Musings on my Carver.
I already bought the Carver, I’m waiting for it to be delivered. I bought it with my own money so this is not a paid review or earned commission or anything like that. If anything, it’s justifying the purchase after the fact, because it is a whole lot of money for a tiny slip of a thing.
I had to go with a lot of assumptions, of course. One is the vague idea that if I assume that I have enough money for the asking price of the vehicle, would I be willing to spend it? Also, these are round numbers, we’re not doing detailed shit here people, deal with it. After finding these metric, I would need to put a money value to it, to add up and get a “This is how much I’m willing to pay” number.
|commuter bicycle (aka, human power)
|Fiat 500 electric
|Fiat 500 ICE*
|Fancy top end thing that maxes out on the cool factor. ****
|0.25kW/100kg = 0.0025
|4kw/400kg = 0.01
|60kw/1000kg = 0.06
|80kW/1000kg = 0.08
|Top speed km/h
|Price per kg €/kg
|€15000/400kg = €37.5/kg
|30000/1000kg = €30/kg
|25000/1000kg = €25/kg
|Cost per km
|€0.1 – 0.3/km
|Range, time to charge
8 h (sleep)
|depends on geopolitics
|Protection against weather ***
|2 (a truck could still blow you over)
|Coolness factor ***
** It protects you immediately, but fucks up the whole planet, which makes the weather worse
*** 0 = yuck, 1 = not very cool, 2 = it’s OK, 3 = epic!
**** I don’t actually know what sort of thing to put here.
|Top speed km/h
|Clearly, people are willing to pay more for higher top speeds. What value though?
|Price per kg €/kg
|If I imagine a straight line, increasing the weight seems to reduce the cost. I imagine it to level out around €20/kg. Yes, very scientific.
|Coat reduction per km
|Range, recharge value
|Clearly, people are willing to pay more for higher ranges and shorter recharge times. What value though? And do I care about this?
|Protection against weather
|This was a big deal for me, so this should be a big value.
|I think I was willing to pay double the price for coolness. I get this from comparing what a good cargo e-bike would cost. Although that also includes protection against weather.
|I think I would have paid more if this was available.
Why not second-hand, or hybrid?
The short answer is probably less coolness factor. My previous car is now 20 years old, still going strong, now gifted to my worker. So I guess I’m a new to forever sort of a person. I also don’t trust people and get anxiety when I think of things that could be hidden and suddenly go wrong after purchase. Having said that, I got the Carver second-hand, it’s a demo.
In term of hybrid, I feel like it’s more fiddly to integrate two systems – same reason I decided against an e-bike. I also need to add, my reason for electric was less about reducing emissions and more about that I hate the smells and the noise that comes with ICE vehicles. A hybrid doesn’t solve this. Fortunately, I don’t need the range or extra power that a hybrid can provide.
While we’re here I also want to get off my chest that I don’t care about this emissions thing, either. I care about the soil, the water, the way we do things, riding roughshod over the planet at large. That doesn’t give a clear answer for or against electric vehicles (rare earth mining!!) but it is an argument for using less, of everything. Move slower, take your time, get your hands dirty.
Top speed, range, time to charge
Top speed is probably the single thing people complain about. I will have to see if 45km/h is too low – especially uphill in a headwind, which is a likely occurrence in the Azores. I may decide to hop out and pull the thing up the hills!
For the Fiat 500E I’m only considering charging at home because that’s what I know I have access to, and I am not considering a fully off-grid home system because I think it makes more economic sense to have a bigger scale for this, which means involving local government. Or, a community installation post-apocalypse.
Range is also something people complain about, but both these things I think is a lifestyle issue, not the vehicle’s problem. If you need a higher speed and a longer range, you likely need public transport. If that doesn’t exist and you feel you need it, you may be living in the wrong place, or you need to re-evaluate your pace of life. We do not need to rush this much. We are addicted to fast things. Fast energy, fast food, fast love. Slow the fuck down. Really. You’re still productive; you don’t have to posture and have such an attitude and pretend to look busy and rush to meetings you don’t even need to have (yes, think about it).
The coolness factor is the difficult thing here. I don’t just mean looks, although I feel a metric of looks per Euro, or looks per kg may be a metric. It’s also about fitness for purpose.
One challenge of these sorts of not-a-car-not-a-bike is that they’re expensive for their size. but are you paying for size or bulk material? Or are you paying to get from point A to B dry, safe, fast enough, conveniently enough? Surely we won’t buy an old computer that is bigger than a laptop but does less and guzzles more power? At this stage of the game we’re also paying to be pioneers. We’re paying in money but also in risk. It is what it is. On the other hand, that certainly adds to the coolness factor.
This includes repairability, modularity, and yes, pure hackability.
Like the commenter Hysteria Wins said on a page reviewing a similar product “What I want is a modular system. Maybe a trike body with a removable body made of fiberglass with a roof and doors. So in summer you can ride your trike open, and in bad weather install the surrounding structure so you can continue to use it comfortably. Making it modular means you can replace individual parts as they wear or are damaged, too. ” – the Carver does that.
Two other commenters on that page gives another challenge, which I wish we had more control over and is partly why I hate being in cities: “The problem is that they’re designing for cities we don’t have in most of the world, especially North America, but even in most of Europe and East Asia. In an ideal world, central city neighborhoods would be designed so that cars can’t ever travel faster than 15-20mph anyway, because that’s far, far safer for pedestrians and cyclists. In that world, a product like this makes sense: You’re driving in a regular lane, but you’re not holding up car traffic. You’re saving money, saving energy, saving maintenance and insurance costs, and you can be accommodated by much smaller parking spaces, thereby wasting less space.
But in a world where city streets are designed for 25-35mph and parking spaces are 20×10′, yeah. Driving a golf cart around (which is basically what this is) isn’t going to cut it and you’re better off on a bicycle or in a small car like a smart car or FIAT 500.” – oremlk
and “Someone sees a bike going 15mph they say, ” pretty quick for a bike”. Someone sees this going 15mph they think small car, and say, “WTF are you doing on the road.” The thing itself seems OK, but how it navigates existing infrastructure seems tricky.” – appliance5000
For this reason I liked that the Carver is like a clunky bike. I think I would have preferred the 90 km/h version, but I had the opportunity to buy a demo model for cheaper, and I can do a trade-in later. But I am afraid of high speeds, and I don’t like that powerful machines make you want to go fast. Because then I go fast. I am also lucky, or, said another way, part of why I fell in love with the Azores is the low population and the rural nature. The twisty, hilly roads also means people don’t tend to go fast. They’ll race their arses straight off a cliff and into the sea.
If the company goes bust, what options do we have to keep the vehicle in working order? Are the parts interchangeable?
Does the vehicle need a smartapp? Can it work without it? This fuckery is a hard no, immediately. Even better is if the software is open-source. I don’t think the Carver is, but the impression I get from the company is they try their best to be as open as possible while keeping investors and commercial interests happy. This is not based on anything in particular.
A vehicle for the apocalypse
I have been thinking a lot about the apocalypse, that’s another reason I moved to a little island that could be self-sustainable in the middle of the Atlantic. The kak thing about an apocalypse is you’re not exactly sure what shape it would take, but I think a reduced dependence on fossil fuels is probably a good idea. Another thing is that you need to be able to get by on a lot less. A LOT less. So I really like that the Carver is so small.
The challenging thing with most renewables is they need to be visible – wind and solar setups need to be outside. Any infrastructure failures mean your renewables become more valuable and could be stolen – trust me, I come from South Africa. Batteries in particular are very valuable. So a smaller vehicle in my view is a lot more redundant; you need less things to keep it charged, you could hide smaller things better, or carry them indoors (my Carver is even going to be kept inside the house! and at 330kg I can probably manhandle the thing around), or replace them more cheaply or more often. I mean, I could go back to a draft horse, I might anyway, but while we still have a functional world, the Carver gets me there faster.
Another thing about apocalypses and climate change and all these things is you need community. A strong community exponentially increases your chances of thriving. So I feel that it is a decent strategy to pay other people in my community to deliver my big stuff, for example.
A maxed out on coolness thing if I had all the money in the world?
I don’t know what I would put here. But I think it would be something that has a topspeed of about 90km/h. I get this value because I think we should never go faster than 80km/h. I do go faster than that, but I shouldn’t. At 80km/h you can still stop quickly if you need to. It’s probably still too fast but let’s try to be at least a bit realistic here.
I don’t know if I really need a very very very powerful car, although I do get a kick out of kicking dust in a Ferrari’s face on pull-away with a little dinky little thing, even if they overtake me in a huff a few moments later (true story, when my Bantam was brand new). So I just gave this ratio 0.1kw/kg
Obviously the thing needs to be cheap to drive, otherwise I end up not driving it. I went with the higher value of <€0.04/km for EVs just to keep the space open.
Obviously this maxed out thing needs to max out on protection against the weather, coolness and absolute hackability.
In conclusion, the only thing I can think of that does this is a hacked Carver S+. With, like, a support vehicle with a solar and wind system and extra batteries? Lol.