Off the keyboard of RE
Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 5, 2014
Discuss this article at the Science & Technology Table inside the Diner
As readers of the first Electra-Glide in Black article are aware, it took some creative shipping to get my new Electric Wheelz shipped up to Alaska. Stuff with SLA Batteries don’t ship via Air, in fact I don’t think you can ship Li-I batteries this way either. So to get my EV of Choice, the Curry Technologies Ezip 1000 up here, I had to have it shipped to the friend of a friend’s place in Oregon, strapped onto a trailer which was pulled to Seattle, dropped on a Barge bound for Anchorage, picked up by my friend there and then loaded onto his Pickup Truck for final delivery to me yesterday. Bonus for me was this was all basically free shipping all the way, though I am doing a little tradeout with said friend of some work for him in return. However, it took a solid month to get the thing up here, and I was biting my nails because I really wanted the thing in time to cruise on during the Colony Days Parade, which goes off on Saturday in Palmer.
Besides the difficulties in getting the thing up here to begin with, I also had a lot of trepidation because reviews are very mixed on these things. This is Chinese made stuff, and quality varies a LOT with stuff that comes from China, as any Konsumer who buys at Walmart well knows. However, at the Low. Low Price of $550 I got it for finally from Target (after several false starts with other retailers including Walmart), I figured the RISK wasn’t too great. Certainly not like buying a $40,000 EV anyhow.
Assembly wasn’t too hard, even for a mechanical amateur like myself, really just had to get the front wheel installed and the handlebars, although even that gave me some grief until I finally broke down and actually READ THE MANUAL. LOL. Then I put it on charge and waited about half the recommended 8 hours for the first charge, and the light showed GREEN on the charger, so in theory she was ready to cruise on. I flipped the ON SWITCH, revved the Throttle and…NOTHING. Dead as a Doornail. I am stumped, Batteries are connected and charged, light is Green on the Scooter, why does it not GO? Did I wait a full month to just get a Chinese Lemon?
Finally I go noodling around inside the battery compartment and see that while the batteries are connected to the On/Off Switch and the charging circuitry, I neglected to connect the batteries to the MOTOR! LOL. Ooops. Once I plugged the Motor in, ZOOM! Here is the first Test Drive of the New Electric Wheelz:
This sucker really MOVES for something so small and cheap, and given the HUGE amount of Gas wasted by Soccer Moms driving around the kidz too and fro to Soccer, Piano Lessons and Scout Meetings, the amount of gas you could save just by having kidz cruise themselves around the neighborhood is enormous. I wouldn’t recommend one for a kid younger than 12 or so, but that still covers a lot of kids from 12-16 or so when they can get a Carz License to do Happy Motoring. Besides that, you could do most of your weekly shopping for Food at Safeway with one. I’ll be adding Baskets and perhaps a Trailer also to this for increased Cargo Capacity.
Finally, on the Commutation level for Worker Bees of Industrial Civilization, if you set up your Light Rail stations with Rail Carriages that were designed to accept a passenger and his Scooter, your resolve the “Last Mile” problem between Train Stations and Home and Workplace, the Commuter could easily get to work and back without having to drive the SUV. Actually, you can do a good deal better than the “Last Mile”, you could have a 5 mile trip to the train station from home, a 5 mile trip from train station to work, and then long as you can recharge at work, make the trip back home as well. The Range as designed is about 12-15 miles, though I will work on extending that one also. Top Speed around 15 MPH, so the 5 mile portions of the commute take around 20 minutes.
Limitations are obvious, these are not good Bad Weather vehicles. Heavy Rain, you don’t wanna show to work drenched to the bone. Cold Weather, also no good, the batteries will crap out on you if the temps go too much below freezing. However, for most Middle Latitude areas, you probably could use it about 9 months out of the year, 90% of the time. That is a LOT of gas savings. Here in Alaska, I estimate I can use it 6-8 months out of the year, depending on how the Climate situation progresses.
The other limitation you face is on the Battery End and Electricity Supply end, both of which will have problems once there are Gas Supply problems and/or Monetary System Collapse. Noted already it is hard to get Batteries up here to Alaska, and the 3 SLA Batteries that come with this unit are rated for about 200 Charge/Discharge cycles. So figure about a year of regular use before replacement is necessary. You would get longer life from Li-I batteries, but at least here in Alaska Batteries Plus doesn;t carry them, because they are not UL Approved, and are not likely to be in the near future. Lead-Acid is probably better anyway on a scavenging level, since you can use Car Batteries from Junkyards as a source for the Lead and Sulfates for quite some time to come. My estimate would be that after the collapse of the Carz Economy, you might get another 5-10 years out of a system designed around electrics like this, no more than that though.
Regardless of the fact in the Long Term it is likely to be unsustainable, in the Near Term it does provide some transition means to negotiate such things as Fuel Shortages and Rationing, as well as Price Spikes. For me, I do not intend to use this device for regular commutes to work, even though it is theoretically possible to do so 8 months out of the year. It is an Emergency Vehicle, a form of Prep for me. I will use it if I simply cannot GET gas, or if the price spikes up so high that it is worthwhile to use this to keep my costs down. Neither of those problems are here yet, though I do expect them in the next few years.
This Saturday, I will take the Ezip 1000 for it’s first real Test Run in the Colony Days Parade, a Route of about 2-3 miles I think, well under the rated range. I will report on how it performed for that expedition. I will also experiment here over time with more ways of using the system. One thing is, if you keep it charged all the time (as you are supposed to in order to extend battery life), together with a Power Inverter to convert DC to AC, it should provide days to weeks of power to recharge stuff like my Galaxy Mega Phablet and keep me hooked to the Web even in fairly extended power outtage situations. I am also going to look into ways to increase range, and perhaps “hybridize” it using a Chainsaw gas motor to power a trailer and drive the whole assembly. All in all, a very fun exercise in prepping overall.
Meanwhile, until we actually do experience the COMPLETE COLLAPSE of Industrial Civilization, at the bargain price of $550, this is a fun little vehicle to have around. It really was a BLAST getting on it today and sporting around to see how it worked. If you ever really could develop good Transition Towns and some locally generated electricity, this technology is very simple and basic, and could last quite some time. I don’t hold out too much hope for that though.