Electric Cars: Fighting climate change at your fingertips

Electric Cars: Fighting Climate Change at Your Fingertips
by Susan Fourtané

Thomas Edison and the dream of an electric car, 1913 (courtesy of the National Museum of American History)

Thomas Edison and the dream of an electric car, 1913 (courtesy of the National Museum of American History)

THE 20th CENTURY marked transport revolution and technological changes. In 1900, the roads saw 9,000 cars which soon became 95 million just 60 years later. The gas-driven internal combustion engines made cars faster, lighter and more powerful than their steam engine ancestors. Air and sea travel accompanied the car fever and the improvement of public transport was dramatically shaping the course of the 20th century.

Freedom of convenient travel did not come alone. Concern about the role of the car and air pollution first arose in southern California in the late 1940s and early 1950s. However, it was not until after the first Earth Day on April 22 1970 that laws and regulations concerning environmental action grew increasingly more important to the American people. It was time for a change. Nevertheless, consciousness about the damage caused to the environment, the dramatic consequences of climate change and an urge to a global call did not come until more recent years.

Electric cars: the ultimate weapon

Although the history of the electric car began in the mid-19th century, the high cost and low speed compared to internal combustion vehicles led to a worldwide decline in their practical use. Recently, the new advancements in technology went back to the roots of the electric car, giving birth to a new hope. Being quiet, clean, energy-efficient and having better endurance, the electric car represents the ultimate weapon serving in protecting the environment at the same time as being an efficient, sustainable vehicle for the concerned global population.

The Finnish open source project

Electric Cars – Now! is an open source Electric Vehicle (EV) community based in Finland, working to promote the mass conversion of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars to electric drive making electric cars affordable to everybody. The first model being converted is a Toyota Corolla.

eCorolla by Electric Cars Now!

eCorolla by Electric Cars Now!

The project bases its success in gaining a critical mass of 500 consumers willing to buy an electric car. This number of orders brings the price of a typical family car to the same price of an ICE car. More than 700 people in Finland, from a total population of 5 million, have indicated they are potential candidates to purchase an electric Corolla. Norway’s Enviro Elbilsag, a company selling electric cars, has also ordered 300 vehicles. Mass production brings the price of the electric car to a very reasonable level. The target price for an electric Corolla (e-Corolla) converted from a three-year-old ICE vehicle is 25,000€, the sales price of a new Corolla in Finland. Increasing the range to 300km raises the price to 32,500€.

Electric Cars – Now! updates new and slightly used ICE cars into Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV). The pollutant gasoline engine is being dismantled, as well as all parts connected to the engine, such as exhaust, tank, etc. Then the car is fitted with pinnacle electric technology of the present day. The assembly consists of a high quality permanent magnet motor, state-of-the art lithium batteries and a computer with an Internet connection controlling the system. In its standard configuration, the converted Corolla will have a range of 150km and a top speed of around 130km/h. In the extended configuration the range will be of 300km.

Electric cars, produced as described, save significant amounts of energy and resources compared to manufacturing of new cars. Factory-made update kits enable the installation within a few hours. Besides producing the design for the e-Corolla, the community designs an easy-to-use web interface that will be used by car buyers to purchase a corolla, the required EV components and to select a garage that will do the conversion work. In this way, it will create a marketplace for EV conversion activity by combining the power of a large number of consumers and distributed manufacturing with the outsourcing of the list of buyers and the interface platform.

Electric – Cars Now! is currently inviting bids for a variety of components. Brusa motors and Li-Ion batteries supplied by FEVT (Finnish Electric Vehicle Technologies) are strong candidates. In the standard configuration, the motor and batteries will weigh about the same as an ICE engine and occupy a similar amount of space. To reduce the time required for conversion, most of the EV components will be an integrated module that attaches to the existing fixing points, so the inertia of the electric set will be approximately the same as the engine it replaces.

The program also creates significant possibilities for a whole new market. Countless start-up enterprises will have the chance to become experts in technology of the new generation by converting conventional cars into electric cars. In ten years’ time the traffic will look, sound and feel completely different from what we know today, offering us a quieter and cleaner way of life, all in all, resulting in a happier and healthier planet for all.

Becoming part of the solution, one car at a time

Car emissions are a global threatening concern. There are numerous technological advances beginning to clear up these toxic gases emitted by internal combustion cars. However, there is an urgent need of cooperation by everyone around the globe if we are serious in our determination of protecting the environment. Planet Earth is suffering from human abuse. Day after day a serious threat in the form of climate change affects different ecosystems and their inhabitants. The electric car is an effective solution to reduce the greenhouse gases.

Sharing knowledge builds global strength

Electric Cars – Now! encourages others to start a sister project, helping to build a strong global community working together to fight climate change making e-Corolla the car for the future generations. The root project in Finland is happy to help anyone interested.

One electric car doesn’t fix the problem of climate change. But by driving an electric car you become a part of the solution instead of being a part of the problem.

Electric Cars – Now!: eCarsNow@gmail.com

http://www.sahkoautot.fi/eng

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About Susan Fourtané

As a citizen of the world, Susan began her search for her place in the world back at the beginning of the year 2000. After many travels looking for her place in the world, her soul found that place in Finland in September 2006. She has been living in Helsinki ever since, where she combines fiction and non-fiction writing with Philosophy studies and teaching.
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