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Granola-Crunching Hippies Not the Only Ones Who Enjoy Driving Electric Vehicles

By Jason Davis | August 25, 2011
It used to be that only the Hollywood elites and hemp-wearing, granola-crunching hippies were the purveyors of electric vehicles. Then, the Toyota Prius became the go-to hybrid for instant earth-loving credibility. But for many reasons, mostly design related and economic accessibility, hybrid and electric technology failed to ignite the passions of a majority of Americans. According to a new study by researchers at UC Davis, this may no longer be the case. "The general public thinks that electric cars are all golf carts: slow and boring," said Dahlia Garas, program manager at theĀ UC Davis EV research center. "It's not until they drive one, they hear one, that they open their minds that these cars be fun to drive." Has hybrid and electric vehicle technology become a viable fuel-only alternative? Chevrolet and Nissan think so, and Tesla has shown that EV's can have supercar performance. BMW, Audi, and now Mini, among others, are jumping into the game, too. In fact, the UC Davis study leased 450 new Mini E's for drivers in Los Angeles, New York, and New Jersey. What the researchers found is that 100 percent of the users agreed electric is "suitable for daily use." Two-thirds became more interested in purchasing EV's, and only 9 percent responded as "less than interested" as a result of the study. The front-wheel drive Mini E is powered by a 201-hp electric motor that, under ideal conditions, has a range of 156 miles; users reported less than ideal range of 80-100 miles, a chief concern for nearly all who participated. Most of the drivers also experienced other battery issues, such as complaints of a lack of back seats (battery location), and power "dips," due to extreme temperatures. Despite these issues, researchers were surprised to learn that many of the drivers, who included a mix of "high-performance junkies, environmental enthusiasts, and technology pioneers," actually preferred the Mini E to their own gas-powered vehicles. Of course, by the time EVs are economically accessible to most of America, the elites and hippie hipsters will all have moved on to hydrogen fuel cells like the Honda FCX Clarity, no doubt relishing their superior greenity. Source: FastCompany.com
  • Mini E Side View
 
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