 am PDT

Facts are uncomfortable things. Fact: our entire transportation infrastructure is built around fossil fuels; any transition to whatever cleaner replacement (ammonia, which produces no GHGs; LPG, CNG, LNG, which are cleaner than gasoline/diesel; electric; compressed air) will take time, due to the cost of changing the infrastructure. Fact: electric vehicle technology isn't yet market competitive; if it was, it wouldn't cost more than twice a comparable ICE vehicle. Fact: with present EV technology, even with tax incentives, electric car buyers aren't likely to see a positive return on their investment unless they use the car for over ten years. Fact: electric vehicles won't be practical for locations with temperature extremes for some time; air conditioning and heating draw too much power. Fact: once electric vehicle technology reaches maturity, it will be widely adopted quickly; hopefully the infrastructure will be ready for it. It's a technology issue, and no amount of secular religious fervor will make the transition happen any more rapidly.

Pat Kelley
13th August, 2012 @ 09:18 am PDT

re; Pat Kelley

Liquid Ammonia is even less energy dense than liquid hydrogen and is produced from hydrogen and nitrogen in a fairly energy intensive process.

The dirtiness of gas and diesel engines is a result of insufficient oxygen and the presence of nitrogen in the fuel air mix.

Storing electricity is inherently inefficient and high density storage of electricity is more dangerous that high density storage of chemical energy.

The mass marketing of EV and EV-hybrid vehicles is solely the result of that secular religious fervor, and unfortunately if the rational don't start making lots of noise thy still might win. Assuming that AGW is real there are more effective ways of countering it that are also less expensive than electric vehicles.

Slowburn
13th August, 2012 @ 12:16 pm PDT
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