The operations footprint of a vehicle is the emissions caused when it is driven. The green house gas emissions is expressed in grams of carbon equivalent per kilometer or g/km CO2-eq.
Quite apart from greenhouse gasses causing climate change typical fossil fuel vehicles emit toxic substances such as Nitrogen, Sulphur and Lead. These air pollutants cause serious health issues.
Electric vehicles does not have any direct vehicle emissions. However, there are secondary emissions which depends on the source of electric power.
The emissions associated with generating power for the national grid is called the grid factor. It is expresses as kilograms of carbon equivalent emitted per kilowatt hour produced or kg/kWh CO2-eq. In South Africa this value is very close to 1. Which means that around 1kg of carbon is emitted for every kWh of electricity produced.
In the countries like Norway, Iceland and Paraguay the direct emissions from electricity generation are less than 20g CO2/kWh (grid factor 0.02), because of the dominance of hydroelectricity and some geothermal in Iceland.
This means that an electric vehicle driven in Iceland will automatically have very little secondary emissions and therefore a low operations footprint.
Not so in South Africa. Since the national grid is primarily coal based the grid factor is high. Therefore an electric vehicle charged from the grid does have potentially significant secondary emissions - depending on the amount of electricity consumed per kilometre travelled. Since the grid factor is so close to 1 it is easy derive the operations footprint (g/km CO2-eq) by simply calculating the energy consumption in kWh/km travelled.
To minimise the operations footprint we need to keep the energy consumption as low as possible. zingBug does this by choosing energy efficient technologies and keeping the motor size and vehicle speed modest. We are also actively researching innovative ways to improve performance without using more electricity. A small motor and small battery pack reduces the operations footprint by requiring less energy. Incidentally this also reduces the manufacturing footprint since motor and batteries are the most energy and resource intense components in any electric vehicle.
The zingBug consume less energy per km than other electric vehicles and therefore our secondary emissions are relatively low. Our objective is to drive consumption down to around 0.1 kWh/km in order to achieve an operations footprint of less that 100 g/km CO2-eq even when charged from the 'dirty' South African grid.
However, we don't want our customers to charge from the grid.
One obvious way to bring the operations footprint down drastically is renewable energy - especially solar.
We specifically designed the zingBug to use solar energy to charge. It is unlike most electric vehicles which require so much energy that solar charging can often makes only a small contribution. With zingBug a typical 3kWp home solar installation or even 1.5 kWp fitted on a carport will go a long way to supply your travel needs. We also plan to offer a retractable solar roof rack to supply shade and help recharge the batteries while parked in the sun.
We took pains to make voltage and charging requirements compatible with typical hybrid inverter chargers available in the solar market. The idea is that zingBug should form an integral part of your home smart grid.
No peak time charging
The South African national grid is constrained. There is not enough electricity to go around - especially during peak time. There is a risk that too many electric vehicles could place further strain. As a responsible electric vehicle company we help customers to avoid peak time charging from the grid. In fact, as a zingBug customer your can help release pressure on the grid by using the car battery to power the home during peak time - see home smart grid.