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Publisher's Letter

Vectrix motorbike is the first electric vehicle for Australian roads

This month we are very pleased to feature the story on the Vectrix battery-powered motorbike. While most people will probably be surprised at this turn of events, this is the first mass-produced electric ADR-compliant vehicle to be sold in Australia. No doubt it will be the subject of considerable debate about its merits. Does it is have enough power, range and so on?

Ultimately, these questions will be answered by its commercial success or otherwise but we think it is a very good pointer to the technology which will be featured in future electric cars. It also demonstrates that the technology does not have to be really exotic. It uses NiMH batteries and its motor control and battery-monitoring technology is nothing really special. Similar technology has been available for at least 10 years.

Of course, we would have to admit that producing an electric motorbike is a much easier challenge than producing an electric car. For example, a motorbike does not need airconditioning or a host of other power-eating devices such as power steering and braking. Nor does a motorbike need to meet today’s stringent standards for crash safety. However, today’s hybrid electric vehicles do meet all those requirements and it should not be an insurmountable challenge for a pure electric vehicle to do the same.

Ultimately, it will be a compromise between overall vehicle weight and overall range. The indications are that this compromise can be quite satisfactory, if you consider the Tesla Roadster now being delivered to customers in the USA. While this is an all-out performance vehicle, one can see how its technology could be satisfactorily adapted to a more mundane vehicle intended to carry four or more passengers and their luggage with reasonable performance and range.

Enersonic Power Saver does not work

On a less positive note, we also have a debunking review of the Enersonic Power Saver in this issue. We are really concerned that such products continue to appear. They appeal to people’s concerns about climate change, global warming and their wish to do something positive, however small it might be.

The big problem is that most people simply do not have any concept of how electricity is generated and how various appliances actually work and consume electric energy. If a few more people in the corridors of power, for example, realised how little power is consumed by ordinary incandescent lamps in the home relative to total electric power consumption, there would never have been any move to ban them. Compact fluorescent lamps are more efficient but their wholesale adoption will have very little effect on total power consumption in most homes. Those householders who have had their incandescents changed to CFLs should already be aware of this, since their energy bills will have hardly changed, if at all.

And if people had this knowledge about electricity, the ridiculous posturing about the recent Earth Hour would have had even less significance – it was a meaningless gesture which fortunately was ignored by the majority of people.

Leo Simpson

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