Ton-up electric Reliant Robin offered for '09

Del Boy would be selling it, not driving it


Californian electrocar firm ZAP has brought down a veritable ink storm in the British press lately regarding its planned new 156mph Alias electric sports "car". The Blighty-side hackswarm could be accounted for by the facts that the car is a) a three-wheeler, allowing (nay, necessitating) Trotters Independent Traders references, and b) has involvement from Lotus.

The news in this case is that ZAP reckon they can get the car from drawing board to road by 2009, which has given rise to incredulity from serious motor-tech analysts.

The ZAP Alias

Only fools would prefer it to horses.

It seems implausible that a small firm like ZAP can get the batteries, motors and so on it will need for Alias when established motor titans are shouldering into the electric propulsion market armed with long-term deals, established customer bases and big bucks. Furthermore, the difficulties of integrating the bits once sourced to form a working car are currently being demonstrated by the Tesla Roadster, a project with many similarities to the proposed Alias - even down to Lotus involvement.

But ZAP reckon they have a trick up their sleeve. The Alias is to be "homologated"* - certified roadworthy - as if it were a motorcycle. (This is the main reason for using three wheels.) Motorbikes don't require expensive, long drawn-out crash tests and so forth, making an ambitious timetable easier to achieve.

The downside, of course, is that motorcycles are hugely more dangerous than cars, which isn't exactly a selling point. Were the Alias to be marketed in Britain, there would be an excellent chance of Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson mounting a campaign against it, as he lately did against the much slower "G-Wiz". Indeed, the G-Wiz kerfuffle may lead to a prohibition on certifying such vehicles under motorcycle rules in Europe, if the UK transport authorities get their way.

Then the Alias will face the same sort of issues that every battery car does - it will take hours sitting still to charge up after travelling "100+" miles, so you'll need something else for that trip to see the relatives. The batteries may very well need replacing quite soon, at a sizeable percentage of the original car's cost. The Alias' wheel-mounted electric motors are to be "water cooled", too, an idea you'd rather not see developed in a hurry.

And after all that, there remains a further underlying issue common to all electric vehicles. ZAP actually stands for "Zero Air Pollution", but at the moment in the States electric cars are in effect very dirty and inefficient coal-powered ones. Only in nations like France or Switzerland, where electricity is largely hydro- and nuclear-generated, does a ZAP car do what it says on the tin.

Google seem to think they can invent renewables which can power a mainly electric wheeled world using a fraction of a percentage point of their ad revenue. Nobody else - not even Greenpeace - believes in this concept. (Greenpeace prefer a more hair-shirty plan in which most people don't have cars and 'leccy costs a damn sight more than it does now.)

So the ZAP Alias is for uncritical Google zealots and/or proponents of nuclear power; ones who also like cars which take hours to top up and which even Jeremy Clarkson and his crash-happy team see as unacceptably dangerous.

This design may not merely be difficult to build on time - it may also be difficult to sell.®

*Feel sick now


Other stories you might like

  • Microsoft's do-it-all IDE Visual Studio 2022 came out late last year. How good is it really?

    Top request from devs? A Linux version

    Review Visual Studio goes back a long way. Microsoft always had its own programming languages and tools, beginning with Microsoft Basic in 1975 and Microsoft C 1.0 in 1983.

    The Visual Studio idea came from two main sources. In the early days, Windows applications were coded and compiled using MS-DOS, and there was a MS-DOS IDE called Programmer's Workbench (PWB, first released 1989). The company also came up Visual Basic (VB, first released 1991), which unlike Microsoft C++ had a Windows IDE. Perhaps inspired by VB, Microsoft delivered Visual C++ 1.0 in 1993, replacing the little-used PWB. Visual Studio itself was introduced in 1997, though it was more of a bundle of different Windows development tools initially. The first Visual Studio to integrate C++ and Visual Basic (in .NET guise) development into the same IDE was Visual Studio .NET in 2002, 20 years ago, and this perhaps is the true ancestor of today's IDE.

    A big change in VS 2022, released November, is that it is the first version where the IDE itself runs as a 64-bit process. The advantage is that it has access to more than 4GB memory in the devenv process, this being the shell of the IDE, though of course it is still possible to compile 32-bit applications. The main benefit is for large solutions comprising hundreds of projects. Although a substantial change, it is transparent to developers and from what we can tell, has been a beneficial change.

    Continue reading
  • James Webb Space Telescope has arrived at its new home – an orbit almost a million miles from Earth

    Funnily enough, that's where we want to be right now, too

    The James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most complex space observatory built by NASA, has reached its final destination: L2, the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point, an orbit located about a million miles away.

    Mission control sent instructions to fire the telescope's thrusters at 1400 EST (1900 UTC) on Monday. The small boost increased its speed by about 3.6 miles per hour to send it to L2, where it will orbit the Sun in line with Earth for the foreseeable future. It takes about 180 days to complete an L2 orbit, Amber Straughn, deputy project scientist for Webb Science Communications at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said during a live briefing.

    "Webb, welcome home!" blurted NASA's Administrator Bill Nelson. "Congratulations to the team for all of their hard work ensuring Webb's safe arrival at L2 today. We're one step closer to uncovering the mysteries of the universe. And I can't wait to see Webb's first new views of the universe this summer."

    Continue reading
  • LG promises to make home appliance software upgradeable to take on new tasks

    Kids: empty the dishwasher! We can’t, Dad, it’s updating its OS to handle baked on grime from winter curries

    As the right to repair movement gathers pace, Korea’s LG has decided to make sure that its whitegoods can be upgraded.

    The company today announced a scheme called “Evolving Appliances For You.”

    The plan is sketchy: LG has outlined a scenario in which a customer who moves to a locale with climate markedly different to their previous home could use LG’s ThingQ app to upgrade their clothes dryer with new software that makes the appliance better suited to prevailing conditions and to the kind of fabrics you’d wear in a hotter or colder climes. The drier could also get new hardware to handle its new location. An image distributed by LG shows off the ability to change the tune a dryer plays after it finishes a load.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022