3 Courageous Individuals Pushing The Limits Of Their Tiny EVs

A couple of weeks in the past, whereas travelling to go to my grandfather, I regarded out the window and seen one thing uncommon.

Driving alongside automobiles, vans, and buses within the roadway (usually utilized by cyclists coaching on Saturday morning), we handed by a number of small electrical mopeds, the likes of which have change into highly regarded in a metropolis as crowded as Bogota. These mopeds are often powered by 500W to 1200W motors, not often help speeds over 50 km/h, and have both lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries below 2kWh capability: under no circumstances are they autos designed for highway journeys.

However the realities of growing international locations are such that individuals can (and can) get by with what they will afford, and never essentially what’s finest suited to the duty. And lots of instances, they’ll publish their tales on social media. So I got down to discover how far individuals are taking their small EVs — clearly not designed for travelling — and what their experiences have been like, significantly within the harsh Colombian geography.

As a facet be aware, many of those mopeds aren’t being registered (despite the fact that they need to be), so monitoring gross sales numbers is difficult, nevertheless it appears the entire variety of electrical two-wheelers bought in 2022 (together with e-bicycles, scooters, and mopeds) corresponded to nearly 10% of nationwide bike gross sales. Remember we’re speaking in regards to the second largest bike market within the Western Hemisphere (822,000 items in 2022), so the numbers are nothing to scuff at.

Journey #1: Girardot—Bogota on a moped

  • Distance: 130 km.
  • Altitude: 350 to 2600 meters over sea degree.
  • Automobile: Bee 1500 Moped (1.5kW).

Bogota, Colombia’s capital metropolis, is positioned at 2600 meters over sea degree. That makes the town surprisingly chilly, and signifies that decrease, hotter cities are standard vacation locations. Girardot, positioned west of Bogota at 300 meters over sea degree, is one in every of these cities.

The journey concerned two “Bee 1500” mopeds with 1.4 kWh and three.6 kWh batteries and a 2.2 kWh spare battery every. Although the common velocity wasn’t talked about, this can be a highway stuffed with turns and stiff climbs, and the 1.5 kW motor may hardly run at greater than 45 km/h.

The journey, although successful, did present the constraints of e-mopeds, as the three.6 kWh one began operating out of capability only one kilometer shy of the best a part of the highway (33 km from Bogota). Paradoxically, the moped with 1.4 kWh capability was in a position to arrive in Bogota with the two.2 kWh spare (which nonetheless had 10% cost), whereas the three.6 kWh one (in concept, having the identical capability as the opposite two collectively) couldn’t, and required its spare battery as nicely. On common, the 2 Bee 1500s had been in a position to get some 35 km/kWh, a powerful consequence given the stiff climb they confronted.

It’s value noting that mopeds and small electrical bikes not often if ever provide quick charging, and most of them additionally lack regenerative braking. These days, the Bee 1500 is being bought within the nation at a price of 6,990,000 COP, or $1,676, for the 1.4 kWh model.

The Girardot–Melgar–Bogota route, displaying the flat valley the place each heat cities stand after which the steep climb to Bogota.

Journey #2: Bogota—Melgar—Bogota in a quadricycle

  • Distance: 107 km.
  • Altitude: 350 to 2600 meters over sea degree.
  • Automobile: Zhidou D2S (30kW)

We’ve already talked about the Zhidou D2S right here on CleanTechnica. It’s the most bought EV in Colombia (although, gross sales fell swiftly in Might to solely 16 items). Armed with a 18 kWh battery, this two-seater guarantees a 150 km vary, although it lacks fast-charging capabilities.

Melgar is positioned close to Girardot, at almost the identical altitude (and is a well-liked journey vacation spot for a similar causes), however 30 km nearer to Bogota. Not like the Bee 1500, the Zhidou D2S does have regenerative braking, which allowed it to complete the 107 km trip with 80% battery due to the altitude distinction between Bogota and Melgar.

Rather more difficult can be the return, going up greater than two kilometers to get to Bogota. The journey began after charging as much as 99%, and like within the earlier case, speeds aren’t talked about, however given the realities of the highway (stuffed with turns and site visitors) it’s doubtless that the common was below 60 km/h.

In any case, the automobile was in a position to enter Bogota with 24% cost, spending one other 6% to reach at its vacation spot with 18% battery cost. The consequence even shocked the proprietor (who wasn’t even positive the Zhidou was going to make it) and offered a median of seven.24 km/kWh, an honest effectivity given the circumstances, however miles away from the Bee 1500 as a result of Zhidou being a lot bigger weight. Nonetheless, if we take into account each elements of the journey, the common goes as much as 11.27 km/kWh, which is a powerful quantity even for a quadricycle.

Journey #3: Bogota–Medellin in a Metropolis Automobile

  • Distance: 412 km.
  • Altitude: 2600 meters to 217 meters to 1475 meters over sea degree.
  • Automobile: Changan E-Star (Changan Benni, 55 kW).

The Changan Benni, re-branded Changan E-Star in Colombia, was bought in 2021 and 2022 at a worth of 85,000,000 COP, or $20,000, for the 32 kWh model. Nonetheless, it’s doubtless the worth would’ve elevated by now. The automobile continues to be on Changan’s native webpage, however the worth has since been eliminated, so maybe a brand new batch will arrive and new pricing will likely be offered, or maybe it’s on its means out.

Regardless, it’s a well-liked(ish) automobile and was utilized by some cab homeowners and rental corporations, granting first rate gross sales whereas it lasted. And one in every of its homeowners determined to strive it on a 412 km journey from Bogota down into the Magdalena Valley and as much as Medellin.

Most of you’d’ve seen by now that that is the primary journey the place the battery simply isn’t sufficient (even with the optimistic 300 km that the E-Star claims to have). That signifies that this journey would require a quick charger … but none is out there in that route, or not less than none that gives the GB/T (Chinese language) commonplace.

And herein lies the difficulty. For, the automotive was in a position to arrive to Magdalena Valley, 190 km from Bogota (on the lowest elevation on the journey), at 67% battery, the place it discovered the one charging station on the route: Terpel Montecristo. But that is an outdated station (the primary one ever positioned within the nation), and it favors CHAdeMO over GB/T, so the automotive wanted to cost utilizing its Kind 2 adapter at an annoyingly low velocity: 5 and a half hours had been wanted to get again to 100%, and no much less could possibly be accepted as a result of the remaining 222 km can be going up as a substitute of down. Certainly, the automotive arrived in Medellin with solely 8% SOC.

But, I discover this consequence spectacular. A 32 kWh metropolis automotive was in a position to go 222 km whereas ascending almost a kilometer and a half. The effectivity quantities to 18 km/kWh on the best way down and seven.5 km/kWh on the best way up, for a complete common of 9.8 km/kWh. The journey took a complete of 12 hours, 6 and a half of which had been driving time (which is across the common for that journey). Because of this the 2 largest Colombian cities solely want a few GB/T quick chargers for these small autos to have the ability to simply go from one to the opposite.

Journeys like these push the bounds of auto and driver each, but they pave the best way for these to come back, and present that even EVs usually restricted to metropolis use can present journey choices. We hope that infrastructure will enhance and lots of extra individuals will take their small EVs (that make up the overwhelming majority of electrical autos right here) to an increasing number of adventurous locations.

Video hyperlinks once more: Journey #1 / Journey #2 / Journey #3


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