Car Talk With the “Driving Dutchman” Highlights Many Green Auto Issues

Testing Better Place Taxi in Tokyo. Will Taxi drivers go for only 130 km per charge?

Jerusalem’s Rusty Mike Radio station is relatively new to the Middle East, but it is already popular with thousands of listeners in worldwide, especially with the station’s Wednesday night Car Talk  talk show that is devoted exclusively to cars and issues related to driving. Moderated by Joop Soesan, formerly from Holland, and who also goes by the name of “the driving Dutchman,”  the one hour program often covers subjects like electric cars, hybrid cars, and the technology behind both.

I attended last Wednesday’s Car Talk program as Soesan’s guest, representing Green Prophet. Subjects covered during the hour long program included issues surrounding various car engine technologies, including biomass fuels and natural gas. Much of our conversation about electric cars centered around those being developed by Better Place Company headed by Mr. Shai Agassi. I described my experience in visiting the Better Place Electric Car Education and Test Drive Center near Tel Aviv .

the-driving-dutchmanJoop Soesan “The Driving Dutchman” in action on Car Talk

Soesan, who frequently test drives many types of cars being introduced into Israel, relayed his own experiences in which he has had the opportunity to actually road test one of the Renault Fluence electric cars that is found to have an even shorter cruising distance range than the 160 km noted at the Better Place Center. “I don’t see how a person can want to drive one of these cars if he has to exchange the battery after such a short distance. The travel range should be more like 300 km,” Soesan noted.

I mentioned that there is a car available, the Tesla sports roadster and coupe models, which is advertised as being able to travel for 160 miles or 257 km. At a price of around $100,000, however, they are out for reach of most drivers.

We agreed that the maximum cruising range for electric cars depends a lot on road and traffic conditions, and whether electricity consuming “accessories” like headlights and air conditioning units are being used. I added a bit of spice to the show by talking about an article I had read in which Mr. Sultan bin Hamad al-Amri, CEO of Oman’s Noor Majan Company is  planning to build what will be the Middle East’s first locally assembled electric car. I added  that the car is claimed to  be capable of having a cruising range of up to 2,250 miles on a single electricity charge, and will even be fitted with massage seats.

This car  will have an 800 hp engine and will be capable of going from 0 to 60 MPH in only 4 seconds. The car’s price tag will be a bit less than the Tesla Motors models, and will go for “somewhere between $71,000 and $90,000.”

We both concluded that it’s best to wait to see further developments on this venture.

In the realm of hybrid cars, the new Chevrolet Volt by GM will have both an electric engine and a small auxiliary gasoline or biofuel engine to “extend” the cruising range of the electric engine. We concluded that the inclusion of a fuel burning engine classifies the car as a hybrid, rather than a truly electric model as the Better Place or Tesla cars.

We also covered the subject of bio-fuels, which include those made from sugars, grain, algae, and even “poop” from animals and humans. I reminded both Soesan and the radio listeners that biofuels are not 100% environmentally friendly and do send emissions into the atmosphere.

We ended the program by discussing the future of cars running on alternative energy, including hydrogen and other fuels, and agreed that it would be great if at least 20 to 25% of all vehicles on the road would use either electricity or another ecologically friendly fuel within the next 20 to 30 years. I noted that China, in particular, is very interested in introducing electric cars on its roads, and noted the tentative agreement that one of its major car producing companies Chery Automobile Co. Ltd has made with Better Place to collaborate on the development of electric cars. We both agreed that despite some developmental issues, the future of electric cars on the roads of many countries seems certain.

Car Talk weekly programs are available by tuning into Rusty Mike Radio, which broadcasts via the internet. In addition to new innovations like electric cars, the Car talk program also covers comparisons between various models. If you’re into cars, Car Talk is worth tuning into.

Photo: Rusty Mike Radio Better Place

Read more on electric and other environmentally friendly cars:
Maurice Test Drives the Better Place Electric Car
A New Chery on Top for Better Place’s Electric Car Infrastructure?
Tesla Motors Electric Car Out of Purchase Range for Most Drivers

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