The chatter among electric vehicle (EV) enthusiasts and investors is all about the launch of the Tesla (NASD:TSLA) model S. A cool ride, no doubt, but not many of us are ever going to buy a sedan that starts at $49,900, even after the $7,500 tax subsidy.
Fortunately for the rest of us, this week also brought news about two much more affordable EVs.
An EV for the 99 Percent
Chicago EV enthusiasts will soon not have to stump up $50K to ride an EV, they’ll be able to ride an EV for just $2. That’s because the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) just placed the first order for two of New Flyer Industries’ (OTC:NFYEF, TSX:NFI) recently launched battery-electric transit bus. The CTA will pay $2.2 million for the buses, and will begin a pilot program to understand how they will operate in Chicago’s harsh climate.
The buses come equipped with traction drives and components from Siemens (NYSE:SI) and will be delivered in 2013.
An EV for the Chinese Working Class
On the other side of the world, the Chinese press identified Kandi Technologies (NASD:KNDI) as a supplier to the City of Hangzhou’s 20,000 vehicle EV rental program. The program will be active in “July and August,” meaning that the first EV purchases will occur within a month.
The vehicles may come from a variety of manufacturers, but only Kandi Technologies (NASD:KNDI) was identified as having a model approved for the program. The reporter was shown a Kandi tw0-seater, and Kandi’s mini-EVs were identified by a local power company official (which is a partner in the program) to “possibly” be promoted as they are “more suitable for city driving.”
Another official stated that the rental fee would be low and affordable to working class families. Previous articles have put the monthly rental at 800 yuan a month, or about $126, a price which includes free charging and battery exchanges. At such low rental prices, Kandi’s $7,500-$8,000 EVs will clearly be favored over their competitors’ EVs, all of which cost more than $20,000. The next-cheapest competitor, the Zoyte Longhorn currently rents for 2400 yuan, or $380 per month in Hangzhou, a price which does not include free charging.
Another reason to think that Kandi’s EVs will make up the bulk of the program is the emphasis on battery exchange. Only Kandi’s EVs were designed as electric vehicles from the ground up, with plans for battery exchange. Competitors such as the Longhorn are modified versions of gas vehicles, and have the batteries under the back seat. This means that battery exchange would require an empty back seat, and considerably more time and effort than Kandi’s quick battery exchange system.
Although we’ve suspected it for some time, this is the first official word that Kandi has been selected as part of Hangzhou’s rental program. From the evidence, it seems that Kandi’s vehicles will not only be included in the program, but they will make up most of the planned 20,000 vehicles.
Disclosure: Long NFYEF, KNDI
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