Hyundai Casper & Kia Ray

Rendering speculating on the appearance of a European version of the Hyundai Casper, to be available at the end of 2024, at a price under €20 000.

Sometimes, interesting statistics just pass through my reading conduit, mentally noted, but not recorded. For example, at some point it was claimed that the median age of the owners of new Suzuki vehicles was the highest in Norway. I believe it was somewhere in the early 60s. Because this was at the brand level I was not surprised. I realized that all of the Suzuki owners I knew were mature. However, if the result was based on a specific Suzuki model, I would have been more surprised.

Reading does not give me all the answers. There are situations where I learn things on the streets. A new example, all those observations where one guesses the apparent demographic makeup of vehicle drivers. Many vehicle models are driven by a mix of genders and ages. There are exceptions. Drivers of a BMW i3 are predominantly female. The owners I know are all women teachers, except for one outlier in California. In terms of age, drivers of Hyundai Atos have always looked old! So do drivers of its replacement, the Hyundai i10. These are the two models I expected to have the oldest owners. These are not cars that the youngest drivers eagerly await to inherit from generous grandparents.

As Norway heads deeper into its final year allowing sale of new internal combustion engine ( ICE) vehicles, I have been wondering what older people without the cash to buy a Tesla Y will be acquiring. It is a relevant question, to be asked everywhere. Electric vehicles (EVs) are still less affordable than ICE vehicles.

I had expected Hyundai to update its i10 to an EV. This appears to be an incorrect assessment. European media speculates that Hyundai’s smallest EV will be the Casper. If you think this vehicle is named after a friendly ghost, you are only partially correct. According to Hyundai, it was named after a skateboarding technique, that was named after this ghost.

The Hyundai Casper is an A-segment (Europe)/ city car (North America) vehicle. Hyundai claims it is the world’s smallest crossover SUV. The precise size of the EV version is unknown (to me, anyway) at this point but it will probably not be more than: 3.60 (length) x 1.60 (width) x 1.60 (height) meters. The model is currently under development in Japan. Interesting, because Hyundai is a South Korean brand, and the primary market is Europe.

It is to be equipped with an American Borg-Warner iDM 146 = integrated (electric) drive module, that operates with 400 V, and provides a peak output of 70 to 100 kW. Torque is stated to be from 1500 – 2000 Nm. Press releases about the motor state: “its modular design allows power and torque output to be scaled specifically to customer requirements.” Several automotive journalists claim a 0 – 100 km/h acceleration at 6.5 s. It is not quite as fast as that of a B-segment Volvo EX30, but fast enough for most people. It will also be equipped with a 39 kWh battery, giving an estimated range of about 300 km, but this is disputed. Fast charging from 10 – 80% takes about 40 minutes.

Note: I find much of the content about the Casper specifications from automotive journalists (and others) difficult to accept. Some have specified a power of 135 kW, which is outside the Borg-Warner range for this model of motor. If this were 135 horse power, then this is at the top end of the range, 100 kW. Then there are questions about torque. Torque values of 1500 Nm have been offered by journalists. Values from there to 2000 Nm are given in written material from Borg-Warner. Thus, I wonder if Americans, used to measuring torque in foot-pounds, and not understanding acceptable values in Nm, have made a decimal placement error, so that the torque is between 150 and 200 Nm. A VW electric motor common on ID series vehicles, with 150 kW, typically produces 310 Nm of torque. A standard 2024Tesla Y with 220 kW of power, has 420 Nm of torque. An A-segment Fiat 500e has 86 kW of power and 220 Nm of torque.

European models will be made at the Nošovice, Czech Republic, factory. As long as a few other conditions are met, this allows the model to be treated as a European vehicle, in terms of government subsidies.

According to a video on The Auto Vision – The Korean Car News (YouTube) Channel, there is some possibility that the Casper could also be offered for sale in North America. Hyundai is planning to open an EV plant near Savannah, Georgia. With the right mixture of ingredients this could also allow North American subsidies.

Part of the appeal of the Casper, and similar vehicles, by older drivers, is the height of the vehicle, which gives a better view of the road, which can (to some extent) compensate for reduced reaction speeds. In other European countries, narrow vehicles are appreciated, because they suit narrow medieval streets. In Norway it is narrow rural roads. Everywhere, this type of vehicle is only filled with one or two people, if it is used for commuting. It is not suitable everywhere, but is useful in areas without adequate public transport, but with adequate parking. Frequently, this type of vehicle will appeal to older drivers, especially when provided with advanced driver-assistance systems. Many retired people do not need or want a large car.

Kia Ray

There is also speculation that Hyundai could make a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) version of the Casper. Yes, it would be sensible for Hyundai to produce something that looks like a Kia Ray. The Ray is 10 cm taller than the Casper. Otherwise most specifications are almost the same.

Hobbies can influence vehicle purchases. I am not convinced that a couple of sets of golf clubs will fit into a Casper, but they probably will fit into a Ray. So people who need to transport large items, such as teenagers, may prefer an MPV.

Since Hyundai tries to keep both brands alive in Europe, it is possible that such a van could be made at Kia’s manufacturing plant in Europe is located in in Žilina, Slovakia.

Driver assistance system features include: Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist and Safe Exit Warning. Convenience features include: a ventilated driver’s seat and air-purification mode. Perhaps the most unique feature is its rear passenger doors. These are sliding on the curb side of the vehicle, but swing-out on the opposite side. Regard the swing-out door as an emergency exit.


Since the beginning of 2023, Hyundai has only sold EVs in Norway. Currently these are: the Kona, Ioniq 5, Ioniq 6 and Ioniq 5 N. The Kona is front-wheel drive (FWD), the others have all-wheel drive (AWD) as an option, although I have never experienced anyone buying one without that option. Norwegians also prefer cars with trailer hitches and roof racks. The Norwegian Hyundai website, has a page dedicated to trailer hitches, and the carrying capacity of each model, which is for trailers with brakes, 750 kg for some Konas and 300 kg for others, 1 500 kg for the Ioniq 6, and 1 600 kg for the Ioniq 5. While there are pickups in Norway, they are not a popular choice. Almost everyone has access to a utility trailer!

Currently, the suggestion is that Casper will come with FWD, not AWD. I suspect that its purchasers will be a wider demographic than that of the Atos or i10: Older drivers may want to buy one as their only car; middle aged drivers may choose one as a second car, used for commuting; younger drivers may relish the opportunity to buy an affordable vehicle. In a few years time, even the very youngest drivers may eagerly await the inheritance of a Casper from generous grandparents.


This is a Volkswagen Sportswagen HyMotion vehicle with H2 fuel cell technology. The photo is from 2014, and shows technology developed by Ballard Power Systems of Burnaby, British Columbia. Photo: Volkswagen.

HyMotion is the name Volkswagen applied to its hydrogen fuel cell prototypes. This post is mainly about Volkswagen, a company that was forced to transition to electric vehicles, because of Diesel-gate. The American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) , had found that Volkswagen had intentionally programmed turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engines to activate their emissions controls only during laboratory emissions testing, which caused the vehicles’ NOx output to meet US standards during regulatory testing. However, the vehicles emitted up to 40 times more NOx in real-world driving.

About the same time, concerns about the danger of global warming led many countries to set up a timeline to phase out fossil fueled vehicles. It is actually a case of too little, too late. The European Union seemed to be heading in this direction, but then on 2023-03-28 it approved legislation ending sales of new carbon-emitting cars by 2035, but made an exception for E-fuel based internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, due to lobbying from Germany. That means ICE cars will continue to be available for sale after 2035, but will need to be fitted or retrofitted with fuelling inducement system technology to prevent the use of fossil fuels. E-fuels are synthetic fuels, regarded by some as carbon neutral because they are produced by capturing CO2, which offsets the emissions from usage. Carbon neutrality is not always the case. In contrast, hydrogen vehicles emit water vapour and warm air, while BEVs have zero tailpipe emissions.

The challenge is that billionaires, and other wealthy people immediately under them in terms of class, want supercar toys, powered by E-fuels. What E-fuel advocates either fail to understand, or more likely are not concerned about, are the dangers of combustion on living creatures, particularly the role of PM 2.5 particulates. In addition, vehicular noise pollution also becomes an issue, as people seek quieter cities, and other places to live.

After the Diesel-gate scandal broke in 2015, Volkswagen saw electrification as a way to redeem itself. New fossil-fueled light vehicles will not be available for sale after 2024-12-31. Many brands, including Hyundai, have already stopped selling ICE vehicles. Volkswagen in Norway will not sell them after 2023-12-31. Already now, almost 90% of light vehicle sales are battery EVs. Hydrogen vehicles are sold, but in insignificant numbers. I am not certain if Norway is following EU regarding E-fuels. However, there will be social pressure exerted on any potential E-fuel users, who will be seen as violators of the Norwegian social contract.

The motivation to write this post, followed an announcement by Volkswagen Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Oliver Blume (1968 – ), that the group would transition to hydrogen powered vehicles, after 2030! Previously, 2022-07-03, Blume had supported E-fuels as an effective, complementary solution to making cars cleaner. “Combustion engines can be powered with e-fuels in a virtually carbon-neutral manner. They don’t have to be converted or retrofitted for it. E-fuels can be offered as an admixture or alone at all filling stations. We have to offer an option to the owners of existing vehicles too.” This misses the point that combustion makes a major contribution to debilitating heath issues through the release of PM 2.5 particulates. It also shows his background as CEO of the Porsche division.

In addition, Blume seemed to be more concerned about the economic health of fuel providers. “If produced on an industrial scale, prices of less than $2 per litre could be possible. The important thing is that synthetic fuels are produced sustainably and in places in the world where renewable energy is abundant – then the higher energy input for production is irrelevant. E-fuels produced from water and the carbon dioxide extracted from the air for automobiles, planes and ships have the advantage over pure hydrogen that they can be transported more easily.”

Ballard Power Systems of Burnaby, British Columbia has developed technology for hydrogen fuel cell products, including membrane electrode assembly, plate and stack components. On 2015-02-11 it sold its technology for light vehicles to Volkswagen Group, but retained the rights to this technology for buses and non-automotive uses. Volkswagen introduced its Ballard based technology to the world in the form of four Volkswagen and Audi fuel cell concept vehicles at the Los Angeles auto show in 2014-11.

Since then, Volkswagen has gone on to develop further fuel cell technology. German patent DE 10 2020 119 021 B3 was issued on 2021-07-29 to Volkswagen and Kraftwerk Tubes. It involves a ceramic fuel cell membrane. Allegedly, this is cheaper to manufacture than a polymer membrane, as found on Toyota and Hyundai fuel cell vehicles. It works without any need for an expensive platinum electrocatalyst. Volkswagen states that this will allow them to produce vehicles with a 2 000 km range.

Volkswagen brand’s CEO Thomas Schäfer (1970 – ), said that E-fuels were unnecessary noise, and that hydrogen has some big disadvantages compared to battery technology and that it’s not for Volkswagen, at least not in the next ten years because it is not competitive, especially not for passenger cars, as the fuel tanks take up space in the cabin.

Still earlier, Blume’s predecessor Herbert Diess (1958 – ), criticized H2 fuel cell vehicles, referring to a report from Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) that concluded hydrogen vehicles are not the way to achieve climate neutrality. Battery electric cars (BEVs) are more sustainable and can be a more environmentally-conscious option for those who are concerned about their car’s emissions.

A move to H2 fuel cells and away from batteries does not seem to be the smartest move, for several reasons. While there are a certain number of early adapters, most of these interested in alternative vehicles have already taken the EV leap/ plunge, finding it a more appropriate solution for themselves than a H2 fuel cell vehicle. This is mainly an operating cost issue, but also a space issue, but increasingly a model availability issue. There are few fuel cell vehicle model choices. EVs have become dominant, with models suitable for a variety of use cases. People are unlikely to reassess their preference for EVs, especially considering that the operating costs of a H2 vehicle are several times higher than that of an EV. Of course, there are others who are brand loyal, irrespective of how stupidly the company they support acts. In Norway, when an EV needs charging, it is typically plugged in at 22:00, when energy prices are lowest. By morning, it is “fully” charged, typically to 80%, to preserve battery life.

A key word is convenience. In much the same way that workers find it more convenient to work at home, and are reluctant to return to the office, most electric vehicle operators find it more convenient to charge at home, and are reluctant to return to a fueling station. Home charging is a habit that grows quickly, especially when commercial high-speed charging is expensive, and offers no to few advantages. H2 is even more expensive.

A previous post discussed the colours of hydrogen, the assorted types of H2 available, based on how it is produced. About 95% of that H2 is methane based, meaning that it is essentially a fossil fuel, that produces CO2. Other types/ colours of H2 are more environmentally friendly, but with the power produced costing about three times more than electrical power from other sources such as wind, solar or hydro. Given a choice, I doubt if consumers would be willing to pay this for this fuel, given the availability of cheaper, more environmentally friendly alternatives (read: BEVs).

In 2023-06, three H2 stations in South Korea received contaminated black hydrogen, produced using steam methane reformation (SMR) — from Korea Gas’ Pyongtaek facility. Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells used in hydrogen-powered cars need H2 with a purity of 99.9% to safely operate. SMR produces hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). A water-gas shift reaction is usually turns the CO into CO2, while the CO2 is removed using pressure-swing adsorption. In this particular case, some CO or CO2 may not have been properly removed. These impurities can cause irreversible damage, necessitating the replacement of the PEM and other components. For example, CO adsorbs strongly on the platinum electrocatalyst, and CO in hydrogen fuel degrades the performance of the polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC).

On 2019-16-10, an explosion destroyed a Uno-X hydrogen fueling station at Sandvika, near Oslo, Norway. This was covered in one post initially, then followed up in a second post, some two weeks later. More recently on 2023-07-18, hydrogen buses were being fueled at a Golden Empire Transit facility, in Bakersfield, California when one of the buses caught fire. One bus was destroyed and the dispensing portion of the hydrogen fueling station damaged.

In the world there are about 625 public hydrogen fueling stations, according to one source. At the top of the list are: Japan with 175, USA with 107, Germany with 92, China with 88 and France with 40. In Canada there are 8, of which 6 are located in British Columbia (Burnaby, Kelowna, Marpole in Vancouver, North Vancouver (2) and Victoria). There is also one in Mississauga, Ontario and another in Quebec City, Quebec. In Scandinavia, Norway and Denmark have 7 each, Sweden has 5, Iceland has three, while Finland has none. There is actually one located 124 km (1h 51m driving time) south of Cliff Cottage. It is the most northerly in Norway. Except, a Norwegian source states that there are only three H2 fueling stations currently operating in Norway! Interested readers can take it upon themselves to find the correct number of H2 fueling stations in the world. It is probably over 500, but less than 1 000. Currently, one source indicates that there are about 115 000 gas stations in the USA.

Ammonia (NH3) has also been suggested as an energy bearer. This will not be discussed here, except to reference a source for further information.

If Blume is wanting to shift to fuel cells to increase range, he should be aware that researchers at Pohang University of Science & Technology in China have found a way to multiply the energy storage of a battery by ten. An anode stores power when charging and releases it to provide power. Currently, most modern lithium batteries use an anode made of graphite. Other materials, like silicon, have a higher energy capacity, but researchers have been unable to create a stable battery with a silicon anode. This is because the reactions inside the battery cause the silicon to expand dangerously. A research team has created a binding material that will keep a high-capacity silicon anode from expanding.

Currently, the specific energy of a lithium-ion battery is 100–265 Wh/kg (0.360–0.954 MJ/kg). Our Buzz has a 80 kWh battery providing a theoretical 400 km of range. Using the above data, the battery mass should vary from 800 kg to 302 kg. Personally, I see little need for this range to increase by a factor of 10 to 4 000 km. Even the most enthusiastic of users would probably be content with a 2 000 km range. Normal mortals would probably willingly accept 1 000 km,

If the specific energy of a battery increases to 1 to 2.65 kWh/kg (3.6 – 9.54 MJ/kg), then the mass of a battery with a 1 000 km range is probably somewhere between 200 and about 75 kg. A Volkswagen Transporter T6 2.0 TDI has a fuel tank capacity of 80 liters, with fuel consumption per 7.5 liters (combined) per 100 km, or 75 litres for 1 000 km range. The density of diesel is about 0.85 kg/ litre, which means that 75 litres has a mass of almost 64 kg. This does not take into consideration the mass of the storage container. This means that the mass of an EV battery is approaching parity with the mass of diesel.

In 2021, Equinor, Aire Liquide and Eviny started Project Aurora, at Mongstad, Norway. Its goal was to construct a Norwegian liquid hydrogen manufacturing facility for maritime shipping. They estimated that manufacturing costs would likely be ca. US$9.30 per kg. That project was permanently abandoned in 2023-03, because it failed to attract customers. Liquid hydrogen would also be needed for aviation fuels. However, this price is three times the cost of Jet A fuel. Transportation of hydrogen is a major challenge. The US Department of Energy states that a single tanker of gasoline contains 14 times the energy as a tanker of hydrogen. Thus, for both maritime and aviation uses, it may be appropriate to produce H2 near the facilities where it is being used. This situation may also apply to vehicle H2 fueling stations.

It is useful to compare energy pathways. Here, two such pathways will be examined. The first looks at the use of electricity to produce liquid hydrogen, which is used to produce electricity to power, say, an aircraft or ship. Start with 10 MWh of electricty. Turning water into hydrogen is about 70% efficient. There is about 7 MWh of chemical energy in the resulting hydrogen. Compressing, storing, transporting and distribution hydrogen uses another 10%, resulting in 6.3 MWh of available energy. Liquifiction is about 66% efficient, resulting in4.2 MWh of energy. Boil off uses another 5%, leaving about 4 MWh of energy. Burning hydrogen in a jet engine is about 50% efficient at optimum altitude and speed, but is closer to 40% efficient gate to gate. Thus 10 MWh of green electricity provides 1.6 MWh to move an aircraft.

The pathway for a battery aircraft or ship from wind differs significantly. From wind farm to the grid or a battery, it’s about 90% efficient. That results in 9 MWh of energy being available. There is an addition 10% energy loss using electric motors on the aircraft or ship. These would have about 8 MWh of energy available. This is five times the energy available on the hydrogen pathway.

Despite Volkswagen being the automotive brand that I have bought most frequently, I am not a loyal customer. The VW Buzz we currently drive will most likely be our last vehicle purchase. I appreciate having the opportunity to drive a quiet EV, that avoids combustion, and was delivered as a carbon neutral vehicle. I find the comments made by Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume irritating, but not nearly as irritating as some of those made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

The final word on this subject will be given to Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand with responsibility for Technical Development:

"Science is largely in agreement on this issue, as several recent studies have shown. The Federal Ministry for the Environment, for example, assumes that hydrogen and synthetic fuels, so-called e-fuels, will remain more expensive than an electric drive, as more energy is required for their production.The Agora Verkehrswende (traffic transformation) initiative also points out that hydrogen and e-fuels do not offer ecologically sound alternatives without the use of 100 percent renewable energies, and that, given the current and foreseeable electricity mix, the e-car has by far the best energy balance. In the view of the Fraunhofer Institute, synthetic fuels and drive technologies such as hydrogen in combination with the fuel cell will indeed play a role – but not so much in the passenger car sector, but rather in long-distance and heavy-duty traffic, as well as in rail, air and sea transport. These segments will only be converted in later phases of the energy turnaround, i.e. beyond the year 2030, and closely linked to the expansion of renewable energies."

"In fact, hydrogen-based fuel cell technology has one crucial disadvantage: it is very inefficient – both in terms of efficiency and operating costs. This is also confirmed in detail by a Horváth & Partners study, comparing both types of drive for e-cars from the customer’s point of view."

Buzz 4: Acquisition

It was this photo of the interior of a Volkswagen ID. Buzz, that attracted us to the vehicle, especially it light colours (including yellow). In addition, the cabin feels roomy, uncluttered with consoles. The device occupying the space between the driver and passenger can be removed, creating a passage between the front and rear seats of the vehicle. Photo: Volkswagen.

At the start of Putin’s war in the Ukraine (2022-02-24), we reconsidered our general purchasing strategy. We didn’t want our purchases to support companies in countries lacking democratic governments, made with non-union labour or without workers on the boards of directors. Note: I still retain my union membership in Lektorlaget, a teachers’ union. Most of the time, we try to find suitable companies. Suitable is a relative term. Depending on product category, characteristics vary, but with a geographic component. For eggs and milk, geography involves two neighbouring farms. For EVs, computers and hand-held devices, the geographic range has to be extended, to include not just Europe, but also North America (Canada and USA) and a few countries in Asia (notably, South Korea and Taiwan, but also Japan). These conditions exclude Chinese vehicles, and Tesla.

On Friday, 2022-05-20, we received an email from VW about the pricing of their new 5 passenger ID. Buzz. It had a base price of NOK 495 000 = USD 50 000 = CAD 70 000, or about NOK 200 000 less than expected, and almost in our price range. At the time I was not quite sure how to convince Trish that we needed one, because it was at least NOK 100 000 more than our original budget. However, even third place candidate Stellantis, came in NOK 75 000 over the limit. In addition to the advantages shown in the specifications, one practical advantage of the ID. Buzz, is its considerably more space for passengers and for goods. That is because it was designed as an EV from the ground up, which the others were not. In addition, many of the options on the competitors are standard equipment on the ID. Buzz.


There are certain features that I appreciate on assorted EVs. For example, on the Fiat 500, there are Easter eggs = artwork/ design details etched into the vehicle. I found these an attractive addition. It may not quite be personalized, but it is a step away from commodification. On the Hyundai Ioniq 5, there is bidirectional charging capability that allows the car to provide power to a house during a power outage. I think especially of it as useful for keeping food in a refrigerator or freezer at an appropriate temperature. The VW ID. Buzz had this too.


The colour history of our cars from 1986 to 2012 shows two red cars, followed by two green cars, followed by two light blue cars. For years, I have talked about buying a yellow car. Volkswagen made some vehicles that I admired in Saturn Yellow. My parents owned a 1974 Volvo 144, in Kanaro Yellow. Trish and I rented a yellow Volkswagen Rabbit in Sunbrite Yellow to use on our honeymoon, in 1978. All three colours were close to signal yellow.

Even before May, I had already made the decision, subject to a veto by Trish, that I wanted a yellow car, potentially a special order, painted at the factory. If after-market solutions were needed, then a white vehicle would be purchased that could either be painted, or covered with a yellow wrap.


On Saturday, 2022-05-21, I showed Patricia the same photo of the interior of a Volkswagen ID. Buzz, that appears at the top of this post. This attracted her to the vehicle. When asked to explain in more detail what attracted her, it was the brightness of the interior, and especially its use of yellow colour. In addition, she felt the cabin felt roomy, with large windows.

I agreed with all of these points. In addition, I appreciated that the console occupying the space between the driver and passenger was removable, to create a passage between the front and rear seats of the vehicle, or to carry boards 2 400 mm long inside the vehicle!

On Sunday, 2022-05-22, I sent an email to our local Volkswagen dealer saying that we wanted to buy an ID. Buzz. On Monday, 2022-05-23, this was followed up by telephone calls and additional emails. We visited the dealer on Tuesday, 2022-05-24 and attempted to sign a contract, without success because of internet connection issues. Finally on Monday, 2022-05-30, a contract was signed. Our May goal was met.

The agreed price of the Buzz was NOK 572 000 = US$ 57 000, as long as the vehicle arrived in Norway before 2022-12-31. Fortunately for the Norwegian state, the vehicle arrived after that, allowing them to collect almost NOK 42 000 in assorted taxes, for a price just a hair under NOK 614 000. Obviously, people can discuss if this is an acceptable price. People in other places are having to pay considerably more. One worse case situation in Europe is the Netherlands, where consumers would have to pay €81 000 = NOK 850 000 = USD 85 000 for an identical vehicle. (These exchange rates are approximate, but were valid on 2022-05-30.)

When the ID. Buzz was offered for sale in Norway it was available in standard white, pearl effect black, metalic grey, blue, green, orange and yellow, and two-tone variants of the last four, with white on top, and colour beneath. We have chosen the two-tone yellow variant, referred to in our contract as Pomelo Yellow, but also called lemon yellow and lime yellow in assorted publicity materials. This is not a signal yellow, but yellow with a significant green tinge.

According to Volkswagen, ID stands for intelligent design, identity and visionary technologies. All of the various models are EVs, built on the Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten = modular electric-drive toolkit = MEB-platform. ID vehicles are powered by an APP 310 permanent magnet brushless electric motor. Motor and gearbox are parallel to the axle. Maximum torque is achieved at low speed, allowing use of a single speed gearbox. The motor and gearbox weigh about 90 kg. The motor is produced in Kassel, with rotor and stator produced in Salzgitter, both located in Germany.

Sandy Munro has torn down, and in other ways evaluated, the Volkswagen ID. 4. Information has been presented in six videos, starting on 2021-04-07. The most interesting one is the wrap up with Alex Guberman, released on 2021-04-19. One important point that was brought out was the need for a planned transition from one vehicle to the next. This resonates with me because I never mastered the transition from a Citroën Evasion to a Mazda 5.

Volkswagen Group’s next transition is to the Scalable Systems Platform (SSP), a modular electric vehicle platform. It was announced 2022-07-15, as part of a new strategy, to use a single battery electric vehicle (BEV) platform across all the group’s brands. Its introduction is planned for 2026. This will be too late for our Buzz, but is probably a sensible approach for Volkswagen to successfully compete with other brands.

lnterestingly, the Buzz has artwork added to the vehicle, much like the Fiat 500. In addition to assorted smilies, and Buzz shapes, there is a drawing of an umbrella found under the rear window wiper blade. There is also V2G charging capability. Our dealer stated that an electric trailer hitch was an essential item, in Norway. We had intended on ordering it anyway.

In contrast to other car dealers that want to maximize optional equipment, I found our local Volkswagen dealer often suggesting restraint. For example, we were also advised against electric rear sliding-door openers, if only because they operate too slowly. Yes, at times, consumers can want too many features.


On 2022-06-27, it was announced that there were battery issues with the ID. Buzz at the battery supplier according to Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung. Some battery packs contain cell modules that may result in a voltage drop, reducing driving range and – in a worst-case situation – posing a safety risk . These quality-related deficiencies were discovered at the un-named supplier. Around 500 vans were manufactured with the bad cell modules. None were delivered. ID. Buzz production resumed 2022-07-04.

On 2022-07-22, it was announced that Herbert Diess (1958 – ) would stop working as chief executive officer (CEO) of Volkswagen AG on 2022-08-31, to be replaced by Oliver Blume (1968 – ). Severe software-development delays set back the scheduled launch of new Porsche, Audi and Bentley models. Unsuitable software also postponed the debut of some ID models, and some customers are still unable to access over-the-air (OTA) updates.

Volkswagen’s software unit, Cariad, was underperforming. In 2021-12, VW overhauled its management board. Diess had some responsibilities removed, but was given the major task of turning around Cariad. Transforming VW into a leader in electric-vehicle production, requires an emphasis on software solutions. Hardware is not enough. This did not happen. In addition, Diess failed to build alliances within the company, especially with its labour leaders. Thus, he became increasingly isolated.


In preparation for delivery of a vehicle we had an Easee Home charger installed on 2023-01-04. It has 3-phase wiring, with 230 V and 32 A, offering the potential to produce up to 11 kW of power. We expect this system to provide most of the vehicle’s energy. This is a Norwegian product, made in Stavanger, by a company owned in large part by immigrants to Norway.

Buzz (as in Lightyear) is the affectionate name of this vehicle. While it should not be treated as a toy, it should not be treated solemnly. Driving and riding in it should be fun, but it should be done safely and with purpose.

On 2023-02-08, we received word that Buzz had arrived at the Volkswagen dealership in Verdal. We agreed with our salesperson, Tormod Olsen, that we would pick up the vehicle on Monday, 2023-02-13. The 13th has significance , especially, in Trish’s life. In chronological order, she was born on 12-13, her nephew was born 11-13 and we married on 01-13.

The Future

There are certain items that I have no intention on selling. Cliff Cottage, our residence since 1989-03-01 is one, as is much of its inventory. I expect Cliff Cottage to be used as a holiday residence, a place where my descendants, friends and family will be able to relax and enjoy a form of solitude close to nature. Buzz is another. I expect that he will be able to meet the land transportation needs of people when they come to stay at Cliff Cottage.

As noted in a previous weblog post, within a decade, 2033, solid-state batteries are expected to mature, offering over a million kilometers of transportation service. I envision Buzz lasting a century. He has been bought with that intention. The next milestone on his path to venerability will be on 2053-02-13, when he turns thirty. At that moment, he becomes a Norwegian veteran car. I will not be present for that event. Our son, Alasdair, will be quickly approaching seventy, while Shelagh, our daughter, will, at sixty three years and ten months, soon be reaching the upper limits of what could be referred to as middle age.

Buzz 3: Comparison

An 2022 Opel Combo Life multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) one of four families of electric vehicles (EV) that we considered buying.

2022-05-01: Our challenge, during May, was to find a replacement vehicle for our diesel powered Mazda 5, turning ten on 2022-10-19. In Norway, over 80% of all vehicles sold are battery electric vehicles (EVs), while another 10% are hybrids. Those still driving ICE vehicles, realize that they are fossils. They may refer to the vehicles, the drivers or both. Readers are free to select their own variant, but I have elected both, if only because choosing an EV requires a mindset open to change. Such a mindset is helped by volatile diesel and gasoline fuel prices, with some consumers complaining they have paid NOK 30 per litre (US$ 12 per gallon). Prices bounce. On Monday 2023-02-13, the price was slightly over NOK 18 in the morning, but over NOK 25 in the afternoon. Rather than increasing the wealth of oil investors, I would prefer to pay a premium for a vehicle that uses renewable energy. EVs are sweetened with financial and other incentives provided, in our case, by the Norwegian government.

Yet, there is a certain amount of time pressure in finding something suitable. Government incentives are being reduced. Currently, Norwegian EV purchases are exempt from value added tax (VAT). Effective 2023-01-01, VAT will apply on that part of an EV expenditure that exceeds NOK 500 000. The government claims that there are vehicles available that cost less than this. There will also be a weight tax, NOK 12.50 per kilogram gross-vehicle weight that exceeds 500 kg. In addition, EVs have their official weight reduced (for tax purposes) by the weight of the battery, which can be up to several hundred kilos.

Many Norwegians feel they need to buy more expensive and heavier vehicles. Narrow, curvaceous, steep mountainous roads demand good handling, power, energy and braking capacity, preferably with generous amounts of safety equipment onboard, should an unfortunate event occur. Utility trailers, the ubiquitous Norwegian replacement for a pickup, also require power and energy. Ideally, the vehicle is under five meters in length and two meters in width, with a low centre of gravity. Range is another desirable attribute, not so much for the daily commute, but for the weekend, when Norwegians travel to areas of natural beauty and low population density, that typically lack built-out charging facilities. These features add to the price of an EV.


Throughout the world there are different ways to categorize vehicles. Wikipedia has an article about car classification that attempts to explain these, and to compare and contrast the various systems in use. In Europe, vehicles are classified into segments, most often by size, from A (mini = city) to D (large = American mid-size). E, F and S are used for executive = American full-size, luxury and sports vehicles, respectively. In addition, J-segment (sports-utility) vehicles were originally vehicles equipped with four-wheel drive. Now, this requirement seems to have been dropped. Vehicles in this segment offer elements of on-road passenger cars with some off-road features, most notably raised ground clearance and higher seating, the H5 measurement. The segment is currently dominated by crossovers, with a more luxurious interior, but with a conventional exterior appearance. M-segment (multi-purpose) vehicles are often described as van-based passenger cars, but include other taller vehicles as well. Both the J- and M-segments are further divided into small and large groups.

The American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies many passenger cars on the basis of a vehicle’s total interior passenger and cargo volumes. An exception involves SUVs, that are classified as light-duty trucks, resulting in more lenient regulations compared to other passenger cars. Light-duty trucks are classified based upon their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Heavy-duty vehicles are not included within the EPA scheme. In contrast, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) separates vehicles into classes by the curb weight of the vehicle with standard equipment including the maximum capacity of fuel, oil, coolant, and air conditioning.

Increasingly, there are challenges with these segment designations, especially their conflation of comfort level and size, as well as the exemption of SUVs and pickups from environmental standards. Personally, I have never understood the appeal of a limousine, with an excessively long yet low body style. They do not even make particularly good lowriders! The Hyundai Staria is a much better luxury vehicle, combining a van exterior with a more luxurious interior, a cruise ship lounge inspired interior that uses hanok, a traditional Korean architectural style, to provides a sense of spaciousness and to connect the outside to the inside.

To put things into perspective, the vehicles we have owned in Norway fit into the following segments: Subaru Justy (B), Volkswagen Golf (C), Citroën Berlingo (M-small), Citroën Evasion (M-large), Hyundai Matrix (M-small), Mazda 5 (M-small). Two-thirds of all vehicle purchases, and all in the new millennium, were M segment vehicles. All of these vehicles were front-wheel drive, although the Justy also could use 4 wheel-drive, when needed.

The J segment is the category that sells the most vehicles in Europe. Regardless, Patricia and I seem to be dedicated M-segment people. In addition, after 36 years of driving front-wheel drive vehicles, we prefer them, when given a choice between front- and rear-wheel drive. We have no need for four-wheel drive, as we can now just avoid driving when whether conditions are at their worst. It is difficult to believe that since our marriage in 1978, at least some of our preferences have merged.

Within the M-small segment four families of vehicles had been investigated, on paper. Unfortunately, they were not available to drive, or even look at, so – initially – no conclusions could be reached. These vehicles could all carry five passengers and lots of goods.

On Tuesday, 2022-04-03, we attempted to see some Stellantis M-segment vehicles in Verdal. In this segment, Stellantis produces: Citroën Berlingo Multispace, Opel Combo Life, Peugeot Rifter and Toyota Proace Verso. We visited both a Peugeot dealer – who theoretically also sells Citroën products – and an Opel dealer. They could only show us cargo vans. Despite this, after a few days we received an offer on an Opel Combo Life, at NOK 445 000, but this was missing the colour option we wanted – a yellow vehicle. That would cost at least another NOK 30 000, bring the cost to about NOK 475 000.

On Thursday, 2022-05-05, we sent an email to our preferred Hyundai dealer, asking when an electric passenger version of the Hyundai Staria van was going to be made in Europe, and available for sale in Norway. The reply was that it would not be available until at least 2024, putting it outside of our timeframe.

A Hyundai Staria, currently unavailable as an EV in Norway, but expected in 2024 or 2025.

We also contacted appropriate dealers about Mercedes-Benz EQT, Nissan Townstar and Renault Kangoo EVs. All of these would be made by Renault. We were told by multiple dealers that they would arrive in Norway, about 2022-11. Checking websites on 2023-02-01, they are not available. These were designed simultaneously as both as an ICE vehicles and EVs. They entered production in 2021 as an ICE variant. While these vehicles three years more modern than the Stellantis models, they are still designed with multiple sources of power in mind, making them less desirable than a product that is EV only. We were told that the Nissan Townstar EV would have a price starting of about NOK 370 000. With a little optional equipment, these will cost about the same as their Stellantis equivalent. The gasoline version has a starting price just under NOK 500 000.

Media reports indicated that the Volkswagen ID. Buzz was expected to be available in Norway by the end of May. On 2018-02-05, I had publicly sworn not to buy another Volkswagen product, because of Dieselgate. Despite that, I contacted my local Volkswagen dealer, and discovered that NOK 700 000 was the salesman’s best guess at a base price, perhaps more. Totally out of our price range.

Here is a comparison of the specifications for these three available product families in alphabetical order: Renault, Stellantis and Volkswagen. The best value is in bold. Power = 90/ 100/ 150 kW; torque = 245 / 260/ 310 Nm; battery (gross) = 45/ 50/ 82 kWh; range WLTP mixed = 300/ 280/ 418 km. Dimensions = length x width (excluding mirrors) x height = 4486 x 1919 x 1893/ 4403 x 1848 x 1878/ 4712 x 1985 x 1937 mm; wheelbase = 2785/ 2716/ 2988 mm; ground clearance = 180/ 164/ 143 mm; trunk capacity = 775/ 597/ 1121 litres; trailering capacity = 1 500/ 750/ 1 000 kg. Renault excels in terms of ground clearance and trailering capacity, but Volkswagen exceeds at everything else.

A 2023 Renault Kangoo E-tech MPV

On 2012-10-19 we purchased a Mazda 5 that cost NOK 275 000, which involved an almost NOK 50 000 discount, as the model was being discontinued. Before we first started looking at vehicles in 2022, we set the maximum price at about NOK 400 000. The only vehicle we found within this price category, that we liked, was the Renault Zöe. We drove one and concluded that it had acceptable characteristics including various types of driver assistance, power and range. With these options, its price was NOK 310 000. However, its small size would require that an additional larger vehicle be available for some purposes, effectively meaning that we would be unable to dispose of the Mazda 5. This was not an ideal solution.

Stellantis multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) = Citroën e-Berlingo/ Opel or Vauxhall e-Combo Life/ Peugeot Rifter were designed as ICE vehicles in 2018. They were updated to include EV versions in 2021. Unfortunately, equipment has not been significantly updated for the 2020s. For example, only halogen headlights are available. No LEDs, and not even Xenon lights, are offered. With far too many long, dark nights, Scandinavians are willing to invest in vehicle lighting. One of the reasons we bought our Mazda 5 was that it came equipped with Xenon lights.

Electrek estimates the current price of a battery pack for an EV at US$ 132/ kWh (or about NOK 1 300) down from US$ 1 200 in 2012. One of the main challenges with a Stellantis MPV is its limited battery size, 50 kWh, in contrast to a VW ID. Buzz with 83 kWh (gross)/ 77 kWh (usable). Thus, the 30 kWh extra capacity is worth about NOK 40 000.

The ID. Buzz is also equipped with vehicle to house (V2H) bidirectional capability. This means that it can power electrical appliances and tools in off grid settings. During a power outage, the vehicle can be used as a power source to keep the electrical system in a house running. Since, our house may soon be equipped with an additional storage battery of 30 – 100 kWh capacity, the Buzz will be able to drive to a public fast charger to bring more electrons back! It may surprise some readers, but we experience electrical power outages about once a month. Sometimes they last only a few seconds, and most are under an hour in duration. It is still an inconvenience. Currently, many houses use wood stoves to provide warmth during longer outages, but these are ineffective at cooking meals, and useless at keeping food cool/ frozen or providing lighting. The V2H capability has been written about in a previous weblog post. It is assessed a nominal value of NOK 20 000.

Vehicle autonomy is often categorized in six levels. These are often coded as: Level 0 – no automation; Level 1 – hands on/shared control; Level 2 – hands off; Level 3 – eyes off; Level 4 – mind off, and Level 5 – steering wheel optional. Volkswagen claims that ID. Buzz will in the future be able to operate at level 4. In 2022-04, it started testing of an autonomous ID. Buzz AD prototype with Argo AI on public roads. The vehicle already comes equipped with some level 3 capabilities, such as autonomous parking. This is an important, especially for older drivers. The current autonomous driving capability is assessed a nominal value of NOK 20 000.

One issue with the Stellantis MPV is its use of halogen lighting. LED headlight use less electrical energy and run cooler. They produce a whiter and brighter light of 3 000 to 4 000 lumens, in contrast to the yellow of halogen bulbs at 1 000 to 1 500 lumens. LED headlights cast a larger and brighter light pattern on the roadway, so it improves driver situation awareness, while halogens cast a smaller, yellowish light pattern. Unfortunately, many oncoming vehicle drivers suspect that a LED outfitted vehicle is using its high beams, when they are not. LED lights are more durable, but more expensive and complicated to repair/ replace. LED lights are small and provide vehicle designers with a greater opportunity for design creativity. In Norway, retrofitting halogen with approved LED headlights costs a minimum of NOK 20 000. This is the value that will be assigned to LED lighting.

Not everyone in the automotive press is enthusiastic about the driveline on the ID. Buzz. With 150 kW of power, and 310 Nm of torque, its top speed is limited to 145 km/h, with an official acceleration from 0 – 100 km/h of 10.2 s. If this is too little, one wonders how they would react to 100 kW of power and 260 Nm of torque with the Stellantis MPV. Its top speed is 130 km/h, with an official acceleration from 0 – 100 km/h of 11.7 s. I do not expect to drive over 120 km/h, so the additional top speed is not particularly useful. Locally, the speed limit is 90 km/h, although the new highway to Trondheim is expected to have a speed limit of 110 km/h. There are some test sections with limits of 120 km/h, which is the maximum speed in Sweden and Finland. Denmark has motorways allowing 130 km/h.

Some of the extra power in the Buzz will compensate for the extra mass of the vehicle. On the other hand, the Stellantis MPV is fitted with front-wheel drive. Perhaps this is the only feature that I appreciate more on the Stellantis MPV than on the VW ID. Buzz. Rear wheel drive could be regarded as an acceptable price to pay for owning an iconic vehicle. It is difficult to find out what additional power and torque in a driveline actually costs, but- after deducting the value of front-wheel drive – will once again will use NOK 20 000 as its nominal value.

This total of NOK 120 000 more than accounts for its increased value of the Volkswagen ID. Buzz, in relation to a Stellantis MPV. In addition, the larger space for passengers and goods, and its iconic aesthetics, have not even been taken into consideration, in terms of assessing its economic value.

Buzz 2: Concept Vehicles

For the past twenty years, I have admired Volkswagen’s minivan concept vehicles. It began in 2001 with the Microbus concept, presented at the North American International Auto Show, in Detroit. Unfortunately, despite an attractive design, it was environmentally unfriendly, using a 3.2L V-6 engine of 172 kW and 320 Nm. Production was scheduled for 2003, until it was deferred and then cancelled in 2005.

2001 Volkswagen Microbus Concept

In 2011, a smaller Bulli concept was presented at the Geneva Motorshow. It was electrically powered with a 85 kW motor producing 270 Nm of torque using a 40 kWh battery giving a 299 km range. One significant difference, compared to the 2001 concept, was the use of conventional back doors, rather than sliding doors.

On 2015-09-20, Volkswagen announced that it had deceived the public about the emissions from eleven million diesel vehicles, using a software detect device that engaged full emission control only when the vehicle was being tested. On 2015-10-12 Volkswagen announced that it would accelerate electric vehicle development.

On 2016-01-05, Volkswagen presented the Budd-e at the Consumer Electronics Show, in Los Vegas. It was built on a MEB platform, with two motors producing 225 kW of power. The 101 kWh battery had an estimated range of 375 km.

This was followed up on 2017-01-08 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, with the ID. Buzz, described as a versatile, zero-emissions, all-wheel drive vehicle for the future. All-electric driving range of up to 435 km, with 275 kW of power from two motors, seating for up to eight with two luggage compartments, ID. Pilot, automated driving mode, while the driver’s seat can be turned 180 degrees to face the rear, head-up display projected information, and fully autonomous driving capability.

The production model of the ID. Buzz is very similar in appearance to the concept vehicle, but currently lacks many of the proposed features. The initial model released in Europe is also shorter. In many publications directed towards people working in the automotive industry, the ID. Buzz is referred to as a Lower Premium vehicle. This seems to indicate that some initial steps are being taken to separate vehicle specifications, and passenger comfort features in particular, from vehicle shape.

Buzz 1: Heritage

An iconic 21 window Volkswagen Samba bus. Photo: Kieft, 2009-11-02

This story is being told because, in our rural, Norwegian existence, Trish and I are dependent on a vehicle to thrive. We have chosen to live about 13 km from the economic centre of Inderøy, which has opted to place a sawdust burning, central heat distribution service at the centre of the village.

While public transport can be arranged, we have not used it for many years. Instead, we use a 10-year old multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). It is sufficiently large enough to carry (up to) seven people and/ or lots of goods, including building supplies. It can be fitted with roof racks and can even pull a 1 200 kg utility trailer. Yet, this Mazda 5 has not been a faithful friend, breaking down more than once, first on Saturday, 2013-08-10, returning to Inderøy from Bergen, 1 400 km away, ten months old, after being driven a total of 12 030 km. We were forced to wait until Thursday 2013-08-15 for repairs to be made, allowing us to continue our journey home.

Two MPVs were part of my childhood memories. One of these was a Volkswagen Type 2 Kombi, owned by the Bibby’s, on the laneway behind my childhood home. It was appreciated as a practical vehicle, for transporting goods, but mainly people, usually Florence (1908 – 1990) who sat in the back, driven by one of her sons, less often by her husband, Pat (1912 – 1990). Yet, at the time, this was probably not my favourite MPV on the laneway. That honour would go to Alf Fenton’s (1902 – 1995) Hillman Husky. It too was an MPV, but in a more compact format.

A Hillman Husky at the Waterfront Car Show in Bellingham, Washington. 2013-05-26. Photo: John Lloyd, Concrete, Washington.

From 1954 to 1965 Rootes Group produced the Double Duty Hillman Husky: You pay for one car, but have the services of two. It was a Commer Cob van with Hillman badging, factory-fitted side windows and fold-down rear seat. It was intended to be a full commercial vehicle as well as a passenger vehicle, an MPV before the term was even used. The interior was basic or, to be polite, minimalistic, with rubber floor coverings, minimal sound insulation, a minimum of instrumentation and, a minimum of everything else. This was not only appropriate for its intended usage, but a necessity to keep the price low. This avoided competition with more luxurious wagons. The Husky was slightly old-fashioned. Even when the Husky was updated, it was always behind the latest developments. Unfortunately, as far as I am aware, there have been no attempts to revamp the Husky.

In many ways, the Volkswagen Type 2/ MPV/ van/ bus/ minibus/ Transporter mirrored the Husky. It too was more functional than fashionable. It too was minimalistic. Yet, unlike the Husky, it still lives on. Its latest incarnation is the Volkswagen ID. Buzz, which will be the topic of three future weblog posts.

A sketch

Ben Pon (1904 – 1968), Dutch importer of Volkswagen vehicles to the Netherlands, is credited with the initial design idea for the Type 2. His 1947 sketch was inspired by a flatbed parts-hauler seen while visiting the Volkswagen plant. This ultimately resulted in the Volkswagen Type 2 that started production on 1950-03-08. It was available in two versions: The Kombi, with side windows and removable middle and rear seats; and the Commercial, a panel van.

This 1947 sketch by Ben Pon is the origin of the VW Type 2, which has evolved over 75 years into the VW ID. Buzz.

The Type 2 was authorized on 1949-05-19. The first vehicle came off the assembly line on 1949-11-12. The first MPV, designated a Microbus, dates from 1950-05. Since the Volkswagen’s model year starts on 08-01, and ends on 07-31, these were 1950 models! While the first T1s were built at Wolfsburg, production moved to a purpose built factory at Hannover, in 1956. The models were under continuous development. This distinction between commercial and passenger vechicles carries on to this day. Sales of Type 2 vehicles is undertaken by specialists in this area.

Paul Niedermeyer has put the Type 2 into its historical perspective, incorporating personal experiences starting in 1965. The assorted van/ bus generations are generally coded T1 to T7, with the first three generations retroactively named. They had the following production years, in Europe: T1 = 1950 to 1967 (17 years); T1 = 1967 – 1979 (12 years); T3 = 1979 – 1991 (12 years); T4 = 1990 – 2004 (14 years); T5 = 2003 – 2015 (12 years); T6 = 2015 – present; T7 = 2022 – present. This system of generational designations, was only adopted after the introduction of the T4, but applied retrospectively to the T1 to T3 generations. Only the first three generations were based on the Volkswagen Beetle/ Type 1.

To gain insights into the various models of Volkswagen Type 2 MPVs produced, a first stop could be Wikipedia. The production of older models often continued outside of Europe after the introduction of newer models in Europe.

The original T1 was appreciated for its versatility, especially an ability to transport goods and people in varying quantities, depending on the need. At the time people commented on its roomy interior, conventional rear-wheel drive, and less conventional air-cooled engine. It was regarded as easy to operate and maintain. In North America it was seen as a cost-effective alternative to a station wagon.

Roger White, curator of road transportation history, Division of Work and Industry, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, says, “For many people, the VW Microbus [= T1] became the symbol of protest with Detroit’s overpowered cars and society in general. It was a way of thumbing their noses at the establishment. It became popular with people who were rejecting mainstream American culture. It was their way of saying, ‘We don’t need your big V8 cars.’”

Because of its relative low cost, owners began to adapt the T1 to meet their own specific needs. One such need was for a camper, outfitted with beds, a table, kitchen facilities ( such as a stove and sink), and sometimes even a toilet. Volkswagen contracted with Westfalia to make camper conversion kits. These were exported to North America, starting in 1956.

While this Volkswagen MPV has participated in numerous historical events, such as the Woodstock music festival near Bethel, New York in 1969. It has been used to transport countless surfboards as well as an infinite number of hippies.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Some individual vehicles have had a significant impact on people. At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., two pieces of what was a green T1 are on display, a side panel and rear hatch. They contain a message from Esau Jenkins (1910 – 1972), “Love is progress. Hate is expensive.” This 1966 VW Transporter took African-American children to school and adults to work on the Sea Islands near Charleston, South Carolina. While Esau Jenkins drove, Janie Jenkins (1929 – 2016) taught passengers about the South Carolina constitution, and their rights.

How the Volkswagen Bus Became a Symbol of Counterculture
Esau Jenkins, painted “Love is Progress, Hate is Expensive” onto his VW bus. The rear hatch is on display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Photo: William Pretzer

Perspectives change.

As a teenager in the early 1960s, I remember talking to an old man, possibly seventy, in New Westminster. He owned an old car. Unfortunately, my memory is not reliable, but I believe it was a 1904 curved-dash Oldsmobile. It was about sixty years old: not just old, but outmoded and obsolete, for the technology underpinning the vehicle was no longer in use or usable. Regardless, it was venerable, the oldest vehicle I had ever seen.

Model A Fords were produced from 1928 to 1931, a fact I can recall without having to look it up. In the 1960s, two of my neighbours were into them. Being into something, means that whatever that something is, doesn’t come with commitments. One neighbour was more of a parts collector, than a mechanic. No driveable Model A ever emerged to quench his obsession. The other, Patrick, managed to restore one! With that challenge met, he was able to sell the vehicle, and move on to greater things.

A Model A was only half the age of that venerable beast, previously mentioned. Models As were slightly over thirty years old. They were old and outmoded, but not obsolete. That is, their DNA could be found in every internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle produced since the 1930s to this day. Now, every model A is over ninety years old. They are just as outmoded as they were in the 1960s, but no worse than that. Their lineage lives on, in today’s ICE vehicles.

A similarly aged car in 2023, would have started its career somewhere between 1988 and 1991. Apart from some safety equipment, there is not much that distinguishes it from a more modern vehicle. It is old, but not outmoded, and definitely not obsolete, just yet.

A 1929 Model A Ford, complete with rumble seat (providing seating for two passengers in the open at the rear of the vehicle) and trunk. On the side of the vehicle are a spare tire, and a red can of Benzin (German) = bensin (Norwegian) = gasoline (English). This vehicle belongs to a cabin owner at Vangshylla, Norway.

Soon, all ICE vehicles will be obsolete, regardless of their age. This is because drivelines are being transformed, to use motors powered by batteries. Unfortunately for new ICE vehicle owners, but not for the world, CO2 production has led to global warming, so that even brand new ICE vehicles must be made obsolete. I have absolutely no desire to own any vehicle dependent on combustion. Following the Pandemic, it has not been possible to buy most EVs without waiting. It is common now to wait nine months for a car delivery. The ID. Buzz, now has a wait list lasting 18 to 24 months. Many consumers are aware of the impending climate crisis, wanting to do their part. While not everyone is moving at the same speed, an increasing number of people expect their next vehicle to be battery electric.

If one really wants to see people living in the past with a passion for obsolete vehicles, one comfortable way is to watch an episode of Rust Valley Restorers (2018 – present), filmed at Tappen, British Columbia, near Shuswap Lake. In the tenth episode of its fourth season, the last vehicle restored is a 1964 Pontiac Parisienne, 9-passenger station wagon. There are some vague similarities to a Volkswagen bus: two tone colours, with a white top and bright green underneath. Some people may regard it as attractive, but I find it far too low. It also makes a terrible noise, whenever its engine starts and is in operation. It may offer exhilaration, but no fun.

A 1959 Nash Metropolitan. Photo: Dave 7 from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

I cannot recall any Volkswagen MPVs or vans in Mike Hall’s collection at Tappen. With the exception of a Sunbeam Alpine, there were no cars that captivated my heart. In my childhood there were lots of cars on the laneway from the 1950s. Yet only four cars attracted me sufficiently for me to want to own one: two Nash Metropolitans, belonging to the two mothers of the boys obsessed with Model As, Alf’s Husky, and Pat’s Volkswagen microbus!

Downsizing the Garage

The Nobe 500, one of six European vehicles featured in this weblog post. Photo: Nobe

Four years ago today, on 2017-10-29, a weblog post titled Stuffing a 10-car garage was published. It presented a number of electric vehicles (EVs) that had awakened my curiosity over the years, along with one internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, the Citroën Berlingo. The one advantage of a virtual garage is that it is very easy to acquire and then dispose of vehicles.

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the 26th held (COP26), is scheduled to begin 2021-10-31 in Glasgow, Scotland, two days after publication of this weblog post. The conference will end 2021-11-12. Hopefully something will be accomplished to prevent a climatic disaster.

EVs are not only increasing in number, but improving, technically and in terms of design. Unfortunately, most of this development is happening in vehicle segments that people should be avoiding . This weblog post presents six EVs made by six companies for six different segments from six different European countries. During the year this post has been in development, all of the models originally selected have departed the list, and been replaced by others. The number of continents represented has decreased from four to one, with an encouragement for people to buy locally produced products. I don’t believe I could do the same using North American products. Even, with this focus on smallish, affordable European EVs, it has been difficult.

Not many specifications are available for the selected vehicles at the time of publication. Those missing will be provided in subsequent updates, when I remember. The worst case situation in this post, is that of Fiat and its Giardiniera. Despite the initial hype and promises, at the moment it is looking more like vapourware. It is included to remind people that vapourware is a major problem in the automotive industry. It allows manufacturers to pretend that they are doing something, when in all likelihood nothing is happening at all.

In terms of the A segment, I had hoped that the Zetta CM1 had been developed further. I had wanted to put an improved Zetta in the A class, and even contacted the manufacturer, Russian Engineering and Manufacturing Company (REMC) in Toliatti about it. I received no reply to my email.

Segments D and above/ larger are ignored in this post out of concern for the environment.

MicrolinoMicrolinoMicro (L7e)Switzerland
Fiat500 GiardinieraBItaly
Six companies producing six vehicle models for six segments in six European countries.

Nobe 500

A Nobe 500 Pickup. Photo: Nobe

Pickups are typically regarded as American, so there would probably not have been many objections if this slot had been filled by any number of American vehicles including, in alphabetical order by brand, the Ford F-150 Lightning, the GMC Hummer, the Lordstown Endurance, the Rivian R1T, and the Tesla Cybertruck, There was a time when this list might have also included the Havelaar Bison and the Nikola Badger.

None of the vehicles listed above appeal to me. They are too massive. However, I will also admit, that the first vehicle I leaned to drive on, at the tender age of 14, was a Chevrolet Advance Design 3100 pickup, probably from 1952, in the farm fields of Okanagan Mission, near Kelowna. This featured the same split windshield, found on the Nobe 500. The Ford F-series, from the same time period, did not have this characteristic, although certain other F-series features do appear on the Nobe 500. This vehicle is at the top in terms of charm. I am waiting for it to appear dressed as a woodie (sic) wagon before buying one!

Renault Kangoo

The Renault Kangoo E-tech Photo: Renault

In terms of COP26, this vehicle should probably not have been included. It is, but only because of my infatuation with this type of vehicle. People should determine if this is the type and size of vehicle that meets their needs.

When we purchased a Citroën Berlingo in 2002, the other vehicle we considered was a Renault Kangoo. Both were considerably smaller than today’s vehicles. The Citroën was chosen, in part, because at that time there was no local Renault dealership. Currently, we are facing the opposite situation. There is no local Citroën dealership, but there is one selling Renaults. In addition, there are some indications that the upcoming 2022 Kangoo EV (termed Etech, previously ZE in Renault-speak) will offer a range of 285 km. Other specifications released so far include: battery capacity theoretical/ usable = 52/ 47 kWh; motor type = AC synchronous motor; power = 90 kW; torque = 245 Nm; and, importantly, a trailer towing weight braked = 1500 kg.

On 2021-10-28, a day before publication, we visited the local Renault dealer in Steinkjer, and found out that a vehicle should be available to test drive in 2022-05.

Badge Engineering: The Renault Kangoo will be badge engineered into a Mercedes-Benz EQT and a Nissan Townstar.


A Microlino with space for two. Photo:Microlino.

Driving requirements vary, which means that a variety of vehicle types have to be made available. Many people live alone, and have little or no need for a vehicle that can transport more than themselves. For such people, a two person vehicle may be ideal.

In Our Journey, the idea for the Microlino originated when Wim, Oliver and Merlin Ouboter, asked: “How much car does one really need for daily driving?” In Switzerland the answer involved 1.6 passengers and 36.8 km on an average journey, along with parking challenges. This indicated to them that modern cars were over-engineered for urban use, especially if environmental factors, such as global warming, are considered.

Specifications: Overall length / width / height = 2 435/ 1 473 / 1 501 mm; wheelbase = mm; ground clearance = mm; curb weight = 513 kg; seating capacity = 2; battery type = Lithium-Ion (NMC/NCA); battery capacity = 14 kWh; range per charge = 230 km; motor type =; power = 12.5 kW; torque = 118 Nm; speed: max = 90 km/h; acceleration 0 – 50 km/h = 5s; regenerative braking = yes; cargo volume = 230 l; towing weight braked = 0 kg .

Freze Nikrob

The Freze Nikrob Photo: Freze

Another answer to the Ouboter question could have been the Freze Nikrob, based on the Wuling Mini EV. Rebadged and restyled by Dartz, it is assembled in Lithuania by Nikrob UAB. Dartz wants to sell the Freze Nikrob and its convertible version, the Freze Froggy, in European left-hand-drive markets. It aims for a 10-20% market share of the segment. At a price of €10 000, it is the cheapest in the EU. The focus is on selling to carsharing companies.

Specifications: Overall length / width / height = 2 917/ 1 493 / 1 621 mm; wheelbase = 1 940 mm; ground clearance = mm; curb weight = 665 kg; seating capacity = 4; battery type = lithium polymer; battery capacity = 13.8 kWh ; range per charge = km; motor type = permanent magnet; power = 13 kW; torque = Nm; speed: max = km/h; acceleration 0 – 100 km/h = s; regenerative braking = yes; cargo volume = l; towing weight braked = 0 kg.

Fiat 500 Giardiniera

An older Fiat 500 Giardiniera shown in this Dutch advertisement.

Giardiniera was a name used for Fiat station wagons. The name, in this context, means gardener. Fiat in 2018, before it became part of Stellantis, announced in general terms that it would be making a five-door, station wagon, hybrid version of a new 500. Fiat now seems to be transitioning to a battery electric brand. A Fiat 500 Battery EV station wagon appeals to me because, we need a vehicle that can be used to carry four (sometimes five) people, groceries, and workshop materials. When, or even if the vehicle will launch, remains speculative. Currently, Fiat is working on an electric replacement for the Panda, probably based on the Centoventi = 120 prototype. That vehicle is expected to launch in 2023.

One of my hopes with the Giardiniera is that the rear door will open more like a conventional door, hinged on the left/ traffic side, rather than a hatch, opening upwards. This was the way it opened on earlier models, made between 1960 and 1977, as shown in the above advertisement.

Sono Sion

The Sono Sion, equipped with solar panels. Photo: Sono

Of the vehicles described in this weblog post, the Sono Sion is the one closest in size to our current vehicle, a Mazda 5. Of its many attractive characteristics, it is its Open Service System that will be focused upon here. There are three different levels of service. Level 1 instructional videos and a catalog ensure that almost anyone can replace wear parts, without much prior knowledge. Level 2 involves a publicly viewable and available manual, that allows an extensive network of mechanic partners to offer more extensive repairs and service at an affordable price. Level 3 is for repairs involving high-voltage or body parts, Sono here wants to cooperate with an established European service provider.

I asked a number of people about this vehicle, and sent a copy of an information brochure. One response – from a person who works in the EV industry but for another company that doesn’t compete in the same market, was: “Oh interesting. Exciting for more players. The solar portion is neat! The aesthetics kind of baffle me. Utilitarian, met with early 2000’s interior design with forced elements like the screen and the green house strip. Doesn’t seem cohesive.” Another reply was: “it looks very generic Aka like a Toyota.” The most enthusiastic response came from a third person, “Love it. I’m a solar power human, so this has my full seal of approval.” Four and a half hours later, he added: “Upon further reflection, I would rank this as my top EV.”

Specifications: Overall length / width / height = 4 470/ 1 830/ 1 660mm; wheelbase = 2830 mm; ground clearance = 165 mm; curb weight = kg; seating capacity = ; battery type = liquid cooled lithium ion; battery capacity/ usable = 54/ 47 kWh; range per charge = 260 km; motor type =; power = 120 kW; torque = 270 Nm; speed: max = 140 km/h; acceleration 0 – 100 km/h = 9.0 s; regenerative braking = yes; cargo volume = 650 l; towing weight braked = 750 kg.

Personal Reflections

One of the most important specifications for a vehicle operating in a rural environment in winter is ground clearance. Here, there is no requirement to remove snow before it reaches 100 mm. Thus, ideally, this should be at least 150 mm clearance. However, is not always an easy specification to find. Our Mazda has only 135 mm, and this is noticed. Seating height is also important. In comparing different vehicles, the H-point measures the pivot centre of the torso and thigh, and the height of this in relation to the road, is what is important. This value is a compromise between being able to enter a vehicle elegantly, and being able to see the road.

In terms of range anxiety, we drive a car about 3 times a week, but often less. Once or twice the return distance will be under 40 km, often under 30 km; the other time(s) it will be under 80 km. About five times a year, our driving exceeds these values. Two or three times it will be less than 250 km; two or three times it will exceed that, but be under 400 km. Since our retirement started in 2017, we have only had one trip where the driving distance exceeded these values, when we drove to and from Bergen. It is about 750 km in each direction, but we spent two days driving each way, which also puts it in the 400 km a day range. When our daughter, Shelagh, lived in Umeå, Sweden, we would drive the 600 km distance in about 10 hours (including stops) in a single day.

The Norwegian Electric Car Association has an EV selector app (Elbilvelgeren), that can be used to help limit the number of EVs under consideration.

A screenshot of the Norwegian Electric Car Association has an EV selector app (Elbilvelgeren).

It allows one to select a range of values for price, range, brand, new or used, trailer capacity. Yes, trailer = tilhenger (in Norwegian) capacity is a must for Norwegians. A utility trailer is used instead of a pickup. These are the standard inputs one can choose from. In addition one can select/ add: launch year, heat pump, four wheel drive, high speed charging, battery size, trunk/ frunk size, electrical power usage, normal charging, number of doors, ground clearance, app for the car, number of seats, dimensions, roof rack capacity, acceleration, kW (power), guarantee, weight, wheel size and body type.

I used the standard one with some modest values, but only two cars came up: VW ID 4 and Skoda Enyaq. The list included both current and announced models to be purchased new. The reason only two models appeared could be because of the trailer capacity selected (1000 kg) and a price (max NOK 360 000). The two cars had a price of just under NOK 350 000. Of those two, I would select the Skoda. I tried the selector again, without the trailer, but with a ground clearance of 150 mm. Again, those two models came up, along with a Hyundai Kona and a Kia Soul.

My hope is that in four years time, 2025-10-29, that there will be a vastly improved EV market, with many more vehicles in the A – C segments, and even smaller vans/ multi-purpose vehicles.

The ICE Age

Frequently, I am accused of being a Citroën 2CV fanboy. In reality, I have always preferred the more elegant Citroën Dyane and the more practical Renault 4. However, I am more enthusiastic about fourgonnettes = small panel vans. French models include: the Citroen AU, AZU, AZ and, especially, the Acadiane, based on the Dyane, and the Renault 4 Fourgonette. English models include: the Morris Minor 1000 van variants, and the Traveller, a station wagon. However, the Hillman Husky, another small wagon, was my favourite. Since moving to Norway, I have come to appreciate the Saab 95, sold as a wagon as well as a panel van. Among larger vehicles, my preference is the International Metro Van, designed by Raymond Loewy (1893 – 1986). In terms of European vehicles the Morris Commercial J-type is next best.

I would like to thank those members of School District 40, New Westminster, who ensured that teacher parking, rather than facilities for pupils, were placed in the courtyard of Vincent Massey Junior Secondary School. This provided me ample opportunity to reflect on the merits of various vehicles, and made me an avid fan of European vehicles, because they seemed so much more appropriately sized than their American equivalents. Thank you.

Tama Electric Car

This weblog post will end with a short portrait of a predecessor to the Nissan EVs, such as the Leaf, developed by Tokyo Electro Automobile Company, which was spun off from the Tachikawa Aircraft company. The Tama Electric Car, assigned vehicle code E4S-47 I. E is for electric, 4S is for 4-seater sedan, 47 is for the year 1947, and I stands for the initial type. The Tama brand name refers to the factory location, a city in the Tokyo metropolis, in the foothills of the Okutama Mountains of southwestern Tokyo. Nissan notes, “When this car first rolled out in 1947, Japan was suffering from an acute shortage of oil, goods and food while the supply of electricity had a surplus since there were almost no home appliances or bulk users of electricity.” This particular vehicle was used as a taxi until 1951. Even as I complain about the Citröen E-Berlingo Multispace, it shows how far electric vehicles have progressed during the 70 years between 1947 and 2017.

Tama 1947 Electric Car Photo: Nissan Heritage Collection

Specifications: Overall length / width / height = 3 035/ 1 230/ 1 630mm; Wheelbase = 2 000mm; Curb weight = 1 100kg; Seating capacity = 4; Range per charge = 65km; Motor = 36V DC series-wound, rated at 3.3kW; Batteries = Lead-acid 40V/ 162Ah; Speed: Max = 35 km/h, Most economical = 28km/h.

Ford Comuta

The 1967 Ford Comuta EV. Photo: Ford of GreatBritain.

In 1913, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison had collaborated on an electric vehicle. This was not a successful venture. Fifty-four years later, in 1967, Ford of Great Britain, produced their first modern electric vehicle, a Ford Comuta concept/ prototype, developed at Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre, east of London.

The Comuta was 2 032 mm long, and weighed about 545 kg. Along with a fiberglass body, it featured a steel backbone chassis, with an independent suspension provided by leading arms at the front and trailing arms at the rear. Drum brakes were also provided.

It could seat two adults in the front and two children in the rear. It’s top speed of 60 km/h and a range of 60 km if driven at 35 km/h. The rear wheel drive vehicle was powered by dual DC electric motors that put out 3.7 kW. These were originally designed as aircraft auxiliary units. Power came from four mid-mounted 12 V 85 Ah lead-acid batteries, producing a total of about 4 kWh. Ductwork piped air through the central backbone to provid motor cooling and heating for the passenger compartment.

Somewhere between two and six Comutas were built (sources conflict). It was unveiled at the 1967 Geneva Motor Show. One can be found in the collection of the Science Museum in London. The fate of the other(s) is unknown.

Ace EV

The Australian Clean Energy Electric Vehicle (ACE EV) group is a startup founded in 2017 by Australian engineer Gregory McGarvie (ca. 1952 – ) and Chinese entrepreneur Will Qiang, in Maryborough, Queensland, Australia. Its goal was to manufacture electric vehicles in Australia, especially small, city vans aimed for small businesses.

In August 2019, ACE EV unveiled their range of three electric vehicles: the Cargo van, the Yewt pickup, and the Urban 3-door hatchback. Sales of vehicles on the Australian market are expected to start in 2021, with prices of about AU$ 40 000 = NOK 250 000 = US$ 25 000. Castle Placement has been engaged to find AU$ 230 million in capital. Their prospectus provides further insights into ACE EV.

In addition to the Australian domestic market, developing countries throughout the world represent another target market for ACE EV. Competitive product pricing requires some changes to product development. The focus is on providing the underserved with access to electric vehicles and battery technologies. This will be done by offering kit based or do it yourself (DIY) modular packages for easy assembly and maintenance anywhere in the world; onboard Alternating Current Bidirectional/Vehicle to Grid (V2G) capabilities; and, Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) components that are 3D printable and recyclable.

Australia’s legacy auto-makers have closed down, with the last mass-market vehicles being produced in Australia in 2017. Now, only insignificant quantities of niche products are made.

The assembly of an electric vehicle kit could facilitate the training of EV service personnel, as well as more general education at secondary schools, and in other forums. This comment is addressed in particular to readers at Melvindale secondary school in Detroit, Verdal prison school, and the Inderøy Radio Control Club.

It may be less advantageous for private individuals to construct their own vehicles. If any problems arise, one wonders if Ace EV would accept responsibility, or attempt to deflect responsibility onto the builder/ owner. I asked my daughter if she would want me to spend some of her potential inheritance buying an EV kit? She tactfully replied that “a car is best purchased, not diy’ed.” Two minutes later, she added, “To put it bluntly, it sounds like a recipe for disaster.”

V2G capability could quickly become a must-have feature of an EV. In areas where short duration power outages are a relatively common occurrence, V2G could eliminate the need for a smelly, noxious wood stove. At cliff cottage, we removed the wood stove from our living room, with the intention of replacing it with a more modern variant. This would cost about NOK 50 000.

Unfortunately, a wood stove is an inferior substitute for electrical power. It does not power refrigerators or freezers, hot water tanks, induction stove tops, conventional and microwave ovens, computers and their screens, lighting or broadband interconnections. Its only function is space heating. One proposal is to invest in some form of a battery pack that could feed electricity to the house during an outage. V2G is one such answer.

I am eagerly awaiting a YouTube video, made by an Australian outback station owner, describing an Ace EV’s capabilities after a year of driving. Will it withstand driver abuse? is a critical question.


Aptera 3 in 2021. (Photo: Aptera)

In the twenty-first century, the ancient Greek word, aptera = wingless, has been reused, this time to refer to a brand of extremely aerodynamic vehicles. Perhaps, it can best be regarded as reassurance that this vehicle will remain flightless, and not ascend into the skies. An equally appropriate name for the vehicle would be Phoenix, for the Aptera brand and vehicle was born in 2006, died in 2011, but was resurrected in 2019.

The original Aptera Motors, Inc., was founded by Steve Fambro (1968 – ) in 2006 and was originally named Accelerated Composites. Fambro was educated as an electrical engineer at the University of Utah, where he studied electo-magnets and antennas. Immediately before starting Aptera, he worked as a senior electrical engineer at Illumina, designing robots that make DNA, and vision systems to inspect that DNA. On LinkedIn, he writes, “Embracing efficiency as an ethos for a car company means we endeavour to do more with less. More range, more performance, more safety, more fun- with fewer batteries, less mining, less energy, less carbon. Doing more with less.”

Fambro initially worked as chief executive officer (CEO) at Aptera. He hired Chris Anthony to be the chief operating officer (COO) shortly after the founding. Thirty million dollars was raised in three rounds of funding, and Aptera grew from 3 to 50 employees. Aptera launched a prototype, the Typ-1, in 2007.

The design of the Aptera Typ-1 was futuristic, but due in large part to Jason C. Hill, president/ owner/ designer at Eleven, a transportation, automotive and mobility design consultancy, started 2003-11. Hill describes himself and his company on LinkedIn as “Specializing in design and product development as well as strategic design, advanced design, and design DNA creation. Currently working with a top New Energy Vehicle Company. Worked on AV solutions regarding the integration of sensor technology for the leading company of LiDAR tech. Recently worked with a MAAS start-up defining the design DNA and UX/UI for their unique urban mobility solution.”

The Aptera 2 Series, was a rebadged Typ-1, to be made available in two variants, a battery electric 2e, and a plug-in hybrid 2h. These could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in about 6.3 seconds. Their top speed was 140 km/h. About 5 000 pre-orders for the vehicles were made by California residents.

In 2008, Fambro relinquished his CEO position to Paul Wilbur, and became chief technical officer (CTO) for the company. When Wilbur joined Aptera he had 20 years of experience with Ford and Chrysler, and over 10 years experience as CEO of American Specialty Cars Incorporated, a tier 1 supplier. My thought on reading this, is that he was too integrated into the conservative automotive industry to function as a CEO of a venture capital financed startup.

Because of assorted production challenges that made it difficult to receive government financing for a three wheeled vehicle classified as a motorcycle, instead of a four wheeled vehicle classified as a car, the design was changed to that of a four wheel vehicle. This added immensely to the cost, and the original company was liquidated in 2011. Various reasons are cited for this, but one is the enormous amount of capital needed to actually produce a car.

After several years working with vertical farming, Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony, once again found an opportunity to relaunch the Aptera in 2019. This time it was Chris Anthony who was given the role of CEO. He had gained experience working as founder and chairperson at Flux Power, an energy storage technology company, for ten years from 2009-10 to 2019-12. Another major differences was that this new Aptera relied on crowd funding from enthusiasts, rather than venture capital from impatient capitalists. During the course of the intervening nine years, electric cars had matured. Batteries were larger and cheaper, motors were more powerful, and there was a better understanding of how everything worked.

Dimensions of the Aptera 2e and 3 respectively

Wheelbase2 819 / 2 743 mm
Length4 394 /4 369 mm
Width2 311 / 2 235 mm
Height1 346 / 1 448 mm
Kerb weight680 / 800 kg
Dimensions of the Aptera 2e & Aptera 3.

The Aptera 2e used an A123 Systems for the 20 kWh lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery pack, and Remy International for the 82 kW HVH250 electric motor. This was mated to a BorgWarner 31-03 eGearDrive transmission. A SAE J1772 compatible charging system at either 110 or 220 V was to be provided. The range was about 190 km.

The hybrid version also had a small, water-cooled electronic fuel injection (EFI) gasoline engine with closed loop oxygen feedback and catalytic converter that was connected to a 12 kW generator/starter. It is similar in approach to the range extender found on the BMW i3. With a 20 litre fuel tank and fully charged battery, the 2h could offer a range of 970 – 1130 km.

Aptera 3 evokes deja vu. It repeats the basic Jason C. Hill design, but modernized for the 2020s. Like many other smaller manufacturers of electric vehicles, Aptera has engaged the services of Munro & Associates, a company established in 1988. Munro & Associates, Inc., focuses attention on profit improvement through design innovation; not financial trickery or outsourcing. He claims that they use their 3 000 m2 facility to benchmark and redesign products using purpose built software, and an internal search engine to remove 20% to 60% of the cost while improving the product’s function and quality. Sandy Munro has his origins, like this weblog writer, in Windsor, Ontario, where he started working as a toolmaker at the Valiant Machine Tool Company.

The resin composite skin contains microfluidic channels filled with a coolant to transfer heat from the batteries, motors and solar panels to the underbelly and sides of the vehicle.

Technically, the Aptera 3 will come with either two or three wheel hub motors for front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Each motor provides 50 kW, and is provided by Elaphe Ltd, in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Multiple solar panel, motor and battery configurations are planned, with ranges from 400 to 1 600 km provided by 25, 40, 60 or 100 kW·h lithium-ion battery packs. Embedded solar cells will contribute up to an additional 65 km per day from sunlight alone under ideal conditions. With average daily commute distances estimated to be about less than 50 km per day, this allows Aptera to claim that they are producing a never charge vehicle. Prices vary from US$ 25 900 to over US$ 47 000. The all-wheel-drive version will accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.5 s. The two-wheel-drive versions have a 0 to 100 km/h time of 5.5 s.

A number of details for the Aptera 3 are missing. This includes the charging technology to be used. Several enhancements/ options are offered: SafetyPilot adds Level 2 autonomy capability, including facial tracking, lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, and emergency braking; Enhanced audio provides three more channels of audio including an added lightweight transmission-line subwoofer; Off-road kit increases ground clearance and provides tougher wheel covers; Camping kit provides an integrated tent and rear awning; and, Pet kit adds a pet divider, a way to secure a pet, a rear ladder and other assessories for an animal.

From other sources, it appears that Aptera will use batch processing (rather than an assembly line) to produce its products. A batch could consist of between 100 to 200 units that have highly similar characteristics. Batch production would reduce capital investment.

Two new front-wheel drive (FWD) limited editions will be available. The Paradigm Edition is described as “The Most Efficient Vehicle on the Road” with a 640 km range, 100 kW drive system, with solar panels. The Paradigm + is “The Most Efficient Long Range Vehicle on the Road” with a full 1 600 km range, 100 kW drive system, and solar panels.

Another Aptera 3, showing off its solar panels (Photo: Aptera)

Notes: 1. The noun Aptera, has a long history. It was the name of an ancient city in Crete, as well as the name of another ancient city in Turkey. Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778) classified Aptera as the seventh and last order of Insecta. It included many diverse creatures without wings, including crustaceans (crabs/ lobsters/ shrimp/ woodlice/ barnacles, etc.), arachnidans (spiders), myriapods (terrestrial creatures having anywhere from about 10 to 750 legs), and more. In 1795 Pierre André Latreille (1762 – 1833) divided it into seven orders: Suctoria, Thysanura, Parasita, Acephala, Entomostraca, Crustacea, and Myriapoda.

2. Wikipedia claims that the 2e was (going to be) assembled in Canada. Canada is a big place, and I haven’t been able to find out where, specifically, this was going to happen. If anyone knows, please advise and the text will be modified appropriately, with an acknowledgement.