What if a company solved the traffic and parking crises of America’s biggest cities while lending a huge helping hand in the fight against climate change?
That’s exactly what Eli Electric, a niche electric vehicle company, is setting out to do.
The company’s mission is to revolutionize the way people travel in urban environments — those 1.5-mile trips in city centers that are too far to walk, where ride-sharing services are too expensive and impractical to cover every day.
The electric scooters you started seeing around 2018 are only a partial answer. For one, most people won’t touch them in adverse weather conditions. You also can’t use a scooter to transport multiple people at once.
And these electric scooters aren’t as environmentally friendly as you’d hope. Scientists at North Carolina University have shown that they carry carbon footprints as big as conventional cars and 3.5 times the size of electric vehicles.
Even so, this partial solution has been lucrative for some investors — Chinese scooter company Niu Technologies’ stock jumped as much as 500% within the span of few months, though shares have since come back down to Earth. Even traditional car companies like Ford Motor Co. F that are staking claims to the scooter-sharing business have risen in recent months.
But the biggest transportation problem for city dwellers remains: How can you move groups of people nimbly from point A to point B, without the inefficiencies of ride-sharing services, public transportation or the inconvenience and environmental costs of traditional cars?
Enter Eli Electric, the miniature electric car designed to transport individuals or families all over cities — without any parking or environmental headaches.
These vehicles, only a little larger than golf carts, have aluminum body frames to minimize their weight and make them as nimble as possible. The two-seater, with extra storage capacity, allows parties of two or more to hitch a ride along with two additional carry-ons — perhaps groceries or baggage from a flight. Eli ZERO cars attain maximum speeds of 25 miles per hour, making them well-suited for slow-moving, inner-city speeds.
They also carry 7% of the carbon footprint of conventional cars — notable when comparing them to other electric vehicles like Teslas, which are actually more carbon-intensive to manufacture than gas guzzlers and only become more environmentally friendly after 20,000 miles driven.
As a study from the Urban Institute has shown, electric vehicles will reduce carbon emissions — but not by enough to meet the government’s lofty decarbonization goals. Transport remains the biggest source of CO2 emissions in America’s economy, and electrifying transit, and not just transport, is the linchpin.
Studies also have shown that people by and large don’t change their carbon-intensive habits — flying, eating beef, cranking up air-conditioning — because of environmental moralizing. Instead, they’re galvanized to action when new technology makes life a little more convenient or thrilling — and just happens to come with environmental benefits. Eli Electric looks well-positioned to do that.
Photo: Courtesy of Eli Electric Vehicles
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