Looking for an electric vehicle that has can perform on the street, but costs only around one fourth the price of a Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus EV, but comes in at about one quarter of the price? If you're willing to settle for two seats and a range less than 50 miles, you find such a thing in the StreetScooter EV.
The StreetScooter is being built in a very unusual way. Rather than being the product of one company, StreetScooter a cooperative venture of over 80 auto parts suppliers, engineering firms, and electronics companies. It does have a management team of sorts, but is designed around the Disruptive Network Approach to project management, which is meant to keep the project flexible and to provide ways to work around potential roadblocks. The companies involved are all subject matter experts, with each bringing their expertise and manufacturing capabilities to the project. By defining the car as a series of modules and requiring consistency only at the places where those modulars interface, the project is structured more along the lines of an open-source software project than a typical manufacturing process.
The goal of the project is to build an EV with a price that bests conventional automobiles. In setting the requirements for that vehicle, the engineers involved looked to the kind of travel that they needed themselves and found that short trips of less than 40 kilometers (25 miles) were typical. So, the vehicle was designed to that range, saving both dollars and weight when compared with existing EVs. An even more important target is the price: around $7,000, with an additional charge for the battery lease. Though it will have only two seats and a small range, the StreetScooter is not an NEV. It's expected to be fully compatible with highway safety laws and provide a top speed around 74 miles per hour. Production in Europe is slated for 2013, with availability in the United States coming at a later date.
*UPDATE: Thanks to Dan F. for the link to the video after the jump.