Now on duty in Minneapolis: Electric cars

Posted on November 24th, 2008 – 6:33 PM
By Roadguy

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This morning, I stopped by a short-n-chilly news conference in Minneapolis, where the city was introducing two all-electric cars to its fleet (press release here, mayoral YouTube video here). Both vehicles are fully rechargeable. The one above is a ZENN car (zero emissions, zero noise), which was made in France and refitted with batteries in Canada, while the green one below was made in Princeton, Minn., by e-ride:

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The mayor invited me to get behind the wheel of the green one, but I decided to let him chauffeur me around the parking lot of the public works facility for a minute instead. This allowed me to take pictures of the rather simple dashboard (all photos are click-to-enlarge):

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No shifting, just forward and reverse. Also of note: no airbag. And while there’s heat, there’s no air conditioning, unless you count this:

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I wouldn’t want to spend all day in one, but that’s sort of the point — no one would ever have to. The vehicle’s range is 20 to 35 miles on a charge, ideal for the short hops around the city that staffers from the inspections department will make. Here’s a cost comparison from the city:

The estimated five-year cost for a ZENN and fuel is $19,000. For comparison, a Ford Taurus costs $33,515 and a Chevy Cobalt costs $25,290 for five years (assuming 10,000 miles per year at $3.50 per gallon for fuel). The vehicles have a range of 20 to 35 miles on a full charge. A full charge takes an estimated 7 kWh of electricity, which costs just $0.56.

The fuel estimate is high at the moment, but in five years, who knows. Click here for more on electric cars from Tuesday’s Variety section.

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