Is 1.21 Gigawatts enough to drive DeLorean back to the Market?


It’s not Back to the Future: part 4, but it does involve the featured car from the film series.  The DeLorean Motor Company, or rather what remains of it, has been gearing up to re-release the DMC-12 Delorean as an electric vehicle.

Although the prototype is fitted with a DC-motor and is capable of 70 -100 miles range, the owner/ CEO Steve Wynne says that they next model will have an AC-motor and achieve at least 100 miles range.  DMC expects to bring the iconic car back to the market in 2013 for $90,000

Imaginary Electric Motorhome

The idea of building or operating a purely electric-powered recreational vehicle has it’s merits.  However, the road to realization of this idea had many opponents.

While an RV company in Riverside, California may have gone and actually built an all-electric powered motor-home, the industry does not seem ready for such atrocities, let alone the consumer. Energy is stored in almost all motor vehicles in the form of liquid hydro-carbons, which when burned produce a controllable format to make mechanical power.  This mechanical power can be used to turn a wheel either for the sake of propelling a vehicle or running a generator to change the format of the energy into electricity.

There are a few aspects to take note of with liquid hydro-carbons (petroleum) and electricity.  First, petroleum (gasoline) must be extracted and processed then shipped and stored at convenient locations.  It’s not just laying around awaiting for someone to collect or use it.  Electricity is not necessarily laying about waiting to be collected either, but can very simply be converted from the photons emitted by the sun.  Secondly, petroleum has a very high energy-to-weight ratio, aka Energy Density, when compared to current technologies for storing electrical energy (such as Lithium Ion batteries).   Although petroleum is not as clean to process into mechanical energy as electricity is, it’s benefits have, for a long time, appeared to out-weighed it’s detriments.
It has been well noted in the last two years the success of the Tesla Motor company in bringing a purely electric vehicle to the market.  The Tesla Roadster is a fairly light-weight sports car, the performance of which is comparable to almost any other vehicle of it’s size and class. It is important to note that the weight of the energy storage package (battery) of the Roadster is roughly one-third of the curb weight of the vehicle.  For comparison, the chart below… (the Roadster is the same chassis and body as a Lotus Elise S2).
  • Tesla Roadster
    • Weight: 2723lbs
    • Battery: 996lbs
  • Lotus Elise
    • Weight: 1896lbs
    • Tank + Fuel: 150lbs
An A Class motor-home can vary in weigh by quite a bit, ranging from 10,000lbs to 60,000lbs, but to simplify we will use 25,000lbs.  The example above shows that the standard Elise is about two-thirds of the weight of the Roadster.  Below another example of the comparison to RVs…
  • Tesla Roadster RV
    • Weight: 35905lbs
    • Battery: 13,133lbs
  • Lotus Elise RV:
    • Weight: 25,000lbs
    • Tank + Fuel: 1000lbs


15 Agonizing Automotive Atrocities

15 Agonizing Automotive Atrocities:






There, we got it out of the way. When you read the headline, of course an image of a tiny Cold War-era hatchback popped into your head. We bet you also shuddered at the thought of a Pontiac Aztek.

We love to poke fun at failure, and no failure made a punchline better than the Yugo. We found that out while talking with Jason Vuic, author of The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History. Vuic was aware that the Yugo fell far short of being a good car, but what truly amazed him was how many people who had never driven a Yugo knew just how bad it was. In failure, it became a wild viral marketing success.

Not all cars rose to level of infamy embodied by the Yugo. To paraphrase Shakespeare, some cars were born awful while others had awfulness thrust upon them. Some automotive atrocities were the result of automakers trying something new and falling far short of the mark, while other cars failed from a lack of effort. Still others were perfectly adequate cars but came to represent a regrettable moment in time.

Here we display all three kinds of auto-trocities, highlighting famous failures and digging deep to dredge up detritus better off forgotten. Yes, we know there are many, many more automotive atrocities and this list only scratches the surface of the heap. You’ll have a chance to list your favorite heaps tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Above: Peel Trident 1965-1966

Famous from appearances on Top Gear and Monster Garage, the Peel Trident was a “shopping car” built on the Isle of Man. Along with the bubblelicious BMW Isetta and the fiberglass Reliant Robin, the Trident was ridiculed for its small size and three wheels.

Photo: Casaflamingo/Flickr

The Disadvantage of Electric Cars

This is written in response to a post made on Blog of

These are all valid statements for EVs, but allow me to elaborate on why they don’t matter so much.

(1) Driving Range < 150 Miles.
Americans have “Range Anxiety” in that they think they have to be able to go 400+ miles without needing to refuel the vehicle.  No Electric Vehicle (EV) needs to be able to go more than 50 miles in a day to cover what 95% of American’s drive daily.  In the case of long distances however, hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt, that marry an Gasoline Engine to an Electric Generator, will allow the vehicle to go beyond even 600 miles.  The great inefficiency of petroleum engines is running at inconsistent speeds (That’s why you get such great gas mileage when travelling long distances).

(2) Driving Electric is expensive.
Driving with Gasoline was expensive when it first came out (back in 1900).  In fact EVs have been around longer than ICEVs (Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles).  Any “new” technology is not cheap on arrival.  If EVs were as common as ICEVs today, they would likely already be what everyone was driving and there wouldn’t be this debate in the first place.

(3) You must create emissions to build ZERO emissions vehicles.
The current cost of building ICEVs is relatively low because they have been in production for decades.  Yes, it takes energy to make Electricity, but unlike Petroleum, it can be made from many more sources (Wind, Waves, Sun, Geo-thermal, Hydro-Dams, Piezoelectric).  Also, no one mentions how much electricity it takes to pump up oil, process it, and then ship it to gas stations.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes 5 times as much electricity to make oil ready for ICEVs , as it would to have just given it to the EVs in the first place.

(4) Inadequate electrical charging infrastructure.
Fortunately EVs can be charged from literally any electrical socket in any home or business, anywhere.  Granted it takes longer than it does to fuel an ICEV on a home circuit (about 16-20 times longer).  But consider the difference between the purposes.  In refueling an ICEV, you are “charging” it for up to 400 miles.  In refueling an EV, you are charging it for maybe 50 miles.  Usually people who use ICEVs are depleting the fuel to empty.  Based on usage, you will likely never deplete an EV to empty. You can refuel it nearly everywhere you go in roughly the same amount of time it would take to refuel an ICEV.

(5) Possible Service gaps for necessary repairs
There is a gross distinction between ICEV and EVs in their complexity.  The average ICEV has 35,000 parts, where as the average EV has 3,500 parts.  That’s a difference by a factor of 10 (EVs are 10 times less complex).  Basically the most maintenance to be done on EVs is to clean the motor brushes every 80,000-100,000 miles and replace the brake pads and tires.  Also batteries may need to be replaced, but with programs like Project Better Place, you may not even own the batteries (having leased them).  This will save on the need to replace them.  As for the rest of the parts, there aren’t many that have mechanical wear and tear, as there is no need for a transmission.  EVs will still have Air Conditioners, Power Steering, Power Brakes, and the like that are all common features in ICEVs.

The Winner of the WTF? Photo Caption Contest Is…

The Winner of the WTF? Photo Caption Contest Is…: ”


Another totally arbitrary deadline has passed and we’re announcing the winner of the Autopia WTF? Detroit Auto Show EV Caption Contest.

Auto shows are always great for WTF? moments, and Toyota provided one of the biggest at the North American International Auto Show with the FT-EV II. The exterior is a car show-tweaked riff on the Toyota iQ microcar we love. It’s the interior that leaves you wondering what Toyota’s designers are smoking. They tossed the steering wheel, the pedals — which might not be a bad idea, given Toyota’s luck with pedals lately — and even the dashboard to maximize interior room. In their place is a pair of joysticks and a pair of gauges that look like gyroscopes.

None of that mattered to stlenee, who riffed on the car’s size in this politically incorrect caption that our readers overwhelmingly voted for:

Maximum capacity: U.S.A: 1 Japan: 2 Mexico: 7

One-hundred and seventy eight people voted for that caption. Fultbolgi123 took second with a variation on that theme: “America, where the cars are getting smaller and the people are getting bigger.” It wasn’t until the third-place caption that anyone poked fun at the car’s interior. Anonymous garnered 127 votes for “If you’ll just put your feet into the stirrups…”

This is the first contest in, well, we don’t remember how long where the winner actually followed the rules and provided an email address. So stlenee, we’ll be dropping you a line soon to find out where to send your prize.

Hat-tip to AJ for reminding us that we hadn’t named a winner.

Photo: Chuck Squatriglia /