I’m eagerly awaiting the 4-door, family-sized EV sedan rumored to be in the pipeline from the Canadian-based ZENN Motor Company (they already make a great 2-door model that’s even affordable to us non-celebrity types, picture above). I’d like to avoid going to the gas station at all when going to an Energy Fair or Green Festival. While our VW Jetta TDI gets more than 40 mpg, these days the cost for diesel (and biodiesel when I can get it) is quite a bit more than gasoline, and rising faster than gas.
For now, we’re moving around locally in a funky-looking, all-electric CitiCar, made in 1974. Our CitiCar is restored to roughly original condition (except for the wear and tear on the body itself) with the expert help of our neighbor who found two more after we found ours. It’s hard to go anywhere without people cutting me off — not out of rage — but curiosity or with a smile on their face. Sometimes getting a “head turner” doesn’t need to come at a huge price.
Which is my point. Why not own an EV for less than $8,000 (perhaps much less), today? The cost for our CitiCar plus new parts and new batteries ran just over $3,400, with the restoration and rewiring taking about a year, off and on — again, thanks largely to the electricity-savvy knowledge of our neighbor. Since the CitiCar is over 30 years old, we snagged collector plates and pay the registration fees only once, then we’re done for as long as we own the car. If you don’t mind the “used” appearance of a vehicle, you can ride around without having spent a dime at the gas station. Our CitiCar doesn’t possess the attractive styling of an EV1 from GM — but you won’t find even one of those on the road anywhere.
I’m amazed that there are still hundreds of CitiCars out there in garages, warehouses, or in a barn like mine was: motor on the seat and tires rotting. There were supposedly about 2,600 or so CitiCars manufactured by the Sebring Vanguard Company in Florida from 1974 to 1976, during our last American energy crisis. Whether because of liability insurance or crash test requirements, the company halted production and disappeared within a few years of rolling the first CitiCar off the line.
We like to think the car resembles a wedge of cheese because in Green County, near Monroe, Wisconsin, where there are more cheese factories than any other county in the US. The CitiCar negotiates the bumps a bit rough and the brakes need pumping to stop effectively, but with a top speed of about 35 miles per hour and 30 to 40 mile range, it gets us where we need to go for about 1-cent a mile. In a future blog, perhaps I’ll add a video of my 8 mile round trip to the bank — if there’s interest to see it on the go.
To completely stay on the renewable energy side and avoid electricity coming from coal-fired or nuclear power plants, we’re recharging the CitiCar with a .5 kW photovoltaic system — perhaps one of few solar powered cars on the planet.
So, until you save up enough for the Tesla or the next generation of long-range EV cars that fit more than two people, you might keep your eye out for an old CitiCar.
Image Credit: Zenn Motor Company