Battle Of The 3-wheelers

Arcimoto plans to achieve its mission by replacing the global urban and suburban use of 4,000 lb. internal combustion engine vehicles for regular daily trips with the Arcimoto SRK, a pure electric solution that is a quarter of the weight, a third the purchase cost, and ten times as efficient as the U.S. average passenger car.The Arcimoto SRK delivers an estimated 230 MPGe ultra-efficient operation — all at an affordable target base model price of $11,900. Arcimoto has taken the SRK from a napkin sketch, through eight generations of product development, to a refined design on the cusp of series production and market availability.””
 
See Maker of 3-wheeler EV Arcimoto looks to raise $10M in initial public offering
 

“Powering the SOLO is a 16.1 kWh lithium ion battery. The chassis is made of a composite aerospace lightweight material combined with an aluminum drivetrain which both contribute to an overall vehicle weight of approximately 1,000 lbs. The IT in the SOLO is state-of-the-art, it can be charged with both 220V and 110V, has ten cubic feet of carpeted cargo space, goes from 0-60 mph in under eight seconds, and cruises along at 80 mph.”
 
See Charged Up: Electric Cars Are Morphing Into Many Species
This makes things interesting. Now there are three contenders in the North American small commuter space, including the ICEd Elio. I won’t dwell on that last one because it’s damned to using petroleum for energy. That’s so 20th century. This millenium, people want to drive smarter electrically.

The upstart isn’t really an upstart. Arcimoto has been around for years but just now got around to raising serious money and putting a design into production. It’s “efficiency” is debatable too. With all that air-drag hanging out there, I doubt 220MPGe is possible at highway speeds. Meanwhile Electra Meccanica Solo is streamlined up to the nth degree and is actually in limited production. EMV has spent millions getting to this stage and they used the Corbin Sparrow as a starting point. If you don’t want wind in your hair, I think Solo has a huge advantage as well as more luggage space. The Arc does carry one passenger more or less in comfort but it still looks and feels like a motorcycle. I’d bet Solo would be way more comfortable when the bugs are flying or in winter. Arc has front wheel drive so in slippery conditions it will fishtail or spin. Solo at least has neutral torque under slippage.

So, my money is on Solo. It would be a major shift in lifestyle to switch to Arc and except for a passenger, it’s a lot less flexible. I still question the efficiency. You can’t get more range per kWh by dragging more air around. Solo’s slightly higher price is worth it. I’ll drive it more in greater comfort and at lower cost in the long run. I believe Solo will cost less in energy so eventually the price difference will be overcome. Further, Arc can be bought with side-panels for $3K more, so the price difference between comparable models is only $1K and still I question the difference in drag.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.

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18 Responses to Battle Of The 3-wheelers

  1. DrLoser wrote, ” It is not a fact that having a fat old man in a small plastic compartment continually setting light to his own farts will keep the ambient temperature up.”

    I’m Canadian. I know how to stay warm in winter to stay alive.

    See Quinzee

    “Temperature inside a snow shelter can be 32 degrees or warmer even when the outside temperature is -40 degrees.”

    Heat flows from high temperature to low. Even a little heat across a high thermal resistance makes a big temperature difference. Batteries and aluminium/carbon-fibre sandwiches are not great insulators but they do have some thermal resistance. That means the battery will be between ambient and interior temperature. Since there’s as much thickness from the battery to ambient as from the battery to the interior, the temperature of the battery will be about half the temperature difference, enough to make the battery work much better than at ambient temperature.

  2. DrLoser says:

    You are totally forgetting the temperature of the battery. It’s not at ambient outdoor temperature but half-way between the inside and outside temperature. That’s a fact. Do the maths.

    I’m sorry, Robert, that you are exhibiting pig-headed ignorance. You want us to do the maths? Show us the equations, then.

    It’s a fact that batteries, of any kind, exhibit an “undesirable performance curve” when you measure stored power against the ambient temperature. It is not a fact that having a fat old man in a small plastic compartment continually setting light to his own farts will keep the ambient temperature up.

    But hey, fart on, old man.

    You won’t get one of these disastrous … things. And you will thank us when you don’t. But, in the mean time, since you wish to save money and do the environment a favour:

    Why not just buy a $1,000 beater that does 35+ miles to the gallon? That should keep you toddling along on errands for the next three years, and you’d actually be amortizing the energy and resources spent on building the thing in the first place!

    And in two years, who knows? A realistic battery-powered auto might come on to the market.

  3. Grece wrote, “since it is freezing outside, you would only achieve about 50% of that”.

    You are totally forgetting the temperature of the battery. It’s not at ambient outdoor temperature but half-way between the inside and outside temperature. That’s a fact. Do the maths. An analogue is Ohm’s law. If a current, the flow of heat, passes through two equal resistors in series, what is the voltage/temperature at the halfway point? It’s the arithmetic mean of the voltage/temperature across the network. So, the battery is not at outdoor temperature because two sides of the battery face the interior temperature.

    In many EVs, the battery is a rectangular array but the Solo uses just two separate rows of cells. It’s still about the same geometry with the heat-flow causing a temperature drop between the inside and the outside. The windchill doesn’t make that much difference because it only affects the temperature of the outer skin which can’t go below ambient. I’m willing to concede ambient and my argument still holds no matter what the wind. So, don’t think of the battery at -25C. Think of it at -10C or even a bit higher if the interior is warm.

    The temperature doesn’t magically make energy disappear in the battery. The charge is still there. It’s the output voltage that is reduced by temperature and the internal resistance which is increased. If the battery is warmed up the charge it contains is still available to be used by Solo. Even a little warming from leaking heat from the interior helps. I could see an after-market battery-blanket working too. If one heats the battery on two sides while charging, it’s probably good for full effect on short trips even in the coldest temperature. I won’t quit using Solo because it’s cold outside but I may reduce the length of trips and avoid any depth of snow.

  4. Grece says:

    Yes, yes Robert, that’s all great and stuff, but you are failing to remember that you are setting in your uninsulated Bolo going 80 kilometers. You are not thinking about wind-chill and conduction through the chassis of the vehicle. How much heat will the 18650 battery arrays see? You stated 10%? So in essence stealing mileage/range from the vehicle.

    So using back of the envelope math, 16kWh gives you ~100 miles of range.

    10% of that would be 1.6kWh used to heat said battery, while losing ~10 miles range. So placing us in the 80-90 mile range. But since it is freezing outside, you would only achieve about 50% of that, placing you in the 40-45 mile range. Does that sound reasonable for a $15K USD vehicle?

    Lets do some reading, shall we? Perhaps you need some guidance from a fellow Canadian.

    As all drivers in cold countries know, a warm battery cranks the car engine better than a cold one. Cold temperature increases the internal resistance and lowers the capacity. A battery that provides 100 percent capacity at 27°C (80°F) will typically deliver only 50 percent at –18°C (0°F). The momentary capacity-decrease differs with battery chemistry.

    The performance of all batteries drops drastically at low temperatures; however, the elevated internal resistance will cause some warming effect because of efficiency loss during use. At –20°C (–4°F) most batteries stop functioning. Although NiCd can go down to –40°C (–40°F), the permissible discharge is only 0.2C (5-hour rate). Specialty Li-ion can operate to a temperature of –40°C but only at a reduced discharge rate; charging at this temperature is out of the question. With lead acid there is the danger of the electrolyte freezing, which can crack the enclosure. Lead acid freezes quicker with a low charge when the specific gravity is more like water than when fully charged.

    http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/discharging_at_high_and_low_temperatures

  5. Grece wrote, “body-heat transference would be NULL, as all the skin would be covered during winter”.

    That’s nonsense. There are no great insulators. Parkas just slow down heat-transfer. They don’t stop it. That would cause bodies to sweat just sitting still as they overheat.

    Grece also wrote, “how many BTU’s is this heater putting out, and does it have ducts leading to the battery compartment?”

    It puts out about 10% of the cruising power of the Solo and it heats the battery-compartment by conduction not transport. The battery-compartment has two sides towards the cockpit. Heat will flow into the battery-compartment from the cockpit provided the cockpit is warmer than the battery. To a rough approximation, the battery would be at the arithmetic mean of the outside temperature and the cockpit temperature, probably 10-20C higher than outside temperature in our winter. e.g. If outside temperature is -25C and inside temperature is +10C, the battery would be at -7C. In most EVs, the heater can run during charging so the battery would be warmed a bit from the start as well as by the charging current.

    This effect is visible every winter in my “unheated” garage. It’s attached to our house and is always 10-15C warmer than outside except when the door is open. For much of the winter, ice/snow melts from the car when it is brought into the garage. I saw a similar effect when I was a boy on the farm. The body heat of cattle and horses in the barn did actually heat the space considerably, to near-freezing compared to the bitter cold outside. One did not need to wear mitts in the barn in winter when the cattle were in there. I also saw this effect when in a “snow-fort”, igloo or quinzy. Body heat made one warm and comfortable to the point that a parka could be opened with no discomfort and was actually necessary to prevent sweating even in the depth of winter. We used to play outdoors and it was easier to crawl into one of our snow-caves than retreat indoors to warm up.

  6. Grece says:

    Body heat plus the interior car-warmer/defogger. There will be a temperature difference between the interior and exterior and the battery will share that difference. It will keep the battery from reaching -40C or whatever the winter has to offer.

    We already visited the point that body-heat transference would be NULL, as all the skin would be covered during winter. So continuing on, how many BTU’s is this heater putting out, and does it have ducts leading to the battery compartment?

    Bear in mind, for the notion of air-ducting to function, there MUST be moving HOT air. Perhaps the BOLO has integrated air-piping in the chassis with a flapper valve of sorts.

    Looking at the chassis in detail, I seriously doubt that is the case here.

    http://www.design-engineering.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Solo-EV-Chassis.jpeg

  7. Grece wrote, “What heat are you referring to Robert?”.

    Body heat plus the interior car-warmer/defogger. There will be a temperature difference between the interior and exterior and the battery will share that difference. It will keep the battery from reaching -40C or whatever the winter has to offer.

  8. Grece says:

    In winter heat from the interior warms the battery.

    What heat are you referring to Robert? Body heat?? As humans are homiothermic creatures. The rate at which heat is produced depends primarily on our metabolic rate. Since the occupant of the Bolo is sedentary, producing a single metabolic rate and as we shall see, heat exchange with our environment is primarily via the skin. But since it is winter and your clothed head-to-tow, none of that applies. So where is the heat??

    In summer, there’s good thermal contact with the shaded interior and the outside air.

    The 18650 battery array that Jerry builds has no thermal padding, and are installed in a sealed compartment. If they have access to the air, then they have access to moisture, which leads to shorting-out Robert. Are you saying that the Bolo is fundamentally flawed?

    Electrical items cannot be exposed to the elements Robert!

  9. Grece wrote, “Considering that the batteries in question are neither heated no cooled, I suspect the useful life is considerably less then norm.”

    The battery is in a long row between the passenger compartment and the outside. In winter heat from the interior warms the battery. In summer, there’s good thermal contact with the shaded interior and the outside air. So Grece demonstrates again so little understanding of reality. Other cars, hauling around useless weight have need of a rectangular matrix of cells. This is again an example of good design, optimized by Maya Heat Transfer Technology.

  10. Grece says:

    Electra Meccanica offers a comprehensive bumper-to-bumper warranty package for two years of unlimited mileage and a five-year battery warranty.

    So, two-years on the vehicle and five-years on the battery, eh. Do you have that in writing in your purchase agreement, that you mysteriously refuse to produce?

    Is the warranty for the battery prorated or non-prorated? Do you even remotely know??

    Considering that the batteries in question are neither heated no cooled, I suspect the useful life is considerably less then norm.

  11. Grece wrote, “your batteries will only last 3 years at best, before serious degradation”.

    Strange. The battery is guaranteed for five years to ~80% capacity. That’s why some drivers report ranges up to 200 km, with a new battery. Garbage in, garbage out for Grece’s reasoning. Note the battery is not anything like the tiny flat-packs in smartphones. Lithium iron phosphate batteries may last many thousands of 80% discharge cycles. Nissan changes very few batteries for Leaf every year despite hundreds of thousands in use. They guarantee their batteries for ten years and plan to sell used batteries to individuals for energy storage.

  12. Grece wrote, ” suspect that when the TLW see’s the hydro bill jump three to five-hundred dollars, due to Roberts electric toy”.

    My plans include short trips of 5-60 miles and longer trips to about 600 miles. $600 a month, $20 per day, would require 200 kWh per day, more than Solo can charge in 24h let alone drive. Even my longest trip would cost only ~$20 for electricity, well below the “radar”. I expect TLW will ask for some accounting and I will be able to pay for travel from my annuity. She can always check the odometer… Electricity costs about one cent per kilometre @ 10km/kWh and a kWh costs about 10 cents here.

  13. Grece says:

    With Solo, costs are less, about $250 per annum for electricity, maintenance maybe $50, and insurance $750.

    Robert, you are delusional. I already told you the warranty for your parts run out in two years. In addition to that, your batteries will only last 3 years at best, before serious degradation.

    Generally the batteries used in Bolo are rated for around 300 charge/discharge cycles. They should last at least a year of relatively heavy use, in heavy rotation (daily charge/discharge) batteries will drop to less than 70% capacity in about 8 or 9 months.

    Then BAM!….you are stuck with buying a set of new batteries. A good example of this is a laptop battery, they are good for awhile, but after a few years the batteries won’t hold a charge like they did brand-new.

    I bet Jerry has the means to sell you a “new” battery, but at an over-marked cost.

    It all good….CHUCKLE.

  14. Grece says:

    I suspect that when the TLW see’s the hydro bill jump three to five-hundred dollars, due to Roberts electric toy it will not be tolerated and be unplugged.

  15. The Wiz wrote, “I’m willing to bet that once you get to do a test drive of one, you may be singing a different tune.”

    Only one test-driver reports any issues of quality or specs. So, I think I will be OK with Solo unless there is a serious deviation from range/capacity/charging. None of the testers cared enough about those issues to report using numbers so I will continue to give EMV the benefit of the doubt. I will certainly report on range v speed and charging performance when I drive mine, sooner or later. I envisage doing some test-driving the first day for normal operation tootling around my neighbourhood. It might take until the second day to verify range v speed etc. but I will publish the data whatever the result. I will also publish visits to a list of public charging stations in Manitoba to show people they needn’t have any range anxiety.

  16. wizard emiritus says:

    “Solo is viable just on economic grounds, costs of commuting to work for decades, ”

    Bushwah. Solo is nothing but promises and wishful thinking on your part at this point. Come back to us when you actually have taken delivery and have been driving yours.

    Frankly, I’m willing to bet that once you get to do a test drive of one, you may be singing a different tune.

  17. Kurkosdr wrote about, “most greenies”

    I doubt K knows “most greenies”.Solo is viable just on economic grounds, costs of commuting to work for decades, so it’s not just about greenies.
    On that last point, consider a guy commuting 50 miles per day for 20 years. Cost of gasoline is ~$9 per day, $180 per month, $2160 per annum. Cost of maintenance is $500 per annum. Insurance, $1K per annum. With Solo, costs are less, about $250 per annum for electricity, maintenance maybe $50, and insurance $750. So, the Solo driver is saving $2610 per annum, the cost of a Solo every 8 years. So, the Solo driver gets to drive a $free car while the ICEd guy gets to pay for his car twice, once at purchase and once every eight years in operation. If you go for longer drives, as I intend, break-even is a few years sooner for Solo. See, it’s not just about being green but being economical.

  18. Kurkosdr says:

    12 grand for a three-wheeler death trap with no doors (essentially a golf-cart barrelling down the highway at highway speeds). The greenies are an easy mark for con-artists.

    Of course, most greenies are smart enough to not put their money where their mouth is, which is the reason such vehicles are extremely low production, if they ever get beyond the few dozen examples mark.

    Of course, there is “preordering” like in Solo’s case, which allows people to create the impression of putting their money where their mouth is, without actually doing so, getting the benefits of both approaches.

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