Yes, you saw that $3 correctly. China’s Alpha Lujo is now using that as a ballpark figure for running a family car. Compare that to the murderously expensive, budget-brutalizing costs of running a petrol car, and there’s no comparison. The new electric cars have the economics of washing machines, not Treasury forward estimates. $3 a day might even mean people might for once have some disposable income.
Terrifying as the idea of motorists actually having some money in their pockets might seem, it’s the new economic reality, coming onstream to a car manufacturer near you. Even the auto industry, which has had its head in the sand for decades, is waking up to the cost ceilings created by modern on road costs. Motorists are literally being sent broke, and the real dollar cost of manufacturing the old gas-driven dinosaurs is steadily increasing.
It’s one thing to build a complex four wheel drive gas engine. It’s another thing to build an electric motor, which is so simple that it’s literally child’s play. The new electric cars are based on a power to weight ratio which is quite different to the old cars, which needed to drag around an incredibly heavy, complex engine with them.
The need is for a vehicle which is cost-effective at all stages of production, as well as when in use. Getting rid of the gas-guzzling engine block reduces weight and changes the design requirements of the car. Gas car frames have to carry the weight and distribute it. So does the suspension, and these factors obviously affect everything else about the car’s performance, notably steering and brakes, where the physics of being on the road effectively shake the car to bits.
Electric cars are roughly as complex as refrigerators in terms of design and use. They only need a motor, not a fuel system, and that drastically alters the design paradigms, very much for the better. It also alters the environment for drivers. Instead of bathing in a sort of cocktail of chemical fumes, you can actually breathe. The mental environment is somewhat improved, too, by the fact that you don’t need to do a degree in higher mathematics to be able to figure out your on road budget or how you’re going to pay for it while still being able to eat.
Electric cars are currently working on specifications which reflect real driving needs. Basic specs are 80kmh (60mph) and about 120km (80 miles) range on one charge. The fact is that in most on road urban environments you’d be lucky to hit 80kmh once a week in the cities, particularly in peak hour, and most people don’t drive 120km in one day. For the average family taxi/ pack mule car, those specifications are pretty right. The Alpha Lujo 5 seat sedan hits 120kmh with a roughly 120kmh range.
That $3 a day is likely to go a long way. The retail price for the Alpha Lujos is expected to be around $20,000, well below their gas driven equivalents. That price is likely to drop further, and an expected “features war” of added amenities is also very much in the pipeline. For the first time in history, motorists might win a trick. Sit back, and enjoy the ride.
Tim Millett is an Australian freelance writer and journalist. He writes extensively in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the US. He’s published more than 500 articles about various topics, including Car Insurance and Car Insurance Quotes.