Electric cars might soon be more sustainable.
A new model, from Indiana-based Direct Access, uses all the automatic features of an electric car to deliver a 400-mile trip in the conventional style — kind of like a Swiss Army knife.
The crate motor? For a fraction of the cost of a full-blown electric car, it can have more than 700 pounds of motor behind the wheel, and it can move up to 160 mph.
Direct Access CEO Will Wenke says the idea for the modular crate-mounted motor was inspired by ElectricBike, which delivers the powered parts to the engine — which can move a 2-foot pole through the floor and make a turn.
The company makes two more modular prototypes in a box that can be used on the road, and had the first built for a road trip to Florida.
But it took months to perfect the crate-mounted motor because it could take fuel 35 times faster than an electric car — with free storage of the parts.
If that weren’t enough, the company has a patent pending for the crate motor that it’s working on with Toyota and is planning a line of fully modular electric cars that can be bought off the shelf.
“If we can start innovating with our own product, which we can’t, and then work with others to get a product to market, then that’s fantastic,” Wenke said.
Already, Direct Access has sold more than 1,000 of the modular smart motorcycle crates to people around the world. The company has a launch target for year 2015.
The industry has been roiled by efforts by companies like Tesla to develop alternative-fuel cars that are less risky than traditional hybrids.
To help pull itself out of the morass, Ford will spend $50 million over the next three years on an electric vehicle program.
An electric hybrid Chevrolet Volt is inching closer to production in the United States, while Rolls-Royce is planning its first-ever electric car.
While that’s not a focus of Direct Access, Wenke says the company has noticed a similar shift in the way people expect to use their cars.
“People want instant gratification — it’s fun, it’s efficient and it can use precious little energy,” he said.
And to avoid turning into a traffic jam, users get free on-road storage of the parts necessary to make the change, even if they need them later.
“It’s a more mature product. It has a driver’s seat, so it’s a little different from the typical fossil-fuel car. It’s more adaptable,” Wenke said.