Electric cars are clearly all the rage: a new U.K. start-up company is getting its Bee.One electric vehicle ready, scheduled to hit the roads sometime around 2011. But unlike many other EV cars out there, the One is going to be as cheap as chips.
It's slated to cost around $17,000—and that's for a five-door, four-seater family vehicle. The car has a twin-motor system that ditches the need for a differential, making it lighter and thus more efficient in battery-mileage. For the same reason, it won't have a "normal" car audio set up, but instead come with a basic speaker system and an iPod dock. Like most other electric cars it has a set of floor-mounted batteries, with enough juice to give the vehicle a range of 200 miles. At its top 80 mph speed, that drops to just 100 miles, but that's a distance that will suit many commuters.
Unlike most other electric cars we've heard about, it's got a sophisticated computer management system that keeps track of all the car's electronic and mechanical innards. This system is permanently connected over the 3G cellular network, and it allows for some pretty interesting "real-time" activities. For example, if there's a firmware upgrade available for its system management hardware, your car can simply download it overnight and reboot. Performance and car usage data could be uploaded from the car to monitor its efficiency, and then a remote diagnostic system could give you advance warning of any problems that may arise. This sounds like a smart way to remove any worries that potential purchasers may have about maintaining the new technology...although it does raise the slightly unnerving specter of your car's ability to catch a virus.
The makers plan to have 12,000 Bee.Ones roll off the production line every year, which isn't terribly many. But at least its due not long after Detroit Electric's vehicles, and before the Tesla S, and it's much much cheaper than both of them.
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