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Old 09-14-2010, 04:17 PM   #1
LegoRobot OP
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XM-4000li, my experience going fully electric

Got this about half a year ago after getting fed up with a used Honda that wouldn't turn over half the time (I thought they lasted forever?) I'd heard electrics are especially reliable as the drivetrain has only one moving part. They weren't kidding about that, I've abused the hell out of this thing and it keeps on ticking. There's no transmission (the motor is in the rear wheel) and really nothing to break, so the most maintinence I've had to do is to check the tire pressure and brake fluid levels.






They've started rolling out charging stations after years of talking about it and lucky me, I live near a few of them. The one above is a solar charger, so I can tell off all the people who think electric vehicles are coal powered. :P (Although really it's a non-starter, as electric motors are 85% efficient versus 15-20% for internal combustion engines which lose most of the energy in gasoline to waste heat, vibration and transmission friction. So even if you charged from a 100% fossil fuel grid, EVs use drastically less energy per mile driven and as a result wind up polluting less.)

Heh, if it sounds like I've had to bone up on the details to defend the purchase it's because I have. Lots of people around here grimace at the words "electric vehicle". I don't know why. I like how reliable it is, I like how quiet and smooth the ride is, I like how much quicker it accelerates and that on a cold day even if it only goes half as far, that beats a scooter that won't start at all.

Plus the city's been so kind as to provide curbside charging free of cost until EVs become popular enough that they can make decent money by charging. A neat perk for now, but like many things, too good to last:


The manufacturer says it'll do 60 miles to a charge. What they don't tell you is that's city mileage. It really will do 60 miles or more if I stay downtown all or most of the day but there are times when I've had to take it on the highway (which is doable here since the speed limit's 50mph and the state troopers have really cracked down lately. It'll do a little over 50mph on a peak charge and higher end models will do 60.) it gets all of 30 miles of range when you constantly leadfoot it. Further than it sounds like, if that makes sense. I didn't think it'd be enough until I actually started paying attention to how far I lived from the places I normally go. They averaged 2.5 miles away, with the furthest being 15 miles.

The trick is to get into the habit of plugging in wherever you stop. So often it becomes subconscious. You learn to look for public outdoor outlets, at the base of lampposts or around the outsides of buildings at ankle height. Charging, EV nuts like to say, is what should be happening whenever you're not driving. And if you're consistent about it you can drive nearly twice the vehicle's rated range in the course of a day without ever actually standing by, waiting for it to juice up. It just does it while you're off dicking about somewhere else, taking care of business.

I even took my life in my hands one day by going without the GPS and covering the voltometer. I wanted to see if I could drive more or less blind to the battery level, the carefee way I'd ridden my old gas scooter back when it worked properly. Carefree it was not, more of a schroedinger's cat situation, I was constantly wondering if I was about to run out. But I drove and I drove all day, plugging in wherever I stopped, and by the end of the day when I peeled the tape from over the voltometer it had about 30% left. I'd worried for nothing.

Anyways I suppose I wanted to share this with you in case you'd considered an electric but worried about the range or charging time. They seem like a headache conceptually, but in practice they are pretty unobtrusive. Plug in every time you stop and you can more or less ignore the fact that you ever considered them worrisome in the first place.

LegoRobot screwed with this post 09-14-2010 at 04:23 PM
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:31 PM   #2
approachbears
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Tell us more...cost, battery life (how long til you need to replace 'em), etc...
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:40 PM   #3
LegoRobot OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by approachbears
Tell us more...cost, battery life (how long til you need to replace 'em), etc...
It's a Lithium Ion battery array that looks like this: (Sorry for the small pic)


If I'd waited a bit to buy I could've had one of the newer ones that uses Lithium Iron Phosphate batts (the difference being Li-Ion lasts 5-7 years depending on how hard you drive, LiFePO4 batts last upwards of 10 years) but that's kinda the way batteries are right now, at some point someone voted to drive dumptrucks full of money with the word "stimulus" on the side up to the front doors of battery manufacturers headquarters and offer it to them provided they used it to build lithium battery manufacturing plants. A few really big ones have opened up since then and economies of scale started to pull down the price of Lithium batts from around $1,000/kwh in 2008 to $375 from a few domestic companies in 2010.

That's a real risk, like buying computers was ten years ago, progress was so fast that what you had was made obsolete by something half the cost and twice as good three months later. That's how it is with lithium batteries right now and it's gonna take awhile to cool down.

I can abide though. This scoot cost $4,000 most of which was the battery, but by the time I need a new one they'll be cheap enough that it won't be an issue. Probably give me better range and charging time, too.
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Old 09-14-2010, 05:48 PM   #4
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Cool. How many miles do you have on it? What was the registration process like?
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Old 09-14-2010, 06:17 PM   #5
White Tenere
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You should contact the company and see about a job there!! I mean that in a good way, heck I've talked to salesmen that don't know that much about the bikes they sell..
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Old 09-14-2010, 06:26 PM   #6
btcn
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Wow, that is a very cool looking scooter! It looks like a little maxi scooter. An electric scoot will not work for me though. I simply ride to much! I ride at least 300 miles every weekend, touring all over the bay area, from santa cruise, san fancisco and so on. This would be perfect for commuting though! I could easily have no problem commuting on one! But if I did not ride so much, I would probably be on one, as I considered one when I was looking for scooters.

I agree with you on the reliability as well! My Honda works well most of the time, but it does have a problem every now and then, although being 24 years old probably does not help! To me, it would almost make sense to have both. Have the Gas scoot for fun long weekend rides, and have an electric scoot like this for the commute.

You can actually ride this down the interstate? What is the fastest you have seen on it?

I wish we had plugs in the city like you guys do! We have none in my town. That would really help people buy electric cars and bikes.

Good luck with it!
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:02 PM   #7
EvilGenius
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Are you the legorobot?



Either way, this is interesting and I will subscribe.
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Old 09-15-2010, 01:00 PM   #8
LegoRobot OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilGenius
Are you the legorobot?
"The" legorobot? I do a silly comic, dude. It's no big deal. But yeah.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UP N MTNS
I mean that in a good way, heck I've talked to salesmen that don't know that much about the bikes they sell..
I'm pretty interested in EVs. I could tell you the specs of pretty much any major EV out or coming out in the next few years. It's got my attention because for anyone bored with motoring, it feels fresh and new. There's new terminology to learn, EV drivetrains vary a lot because you can have a transmission or not, put the motors in the wheels or at axle etc. etc. and there are so many different types of batteries with different characteristics. It's an exciting time to be alive, a lot like what it must've been for the first guys who got their hands on horseless carriages.

Quote:
Originally Posted by btcn
To me, it would almost make sense to have both. Have the Gas scoot for fun long weekend rides, and have an electric scoot like this for the commute.
Heh, like having a hybrid cut in half.

Quote:
Originally Posted by btcn
You can actually ride this down the interstate? What is the fastest you have seen on it?
About 55, as I think the original specs assumed a heavier rider. It takes its time getting that extra 5mph, but it's a help on the highway since people around here tend to drive 5mph over the speed limit anyway.

If you were using the highway regularly though, you'd want the 5000li, which will do a little over 60mph. That's about as fast as electric two wheelers of any type can go right now.

The Brammo Empulse is coming out relatively soon, it'll cost $10,000 for the base model (60 mile range) but reportedly it will do 100mph.

LegoRobot screwed with this post 09-15-2010 at 01:17 PM
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Old 09-15-2010, 06:46 PM   #9
btcn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LegoRobot
Heh, like having a hybrid cut in half.


There is actually a scooter close to this that I remember seeing on a website. It is actually half electric and half gas! It is really cool, because you can make it run on just pure electricity and no gasoline what so ever, or hit a little switch and run on pure gas, or you can flick the switch to the middle and run on both, sort of like a hybrid car and get well over 130 mpg. I think they had both a 50 cc and a 150 cc version. I think it would run like 40 mph on electric and 65+ on gas. I think in the hybrid mode it would run like 55 mph.
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:28 PM   #10
MiteyF
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What they don't tell you when selling you these "green" electric scooters is that the batteries are absolutely HORRENDOUS for the environment! Prius' have the same problem. By the time the ore is mined, shipped, refined and the batteries constructed, not to mention DISPOSAL of these terrible chemicals, you'd have been better off riding a real internal combustion something or other as far as the environment goes...
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LegoRobot
"The" legorobot? I do a silly comic, dude. It's no big deal. But yeah.
Cool.



I find it interesting that the city provides outlets. Makes sense, but strange because we have nothing like that over here.

So you've never had an issue with parking next to a building and using one of their out door outlets?

I figure if you only go by the place a few times a week for a short period of time they probably won't see a difference in their electrical bill, but it sounds like something that a business owner would be pissy about over here.
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Old 09-15-2010, 09:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MiteyF
What they don't tell you when selling you these "green" electric scooters is that the batteries are absolutely HORRENDOUS for the environment! Prius' have the same problem. By the time the ore is mined, shipped, refined and the batteries constructed, not to mention DISPOSAL of these terrible chemicals, you'd have been better off riding a real internal combustion something or other as far as the environment goes...
Like combustion somethings don't have batteries and other horrible stuff in them.
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Old 09-15-2010, 09:55 PM   #13
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Did you know a Prius pollutes more in it's lifetime than an original diesel Humvee? Just food for thought. One small lead acid car battery that lasts 150k is a lot better than a whole bunch (or one GIANT) lithium ions that will barely last 100k. Just sayin.
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Old 09-17-2010, 05:18 PM   #14
LegoRobot OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MiteyF
What they don't tell you when selling you these "green" electric scooters is that the batteries are absolutely HORRENDOUS for the environment! Prius' have the same problem. By the time the ore is mined, shipped, refined and the batteries constructed, not to mention DISPOSAL of these terrible chemicals, you'd have been better off riding a real internal combustion something or other as far as the environment goes...
Actually, this is true of most types of batteries (lead acid, nickel metal hydride, basically any chemistry reliant on toxic heavy metals) but not lithium based batteries.

Lithium is produced from lithium carbonate, a mineral salt harvested from surface flats, not mined, and it's nontoxic (you may have heard of people taking small amounts of lithium for medicinal purposes). The manufacturing process does not require dirty smelting (as with NiMH or Lead Acid) because Lithium is a soft, sticky metal that can be extruded instead.

Lastly, lithium batteries for EVs will be recycled. The amount of lithium they contain makes them too valuable to simply throw away.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MiteyF
Did you know a Prius pollutes more in it's lifetime than an original diesel Humvee? Just food for thought. One small lead acid car battery that lasts 150k is a lot better than a whole bunch (or one GIANT) lithium ions that will barely last 100k. Just sayin.
Priuses do not use lithium batteries. They use NiMH batteries, which I agree are dirty for the reasons mentioned above. However hybrids are still much cleaner than humvees. You may have heard conservative radio hosts assert otherwise, but I offer you an MIT study of the wheel to well efficiency of electric vehicles (and hybrids) versus gasoline vehicles. Hybrids fare pretty well even with NiMH batteries, although of course lithium batteries would be cleaner.

Oh, and one more thing; the lead acid battery in your car is among the dirtiest types possible, mainly due to the lead plates and sulfuric acid electrolyte it contains. I don't know where you got the idea that it's less polluting to create, operate or recycle than a lithium battery, but I'm willing to bet it's from a source with a partisan political motive.

LegoRobot screwed with this post 09-17-2010 at 05:29 PM
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Old 09-17-2010, 05:55 PM   #15
approachbears
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MiteyF
Did you know a Prius pollutes more in it's lifetime than an original diesel Humvee? Just food for thought. One small lead acid car battery that lasts 150k is a lot better than a whole bunch (or one GIANT) lithium ions that will barely last 100k. Just sayin.
MiteyF, I cut you some slack when you first posted asking why anyone would ever ride a scooter. It seemed like you were genuinely asking and I tried to answer. But as that thread wore on and your lack of knowledge became clearer you sounded more like a parroting troll. This foolish post indicates as much.
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