Monday, February 18, 2008

An electric car is now cheepest car in the world!

When the TaTa was released in India recently the world shared mixed feelings. A modern day Model T ford, a mass produced peoples car. The TaTa represents progress and opportunity for many Indians and a dangerously unsustainable development for some in the developed world. 
Clearly both of these sentiments carry some truth. Private car ownership is a damaging ideal, 
adoption of western levels of personal transport at current efficiencies cannot possibly occur on this planet for the billions of poor. There will be debate over the details but planning, mass transit, and improvement of car efficiencies will all have a role in facing this challenge.

The TaTa facinated me because, although the worlds cheepest car, it is also one of the most efficient at around 70 miles per gallon. This sort of low energy usage means that to electrify the veichle and move towards a cleaner transport future is a lot easier than with high performance cars typical in the UK or US. Now a very similar car to the TaTa has been released,
the Tara Tiny, and it is electric, and it is cheeper. The thing the frustrates me is that
 these cars aren't available in Europe or the US. Why not?

To be clear, these cars do not perform well by conventional standards. In the UK, and i`m sure
around the world, the car industry sells power as the charachteristic to covert. We are bombarded with adverts of sporty cars sticking to the road around winding hills. At the same time, many people experiance the exact opposite--logjam. For many people in cities small monouverable cars that dont destroy air qaulity, that are fuel efficient, that are exempt from local congestion charges, these are the cars that people want. It's about options, we are being given numerous options all of which try to ballance one factor or another against performance. It's choice of a kind--like 30 types of Darwin's finches of the Galapagos islands--what i want to see is real choice. I want to see whole groups of cars that ballance family suitability, style, etc., against efficiency and low impact driving. I want to see a jungle of automotive diversity!

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1 Comments:

At 7:02 PM, Blogger Sarah McClure said...

Calvin,

I was at the Art Center Sustainability Summit (http://www.artcenter.edu/summit/) a couple weeks ago and there was a big presentation on the Tata Nano, by V. Sumantran, one of the designers. They didn't have one there but they gave out all the stats. True- It's tiny, has one windshield wiper and no A/C, but still, $2500 for a commuter car is pretty amazing. It puts things in perspective at least when 35K is the average price for a vehicle here. Hopefully some more exciting green discoveries will come out of more research and events. I know that if I could by my next car for that little, I'd do it in a HEARTBEAT. I'm really curious what's going to come out of the Art Center Global Dialogues event in Barcelona. Big event for climate change and green design. Good event to watch: http://www.artcenter.edu/dialogues/

 

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