Electric Everything — Wide Variety Of Electric Vehicles On The Market Today

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From the smallest skateboard-like device to huge ferry boats in Denmark, and everything in between on land, water, and in the air, today is about going electric.

Onewheel rider in American Fork, UT. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

In the figure on the right, you see a Onewheel rider on the Murdock Canal trail in American Fork Utah. I was riding down the trail on my electric bike when I passed her. I did a quick U-turn so that I could get her picture. I rode as fast as my Class 1 e-bike would go, about 20 mph, and it took a long time to catch up to her. She was going about 18 mph. Here you see one of the smallest electric transportation devices on the market. However, the $1700 Onewheel has a top speed of almost 20 mph, and with its large wheel, can go as well on gravel as blacktop.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Ellen, the world’s largest all electric ferry.

Ellen electric ferry
Ellen, the world’s largest all-electric ferry, in Denmark on August 29, 2019. Image courtesy of European Commission

She has an enormous 4.3 MWh battery powering two 750 kW electric main propulsion motors and two 250 kW auxiliary motors for maneuvering. She is 139 m or 456 feet long. Ellen has a range of 22 nautical miles and runs between the ports of Søby and Fynshav, which are 10.7 nautical miles away from each other.

E-scooters charging. Photo courtesy of Duckt.
Electric rides for small people. Courtesy of Razor.
E-scooter & Razor mini motorcycle in American Fork, UT. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

So, what’s in between? Let’s start with the now ubiquitous electric scooters which have swarmed across cities around the world like the plague. There are roughly 40 million electric scooters sold annually in a ~$50 billion industry. It seems that you can find them almost anywhere, even just sitting on the sidewalk by themselves available for you to rent.

See also the Razor mini motorcycle (above).

Before there were e-scooters, there was the self-balancing Segway, first introduced in 2001.

With my Bulls full-suspension mountain e-bike in St. George, Utah. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

I rode my first e-bike in 2013. It was a Cannondale demo unit that wasn’t even sold in the US. I purchased my first e-bike in 2014. Since then, I’ve purchased four more e-bikes. E-bikes are now extremely popular, and on the bike trails of Utah, you are as likely to see an e-bike as a regular human-powered bike. They make riding up steep hills, into-the-wind commutes, and long journeys much less stressful. The global e-bike industry was valued at $24 billion in 2020. By 2023, it is expected that 40 million e-bikes will be sold annually.

Image courtesy of Vespa

Next up the size progression is the classic Vespa scooter, which was first electrified in 2018 with a range of 62 miles.

Zero SR/S high-performance electric motorcycle.

Next up would be electric motorcycles. Zero pioneered electric motorcycles in 2006 and proved that extremely attractive and high-performance vehicles could be delivered to customers. The global electric scooter and motorcycle market stood at 690,000 units in 2020. The high-performance electric motorcycle market will grow by 28,123 units during 2020–2024, according to Technavio.

Electric golf cart leads Electric Avenue Parade in Three Lakes, Wisconsin. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

Next up in size are electric golf carts, and they have been around forever. The first custom electric golf cart was made in 1932. Even today they use standard lead-acid batteries, so it was not rocket science to build one that early. They are used not only for golf courses, but also for retirement communities, RV parks, and anywhere a low-speed, short-range vehicle is useful.

Polaris Ranger EV ATV.

Next up in size is the newly delivered Polaris Ranger EV ATV, with a 30 hp, high-efficiency, ultra-quiet induction motor capable of speeds up to 25 mph and a range of 35 to 45 miles. Disappointedly, the Ranger EV uses eight standard lead-acid batteries and sells at a price of $12,500. With lead-acid batteries, it is not much more than a glorified golf cart, but for only $8,000 you can upgrade to a set of lithium-ion batteries.

At this point, we proceed to full-sized electric cars.

2012 Tesla slide, courtesy of Tesla.

When Tesla started delivering the Model S in June of 2012, the electric vehicle revolution began. Tesla proved that you could make a very attractive high-performance electric car that had sufficient range at a price buyers were willing to pay, and it soon developed a network of Superchargers that made long-distance travel practical in the US.

By 2020, a massive $246.7 billion EV market had developed. By 2021, Tesla was delivering EVs at a rate of a million a year, 100,000 vehicles were ordered by Hertz in October, Tesla’s market cap reached a trillion dollars, surpassed only by a few companies, like Apple and Google. Also, in Norway, over 90% of vehicle sales are now sales of plugin vehicles, 70% pure electrics. The rest of the world will soon follow.

Rivian is its electric pickup trucks now! Image courtesy of Rivian.

Next up on the EV size scale is the electric pickup. Startup Rivian has already delivered a handful of electric trucks to customers.

Amazon delivery van developed together with Rivian. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Then we’ve got delivery vans. Amazon has ordered 10,000 from Rivian and the first copies have been seen road testing in Los Angeles.

Before we go to the next size in road transport, though, let’s switch to the water. …

Flightboard hydrofoil electric surfboard. Photo by Flite Inc.

The Fliteboard is controlled by a handheld Bluetooth remote, and is powered by a marine-grade smart battery that can last for over 90 minutes.

Then there are electric boats, such as the Super Air Nautique from Correct Craft.

Super Air Nautique GS22e — the first electric water sport towboat. Photo courtesy of Correct Craft.

The Super Air Nautique GS22e is a 22 ft pure electric boat that sells for $299,708. This may sound like a very high price for a towboat, but several Correct Craft gas-powered watersport towboat models sell for that price or more. Unfortunately, the goal of a watersport boat is to make a large wake for wakeboarding and surfing. This takes a lot energy, which quickly drains the battery.

Candela has created the first electric Hydrofoil boat. Photo courtesy of Candela.

A hydrofoil speedboat is much more efficient than a boat with displacement or planing hull, and you can go quite far (50 nautical miles at 22 knots, which is 57.54 land miles at 25.3 mph) with this boat. The speedboat has a max speed of 30 knots (35 mph).

Tesla Class 8 Semi. Photo by Kyle Field/CleanTechnica.

Now for the largest size standard road vehicles. Tesla announced its class 8 semi truck over four years ago, in 2017, and has had prototypes crisscrossing the US ever since. However, in 2021, Tesla postponed deliveries again and we will be lucky to see deliveries in 2022. The only major issue appears to be supplies of batteries and automotive chips. Tesla has developed a new, more energy dense, more efficient battery and battery packs but can’t make enough of them to start production on their pickup truck (Cybertruck) and upgraded high-performance automobiles. Until Tesla is making them by the gazillions, we won’t be seeing the Tesla Semi. Several other companies, like Volvo and Mercedes, are also developing or starting to sell class 8 electric semi trucks.

GE Dash-9 diesel locomotive. By Morven (CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

If you are not a railroad buff you may not know that a diesel locomotive is actually a diesel-electric locomotive. It’s true that a GE Dash 9 has a big diesel engine, but it merely drives a big electric generator which supplies electricity to the electric traction motors that drive the wheels. As electric car buffs, you know that EVs have tremendous torque and it is the immense torque of electric motors that is needed to drive the wheels to get a 150 car freight train moving. Even so, it may take three or four pulling locomotives and one or two pushers to drive a long train up a mountain grade. Bottom line: if you can supply electricity from another source (e.g., overhead catenary wires, batteries, or a hydrogen fuel cell), you can eliminate the diesel engine.

RPS battery-electric locomotive. (Image courtesy RPS)

RPS is testing a 100% battery-electric locomotive, 1201, at an Orange County California rail yard.

electric mining trucks Caterpillar
Caterpillar and BHP are teaming up to make battery-powered mining trucks.  (Image courtesy of Caterpillar.)

Large mining trucks are another application where a diesel generator normally drives electric traction motors that actually then turn the wheels. Therefore, it is a relatively simple matter to substitute batteries or hydrogen fuel cell for the electricity source.

Back on the water, we have the first electric cruise ship.

The world’s first hybrid electric-powered cruise ship, the MS Roald Amundsen from Hurtigruten, just completed its first voyage to Antarctica with 431 passengers. Batteries onboard help the ship operate much like a hybrid electric vehicle, reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by more than 21%. This is the only vehicle in this article that it not 100% electric.

Harbour Air mangiX First Commercial Electric Seaplane Maiden Flight. Picture: https://www.harbourair.com/seaplane-to-eplane-flight-test-confirmed/
First electric seaplane takes off — December 10, 2019. Image courtesy of Harbour Air.

By land, by sea, and now by air, electric propulsion invades every transportation application. The Harbour Air e-plane is a six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver that swapped its internal combustion engines for a magniX 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system. It has a range of 65 miles. I picked this example because it has already made its first flight, two years ago, and has commercial passenger applications.

Electric airplanes offer the prospect of dramatically lower hourly costs, once battery energy density and cost are good enough for them to compete. Unfortunately, all passenger aircraft face a long certification process.

Image courtesy Heart Aerospace

I picked this example because it offers the prospect of much lower-cost medium-range commuter flights. The designers have picked a conventional body and wings, with only the motor nacelles being unique. They contain not only the motor, but also the batteries. The plane also uses conventional electric automobile charging technology. The plane will have enough power to take off from very short runways. Bottom line: everything is designed for maximum simplicity, while still having the prospect of transporting a relatively large number of passengers over a distance of up to 250 miles at much lower cost. Heart already has 200 preorders for the plane from United Airlines.

NASA X-57 trainer aircraft with 14 electric motors. (Image courtesy of NASA Langley/Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc.)

This is a high-tech developmental aircraft, with the 12 small motors and propellers used additionally at takeoff. During level flight, the 12 propellers fold into the nacelles to reduce drag while the larger wing tip propellers provide the power for level flight. Small aircraft like this, or even smaller two-seaters, are used as trainers in flight schools. The major cost of flight school training is the hourly cost of running the aircraft. With electric aircraft, the cost of flight school training can be greatly reduced. These planes also don’t need to fly very far.

There you have it: By land, by sea, and in the air. From tiny one-wheel skate boards to giant ferry boats, all kinds of aircraft, and everything in between — everything is going electric.

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Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler

Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler, PhD, former leader of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization & Analysis Laboratory (creator of this iconic image), and avid CleanTechnica reader. Also: Research Meteorologist (Emeritus) at NASA GSFC, Adjunct Professor at Viterbo University On-Line Studies, PSIA L2 Certified Alpine Ski Instructor at Brighton Utah Ski School.

Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler has 123 posts and counting. See all posts by Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler