Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

May 28

The Triac: An Affordable Electric Car

Posted in Battery Technology | Electric Cars | Energy Inventions | Transportation

Triac Electric Car California based company Green Vehicles recently began selling an affordable $20,000 electric car called the Triac. The small but efficient 3-wheeled car has a range of 120 miles and can travel up to 70mph on the highway. Charging the lithium-ion batteries that power the 20kw electric motor takes about 6 hours, and there is an optional capacity boost battery pack available that extends the range by 20% (why not include it with the car?). The Triac comes in 8 different color combinations and is available from the dealership in San Jose. See the company website for more details.

Triac Electric Car Front View
Triac Electric Car Side View
Triac Electric Car Rear View

“By providing consumers with a choice they can be proud of, Green Vehicles has become a leading developer, manufacture and supplier of electric transportation. Starting with the sleek freeway drivable commuter, then the rugged work truck, and finally onto petite but chic city vehicles, we offer a full range of pure electric vehicles. Our engineers are constantly working to redefine efficiency and reliability, aiming to expand what is possible for the growing community who make protecting the environment a priority.”

  • buzz saw

    Very spiffy! Needs the option of either a cheap vertical roof top wind turbine, or pv array charging system. Also a 12v power takeoff (cigarette lighter outlet) would be nice.

  • Lukman Nulhakiem

    Is this car really cheap? I’m an Indonesian and triac may not be affordable. I think an electric car ideally priced at below $10,000. I hope.

  • RCman

    Lithium batteries can be over $10000 alone to maintain capacity. With cheaper new technology batteries, all is possible.

  • nerfer

    Lukman – This is cheap compared to the Tesla, Tango (Commuter Cars), Aptera, even the Sparrow NMG. If you want something really cheap, look to the Chinese, like the Zap Xebra. But you get what you pay for. A decent electric scooter might be a better option than a real cheap electric car.

  • Leroy James

    Can someone who is six feet six inches tall fit in the Triac?

  • 18wheels

    Can’t wait for one of these to cut me off as I roll down the highway. Oops, must have been a speed bump.

  • George Lewis

    Hi, This is a freeway ready electric (AC Motor with regenerative breaking too!) with a 120 mile range. You can get this car TODAY for just $19.995 or save-up for the Tesla, which is now $113,000 – I’m getting a Triac!

    Green Vehicles is also offering a city car (35mph – 60 mile range) for only $11.995… this could easily be a second car for those who live close to work… which is 80% of people.

    Remember, these cars are not meant to be your main car. In fact I’ve heard that if you only have an electric, it is almost impossible to get insurance, but if you put this as a second car it’s cheaper than car insurance – plus, in CA. you can drive in the carpool lane alone because it’s considered a motorcycle.

  • Brian

    There is the Cree ( car for a lot less. Less range and speed, but far more afordable.

  • lucy

    I hardly feel 20k is “affordable” to the average earthling. Even with the falling/failing dollar, 20k to anyone outside of the U.S. is still high priced. Also consider the fact that this car on a crazy highway is about as vulnerable as a motorcycle. When the price of the car and the batteries comes down then this might be feasible. Right now it just appears to be a toy for the rich and an amusement to the gas/oil, so-called fossil fuel cartel! Come up with something that really works and that all humans (especially us working people of the earth) can afford then we can talk!

  • Sal B

    What is the acceleration 0 to 60? Saying it’s 70mph capable tells me nothing about whether I can accelerate onto a freeway safely. Also, what is the range at 70mph? Everyone’s assuming it’s still 120 miles… that may be 120 miles at a much lower speed. Why no specifications?

  • mw

    Worth every penny at $10k. 🙂

  • jose manuel salgado

    I will buy one for 10 000.

  • Mark E. Hazen

    Very nice vehicle with lots of innovation. However, there is a large number of people who are making their own by converting their gas vehicles to all electric at a much lower cost – roughly $10,000 and lots of elbow grease and passion. Visit to learn more.

  • Oscar

    Two words – Honda Clarity.

  • Justwatching

    Richt on Lucy!!
    What a waste of time making these things.

  • David Scott

    I’ve owned a three wheeler with one wheel in the rear. The weakness is that if you hit a patch of rocks (or snow, ice, rain, slippery stuff, …) then it will slide in that direction. When it stops the car can dump over with a greater weight and force moving on one side (or the other). Although I loved the 100 MPH I got on a High Mileage Freeway, it proved quite a problem. Maybe they have addressed this problem.

  • Bill Schwartz

    Anyone interested in really cool electric should check out the Aptera. It’s a 3-wheeler with zip and all the latest in high-tech gadgets. Best of all, it’s going to be available this year.

  • Jean

    The price may seem high but it will come down as battery technology progresses. It’s hardly a “waste of time” since cars like these are the beginning of innovative thinking in using alternative energy sources. 20K may seem expensive but you will save quite a bit on gas and repairs over 5 years…

    I think it’s truly exciting that this type of technology is fairly affordable. My only concern is that it is taking Triac so long to get the car made and ready for the public. Another vehicle, the Aptera, also looks really good.

  • Steve

    So, it has 3 wheels. Could that be bacause three wheels qualifies it as a motorcycle, and therefore exempt from the safety standards of a car? The car may be green, but in an accident, you might be spilling a lot of red.

  • Boneheaded1

    You are correct Steve. Three wheels do allow the car to be released much quicker because it does not need to meet certain safety testing standards. This makes it faster and cheaper to get to production. The cost of these vehicles is mostly in the battery.

    However, the 2 front/one rear, three wheel vehicle also allows a vehicle to be more of a tear drop shape (meaning more aerodynamic) and it’s also lighter (less energy to make it move). So for an electric vehicle it makes sense to use this design.

    Funny thing about this vehicle is the company is based in Marin, CA. I commute through this corridor and the average highway speed is 65-80 miles per hour. So they need to up the cruising speed before I would seriously consider buying this car. Make it a 100 mile range at 80 miles and hour and I’m on the waiting list.

  • Bill Dale

    I would not be interested, but so long as anyone would want to buy it, it should be available– we need lots of choices to make an EV society a reality.

    I am almost finished converting a BMW coupe to full electric power… it will have better performance than it had with gasoline power.

    Buzz Saw: you obviously never studied physics– yes, solar panels could help, but only marginally unless you park the car during the day where there is lots of sun. But to put a wind turbine on the car would not INCREASE its range, but DECREASE it– the inefficiencies of generators combined with the aerodynamic drag of the turbine and the significant drag that all generators have when making electricity would make it impossible to have a net gain of energy when driving.

    The only time it might be theoretically possible to use such a turbine for an net increase in battery charge would be when the car is parked, but the excess weight of the generator would reduce the overall efficiency of the car, especially in hilly areas, and so would likely make it difficult to win that battle, either.

    Gasoline cars are on their way out. Just how much growing pain we will have before EVs replace them will be determined by just how quickly battery technology advances. Several new technologies may make it possible within the next few years to recharge an EV nearly as quickly as it takes to gas up an SUV, and far more economically. We need batteries that are affordable over a given life span, that can be recharged rapidly, that are safe to use and provide a range of 100 miles or so between charges.

  • Cancerman72

    20000 is still a bit too expensive. Personally waiting for the Volt to come out by GM. (if they survive)

  • tio

    20k? Sorry, with the economic collapse very few people would buy it at 20k. Mainstream auto ownership will stay away from electric cars until they have dropped to the price most can afford.

  • Bill Dale


    You can’t compare electric vehicles directly to gasoline cars and reach reasonable conclusions. EVs must be evaluated on their own terms.

    Purchase prices for EVs are higher (for now) than gasoline, but once you buy one, you spend far less every month to drive it than you would driving a gasoline car. The dramatically lower cost of operation can make it possible to buy a fully electric car; as time goes on and gasoline prices continue to spiral upward as they are, it will become more and more apparent that an EV is the better investment.

    And since EVs require virtually no maintenance– no oil changes, oil filters, air filters, spark plugs, oxygen sensors, mufflers, catalytic converters, timing belts, fan belts, radiator hoses, smog tests and similar expenses that EVs do not, you save there as well– I don’t know about you, but my time is valuable, and I enjoy being able to drive my friend’s EV and never having to stop at gas stations and repair shops, and I’m so very glad I’ll be able to drive fuel-free very soon.

    I plan to install a solar panel on my roof as one of my friends has done, which he uses to recharge his EV, and he sells the excess back to the utility company. When you have a solar panel, virtually the only expense you have driving an EV is your car insurance.

    Other benefits: EVs use regenerative braking, or regen, which helps to recover much of the energy you use to stop your car, something gasoline cars cannot do. Regen not only helps to recharge the battery, but also extends the lifespan of the brakes dramatically, too– not only are the brake pads used far less, but the brake fluid hardly heats up at all, so the brake fluids, brake disks and brake pads may all last the life of the car.

    EVs use electric motors rather than engines, and the torque curves of motors are far broader than those for engines, which means that an EV can get by with no transmission at all, or maybe just a single forward gear– an EV can back up just by reversing its electric motor, eliminating the weight, complexity and expense of a reverse gear. Transmission repairs and maintenance are among the most expensive and time-consuming parts of operating a gasoline car– look forward to eliminating that from your budget.

    An EV’s electric motor only has one moving part, compared to a gasoline of diesel engine– that makes it far more reliable, quiet, and vibration-free… all it does is spin on its own center of gravity, rather than slamming up and down thousands of times per minute as pistons have to do… for this reason, an EV can last for decades with virtually no maintenance.

    There are several new technologies that may soon be able to increase the storage capacity of batteries dramatically– 10 times more energy, meaning that an EV may be able to drive several hundred miles between charges, or else the battery packs can be reduced to less than 10% of their sizes today to get the same range between charges.

    If you live in a heavily-populated area such as myself, much of your driving is creeping from one red light or stop sign to the next– that drives down the efficiency of gasoline cars, but the slower an EV is operated, the more efficient it is– in gridlock, in lines at fast food drive-throughs, train crossings and similar situations, EVs use no energy at all.

    Oil for gasoline will grow progressively more scarce, and increase in price as it does. Get yourself an EV now, or convert a gasoline car to an EV as I am almost finished doing myself, and avoid all the problems.

    One more thing: hybrid cars are NOT EVs– hybrids are terribly complex, lugging around twice as much hardware as either a gasoline car or an electric car, which eats into its efficiency. EVs are far more efficient than hybrids; the only justification for a hybrid is that it may help to transition to a society that learns to use plug-in cars, charging at home most of the time, and occasionally recharging at public stations when necessary. As soon as public charging stations are readily available, the need for hybrids will disappear, and the 600 billion dollars we spend yearly in the US can then be spent at home paying off our enormous national debt, and on health care, education, and on repairing our crumbling transportation infrastructure.

  • jose

    Great comment Bill Dale, really interesting. Can I ask where can I take a car for conversion?


  • David

    I have driven the Triac and really liked it.

    The problem is. I know of orders placed in August 2008 that today July 13, 2009 still have not been delivered.

    I could not possibly trust that company for that reason alone.

  • Dean Gouveia

    20K is a non commercially viable option… that kind of vehicle is similar to a Smart Car which sells here in the UK 6K… about 10k US… so it is miles off… the issue is the cost of the lithium batteries… until they can bring that costs down… it’s a no go !!

  • Bill Dale


    Sorry for taking so long to reply to your query.

    I’m happy to say that you can now see my BMW EV conversion running on You Tube:

    I don’t know where you live, which makes it difficult to give you much help, but generally speaking, I suggest you check to see if there is an Electric Auto Association chapter somewhere close to you. They can be invaluable. Below is their main address, where you can find links to chapters.

    Also, many of the EV conversions that I have heard about have been done with the help or oversight of a technical college, trade school, high school, etc.

    There are several books on conversions available, too, if you look for them, and I’ve been told they’re worth buying. Good luck!

  • Alex Kee

    Great idea, great car. Hopefully it is C2C. At more than USD22K a unit, it is on the high side. USD5K would be a good target affordable price, even if it means the range would be shorter, say 50km.

    Why the high price? Lithium batteries? Small scale of production? What if it is produced and mass marketed in China and the rest for other countries?

  • max peterson

    I drove an electric car when I was in high school. My parents loved it, short range (I couldn’t run around with friends) and low speed (I couldn’t risk my life as much as those with higher speed vehicles).

    However on cool mornings the defrost system sucked (none) and the air conditioner really really really sucked (not cockpit after a long day sitting in the sun).

    For any EV to met the wants of an American it need range, speed, fast recharge and a good heater and AC.

    Muffy and Biff won’t load themselves into a swealtering car at the end of the work day.

  • Charles Avent

    The price would have to come way down, to make it really economical. I mean, sure it doesn’t cost as much to drive, because of lack of gas, but if you factor in fuel cost and cost of current gas burning vehicles, then subtract the cost of a new electric vehicle and cost of charging, I come up with spending over $2,500 more for electric, than gas, over a 4 year period. Yes they are more eco-friendly, but in these economic times, I can’t afford to donate $2,500 a year help the planet. I’m just a working class guy. PLUS the batteries are outrageous, (the cost of replacing them) and you can’t just throw them away, they have to go to a special pick-up, which is an extra charge to the owner, for disposal. I rode on an electric bus, in Knoxville, TN and was told that they have to replace their batteries every six months. I’m sure that it wouldn’t be that soon, but also as the owner of an electric tricycle, I know that I’ve had to replace my batteries every two years. That is a high cost, for now.

  • José Manuel Salgado

    Yes, we need one of the giant corps to design and come up with a new generation of batteries.

  • Edgar

    Here are my calculations of gas vs. electric for full sized cars assuming Lithium batteries are used which last 10 years:

    In 10 years batteries will at least halve in price gas will double in price. Batteries will cost $18,000.

    2 people, 10000 miles per year/10 years. One electric, other gas.

    Gas: 4 Gal’s per 100 miles @ avg. of $7 per gal. given the price gas will increase. Total gas cost: $28,000.

    Electric: Projected average cost of electricity $8 per 300 miles. Electricity costs: $2700. Battery Replacement Cost: $18000.

    Electric: $20,700
    Petrol: $28,000

    (These calculations do not include the higher maintenance costs of gas as mentioned by Bill Dale).

  • Daniel Lovas

    1. they should integrate the lithium batteries in car bodywork instead of using plastic – wherever needed. That would reduce the weight and thus increase the efficiency. When you need new batteries, the whole bodywork is changed. Or even better, you replace the car (in 10 years the technology will be improved so much that it would make sense, especially if you get discount by giving them the old car to be recycled).

    2. Hydrogen or CO cells are much more efficient than the batteries. You get back almost all of the electricity that you put in.

    3. the mass-production in automated factories could make them imho much, much cheaper – even under 7000 €, I dare predict.

    4. adding wind turbines to charge batteries while driving doesn’t make much sense. The turbines would cause the drag that will take away exactly the energy you get. They can be useful on windy days and parked car, though. Or even better, use the new, flexible solar cells to cover the car body.

    5. I hope they are already constructed so, that the braking energy is conserved back to the electric system instead of dissipated?

  • Rusty

    I’d love to have an all electric car. This is not it. The 80mph is good, but the range is not anywhere near far enough. This car looks like a cheap Chinese scooter based vehicle I’ve seen and is ugly enough that only the craziest of the tree huggers will want to drive one. Other people would only drive it for a much lower cost and the inability to pay for gasoline.

    Build something that is big enough for an average American to feel like they are not a sardine, not in an ugly car contest and has real world driving ability.

  • styke

    Bill Dale,

    I agree with Buzz Saw about use of photovoltaic panels and, in theory, wind turbines. Much of my driving is a commute to work and back. That is a very common use case across America. I drive about 40 minutes round trip each day. I don’t know what the average is, but for users like me, a solar panel could provide more than 50% of the total energy consumption of the car.

    No, it won’t help taxi drivers or others who spend most of the day driving, but it would help a significant part of the driving public.

    Regarding wind turbines, the logic is the same, but it is important that it be inside the car when driving. After you park, however, it could readily recharge your car. The thing about wind turbines, though, is that they don’t produce enough power. a 200 watt solar panel would fit on the car, and you would get about 200 watts from it most days. A 200 watt wind turbine would be crazy big, and you would basically never get 200 watts from it unless you live in a super windy place.

    Remember, the first people who are going to buy electric cars are the same people that don’t like big electric generators. Sure, they can do trade offs, and they choose the lesser of two evils, but a nice solar panel would be a big selling point. And, with a $20,000 price tag, increasing the cost to $22,000 for the solar power version which can still be plugged in, I’ll bet 90% of sales would be for the solar powered version. Not including solar panels seems like a marketing failure.

  • district dweller

    It has been years since I lived in the sub-burbs and I forget that people reply on their cars to go everywhere. I live within the city limits of Washington DC and usually rely on public transportation, I walk, or ride my bike. I start my car once every 2 weeks to pick up groceries or perhaps run across town. That said, a vehicle like this would be ideal for a city dweller. Well, perhaps the urban version for around $10,000. Even the resident that lives just out side the border would benefit from a car/bike like this. The ones that do not enter an expansive highway or expressway to get around or enter the city.

    For residents in Washington DC (the District) we rarely drive more than 10 miles at any given time, and we do not go over 40 mph. A vehicle like this is perfect to pick up groceries, go across town to meet friends, it’s small enough to park anywhere and the battery charge would last for weeks.

    However, one major flaw that these engineers and manufacturers fail to consider in their design is how to charge the car while parked. It seems like all of these engineers only live in the burbs and have big homes with garages. However, the urban dweller usually lives in an apartment and has street parking. Or they are lucky to have a parking garage to park their car but since this is a shared garage there are no public outlets for them to use. The same for the street parking. No public electrical outlets to be found near the road. So how can we, as urban dweller, charge our electric vehicles? I guess the only option would be to run an extension cord out the window, down the wall, and out to one’s electric bike/car. Seems silly to me.

    Thoughts from the manufacturer are appreciated. My only suggestion would be a removable battery chassis that was mobile that I could wheel into my place and plug into the wall. Or you can do the plug in car option. Have a small generator that ran on gas and would charge the batteries. I considered solar panels to charge the batteries, but not sure if the panels could charge the battery in a short enough time for a daily driver. Maybe if it sat for days at a time it would work, but that is not convenient.

    Good luck with the next design.

  • Andy

    Electric cars are just a small beginning towards greener driving. I think the situation will evolve over the next few years when we will have alternate fuel types to drive the future vehicles.

    Towards that end, if this beginning was not made, we will not work towards getting newer tech to power our vehicles in future.

  • a dude

    on the subject of six foot whatever guys fitting into these death traps, i dont think it would be possible. ;(
    also please make an electric truck! it would be nice!

Family-sized Solar Car to Race in World Solar Challenge


Solar Team Great Britain has started a kickstarter page to help fund their design for entry in the 2017 World Solar Challenge. Founder Steven Heape leads a team of volunteers

Top 10 Green Cars – 2015 Vancouver Auto Show


This Tuesday we had a unique opportunity to preview the Vancouver International Auto Show. This year’s show features a wide variety of electric, hydrogen and hybrid-electric vehicles. We took full

Infinyte I4: A Purely Electric Catamaran Cruiser

Infinyte I4: A Purely Electric Catamaran Cruiser

While solar-power electric hybrid vehicles are a proven success story on the roads, the time is ripe for the appearance of solar-electric watercraft. Already a pontoon boat – Loon

MiraQua: A Tiny Miracle

MiraQua: A Tiny Miracle

Today there seems to be more and more and yet more vehicles on the road than ever. Everybody wants to have their own transport and a smaller car with

Best Green Car of 2011: Chevrolet Volt

Best Green Car of 2011: Chevrolet Volt

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt became the first electric car to be chosen as the Green Car of the Year 2011. Chevrolet Volt received this honor at the Los Angeles

USPS Goes Green

USPS Goes Green

In strict adherence to guidelines released by the Department of Energy, the United States Postal Service gets on a fast track to reach the goal for energy reduction. Green

New Battery Warranty for Chevy Volt Owners

New Battery Warranty for Chevy Volt Owners

The Chevrolet Volt is giving its extended range electric vehicle customers a great deal with an eight year/100,000 mile (whichever comes first) warranty for its lithium-ion battery. The battery

eCRP Electric Motorcycle Launches for TTXGP

eCRP Electric Motorcycle Launches for TTXGP

A trip around the eCRP plant headquarters at Modena: The eCRP is the first of its kind of purpose-built electric superbikes, and today it is pitting against the legendary