An upcoming event: “The Future of Electric Cars in Australia” an Engineers Australia presentation by Ashley Sanders from Mitsubishi on Wednesday 13th March 6pm, in Newcastle has sparked a debate on electric vehicle design and cost.
Ballina based Hughes Group’s CEO Howie Hughes disagrees with Ashley Sanders comments on electric vehicle design. “Mr Sanders is coming at the problem of electric vehicles from entirely the wrong angle” said Howie. “We have taken a totally different approach in that we have designed and built a prototype electric vehicle based, firstly, on aviation design techniques and secondly, on what is practical to build in Australia given the initially small demand for energy efficient vehicles, products that will reduce carbon emissions.”
There are two issues here. Most people believe the jury is still out on global warming and it will not be until we have cyclones or these devastating floods every week, that there will be real action taken by Governments or private companies. By real action, Howie means actually producing products that make a real difference.
Secondly, to simply remove a petrol engine from a small car and replace it with an electric motor and batteries, is all but pointless in terms of reducing green house gas if the car is still charged from coal fired power. The design parameters Howie employs includes a totally different set of values which include an aerodynamic body for the vehicle, ultra light weight, regenerative breaking, a home based solar charging station, the elimination of many heavy and unnecessary mechanical bits and pieces and a totally different approach to styling and design. Of course, all this will be totally foreign to a company like Mitsubishi who do most of their design based on the opinions of focus groups and market research, Hughes Engineering, on the other hand, employs a more organic approach (that of ”form follows function” ) where the end use of the vehicle has been permitted to define almost all of the design parameters.
The end result is what the company calls the Road-E, (see www.road-e.com.au) a three wheel, two seat long range electric vehicle which is more of a cross between a light aircraft and a super hot motor bike.
The Road-E’s styling has yet to be fully developed however when in production, the vehicle will be a real head turner, unlike any other vehicle on the market and the price, even in limited production, about $30,000 should cover this simple vehicle.
Hughes Engineering has been successfully producing 2, 4 and, in the near future, 6 seat light aircraft for the past 28 years.