Thanks to numerous comments on my first article, I am including many of the electric things I missed in my first version of “Electric Everything.”
The smallest electric vehicle on the market these days may be the electric skateboard. This one is capable of speeds up to 34 mph!
One of the comments on my previous Electric Everything article was that I had left out electric gardening equipment. Since my main focus was on electric mobility, I forgot to include electric gardening tools. Also, all kinds of hand tools — like drivers, jigsaws, routers, pneumatic nail guns, and impact wrenches — have been essentially electric forever. More recently, almost all of these tools now come battery powered, so workmen no longer have to find an outlet and drag a power cord or air hose around. Look at the photo above: We see electric riding lawnmowers, electric chainsaws, electric leaf blowers, etc. — along with all the spare battery packs and chargers necessary to make them all work. Today, you can go down to any Home Depot, Lows, or Harbor Freight and come home with an electric lawnmower with enough power and spare battery packs to mow a decent sized lawn.
Here’s another thing I missed in my first version of Everything Electric — the SEABOB from Cayago.
Anyone who has spent time in Bangkok, Thailand; New Delhi, India; Hanoi, Vietnam; or almost any developing country in Asia has seen and ridden in one of the 3-wheeled, 2-cycle, air-polluting tuk-tuks that dominate in those cities. Companies like GMW (see below) are leading the “charge” to electrify and clean up those cities.
If you have ever been around a ski resort, traveled in Yellowstone in the winter, or traversed any of the endless miles of snowmobile trails of Northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan, you know that snowmobiles are used both for work and play. The electric snowmobile in the photo above was developed by Aurora Powertrains of Rovaniemi, Finland.
Electric cars are no longer just personal vehicles. They are also work cars — police vehicles, taxis, ambulances, etc.
Then there are the electric buses — how could we skip those?
Many US cities and municipalities are experimenting with electric busses. So far, that’s normally just a handful in each location, but there are hundreds in some cities and thousands in some Chinese cities.
Out of almost 425,000 electric buses worldwide at the end of last year, some 421,000 were in China. The global electric bus fleet grew about 32% in 2018. The city of Shenzhen alone has over 16,000 electric busses and 22,000 electric taxis. It is the home of the BYD electric battery, car, and bus company.
An obvious omission in my first article was electric passenger trains. They are virtually nonexistent in the US but very common in Europe and China. In the figure above, the TGV streaks through the French countryside at 200 mph near the small village of La Bonnardelière, speeds almost incomprehensible for Americans. The speed record for the TGV is over 350 mph.
The TGV in France and ICE trains in the rest of continental Europe make train travel an attractive alternative to air travel.
The world high speed train network consists of 6,552 miles in Europe, 24,653 miles in China and zero miles of true high speed rail network in the US. However, this may improve slightly by next year. Amtrak has purchased upgraded train sets from Alstom which tilt on the turns allowing faster speeds. The new trains are expected to operate up to a top speed of 160 miles per hour, 10 mph faster than the current generation of rolling stock. The increase might seem small, but the design of the train isn’t the limiting factor. Alstom states that the Avelia Liberty trainsets could travel at speeds over 185 miles per hour. The only thing left holding back Alstom’s Avelia Liberty trains are the ancient tracks.
The Amtrak Acela runs between Washington, DC, and NYC, and Boston a total distance of 451 miles. This is the only semi-high-speed rail service in the US at the present time. It will take several billion dollars to upgrade the tracks in the Northwest Corridor to get true 200+ mph service. Biden’s Build Back Better Bill may include money for this upgrade.
The California High Speed Rail Authority is in full construction on 119 miles of track for high-speed trains in the central valley of California. This is to be the first true high-speed rail network in the US. Eventually the network will link San Francisco to Los Angeles. However, at the present time only the easy part is under construction. The most expensive sections will connect downtown LA and San Francisco, which are not funded at the present time. The California high-speed rail service will not be truly useful until the whole project is completed. Once again, the Biden Build Back Better Bill may have money for those projects.
Many electric aircraft take their cues from the ubiquitous drones, which are used for both hobbyist models and for larger delivery vehicles.
Speaking of miniature drones, these carry high-resolution video cameras, which make them extremely useful for hobbyists and let Hollywood feature film producers eliminate helicopters.
There you have it! Many of the things that I missed in my first Everything Electric article. Thanks for all your comments. I’m sure that there are still “Ethings” that I have missed. Please clue me in with your comments.