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Electric version of Renault's low-cost Kwid (thedrive.com)
105 points by prostoalex 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 137 comments

By Edward Niedermeyer September 9, 2019

Oh. Nevermind.


Edited - from the downvotes, it appears that people are not aware - this is the same guy who was the editor in chief of truthabout cars when they ran their infamous "Tesla Death Watch" / Tesla killer articles. He constantly re-iterated that the company was doomed before the roadster, then before the S, then before the X, then before the 3. He accused the company of Fraud in 2009, and has heralded every single vehicle from this to the leaf, to the Taycan and i-pace (how's that working for you Audi?) to the Fisker Karma as "tesla-killers".

How about articles like this:


He's about as accurate as Elon Musk is punctual. He appears to be the natural anti-matter to the most extreme of the Tesla fans.

But remember it's Toyota that is actually the disruptor:

"Toyota is no stranger to disruption, having overturned the global car business over the course of decades. But rather than high-concept, visionary technology and hype, it was Toyota's mastery of the culture of manufacturing that drove it from bit player to industry titan. Toyota emphasizes kaizen, or continuous improvement, not Musk's mercurial style. And based on a scan of quality complaints at various Tesla owner forums, it seems Musk could learn more from Toyota's automotive disruptions than the other way around. Auto industry success is a marathon, not a sprint ... and at current volumes, Tesla is barely walking."

The allegation was that Tesla was dipping in to preorder money and was insolvent. You seem to treat it as a foregone conclusion he was wrong, but that seems almost quaint in the context of 420 and the Solar City bailout. I don't know whether or not it happened but Musk wouldn't give it a second thought.

Ed's been continually wrong about Tesla because Musk is willing to do anything to keep it going, ethics and legality notwithstanding.

It's really quite impressive, and while I'm fairly bearish on the company, I wouldn't count it out until and unless he calls it quits.

What's your issue with this paragraph about Toyota, exactly? I get that kaizen, with its emphasis on boring notions like quality control, slow & careful iteration, etc. is at odds with fashionable Silicon Valley ideas of blitzscaling or an under-five-years "cash out, bro down" company cycle, but it's undeniably true that Toyota did revolutionize the auto industry.

Indeed. I'm anxiously waiting Toyota's entry into the EV market. In Japan they have a fair amount of catchup given that the entire fast charging infrastructure is basically being run by Nissan and Mitsubishi... However I'm sure they have something up their sleeves. I'm extremely interested in the fact that Toyota has chosen Panasonic as their battery supplier. Toyota and Panasonic's headquarters are only a little over an hour a way by Shinkansen... If I were Toyota I would be wandering over to Osaka fairly frequently to make sure that my company was getting more than our fair share of the available batteries...

They keep doubling down on hydrogen even when it's clearly not working. Other than that they seem perfectly content to keep cranking out vehicles with their once groundbreaking but now aging hybrid synergy drive system. Unfortunately I think it'll take a change of guard at Toyota's highest levels to get them back in the innovation game.

This is the second time I've heard that, but I see no evidence from here in Japan that they are doing anything with hydrogen these days. Can you point me to some references?

Edit: I should point out as well that they are actually building EV cars right now. They have a joint venture with several other Japan car manufacturers. They will start selling for the 2020 sales year (which I expect will start pretty soon).

They're not doing anything with hydrogen, they're just hanging onto the "hydrogen future" bluff that U.S. car companies used to kill the CARB EV mandate and have now all but abandoned.

I mean, check the tag line on Toyota's own site: https://www.toyota.com/alternative-fuel/

Hybrid. Plug-in Hybrid (yay?). Fuel Cell EV.

That's their game plan. Even then the only plug-in hybrid is the Prius, none of their other cars seem to be plug-in capable.

In fairness, Elon Musk himself has stated that Tesla has been several weeks from failure at multiple times in its history (most recently, in the fall of 2018). It's not like the critics were wrong about the financial health of the company.

> i-pace (how's that working for you Audi?)

i-pace is Jaguar.

Audi's etron is also doing quite poorly: https://insideevs.com/news/369439/august-audi-e-tron-sales-u...

And it's not due to limited inventory, when I checked a few days ago, there were 125 etrons on dealer lots in Canada.

Do you have any issues with the facts reported in this specific article?

The world isn't that simple. A person's reasons for talking about something and their framing and slant/bias deeply affect the trust one can put in what they say. You can avoid outright lies and untruths while still pushing a very specific agenda.

Just as you put more or less trust into what the people in your life say, based on their history, you should put more or less trust into what particular articles say, based on the article writer's history.

The beauty of reading an essay or article on HN is that you don’t have to trust the author. You get to take into account upvotes and downvotes, as well as comments about the factual accuracy of the article.

Same for comments.

By all means dismiss facts if you don’t like the source, or wait until someone you trust (or don’t distrust) writes about the subject if you like, everyone gets to have their own strategy for consuming information.

But for me, one of the great advantages of HN, one that outweighs things I dislike, is that I can read informative things from people I’d otherwise dismiss and learn a great deal from the discussion.

My trust in random article writers that happen to appear in HN is already low, as it should be. I'm not sure why this one specifically deserves a takedown, which are not at all common on HN, except for the fact that he happened to criticize Tesla, which triggers some people.

Low cost EVs will indeed be what kills ICE cars, particularly in the developing world where they can double as general electricity storage.

That said:

> Just as Tesla has had its doubters among mainstream auto industry-watchers, the electric Renault Kwid has had its doubters among hardcore Tesla fans

Unmentioned is that the author of this article is decidedly in the former category, and has been writing about the imminent demise of Tesla since around 2007.

Niedermeyer actually ended the Tesla Death Watch in 2009, which was started before he began writing for the outfit that ran it. He has been very circumspect in forecasting Tesla's demise ever since, and in fact often notes that one of the singular features of the Tesla story is the way they always seem to create (or be handed) a lifeline at their eleventh hour.

He has, of course written at times about how certain of Tesla's manufacturing practices, such as skipping factory acceptance testing, would cause them problems down the road, predictions which have largely come to pass.

> particularly in the developing world where they can double as general electricity storage

I am from the developing world. I am middle class. I don't care much for general electricity storage.

I do care about a decent, low cost, 120 kM or so range car that is maintenance free.

This car, with around 9000 USD in price ought to be a game changer. The article states 30 kWH capacity for the battery.

A normal house in India is built in around 150 Sq. yards or about 1300 square feet. A 350 W solar panel costs about 12,000 Rs. (~180 USD). Assuming an average usable sunlit time of about 6 hours a day, it would take 14 such panels to charge the car fully.

A 12 V, 150 Ah battery (about 1.8 kWh) costs about 10,000 Rs (150 USD). To store 30 kWh, we would need about 16 batteries.

Since the range is about 120 kM, and assuming an average run of 60 kM per day (This is my actual mileage everyday, to and from work, and by most Indian standards, I am driving a lot)

Lets fix the total mileage covered by the car is about 200,000 km (60 km a day => 20,000 km a year => 10 years operation )

So, the car runs for two days, on a single charge. There are two ways, we can go about setting up a solar charger for the car.

1. Half panel Capacity, Half battery Capacity, Charge Daily

-> 7 x 350 W panels - Rs. 84,000 -> 8 x 12V, 150 Ah batteries - Rs. 80,000 -> System setup and mounting - 10% of cost, Rs. 16,000

Total cost : Rs. 180,000

2. Full panel capacity, Full battery Capacity, Charge once every two days.

-> 14 x 350 W panels - Rs. 168,000 -> 16 x 12V, 150 Ah batteries - Rs. 160,000 -> System setup and mounting - 10% of cost, Rs. 32,000

Total cost : Rs. 360,000

Choosing Option 1, Total car ownership & solar charging cost : 12,00,000 (~ 16,000 USD)

Now contrasting this to a petrol car.

Car Cost : Rs. 500,000 (Kwid petrol, AMT, Hyderabad) Petrol Cost: Assuming an average efficiency of 15 km / litre of fuel, and total running of 200,000 km and average price of Rs. 80 per litre of petrol -

Total cost of fuel itself comes to : Rs. 11,00,000

Maintenance cost : Rs. 0.3 / kM (Maintenance charges for my vehicle, averaged over 300,000 kM, between two cars, both from same company)

Cost for 200,000 kM -> 60,000 Rs.

Total cost of ownership of a petrol car : 16,60,000 (~22,000 USD)

The economics work out better if more distance is driven.

This EV model seems very much suited to India.

Actually for India the real electric car has already arrived and it is already seeing widespread usage. It costs less than $2000 and goes around 80kms on a single charge. It looks like a narrower auto rickshaw, most of them are manufactured locally and can be see used widespread in tier-2 cities in north india.

More details are at https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/auto/auto-news...

Never heard of this before, but makes sense.

I would love an all weather three wheeler that is light and efficient to travel to work every day.

You'd install solar panels solely to charge your car? You have no other uses for electricity? And you'd be content to just let the power go to waste while the car isn't at home charging?

No, Nothing like that. I was focusing only on the car part. Of course, the 15 kWH solar system in your home could power the entire home too, or be fed back into the grid, which many municipalities in India are accepting.

Since I was doing a costing analysis, I assumed the worst case possible.

Accounting for selling power to the grid when not in use, usage for home, etc, the cost advantage of an EV improves even more.

Right so consider that you could also sell spare power from your car back to the grid when demand is high and you don't need to drive. Seems like another good benefit, particularly if the grid is prone to brownout (not sure if yours is)

From the car, I am not sure.

It is an appealing idea to use the car as a battery store, however, there are a few practical issues.

1. When using the car as a battery bank, we eventually increase the charge / discharge cycles of the battery, leading to quicker need for replacement. An external solar battery is cheaper, considering it need not be miniaturized. 2. When not in use, I'd prefer the car is charged, so that I can use it as and when immediately required, say an emergency. So, using power from the car, is not appealing, to me atleast.

3. Grid is prone to brownout in India, however, most cities and towns are experiencing it less and less and these are the major markets for EVs.

I think the implication is that it would be worth it to install battery backed solar panels purely to charge the car. Of course if you had an off grid solar power system you'd use it for lighting and other conveniences as well.

So? Can’t he be entitled to his own opinion about Tesla? Or is his reputation now forever tarnished?

Why don’t we stick to the points he mentions in the article instead of just discrediting him?

Being wrong for 12 years and counting is a bit of a concern, no? Also, if he has no credibility, then the points in the article require more scrutiny, we can't just take him at his word, can we? That's why credibility matters.

His opinion is fine; the problem is that this article is being purposely deceptive about what his opinion is.

Have any cars been able to use their batteries as general purpose "plug in anything" type of power source? That would really expand the appeal significantly.

Nissan has their 'vehicle-to-home' system that does exactly this. As far as I know it's only been released in Japan so far, but all their LEAF cars from the last few years support it.




What do you mean by "anything"? I haven't heard of any that can, say, power a whole house during a power outage, but plenty of cars (EV and ICE alike) have built-in (or add-on) inverters to plug in typical 120V or 230V devices.

"Vehicle to grid" power transfer was a key selling point of AC Propulsion's system back as far as the early 2000s.

I actually asked them about prices back then but unfortunately they were far out of reach for a DIY conversion (I think they wanted ~$40k for a drive unit for a compact car). They're still around, though (https://acpropulsion.com/) and they provided the drivetrain for the Tesla Roadster.

Unfortunately, the 12V system in mine is limited to 10 amps. the raw 48V from the battery would have no problem running an AC inverter, but on mine at least, is not accessible

I believe it is achievable using an inverter, just like with ICE car.

Electric cars don't have 110/220v readily available AFAIK.

I'm afraid, "the global EV" will not even be an EV Kwid, too big, too heavy, too unmaintainable for poor people.

Much more likely it will be closer to something like Suzuki Mehran in spirit: borderline medieval metalwork, simplest electronics possible, but repairable by a highschooler

When there are articles about electric cars on HN, I often see people in the comments proclaim that the end of gas cars is near.

Serious question: How do electric cars work for people who live in apartments without a dedicated parking spot (street parking only)? Or more common, someone without a garage without an outdoor outlet nearby?

Is the assumption that charging stations need to become even more ubiquitous than gas stations (assuming the car needs to charge for longer than people are willing to wait at a charging station)?

> Is the assumption that charging stations need to become even more ubiquitous than gas stations

Electricity is already ubiquitous, we just need to install the chargers.

E.g. trials have started to install EV chargers in lamp posts https://www.driving.co.uk/news/lamp-post-powered-electric-ca...

>Electricity is already ubiquitous, we just need to install the chargers.

And actually provide enough power.

I mean, a street lamp is usually (traditional lamp) 250 W, a modern (led) lamp 80-100 W, there is no way the existing infrastructure (cables and before them transformers) will be able to provide 10 or 15 or 20 kW (at each post).

Typically street lamps are 30 m or so apart, and in that gap at least 6 or 7 car (maybe more) park in a city.

If they become most (or prevalently) electric each post will have 6 car connected.

Even with 1/3 coincidence factor, further divided by two (assuming that people will charge their cars every two days), we are talking anyway of 6*10/6= 10 kW per post, whihc means that to power a 300 m stretch of street you need a 100 kW dedicated transformer.

And a receptacle is "lost" for the whole night (or day).

I mean, you come back home around 19:30 and plug your car in a lamp post power receptacle, even if your car is fully charged after - say - 4 hours, are you really going to go out at 11:30, unplug your car and move it to another spot (IF there is a free one) in order to allow another person to charge his/her car?

And how long will be the charging cable (the one you have on board)?

It must be at least 20 m long to reach the lamp post if the parking spot you find is in the middle of two lamp posts.

Char.gy (referenced in the link) seems to be in just 2 or 3 London boroughs[0], whereas Ubitricity seem to cover more boroughs[1]. Looking at the photos, it seems Char.gy add a box to the lamp posts while Ubitricity don't, which may be an issue for conservation areas which have installed heritage lamp posts.

[0] https://char.gy/map

[1] https://www.ubitricity.co.uk/residential_charging/

I don't know... it also requires: - charging cables that can't easily be stolen, between my car & lamp post. - infrastructure that allows me to pay for consumed electricity, and doesn't allow random person to steal it (or are we assuming electricity will be free?)

I mean, I'd love to see that, but it doesn't look likely in the near future, unfortunately. I still think it's more likely that we'll have fast-charging batteries that you can refill in a few minutes, rather than charger-at-every-parking-spot.

Most electric cars now have locks on the charging cable port so cables cannot be unplugged without unlocking, and these types of charging solutions are operated by dedicated app and/or NFC card and won't start charging if you haven't registered your payment details first so electricity can't be "stolen". I'm sure both can be hacked, but if you really want to steal cables and/or electricity there are probably easier/safer ways to do so.

> infrastructure that allows me to pay for consumed electricity, and doesn't allow random person to steal it

Smart meters have existed for quite a while now. An electricity meter with LTE and a card reader is not a difficult thing to make (not very different from a parking meter)

Yes, but having one smart meter at each lighting pole? Neah, sorry, I don't see that happening in my city. (we don't have "smart parking meters" either. In fact, we have no parking meters at all....)

Cities are already working on building street charging infrastructure. But also those people will very likely be late adopters, or just switch to other kinds of transport. Currently the prime target for EV adoption are better off households who live further out of the city, since they can already afford the switch and sinve they have the larger carbon footprint, anyway.

Some people would charge at home, some would charge at work, some would charge while shopping. People that can't do it will be a minority. By the time majority is electric, 350kw+ charging stations will become a norm, so it will be pretty much the same as gas station.

At the moment they don't, but as fast chargers become more common and range increases, it will become feasible. In my country (post-Soviet country; rather poor by Western standards) a lot of supermarkets and shopping malls already have EV chargers. Imagine going once or twice a week, and plugging in to charge while you do the weekly shop.

The limiting factors on EVs at the moment is the cost of the battery. Taking the Nissan LEAF for example, the difference between the 40kWh and 62kWh version is 34kg. If cost wasn't an issue, you could easily double the battery size without any problem.

Charging stations are already far more ubiquitous than gas stations. Every garage with an outlet is a charging station.

A solution is still needed for people who park on the street. Chargers on the street is the obvious way to handle that.

It take roughly 100 times longer to charge a car than to refill from a fuel pump so chargers need to be WAY more popular than gas stations.

The “obvious way to handle this” is to build cities without cars at all, where people walk and bike and take the buses and trains.

> It take roughly 100 times longer to charge a car than to refill from a fuel pump so chargers need to be WAY more popular than gas stations.

This is very misleading. It takes several minutes to fill a gas tank (depending on tank size, pump speed, and how many times the damn thing gets gaslocked). Charging a modern BEV does not take several hundred minutes. Fast charging exists and functions similarly for BEVs as it does for cell phones - fast charge for the middle bulk of the cycle, charge rate slows to a trickle above 80%.

Chargers generally cost per minute, so you're incentivised to stay plugged in for the bulk fast-charge portion of your charge, not the trickle at the end.

There are 2 DC fast chargers in the city of Berkeley, California. That's at best a total of about 400 miles per hour of charging, for a city of 120k people. EV boosters radically overestimate the widespread-ness of charging infrastructure.

At a much more common 6.6kW charge station you're getting 25 miles per hour of charge. I can put about 350 miles of gas in my car in one minute.

If the lack of chargers was causing issues, it becomes a business opportunity. Electricity is everywhere already. It's really not an issue.

Ok, so your own numbers (350 vs. 25) come out as 14x slower, not 100x slower.

No, that's 25 per HOUR vs 350 per MINUTE.

>Chargers generally cost per minute, so you're incentivised to stay plugged in for the bulk fast-charge portion of your charge, not the trickle at the end.

It's a bit unrealistic to expect people to park again after the charging is done.

Not really unrealistic? I have lived in an apartment. On weekdays off, I've had dealt with moving my car every few hours due to street parking time limitations. Having to move my car 30 minutes after plugging in to charge doesnt seem like a big ask.

It chains you to your home and in case the charger is not in front of your home you have to walk too. If you have a tight schedule you often don't have that 30 min.

They already are way more popular. There are 168,000 gas stations in the US. How many electrical outlets are there?

Someone has to make a business case to get the chargers on the street. There are questions like who owns the sidewalk, how to route sufficient power there, capital outlay for digging up the street and getting the charger there. All those costs and up and the revenue for a given charger is capped. People might pay a premium over the the cost of electricity, but how much? And they have to compete with free charging in many cases.

All that matters is the economics.

We're at about the point of parity; BEVs cost more initially, but over the life of the vehicle, cost about the same as a comparable ICE. Whether you spend more or less comes down to how you use it.

Petro and ICE has been getting more expensive. Batteries and renewables have been getting less expensive, with a clear path for continued progress. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what's going to happen.

The infrastructure will come. Vehicle ownership costs, on average, 9 grand a year for Americans. So a BEV that can save even a modest fraction - say 20% - of that cost has a fairly large budget to work with for installing NEMA-50s where they're needed. On-street solutions are being developed, including some being deployed in the UK.

I don't think there will ever be a significant number of people doing fast-charge only.

I've seen people near me add an outdoor outlet to their house, costs a few hundred dollars. I don't know about appartments though. In another few years maybe EV's will be ubiquitous enough for apartment complexes to devote, say, 20% if their spaces to overnight EV charging.

It's not just apartments either:

Many inner-city (where electric cars make the most sense) houses do not have a dedicated garage (I am talking outside the US here). You would need to have plugs on all residential on-street parking.

So powered parking meters? Seems viable at least for cities. You'd also have a substantial amount of parking without those because most drivers wouldn't need to charge daily.

I rarely charge in my garage because my power outlet is technically commons. It would be nice to have a fully charged car every day, but it is hardly a hinderance. Superchargers are fast, and shopping malls have them.

Some cities, like Montreal, have curb side parking and charging spots, reserved for EVs. There’s enough coverage in central areas that I wouldn’t worry about being left without a charge.

In my building people are discussing installing a few charging spots until maybe everything has a charging port.

It's also discussed to be in the next building requirement code IIRC

The wealthier locations will have tax payers put them in. The money will be diverted from other places to subsidize the urban property barons.

Eventually, they'll probably charge a $20k special assessment, just like they do when they hook you up to municipal water or sewage.

I'm thinking that these things would be great for when the teenagers need a car (I'm referring to those of us in suburban / rural areas). They need a car to get to their mcjob, but with the limited range they won't be cruising all over and getting into trouble. And the price (esp. for used ones) should be very cheap, and low maintenance.

You wouldn’t want your kids driving one of those. They are death traps. NCAP Gabe the Kwid zero stars.


Wait a second... this car doesn't have anti-lock brakes?

My current Toyota Yaris from 2008 does not have anti-lock brakes.

That's actually kind of shocking. I assumed ABS was mandatory, or at least standard across the industry. Looks like it became mandatory in 2004 in the EU, 2013 in the US (alongside requiring electronic stability control). In comparison, the US has mandated airbags since 1998.

[0] https://drivetribe.com/p/are-anti-lock-brakes-a-mandatory-A_...

ABS actually isn’t required in the US at all. Every car had it because other things that are required use the same sensors, but there is no law on the books.

In the US, you can currently get a used Chevy Spark for below 10k.

But the Spark isn't electric (despite its name). You can however get a used Nissan Leaf EV for under $10K, too.

But the Spark EV is electric and used ones are around $10k. I'd argue that the Spark EV at the price is a better choice than an early Leaf at the price due to better battery management. Also they are fun to drive. Source, on my second Spark EV (first was leased).

$8700 for a 30kw/h battery? I suspect you are renting the battery for a monthly fee, common practice with Renault's. Otherwise forget the car just sell the battery on its own.

Chinese kWh, Chinese range figures. If you ever bought a 5000mAh 18650 battery from ebay/amazon you know whats going on.

Sounds like it is aiming to be the car equivalent of the smart feature phone (see "The Hottest Phones for the Next Billion Users Aren’t Smartphones"[0]). Definitely think there could be a big market for this sort of thing in some countries.

Although more of a niche in the UK at least, we did have the G-Whiz[0] which cost less than this. Even though production was stopped in 2012, I used to see several regularly where I live until relatively recently.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20562695

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/REVAi

All it takes for EV's to explode and finally surpass combustion cars from the market is to put a low cost, good enough quality electric car in the market. Combustion engines must be put in the past. They're still better in some ways, but that will change.

> All it takes for EV's to explode

Given the history of battery issues in various products, this seems like an unfortunate choice of phrasing!

You could probably say the same about any kind of energy storage (or generation), above a certain density.

It isn't like gasoline cars haven't had their fair share of issues with combustion. I'd be willing to bet that it is harder to burn a BEV (or air, hydrogen, LPG) parked in the street than an ICE.

>According to a recent FEMA report, “from 2014 to 2016 an estimated 171,500 highway vehicle fires occurred in the United States, resulting in an annual average of 345 deaths; 1,300 injuries; and $1.1 billion in property loss

And charging stations.

Sure in some countries it's common that people have (small) houses but e.g. in Europe, it's pretty common to have housing blocks with parking on the streets without any electric charging station, or maybe one half a kilometer away which is often blocked by non electric cars.

With the charging times of electric cars you can not charge them in a "drive by" manner like you do for non electric cars.

I guess placing a bunch of (not very slow) charging stations on all Supermarket parking lots would probably be enough for the beginning given the range of new electric cars. At last for people which mainly use them in the city.

But without some political regulation, benefits or similar I don't see that happening (at last not in Germany in the next view years).

Anyway, I hope that when I buy a car next time it's feasible for me to go for a electric car (without having a second non electric car or similar).

A two seats version of this car with some more range would be a godsend in congested cities. Sort of an electric Smart at half the price.

The only realistic godsend in congested city would be to ban most privately owned cars.

Definitely. I would also make it smaller. Reduced weight equals reduced cost and improved range.

I think people often ignore charging issues, especially for city cars. Most people live in flats with street parking, there's absolutely no infrastructure existing at the moment to solve the problem that those people cannot charge at night.

I wonder how big a problem that really is. Folks in flats with street parking also have good access to transit. Cities will become incentivized to convert parking meters to charging stations using street light power. People often can charge at work, and for some cars, rapid charging is an option. Also autonomous driving taxis are coming, despite the challenges, and so more folks might subscribe to a car as a service, either Uber or Zipcar. So between these various changing transport options I wonder if flat dwellers parking their commuting car on the street is something soon to be viewed as an anachronism.

> Folks in flats with street parking also have good access to transit.

Which isn’t very helpful if you need to visit places that don’t have good access to transit.

For example my parents live in a small town about 30 minutes away by car. If I were to visit them by public transport that would be a 2+ hour journey. On a weekday. Most of my visits are on Sundays and that’s a whole different story. It would practically be impossible to visit them without taking a day off work.

> Which isn’t very helpful if you need to visit places that don’t have good access to transit.

When you want to go out of town, either you take a train or bus, or if it's out into nature / rural areas with poor bus service - you rent a car. Some cities even have a "car pool renting" service, e.g. car2go: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car2go

Hence, Zipcar.

It's a bit of chicken and egg issue, and it will get better over time, but I think that right now, and probably in the next 2/3 years, it's going to be a big problem.

I'm not saying that it's insurmontable, just that price is not the only thing that stops people from buying electric right now.

I'd love to see it happen, but what's the incentive for cities to add ubiquitous charging like that?

What’s the incentive for cities to have the ubiquitous street parking they have now?

Hopefully they get to make a lot of money from that.

I guess if apartment renters have no easy alternative the city could charge a high premium, and it would be worth it to have overnight charging instead of chasing down a station on your own time.

Air quality is one. Wanting to help with climate change is another.

I keep seeing this as a main issue with EV's. But it's something that can be changed. In Amsterdam most streets have electric charging points. The city made it really easy to apply for one, and lets you skip the (multi-year) waitlist for parking permits. My friends with EV's just charge it in the streets, no problem. I don't see why other cities couldn't do the same.

We have no charging at our beach house, but there are over a dozen charging stations at the Target down the road, and at least some are usually empty.

It's simple enough to spend an hour charging while buying groceries, and as this model builds out it will be even easier to get a full charge while out running errands.

Even without home charging, it's still easier than stopping at the gas station...

> All it takes for EV's to explode

Won't their popularity dip a bit if they explode?

(rim shot)

I believe easily/quick replaceable/interchangeable batteries is one of the simplest ways to make EVs go mainstream.

Yes, I know they weigh a lot, but you could have e.g. 10/20 cells weighing 50 kg each to offset that.

In many developing countries, you don't even need to refuel yourself, staff at the gas station are willing to do that for you, so you don't even need to get your hands dirty. I think gas/refueling stations should be backing this idea, before they become non-existent.

Long recharge times can thus be avoided. Price-conscious consumers can recharge over-night using a wall socket, keeping grid loads low(er).

Aging batteries wouldn't be an issue, and can be replaced, heck, even upgraded! Buy a car with 250km range today, have it go 750km tomorrow, when the tech matures, who knows.

...but all this would require car manufacturers to forgo half the selling price and work together to develop a universal battery cell, so I'm doubting this would ever happen.

But I see no loss for the consumer with this strategy though, and believe that this should be highlighted in the public discourse.

Charging times just aren’t that bad, and they continue to improve. Tesla has a battery swap station on the busy SF-LA route. They shut it down because almost nobody used it.

Interesting, I hadn't heard of this yet.

I'm guessing nobody used it, because it was for the exclusively for the Model S, which has good range and few owners, and apparently you even needed to make an appointment for it.

It's not "refueling", it's "replacing" the battery, what Tesla did.


This was back when the Model S was the only Tesla available in any real numbers. California had a ton of them. They are long range, but not long enough to do SF-LA without charging. Long trips should be the ideal case for battery swaps, because it’s a situation where you really do have to wait for the car, and can’t just charge while you sleep or whatever.

I am a huge Tesla fan, but I agree with the author, this car could turn the world upside down.

A few added points. One is this car is not going to bankrupt Tesla. That's because it is selling to different markets.

The second is that battery prices keep falling, and so the price of this car will too.

The third is that other manufacturers are going to take this car apart and figure out how to make a similar one, so in a few years we will see a whole bunch of them.

I have said it before and I will say it again. After many years of wishes and slow progress, the EV revolution is finally starting to take off.

Tangential, but why are plug-in series hybrids not selling? They could make better use of anaemic grids in India. For example my office was running on backup power for several hours. I left at 7 pm in the rain, saw linemen climb up a damaged transformer in a narrow congested road where buses zip by. Elsewhere, farmers' pumps blow up transformers. A hybrid could power weekday commutes and maybe 25% of a weekend trip, from private solar panels, well before powerful public grids are installed.

How did the charge it driving across India? I presume charging stations are not yet common nor are there garages there. Did they just slow charge it overnight through some wall outlet?

The drive across India took place in a non-electric Kwid.

The Kwid is an ICE vehicle.

I don't see the point of own an electric car if your electricity grid is still dependent on base load polluting coal or gas fired power stations.

Just that feel good factor of owning a Prius or Tesla without addressing the root cause.

You still avoid local pollution, noise and overall CO2 emissions are all lower pretty much anywhere in the world. In addition to this, a larger amount of electric cars that can work as storage can help greatly to increase the share of renewables (e.g. by offering lower prices at times of overcapacity).

It's a hen-egg problem. You need large storage capacity to enable renewables. But without renewables, storage isn't utilized and therefore not profitable.

Even with coal, the pollution is much easier to filter and control at the one big ass stationary plant chimney than at thousands of separate moving car exhaust. And modern filters (both electrostatic and mechanical/pulse-jet) are pretty good.

Maybe so, but it will be easier in the future to change 1 coal powered plant and have millions of electric car driving people overnight become "clean" vs still having to change the coal plant and then convince millions of people to switch to electric cars because they are now finally green to the core.

Plus, cities would be nicer if the pollution was just around the plant instead of in every street.

In many places in the EU you can opt for an electricity provider that "provides" you with renewable-sourced electricity. Basically the provider is buying the amount of electricity you consume from hydro/solar/wind producers instead of coal/nuclear.

Thoughts on how this compares to the Nissan Leaf?

It doesn't - the leaf is s thoroughly modern vehicle with all of the safety and comfort that implies, whereas this is not.

It's got a little more range than an older Leaf with the ~25 kWh pack, and significantly cheaper for the new price. Then again, you can get a lightly used Leaf for under $10k. I bought a 2015, in 2017, with 19k miles for $8,500. You'll never see it in the USA; costs too little.

Anyone else notice how thin the tyres are? Kind of reminds me of the CV 2ch :)

I had a low-cost Renault once, the 1981 Le Car. Never again.

Why? My father had a Le Car (aka Renault 5) and I don't remember any major problems with it.

n=1, may I introduce a different n=1?

I'm not trying to disprove their experiences, I'm genuinely wondering what problems the car had.

It wasn't that the car had problems per se, it was just that it was so obvious that they had taken cost cutting a touch too far. The manual choke was a good example, you had to remember to engage it before starting the car and gradually turn it off. The tires were held on with only 3 lug nuts. The exhaust manifold came out through the wheel well, which eventually destroyed my car - it developed a leak and started the rustproofing material on fire.

Thanks! I was probably too young to grasp those annoyances, and the car was destroyed in an accident, not by old age.

I hate the title of this HN post. Why? Because it forces me to click through to read which car the article is talking about.

I would have vastly preferred something like this:

"electric version of Renault's low-cost Kwid being launched now"

I know, I know... The poster simply replicated the title in the actual article. And yet, does it serve HN readers well?

Fairy godmother at your service.

You rock, as always :)

Hopefully the admins will edit it to be a little more informative and less clickbaity.

In some sense it's not worth complaining about this article because most publications seem to have a policy of omitting proper nouns from their headlines. I don't know if it's a form of clickbait or what but it sure does waste the reader's time.

Blame ads. You don't get ad revenue if the headline is replicated elsewhere and drives fewer click through; generates fewer impressions of the ads.

~$10k, 100kms per charge. I'd buy one if it was available outside of china.

You could buy a used leaf today, it has USA safety features, is at that price point (mine cost 9.9k after fees, you can find them now for less) and has more than 100kms range. The leaf is better than this car in a hundred ways.

What could stop this from being grey-market legal in the US? Usually it's tailpipe emissions, which obviously don't apply.

> What could stop this from being grey-market legal in the US?

Impact safety is the usual one besides emissions, which as you note shouldn't be an issue.

Mandatory safety features, lack of impact testing, lack of service/repair infrastructure, and an abundance of <10k used electric cars (leafs for example) that do not have these drawbacks.

How about spontaneously exploding batteries?

The US auto market already has cars that catch fire randomly.

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