Remember the Sparrow? Here’s the Electra Meccanica Solo

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The promise of an electric car that can travel a hundred miles, be recharged in three hours (on a 220-volt system), and costs just $15,500 is a tempting proposition for some folks.

Make the car a 3-wheeled single seater and the proposition gets a little more convoluted.

Are Americans ready for another 3-wheeled single occupancy commuter car? A company called Electra Meccanica thinks so, and plans to make its 2017 Solo available in the United States.

But there are some problems.

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Michigan Blocks Tesla from Selling Cars

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Poor Tesla.

All the company wants to do is change the world with electric cars and sell them in a way that hasn’t been done since the turn of the 20th century.

Turns out some people in the auto industry aren’t big fans of change and are working really hard to try and keep things the way they’ve been for the last hundred years.

The latest example just went down in Michigan, where Tesla’s attempt to sell cars directly to customers has been blocked by the state’s government.

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A Brief History of Batteries and Battery Tech

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

What comes to mind when you hear the term “car battery”? Fifteen years ago, the answer would have been quite obvious. But lately the idea of what a car battery entails has shifted away from that essential-but-oft-forgotten black box under the hood to state-of-the-art propulsion systems of the near future. When talking about batteries, we focus less on volts and more on kilowatt-hours and MPGe. We’ve mentioned batteries a lot lately, specifically in regards to the Chevrolet Bolt, GM’s potentially game-changing affordable all-electric vehicle. But when we talk about the Bolt’s 238 miles of battery range, how is that different from talking about the battery at the end of your jumper cables?

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Chevy Bolt Should Eliminate Range Anxiety

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Range anxiety is about to become a quaint memory from the early days of electric cars.

When EV technology was getting started, just a few short years ago, we were lucky to get 40 miles of range on batteries alone.

The original Chevy Volt couldn’t manage much more than a short daily commute and needed a gas-powered motor in addition to the electric one to give buyers some extra peace of mind.

The first all-electric Nissan Leaf fared much better, with an 84-mile range, but still left motorists stranded after pushing the limits too far. Today’s Leaf can top 107 miles of electric range while the much more expensive Tesla Model S can go more than 250 miles.

Chevrolet is about to change the game and combine Tesla-like range with Nissan-like affordability.

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Audi Boosts Investment in Formula E

Audi Formula E

To touch on a subject not normally covered by CarGurus, Audi has announced its expanded involvement in the all-electric Formula E racing series, furthering its support of Team ABT Schaeffler before fielding a full-works team in 2017. Motor racing is an exceptionally expensive business, and with perhaps the exception of Ferrari’s involvement in Formula 1, no manufacturer can simply dabble in the game—there has to be some sort of return on the investment.

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The Automotive Revolution Has Begun

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We are in the midst of a technological revolution in the auto industry. The amount of change in the last five years has probably outpaced what we’ve seen in the last 50. The next five years could change it all again.

Remember when seat belts and air conditioning were considered big developments in the car world? Then came cruise control and heated seats. I, for one, lost my marbles when I finally owned a car that could unlock with the push of a button.

Now I don’t even need keys to unlock, or start, my car. Heck, I don’t even need gasoline any more. My Nissan Leaf, though, hasn’t even begun to crack the surface of what’s coming.

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Will Tesla’s New Lease Attract More Customers?

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Believe it or not, you can still buy a new car in the United States for under $14,000. The least expensive option on the market is the $11,990 Nissan Versa, a car that Car and Driver says, “has insultingly flimsy materials” along with a 109-hp 1.6-liter engine that makes for slow acceleration but gives reasonably good fuel efficiency.

Most of us opt to buy more car than what the Versa has to offer, but that ultra-low price is appealing to budget-conscious shoppers. If the Versa is too “flimsy,” buyers can step up to something like the $14,000 Ford Fiesta.

Once the car is purchased, it can be driven for many years with no further finance costs, which is one of the benefits of buying a car outright.

A 24-month finance term on a $14,000 car, at 3.11 percent interest, is about $600. For the same price you could drive one of the most desirable luxury cars on the market: An all-electric Tesla.

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Electric Motors Without the Equations

Nissan Leaf Cutaway

Earlier this year, Bloomberg published an interesting article on the future of electric vehicles in relation to oil demand. It points out that global EV sales increased 60% in 2015, the same rate of growth seen by the Ford Model T in its early years. Though EVs still only command about 0.1% of the worldwide auto market—and the current glut of cheap oil has kept many people behind the wheels of their favorite crossovers and trucks—more affordable batteries, growing cultural acceptance, and the looming threat of global warming will most likely only improve EV sales from here on out. Bloomberg itself predicts “the 2020s will be the decade of the electric car,” anticipating that at some point EV demand will surpass even demand for oil.

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Changes Coming for Popular Nissan Juke, Leaf

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Electric cars shouldn’t look like electric cars if they are to go mainstream.

Tesla figured that out early, while other automakers, especially BMW and Nissan, made their electric cars look more and more… electric.

The BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf are perhaps the “most electric” looking of today’s electric cars.m BMW shows no signs of easing up on its polarizing styling, while Nissan, known for pushing the limits of good design taste, will soon unveil all-new looks for the Leaf and a slightly tamed-down design for the soon-to-be-hybrid Juke.

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