'Tween Buick & Bike... the Gizmo EV
By Ray Holan
Suddenly, you will find yourself grinning uncontrollably. Waving children gawk at you from the rear windows of minivans. This little car puts a big smile on your face. It reminds me of the first day with a new bike. King of the world.
On the other hand, there are those other cars to contend with; those other cars that look so BIG from the Gizmo vantage point. I have found myself more than once deliberately expanding my energy field, stretching my aura as it were, or just plain putting out the "I may looks small, but don't mess with me" vibes. Driving a Gizmo in traffic means staking your claim to your lane and sticking to it. I don't ask for trouble by hogging the passing lane, but I don't make any apologies if I have to drop down to 20 mph to crest a serious hill either. Hey buddy, if you're in a hurry, you're welcome to pass me when you have a chance. Being "greener and cleaner" than the next guy helps one's sense of righteous indignation. Nothing like a little ecological "holier-than-thou" chip on the shoulder, eh? But back to mundane matters.
As mentioned earlier, there is a learning curve. Getting used to the Gizmo controls takes a few minutes. After all, this thing is sans steering wheel. No brake pedal. No accelerator pedal either. In short, a unique driving experience. Going from your typical automobile to the Gizmo is a bit like dropping about 10 inches off your belt size overnight. The Gizmo is about one third the width of a standard American automobile. Suddenly, one lane on the road seems like 3 lanes. Parking spots? If you can see any daylight at all, the Gizmo will scoot right in. Driving the Gizmo is persuasive. It persuades you to make certain adjustments. Twenty-somethings seem to love the unusual configuration, but the natural impatience and energy of that age group makes strange bedfellows with the less-than-a-Camaro-Z28 performance of the Gizmo. I have had several diesel VW Rabbits over the years. Driving any of them forces one to accept one's limitations. Maybe this was good practice for Gizmo ownership. I really don't mind people passing me up on the road. The Gizmo has helped me rediscover the futility of racing from stoplight to stoplight in city traffic. Many's the time I've had impatient drivers blow by me at the first opportunity only to have me pull up next to them at the next stoplight.
Some skeptics have wailed about not being able to take the Gizmo on the freeway. Statements like "how do you get anywhere without taking the freeway?" have made me realize how blinded we are by our interstate-highway lifestyle. Yes, you can take alternate routes to city destinations that do not require driving on gravel roads. Happily, I've been put in much closer contact with city neighborhoods driving the Gizmo. This has been a surprising and pleasant benefit of Gizmo ownership. Sitting closer to the ground than in my CNG powered van and exposed on both sides (remember the Gizmo is a single seater), conversations pop up often at stoplights. I can practically reach out and shake hands with my fellow motorists on the left and the right due to the absence of a passenger seat. I'm "out there". Suspended in a public space and it's not half bad.
How Does it Stack Up Against the Competition?
The Gizmo occupies a special position on the EV continuum: much more than an electric bike and something short of what many enthusiasts think of as an electric car. Its combination of performance, carrying capacity, ease of ownership and affordability is unique. Here are a few specific comparisons.
Most prospective customers tend to compare the Gizmo to one the GEM EV models, now under the Daimler-Chrysler wing. Certain GEM models are priced squarely in the Gizmo's neighborhood and offer two or four person transportation. Unlike the GEM models, the Gizmo is not limited to a top speed of 25 mph (it does 40 mph) and it exceeds the range of the GEM by a healthy margin (40 miles vs. 25 miles). On a more subjective level, the GEM models, while finished nicely, look like golf carts. The Gizmo looks like.....something else. Advantage: Gizmo.
Another obvious competitor is the Sparrow from Corbin Motors. I like the Sparrow. It is a great package. It beats out the Gizmo on style and speed (the Sparrow will do 60 mph+). You can take it on a freeway and hold your own. On the other hand, it's about $6000 more than a Gizmo and has a little less cargo room plus the liability (in my mind) of sealed vs. flooded batteries. Word on the street has it that the sealed units have proven to be more than a little finicky about charging whereas the old tried and true Trojans in the Gizmo let average owners take some liberties in this department and live to fight again another day.
One might consider the Lectra or Escarati electric motorcycles to be an alternative to the Gizmo. They both enjoy a price advantage over the Gizmo (about $5,000 vs. $8,500), but suffer from shorter range, less carrying capacity, and lack of all-weather capability (i.e. Gizmo's got a roof and enclosed cockpit).
On the upper end, there are the EV's from our two Canadian neighbors: Dynasty Motors and Feel Good Cars. The "IT" from Dynasty Motors is a cool, clean-paper design for a low-speed, 4 passenger EV to be available in different configurations (e.g. small pickup). Feel Good Cars offers a restored Renault Dauphine sedan capable of highway speeds. Again, the prices are considerably higher than a Gizmo ($5000 or more over the Gizmo price), but that buys you some serious carrying capacity and cachet. The IT is limited to 25 mph, but the Feel Good EV is designed for highway speeds. You do get what you pay for....either of those vehicles offer a very liveable EV.
In the Final Analysis
Gizmo gives you great gobs of gratification. It delivers on the EV promise of clean, quiet, transportation that's easy on the environment and on the wallet.
It seems more like an appliance than a transportation device. The inherent simplicity of the package is strikingly different from most modern gadgets. Get in, turn the key and squeeze the accelerator trigger. Steer and brake when needed. It doesn't get much simpler than this. Maintenance? Add distilled water to the batteries once a month. Repairs? Every component is easily accessible and simple to replace if need be. Our Gizmo had a fender damaged during the long truck ride from Oregon to Ohio. Four torx fasteners were removed. The fender was lifted off the vehicle, repaired on a body shop workbench, painted and popped back on as easy as you please. Nothing to it. That's a design for the real world, not just the showroom floor.
Do I still have my Gizmo grin after 600 miles on the road? You betcha. This is the second "car" the American household needs. The beauty is, the average American family can afford it and maintain it. Not many commercial EV offerings can make that claim. The Gizmo nails it. Guess what the best part is? It's no prototype-soon-to-be-available-maybe. It's on the street and for sale now. Ah, it's a good time to be alive.....
What are You Waiting for?
Midget Motors is the Midwest distributor of the Gizmo. We are based in Norwalk, Ohio. Refer questions to us at: www.midgetmotors.com or directly to the Gizmo's manufacturer, NEVCO at www.nevco.com
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