Click for more images of the electric MEGA van

The hurdles to moving from a gasoline-dominated private transportation environment to one that contains a lot of batteries and plug-in vehicles are many. If nothing else, that's one message we can take away from the Sustainable Mobility Seminar and the AltCar Expo this past week. So, when I came across the Columbia MEGA van in the parking lot at AltCar, I couldn't help but think that this vehicles isn't going to make jumping those hurdles much easier. This NEV-like van doesn't provide any noteworthy specs (it's available with either a 19- or 25-mph top speed, for example), and the battery maintenance requirements/suggestions mean that if there was ever a vehicle that only appeals to early adopters, this is the one. A sheet that hung in the display vehicle's cab described how drivers need to keep adding distilled water to the battery, keep the lead plates covered and check the electrolyte level every month. The batteries should be recharged when they lose 20 percent of their charge. The sheet continues:

"Batteries may be recharged if vehicle has been driven 15 minutes or more since the previous charge. ... Plugging in the Delta Q Charger overnight or when the vehicle is not in use for 3-5 or more days is encouraged. ... The Delta Q Charger can be left plugged in as it has a 30 day self test and battery temperature monitor. ... Water and Charge your batteries regularly!" (Emphasis theirs). Read it all here.

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