Saturday, September 20, 2008

Self-Powered Electric Car Is a World First

This article was first published by OhmyNewsInternational. For easier reading and access to the numerous links, please click on

A strange-looking vehicle is tipped to attract world attention when it's unveiled at the Paris Motor Show (Oct 4-9). It's the first solar and electric autonomous car in the history of the automobile, French carmaker Venturi claims.

Dubbed the Eclectic, it's a revolutionary vehicle powered by the sun's rays or, when there's no sun, by a wind turbine (an optional extra).

"Eclectic... opens up a new era in the field of mobility," says Venturi, which plans to market the car next year.

"Reserved for daily driving in urban areas, its low energy consumption makes it the most economical environmental vehicle ever built."

A British filmmaker named Danny, who drives his own electric car in London, shot a news-breaking video showing the Eclectic prototype on a test run in Monte Carlo, the city in which it was built.

Until it's unveiled officially, the Eclectic is still a concept vehicle. It was featured in the movie Babylon A.D., where it was seen as a police car of the future.

But there are still problems to be overcome before the car will be allowed on British roads.. One critic, Auto IT, commented : "Great video and great to hear that the Eclectic might come to London. Photovoltaics will work in overcast conditions - they just don’t generate as much juice. More importantly, the Eclectic will need some mudguards to be legal on UK roads (and to stop the rear passengers getting a faceful of puddle). Doors might be an idea too."

Electric cars are making more impact in Europe and Asia than in America and Australia, where few people have even seen one. The latest electric cars have lighter batteries and greater range than previous models, a trend that is sure to continue.

In the US, Genenal Motors' keenly-awaited Chevrolet Volt, "a new plug-in electric car that could save a struggling GM" to quote Time magazine,8599,1841374,00.html?imw=Y will not be available until the end of 2010.

Australia expects to have its first plug-in electric car by the end of next year, when Mitsubishi intends marketing its baby i MiEV in that country.

Electric cars are no novelty on the roads of India, China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Germany, Norway, the UK and other countries where they are made.

India is turning out thousands of electric cars, including the Tara Tiny, "the world's cheapest car," that sells for just under one lakh (100,000 rupees, or $US2146).

Ten electric cars already on the market are illustrated and described here.

In South Korea, CT&T exports electric vehicles to Canada , USA, Indonesia and China. Millions of TV viewers worldwide saw the Korean cars in use at the Beijing Olympics.

CT&T is about to build a large plant in Fiji, for the local market and for possible export to Australia and New Zealand.

The giant South Korean firm Hyundai plans to launch its first LPG/electric vehicle next July, and is thinking of marketing it in China and Australia.

In India, the G-Wiz is manufactured by the Reva Electric Car Company ( Reva was formed in 1995 to manufacture environmentally friendly, cost effective electric city cars. Designed in California, the car was developed and tested in India and launched there in May 2001.

The car is designed as a nimble, no-frills electric vehicle for non-polluting urban travel. It can carry two adults and two small children, and is designed for inner city use.

GoinGreen began importing the car into the UK in 2003 and has since sold about 1000 of them.

The latest model - the G-Wiz i - has a range of up to 48 miles, a top speed of 50mph, better braking, improved interior and a newly designed crash cell jointly developed with Lotus.

The three-wheeled German-built Twike (the name is a cross between Twin and Bike) is a light electric vehicle for two passengers. Buyers can select an all-electric version, or choose a model with pedals to save electricity, extend the range, and provide exercise for the driver (sometimes called the pilot).

"The combination of muscle power and electric motor, together with
the joystick steering, imparts a completely new driving experience," says the
Twike website

Dr. Andreas Schroer, in charge of the company's UK sales division, says
"The Twike transports its passengers into a new vehicle dimension. With a maximum range of 90 miles per charge and a top speed of 53mph a Twike easily meets your daily needs.

"At the same time the Twike is 10 times more efficient than a normal car. The futuristic joystick steering is easy and fun to use. The optional pedal drive adds to the fun and fitness of the passengers and saves even more energy."

Twikes were first made in Switzerland in 1996. Two years later,
the FINE Mobile GmbH launched the German production line and finally became the exclusive producer.

London eletric car owners don't have to worry about the soaring cost of liquid fuel., since they don't have to pay road tax or the London congestion charge of eight pounds a day - all-electric cars produce no carbon emissions.

Many UK councils also offer free parking for electric car users. In parts of Central London electric vehicles can park for free, and some places even offer free charging. EDF Energy is installing 250 on-street charging points nationally.

You can see many of the latest electric cars by visiting and Channel 4's Top10 Skeptics and conspiracy believers ask "Who killed the electric car?" in this now well-known video


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bearskin Blitz Misses Mark

If the British Government bows to pressure from Animal Rights, and orders Buckingham Palace foot guards to remodel their iconic black bearskin helmets with false fur, not a single bear's life will be saved.

The sad truth, conveniently overlooked by well-meaning but highly emotional animal lovers, is that the famous, 18-inch (45.7cm) high helmets are made from skins of bears culled because they have reached pest numbers in parts of North America, or were victims of roadkill.

Britain's Minister for Defence Procurement, Baroness Ann Taylor, is responsible for acquiring all of the British Army's equipment. She has just met the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to discuss the possible use of synthetic materials and new designs.

Robbie LeBlanc, PETA director in Britain, who spoke to Baroness Taylor, said "It's important to show that Britain is a modern nation and you can still have great traditions, but not have that level of cruelty involved in slaying bears to make hats.

"It's so incongruous that Britain and all of Europe are modern nations here and still you have the Queen's guards ... walking around with an entire dead bear on their heads."

"New Palace Bearskins May Spare the Bear," the London Guardian newspaper announced on Sep 1, with an eye-catching photo of guardsmen flaunting their top-heavy (one and a half pounds) headdress.

Millions of tourists visiting London eash year photograph members of The Queen's Foot Guards whose shining black bearskins offset brilliant scarlet tunics on ceremonial parades.

It's just another round in a long drawn out battle. Five years ago, Caroline Davies reported in the London Daily Telegraph:

"For two centuries the Sovereign's Foot Guards have been distinguished by the foot-high bearskins that top their scarlet ceremonial uniforms. But now, to appease animal rights campaigners, defence officials are seeking an alternative to the traditional headgear, which dates back to the Battle of Waterloo.

"Complaints to the Queen that her soldiers should switch to faux fur have resulted in a search for a synthetic bearskin - so far without success."

The wonderfully British-named Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Dick-Peter was quoted as saying "We have tried artificial fibres to try and get away from using bearskins. But nothing works. It either doesn't hold its shape, or it cannot withstand the weather, or it fails to retain the right colour, or it stands up in a very surprised manner in the wrong electrical conditions."

Next, in 2006, some 70 PETA activists staged a naked protest against the use of bearskins.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Dick-Peter again made the headlines. He told BBC London that fake fur does not have the same qualities as the real thing.

"It looks like a 60s Beatle wig," he said. "It just doesn't look right and if the wind blows it sticks up. The rain soaks into the fibre and it ends up an extremely heavy piece of sodden material on somebody's head. In hot electrical conditions, all the hair will stand up - a really bad hair day."

Caroline Davies wrote that the bearskin cap could be traced back to the Grenadier Mitre cap, which, in 1712, replaced the three-cornered (tricorn) hat when it was discovered that for a Grenadier to throw his grenade, he had to sling his firelock across his back, which invariably resulted in his hat being knocked off.

Fine, glossy pelts from female bears are reserved for officers. Other ranks have to make do with rougher male pelts. Helmets can last a century, and are sometimes passed from father to son. A good bearskin "should look like an apple in front, and a pear from the back."

Black bears live in the wild in 41 of the 50 U.S. states and in every Canadian province bar Prince Edward Island. In Canada, about 500,000 black bears mainly inhabit forested areas, according to figures from the British Fur Trade Association. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada says the black bear is "not at risk."

If you are not an animal lover, you may like to join a bear-shooting expedition at Rick Dickson's Black Bear Hunts, in Wawa, Ontario, Canada: