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Journeys : Oct Nov 2010
Life on the move At the turn of last century, 40% of US automobiles were powered by steam, 38% were electric, and 22% ran on petrol, though electricity went on to be popular with trams, where a constant supply was possible. The technology of electric vehicles is not new, but making it cheap enough to compete with the internal combustion engine remains a challenge. Hybrid and electric cars are now re-emerging in the automotive market as battery technology becomes more advanced. Hybrid automobiles that combine electric and petrol power are seen as a balance between environmental responsibility and improved fuel economy, without being hindered by the low range of an electric vehicle, although at compatible petrol cars. Mitsubishi recently launched an electric car in Australia with the release of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. It has a top speed of 130km/h and a range of 140-160 kilometres on a single charge, which can be done on a 15-amp single-phase outlet in the home garage. A complete charge takes about seven hours and cost around $4. The car is currently only being offered to companies and corporations on a lease basis, but is eventually expected to sell for $60-70,000 – a fair whack for a car competing in the small car market. But you only have to look at the early model laptops and plasma TVs to appreciate that cost is dictated by technology. And considering you’ll never have to go to the petrol station again to top up, perhaps it’s not such a bad price after all. Charging cars en-masse would add considerably to the demand on the electricity grid, particularly in cold climates when consumption is already high, so significant upgrades may be necessary. And then, of course, there are always those dreaded power cuts ... an increased price over Hi Margie - bye Kelly! I Maximising Lifestyle, Minimising Stress • State of the Art Independent Units • 24 hour Emergency Response • Beautiful Gardens & Community Centre • Close to Shops, Restaurants and Beach • 2 & 3 Bedroom Units Available • On Site Care Taker Call John Crane to inspect. Free call 1800 246 418 www.rochesbeachliving.com.au October / November 2010 33
Aug Sep 2010