Thursday, February 14, 2013

A bit more about the Genuine Scooter Company's Buddy50

Last time I talked a bit about the Buddy50 we purchased, and I thought I'd provide some more information about this wonderful vehicle [and some of its larger displacement siblings]. First of all here is some background on the company and its offerings, via Wikipedia: The Genuine Scooter Company.

Here is a nice video of a modified Buddy50 [my wife wants to modify hers to look like this, and I do too!]:


The safety advantage at night is amazing !!! Again I can't say enough about this amazing vehicle. Think how nice 100 - 115 mpg is going to be this summer when gas prices climb toward $5.00 a gallon !!! If you want one, please go test ride one at Lynnwood Cyclebarn, aka Triumph of Seattle.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Sunny Day in Puget Sound, gas prices climbing, and We have a Buddy50 scooter !!!

Well, it's been a while since my last post. A lot has transpired, such as Solyndra failing despite massive a massive Federal infusion of cash. Examples like this have my anti-alternative energy friends salivating and saying "I told you so" !!! On the positive side Tesla released the Model S to production, and most of the reviews have been positive. I was also given a new Microsoft Surface RT tablet for Christmas, by my wonderful wife [Thank You Honey !!!], and now I'm re-energized to put my alternative transportation business plan into full swing. My wonderful wife also gave me a GoPro Hero2 Outdoor Edition action video camera for my Birthday last fall, so I've been out testing that for the second time today. I mounted it on the top of my older HJC motorcycle helmet, and while the mounting bracket comes with a very strong peel and stick 3M brand adhesive pad, I'm just a bit leery of the long term adhesion of the adhesive pad alone. So, I went to McLendon Hardware in Woodinville and got some of the tiniest screws I could find, and drilled 4 tiny holes threw the slanted corners on the rectangular, curved plastic mounting bracket, and screwed it into the helmet shell. As the holes are so tiny and don't go more than an 1/8" into the shell, I'm almost 100% certain this engineering project will not compromise the integrity of the helmet's ability to protect my melon in a crash [not that I'm going to crash].

So, now onto the scooter. Genuine Scooter Company Buddy50 [that's right, 50cc!]. Technically, this is my wife's scooter, as the grand plan was for her to ride it to and from work during the spring and summer months. After all it gets over 100 mpg [verified by me in actual use]. The dealer recommends 92 or higher octane gas [premium], but even when gas goes over $4 a gallon again this summer, it will still cost just $0.04x per mile !!! Lynnwood Cycle Barn sold us our Buddy50 for just $1,499.99, which was $500 off MSRP. So this little beauty goes 42 mph, and cost us less than many of the fancy bicycles you see on the Burke Gilman trail. It has loads of under seat storage, and we bought a very affordable rear rack so we can bungee cord on even more groceries if need be.

Here are some pictures of our little wonder below:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Zero S Test Ride at MC Electric Vehicles on S Dearborn Street in Seattle Washington on Friday April 22nd, 2011

I wanted to get these pictures up following my test ride last Friday. I'm still digesting all that this vehicle means to me, and my impressions of riding it, and its build quality etc. I will post those thoughts very soon.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Can an Electric Motorcycle be justified? Interesting information learned from both Brammo & Zero

Over the last couple of weeks I've spoken with Laura at Brammo, located in Ashland Oregon, and Jeff of Zero, of Scotts Valley California about some of the finer points of the battery arrays running their respective electric motorcycle lines Brammo and Zero.

Brammo lists information about their battery array as being serviceable for the rather nebulous "thousands of charging cycles". They also list a 2 year battery warranty period in their Owner's Manual Brammo Enertia Owner's Manual. I asked Laura if the battery arrays we manufactured in the United States, and she told me yes, that they are supplied by a company in Austin Texas named Valence. She said that Valence would directly service the warranty. I asked her the replacement price for the entire array and she told me $4,000 ! So replacing the battery array would cost me $1 more that buying a complete new Honda CBR250R gasoline powered motorcycle, on day 731 after purchase of my new Brammo Enertia. I asked her if the price of the battery array would be roughly the same for the Enertia Plus and the Empulse, Brammo's two new models, and she said she didn't know yet, as at this point those models would not be released for sale until, at best, the end of 2011. To put this in perspective, I could buy 2 brand new 2011 Honda CBR250R motorcycles for just $3 more than 1 new Brammo Enertia motorcycles ! I could keep the second Honda for parts ! Of course I only would have sales tax on about one half of the retail price of the Enertia, and there is also a 10% Federal tax credit valid until the end of the 2011, but seriously, come on. Now on the Brammo forum, this topic is discussed, and many point out that after roughly 2000 charging cycles the battery still has about 80% charging capacity, so you could then expect only about 40-ish miles [instead of the max 50 miles on a new battery array], and that it might live another 500 cycles. If I had to buy a complete replacement engine for the Honda CBR250R, it might cost me around $1,000. Another consideration, is that Brammo currently does not have a nationwide dealer network. They are currently being sold through a couple of handfuls of Best Buy stores, mostly on the West and East Coasts. So, right now I would have to somehow ship, or trailer my Brammo Enertia down to Ashland Oregon and have them replace the battery array, and an additional labor cost on top of the $4,000. Clearly it is expensive to be an early adopter. The Honda CBR250R also gets 71 miles per gallon, as recently tested by Popular Mechanics magazine ! And they even offer a combined ABS version for just $500 more.

Let's move on to Zero Motorcycles now. When I spoke with Jeff, he told me they also have a two year battery warranty. They currently sell 5 different models, 2 street, 1 dual-sport, and 2 dirt models. Interestingly, three of their models, the XU [street], the X and the MX [dirt]. The pricing is as follows:

DS   $10,495 [dual sport]
XU    $  7,995 [street - with swappable battery]
S      $  9,995 [street]
X      $  7,995 [dirt - with swappable battery]
MX   $  9,495 [dirt - with swappable battery]

I asked Jeff about day 731, concerning the battery warranty, and he said they would work with the owner, if something happened to the battery beyond the 2 years, if whatever died was a defect in parts [but just how long beyond the 2 year border they would "work with" me is undefined. The most interesting factor with Zero is that 3 of their models have swappable battery packs, however these are not cheap ! They cost $2,995.99, and include a battery charger. They weigh 47 pounds, so you could put one in a tail bag. With only about 50 miles of range you may want to get a second battery pack. All of their motorcycles also offer a quick charge option for an additional $595.00. I didn't ask Jeff, but because they are larger, one must assume that the battery arrays for both the S and DS models would be around $4,000 to replace as well. So that brings one back to the delemna: do I become an early adopter and have an operating cost of about $0.01 per mile in the case of an electric motorcycle? Or, do I pay around $0.07 a mile [at $4.90 a gallon - hopefully gas won't get that high this year!], and have "unlimited range" as long as I can get to a gas station? Clearly the fun factor and one's Green beliefs would have to be strong to currently justify spending the kind of dollars it would take to be an early electric motorcycle owner/rider. I intend to drive south in May or June and take a bunch of demo rides on these electric motorcycles and find out !

Here are some videos to look at of some of the motorcycles mentioned in this blog post:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why? Why are electric vehicles so expensive? Will the Ford Focus EV be more affordable?

We stand at a crossroads. Many of us are intrigued by the thought of owning an electric car, or maybe an electric motorcycle. But, besides the relatively limited range of these vehicles, another troubling factor which may prevent these vehicles from being adopted into the mainstream is the price versus their current fossil fuel burning, competition. Then there is the performance hit. Sure, sure, they accelerate quickly, but they are woefully lacking in top end performance. So, let's review. These vehicles are often as expensive, if not more expensive than their gasoline burning counterparts. Their performance is limited by the immaturity of their technology. And right now they do not seem to be available at any of the dealers close to me, here in the Puget Sound. For example if I wanted to buy a Brammo Enertia Plus for $8,995, I would have to drive about 475 miles, and then, unless I want to spend the better part of a week riding it home, I either have to have it shipped for several hundred dollars, or I have to bring it home on a trailer. For half the money I can get a new Honda CBR250R for $4,299 with ABS, so less than half the price of a Brammo Enertia Plus. And I can milk at least 60 MPG out of the fuel tank. However, if I want to help usher in the age of electric vehicles, and emit zero emissions, I really should buy the Brammo, or a Zero Electric motorcycle !

Let's hope that Ford gets it right and prices the Ford Focus EV under $30,000. Well under $30,000. I believe that Ford has the financial wherewithal to not try to recoup their R&D and tooling startup costs on the wallets of their prospective customers. Not withstanding their very green profile [although maybe not so green when you check the manufacturing flowcharts],electric vehicles, given their current limited performance and range, should be priced much, much, lower. That is only a given if these companies want to have their vehicles purchased in significant numbers which would help these companies succeed robustly, and avoid becoming just another short-lived footnote in the history of human transportation. It's ashamed that many of these companies were not, apparently, financed to a stronger position, so as not to have to rely on the pricing of their products to try and recoup their initial investments. They also need to start fleshing out their dealer network. I have many motorcycle dealers lined up here in the Puget Sound who are interested in becoming dealers, but the price-point needs to be affordable, their margin needs to allow them to make some money, they need to be able to get their technicians trained, and parts need to be plentiful. The warranty service structure needs to also be robust. If they can achieve all of these milestones, then they just may succeed !

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Time for Electric vehicles is NOW, more then ever, travels to Paris, etc.

Paris is already set up for Electric cars, with some charging stations in place

As we've all seen lately, the price of gasoline is soaring once again, just as it did in 2008.  And with the conflicts in the Middle East escalating, and with the uncertainty of our relationship with these countries after the opposition parties take over, the time is pressing, more now than ever for us to all obtain at least one electric vehicles or at least one high-mileage hybrid, if one can.

Here we are at the end of February 2011, and the United States still does not have a clear energy policy for the future in place. We have a bunch of companies making Lithium Ion/Polymer batteries for the emerging electric vehicles launches from several mainstream automobile manufacturers - Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, the Tesla Roadster, and some more coming on line this year and next. However the first wave of electric vehicles are hardely what you would call affordable $32,000 - $41,000, or even higher in the case of the Tesla Roadster $108,000+. Sure the manufacturers and dealers all point to the $7,500 Frederal Tax credit, but they fail to point out that this credit applies to the total vehicle price. Some states do not charge sales tax for electric vehicles, but some do. And of course we had to battle this past year to get congress to extend the tax credit through 2011.

Of course another way to go would be to buy a Brammo, or Zero, electric motorcycle, which are much more affordable, say $8,000 - $10,000. Most now have a range of 50 - 100 miles, and for work commutes, and light shopping trips this would be ideal, except there really are no delearships, and these companies don't really advertise on TV or Radio, or much outside focused segment magazines: Cycleworld, Motorcyclist, etc. And then there is the stigma that very few people ride motorcycles in the USA, as most people are told at a young age that they should never ride a motorcycle as they are too dangerous.

So, one hopes that the crush of early-adopters is large enough to bring the price of electric cars into the mid-$20,000 range, and that congress keeps the Federal Tax credit in place for at least 5 years, so we can insentivize the purchase of gen-1 and maybe even gen-2 electic cars. Otherwise this segment will become marginalized and never take off the way one would hope. If it isn't affordable, especially now, people simply will not buy them.

Paris was a real eye opener. Most cars one saw on the streets of Paris were in the sub-compact segment: Smart, Mini Cooper, Renaults, Citroens, etc. Even in the 20 degree Christmas-time weather [maybe zero with wind chill] many hardy younger Parisians were riding their Yamaha 250 - 500cc TMax scooters or their various 500cc+ motorcycles. The reason for this? How about, if right now, in the USA, you were paying $7.13 for a gallon of gasoline. That's what people pay in Paris, as of December 2010. Not sure of the octane rating, but let's assume that is for "regular". Add another $0.20 - $0.30 a gallon for Premium, which my Audi requires, and I would be paying for my 14 gallon tank $102.62 for a fill-up. Assume that I would need 3 tanks per month and I would be paying about $310 per month to commute to work and back, or $3,720 per year. No wonder they ride bicycles, or scooters or motocycles everywhere. And thank God for the Metro [Subway], as you could go just about anywhere in Paris, one way for about $1.35 [if you bought a booklet of 10 at a time, more if purchased individually], but of course we never built subway in most large US cities [THANKS for NOT thinking ahead Seattle], and even shot down obvious choices like extending the Monorail, until recently, with the beginning of light-rail to the airport. However, by the time it extends out far enough to the suburbs to become available or worthwhile to use, I will either have moved away or be deceased! We never had to think about this before, but now we sure do.

I urge you to do whatever it takes to get a strong new National Energy Bill approved, get these new industries expanded, providing new Green Economy jobs to hundreds of thousands, and help to ensure our energy future. Gasoline prices and energy prices effect everything we buy and everything we want to do, as it all gets caculated into the price of food, the price of travel, etc.  Contact your State and Federal Congressmen and Congresswomen often. Push them to build and fund this sector, and make plans to do it rapidly. Our very existence as a leading country and economy depend on it. We need to leave a world that will be viable, and more than just viable, will be able to thrive because of the actions we decide to take in the next 5 - 10 years !

Another great idea that is startinig to emerge here in the United States, is already thriving in Paris. This is the "rent-a-bicycle" concept. Is this system, you sign up, then swipe your RFID micro-chip embedded membership card at the station you want to take a bicycle from and off you go. Here's the one we saw in Paris: Velib'. If you use Google Chrome browser, it will offer to translate the website into English for you ! A USA-based company trying to spread the rent-a-cycle concept is BCycle. Just like renting an Apartment, you don't have to worry about the maintenance of the bicycle - just rent and go, then put it into the rack when you reach your destination !


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bio-Diesel from Algae ! What a great idea !

Don't you wish there was more reporting about emerging fuel technologies, or that you could go to one source and find out about them all? Oh, you can, just keep visiting my site and tell all your friends about it too. Don't forget to click the "follow" button, and please follow publicly, so my list of followers increases visibily. Thank You for your support !

In the video below, you get a couple of company names to watch and/or investigate if you'd like to invest in Green companies. And if more people could see that government investment is helping to launch these types of companies, then more people would have a positive feeling about the "Recovery Act" and where all of our tax dollars are going.

Clean, relatively low-impact, tide generated Turbine power comes on line !

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Here's a nice Carbon calculator courtesy of Brammo - You know the Electric Motorcycle guys down in Oregon

Based upon a 43 mile round trip commute, I would save $1,807 per year riding a Brammo Enertia to and from work, instead of driving my Audi A3 !

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

This is one of the best ideas for an electric Bicycle I've seen ! Make it VW !!!

And if it can having charging connections to the car while it's on board, and charge from the alternator, while you're driving the car, that would be great engineering:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

And now we have some local delivery sized trucks coming on-line

Here's a company in Boulder making delivery-sized vehicles, which could be used as 15-passenger shuttles, or nice fleet trucks for FedEx, UPS, etc.

And even Taxis can now get into the EV pool with the VW Electric Milano Taxi

This is only a concept car at the mot, but if produced, it will have a 180 mile range in between charges:

Here is a company who is ready, willing, and able to provide large scale EV Solar charging stations

Let's talk a look at Merit Builders, Inc. of Rocky Ridge Maryland: