New Brunswick

Man behind the Bricklin sports car says electric vehicles an 'earthquake' for car industry

The man who created New Brunswick’s famous Bricklin SV-1 says the car industry is facing huge changes over the next few decades as more electric vehicles enter the market.

Malcolm Bricklin, now 82, spoke to New Brunswick business people this week

Bricklin is now CEO of Visionary Vehicles, which is working to manufacture a three-wheel electric car called the 3EV. (Visionary Vehicles)

The man who created New Brunswick's famous Bricklin SV-1 says the car industry is facing huge changes over the next few decades as more electric vehicles enter the market.

Malcolm Bricklin made the remarks at a business sustainability conference put on by the Town of Riverview.

"The industry is going to go through this tremendous earthquake, is what it's going to be, because they're all doing it," he told the virtual audience Thursday.

"They're all coming up with the same vehicles … and they're going to send them to their own dealers that are not used to selling them."

Bricklin, now 82, is CEO of Visionary Vehicles, a New York based company trying to make a small, affordable two- passenger car called the 3EV.

Creator of New Brunswick's famous Bricklin SV-1 talks about change facing the car industry

CBC News New Brunswick

5 days ago
1:53
Malcolm Bricklin, now 82, is CEO of Visionary Vehicles, a New York-based company trying to make an affordable, two-passenger car called the 3EV. 1:53

He believes electric vehicles are the future of the industry, but he admits there are lots of obstacles to overcome before they can overtake gas and diesel-powered vehicles.

"There's going to be all sorts of problems," Bricklin said. "Problem number one, we gotta have more charging places everywhere."

Visionary Vehicle's three-wheeled electric 3EV is designed to offer good range and a luxury sports car's appeal for less than $30,000 US. (Visionary Vehicles)

Bricklin said new buyers of electric cars suffer from "range anxiety."

"If you have a garage, you're almost OK, because you can charge overnight, but if you live in an apartment and you don't have a garage, you got a problem." 

Bricklin said that leaves you using a commercial charging station, and there aren't enough right now for drivers to avoid lines.

The second problem is providing the electricity for an ever expanding number of electric cars on the road.

If car companies want to produce electric vehicles in numbers similar to gas-powered vehicles, Bricklin said, which he estimates is around 100 million a year, there's not enough electricity for them, especially clean electricity right now.

"But people are going to learn to put solar cells and wind turbines on their homes or their apartments and get the juice for their batteries 100 per cent from not the grid."

Third, Bricklin said, producing enough batteries will be an issue.

"You have to project how many battery factories you're going to build based upon what the sales could be, which you don't have the slightest idea," he said, "So you have to project it, you have to invest here, but if you don't do that then you're going to have the sales, but you're not going to have the batteries."

Despite the obstacles, Bricklin said driving an electric car is a dream.

"It drives smoothly, it rides with power … I'm telling you it's an incredible experience if you drive an electric car, if it's done halfway right.

This neon green 1975 model Bricklin is one of the few remaining vehicles of its kind still on the road. (Photo Submitted)

Bricklin's proposed vehicle is a two-seat, three-wheel sports car with scissor doors that he believes can be produced to sell at under $30,000 US.

The three-wheel design dramatically reduces the weight of the car, which he said allows more range and better performance.

And even though he was once in business with the New Brunswick government to produce his Bricklin SV-1 back in the 1970s, he said there is no reason for politicians to offer car companies incentives to go electric.

Bricklin said all the companies are already there. Instead, put the money where it matters.

"If it was me and I had a choice on how to spend money wisely, my role in government would be standardizing charging," he said.

"So you don't have 'I'm going to put in 15,000 charging stations and you can't use it because your nozzle doesn't fit my nozzle.' "

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steven Webb

Producer

Steven Webb is a producer for CBC based in Saint John.

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