Electric Buzz

Debby on Alice -- Barefoot\'s proof of concept electric ATV

Yep, that’s me looking all farmer-like last winter sitting on Barefoot’s electric ATV prototype named “Alice.” My crew and I have had the luck of being able to test this Barefoot Motors prototype; which basically means driving it all over our vineyards and trying to break it. And we did — except all it needed was a quick cable reconnect and a replacement 12V battery and we were up and zipping around again.

You can see Alice in action on this Mythbusters clip: Barefoot ATV on Mythbusters!

I don’t know if you’re familiar with regular gas ATVs, but if you’ve spent anytime in that saddle, then you know how loud and stinky they are. Oh yeah, still fun, but loud and stinky — and HOT. Hot right where your legs are supposed to go since you are basically sitting on a combustion engine and gas tank with four wheels. Not something that is enjoyable to ride for the hours we put in on them while working on the farm vineyard. Plus all that exhaust and noise are not so good for the environment. So, when I first heard about what Barefoot Motors was trying to do, I was pretty excited.

Recently, Barefoot had a release party at our winery (read more here: Electric ATV Easy on Environment and Budget) — and I got to test drive their new prototype named “Betty.” Where Alice was a gutted and retro-fitted Polaris, Betty is a complete redesign from the ground up (by the well known electric vehicle designer Ely Schless, no less!) — the only thing she had in common with Alice was a Polaris skin. I took her for a spin (sorry no pictures, but I can show you the bugs that got caught in my teeth) around our ranch and, like the Bionic Woman, she is better, faster, stronger. And so quiet the rabbits didn’t even know I was coming.

Barefoot is still working on options such as cruise control as well as better torque control, but we’ve got our deposit down and are looking forward to getting our hands on our own vehicle once they build it for us. In the meantime, we are very happy beta-testers.

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