5 Electric Vehicles Worth Considering

The term “electric vehicle” is not used solely to describe those cars that run on electric power only. The industry now calls any car that has at least at electric option an EV, adjusting the terms accordingly.

Thus, a plugin hybrid is called a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle or PHEV; the Chevrolet Volt fits this category. A straight hybrid, such as the Toyota Prius, is an HEV while an FCEV is a fuel cell electric vehicle or what the Honda FCX Clarity is. Terms such as BEV represent battery electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus Electric.

Regardless of how it is described, today’s car shopping consumer has several choices for consideration including the following five EVs worth your inspection:

1. Nissan Leaf — Nissan’s Leaf is priced about $36,000 and runs exclusively on electric power. Its range is about 70 miles, making this car perfect for the person who relies on a vehicle for a local commute. Its drawback is its limited range which means, like the Ford Focus EV, you’ll have to recharge before you can move on.

2. Chevrolet Volt — Is it an EV or is it a hybrid? Neither. The Chevy Volt is a PHEV and it has an electric-only range of 35 miles before a 1.4-liter gas engine kicks in. No emissions are emitted when this model operates in EV mode — the gas engine ensures that you can take long trips without having to recharge the electric motor. Base price is $39,995; you may do better buying the similar-sized Chevy Cruze for half the price.

3. Ford Focus Electric — The Ford Focus is already a popular car in its own right. The Focus BEV gives Ford its first major EV and is a good alternative to the Nissan Leaf. Its price point, however, is at $39,000, making this car one of the more expensive EVs on the market. Consider the gas version instead.

4. Mitsubishi i-MiEV — The “i” as it is commonly called is the lowest cost pure EV on the market. This vehicle retails for about $29,000 and with its federal tax credit in place can cost buyers less than $21,000, just a few thousand dollars more than a conventional gas-powered vehicle.

5. Toyota Prius — The Prius made this list should come as no surprise. The Prius is the best selling EV in the world and is now available in several body styles and includes a PHEV edition. The Prius has the broadest offerings of EVs available, giving shoppers much to consider when comparing new cars.

Most major manufacturers offer additional EV choices including Toyota with its Camry Hybrid, the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Chevrolet Malibu with eAssist and others. You may be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit with some new models and find state incentives such as rebates available to you as well.

EV Basics IV – Electric Vehicles and the Environment

Important Acronyms:

BEV: Battery Electric Vehicle – A vehicle powered exclusive from energy stored in its battery pack.

CO2 = Carbon Dioxide – A type of “Greenhouse” gas emitted by cars and power plants. CO2 emissions have been identified as a major cause of global warming.

EV: Electric Vehicle – Any vehicle that uses electricity to provide some or all of the power to its wheels.

ICE: Internal Combustion Engine – The smog-belching, globe-warming automobile power plants used in the dark ages of the 20th Century.

NOx: Nitrogen Oxides – Chemicals which create smog and other health hazards.

In previous articles in the EV Basics series, I have touched on the environmental benefits of driving an EV. Now, it is time to look at these benefits in more detail. Recently, some readers may have noticed a well-organized media campaign trying to discredit EVs. Most of the anti-EV sentiments sound like this, “A car has to get its energy from somewhere, doesn’t it? What difference does it make if it gets it from a gas tank or a battery pack?” These are valid questions. I will answer them by explaining why EVs produce less smog, fewer greenhouse gases and use less energy overall than their ICE-powered counterparts. By the end of this article, readers should understand why it is better for the environment to power cars with electricity from the grid instead of gasoline made from oil.

If we generated all of our electricity through renewable sources such as wind or solar power, driving EVs would produce no smog-forming pollutants such as NOx. However, our utility grid currently gets power from a variety of sources, most of which produce NOx and other pollutants which can create health hazards for local communities. How much pollution do power plants create, compared to tailpipe exhaust from ICE-powered vehicles? According to research compiled by Sherry Boschert, author of the book, Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that Will Recharge America, use of EVs would reduce the amount of NOx generated by automobiles somewhere between 32 and 99%. Different studies have arrived at different figures, but virtually all agree that the reduction in NOx and other local pollutants would be significant. The total amount of pollution reduction for any location would depend on the local power plants. Areas with cleaner power plants would decrease overall pollution more than areas with dirty plants. However, nearly all urban areas would see a major improvement in local air quality because power plants are generally located far away from population centers while tail pipes produce smog right where we live and work.

Greenhouse gases, on the other hand, are a serious problem whether they are produced next door or on the other side of the globe. EVs can reduce this burden on the environment as well. As is the case for smog-forming pollutants, an EV would produce absolutely no greenhouse gases if it were charged from a grid that was fueled by power plants which produced no greenhouse gases. However, EVs produce far fewer greenhouse gases even when charged by today’s old-fashioned grid. In his research paper entitled Debunking the Myth of EVs and Smokestacks, Chip Gribben concludes that EVs charging exclusively from power generated by old-fashioned, coal-burning plants would still reduce CO2 emissions by 17 to 22% relative to ICE-powered cars. In areas where the grid is relatively “clean,” such as California and Arizona, EVs would reduce automobile-related greenhouse gas emissions by 71% or more.

Many people believe that the most important oil-related global disaster will occur when oil runs out. Clearly, there is only so much oil we can pull out of the ground (or the tar sands, oil shale, etc.). If we do not have a suitable replacement for oil in place by the time it becomes impossibly rare and expensive, society could collapse completely. EVs help on this front in two ways. Gribben concludes that EVs charged from the grid use energy twice as efficiently as do ICEs fueled using the current oil/gasoline infrastructure. Since they are twice as efficient, EVs use half as much fossil fuel to get the same distance, assuming a grid that is supplied exclusively by fossil-fuel burning power plants. So we may conclude that EVs would allow humanity to “stretch out” our finite oil supply and get as much “mileage” as possible out of the available oil (pun intended!).

At the same time, switching to EVs would allow us to power our cars from a more flexible energy source, the power grid. Paul Scott, co-founder of the EV advocacy group Plug-In America, tells audiences, “Get all your cars on the grid, then clean up the grid!” If we start switching our cars to grid power right now, then they will benefit directly from advancements and improvements in renewable power generation. As fossil fuels become scarcer and more expensive, power plants using alternative energy sources will fuel an increasing percentage of our grid power demand. If we are using EVs as this transition occurs, we can keep driving along without having to rebuild our transportation infrastructure. When fossil fuels run out completely, we will be ready!

One last quote, this one by the rap group, Public Enemy, “Don’t believe the hype!” The oil industry has unimaginable amounts of money at its disposal. When they spend a tiny portion of their profits trying to create the illusion that EVs are just as bad for the environment as ICE-powered cars, countless media outlets pick up their stories. When they try to discredit the scientific community’s conclusion that our cars are dangerously warming the globe, millions of people take them seriously. It is up to every person who cares about our planet to counter any these misinformation campaigns. It is up to you to spread the truth about EVs to people who have been inundated by oil industry propaganda. Now go out there and start setting people straight.

Electrifying Facts on Electric Vehicle Conversion – All You Need to Know

Right now, with the gas at prices that we have never seen before, many people are looking for ways to cut down on gas consumption and there are some people who are looking at ways to avoid using gas at all. They are researching electric vehicle conversion which is converting a car or small truck to run on electricity instead of gas. There are many benefits to having vehicle that runs on just electric but an electric vehicle conversion is no simple task. The benefits for the vehicle are, smooth running, low maintenance, low vibration, economical, and totally convenient. An electric vehicle conversion is complicated. As well as no longer using gas the vehicle will no longer use oil, an exhaust, belts, hoses, water pump, coolant, radiator, spark plugs, plug wires, and injectors. So this is not a job that should be undertaken by an amateur.

If you are a mechanic who knows what they are doing, the electric vehicle conversion can be done in your own garage, with few specialist tools. The materials needed for the electric vehicle conversion is of course the electric motor, the motor mount, motor controller, speed controller, system control box, high current shunt, high current fuse, high current circuit breaker, current meter, voltmeter, clutch plate hub adapter, main battery bank, 12V battery charger, 6V golf cart batteries (common choice), battery rack, cable terminal lugs, along with a vacuum pump and switch kit for the brakes.

Other materials for the electric vehicle conversion will include any kind of framework that you would want to use to house the batteries that are needed to run the vehicle. Cars that are most commonly used used in electric vehicle conversion are the Chevy S10, Dodge Colt, Daytona Ford Escort, Porsche 914, Honda Civic, Mazda B2000 pickup, Datsun pickup, Plymouth Sundance, Pontiac Fiero, Suzuki Samurai, Toyota pickup, and Volkswagen Beetles.

The cost of the electric vehicle conversion will vary and depend greatly on the vehicle that is going to be converted. This can range from $6500 and $9500 dollars and that estimate does not include the cost of the vehicle itself.

Depending on the size of the vehicle and the number of batteries that are used in the conversion, the distance the vehicle can drive on one charge will vary accordingly. The general Chevy S10 which has 16 six-volt batteries and weighs a total of 3700 pounds, will go about 35 miles on a full charge. If you have more batteries on a lighter car, then you will be able to go much further on a single charge.

The weight of the vehicle will also factor on how fast the vehicle will be able to go. The lighter the car and more batteries, the faster it can go. Historically electrically converted cars were slow but now they can achieve speeds of 60 to 80 mph.

Deciding on whether this option is right for you really depends on your mileage, how long you intend to keep you vehicle, and of course your commitment to the environment. Hopefully i’ve sparked enough interest for you to want to find out more.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle – Down to the Parts

With all the great news from the auto industry introducing another hybrid vehicle or another electric vehicle, this article explores a bit what such vehicles are made of. What are the differences with the conventional petrol car and what might the future hold for them?

The first difference you see these days is that both the electric vehicle and the hybrid vehicle come with a plug to charge it at home; the conventional vehicle has not. The conventional vehicle also has no electric engine to power the wheels or a large battery to power this engine. The conventional car of course does have a battery, but that is just used for starting the internal combustion engine and it acts as a buffer for the electrical systems used. Power in the conventional vehicle is generated by the combustion engine.

For an electric vehicle, there are two main components: the electric motor and the battery. The electric motor is the one to power the wheels of the vehicle and the battery is used to bring along energy for the trip. They almost all have the option of regenerative braking, which allows one to recover energy when slowing down and charging the battery a little while doing so. This is a great method to increase the overall efficiency for a vehicle! Further more there is often a special battery management system (BMS) which ensures the battery is kept at the right temperature and is not charged or discharged in a way that can damage the battery.

For a hybrid vehicle there are a few more main components: besides the electric motor and the battery, there is also an onboard power source like the conventional combustion engine (but also a fuel cell is used for example). Additionally, there is a system that somehow connects the power from the battery and the for example combustion engine and gets it to the wheels. There are many ways to do this last step, the simplest being that the combustion engine would be used as a generator to power the electric motor with electricity. Excess electricity is stored in the battery for future use. Another method is to have a special gear set combine the mechanical power from the combustion engine and the electric engine and get them to the wheels. There are also manufacturers who power one set of wheels with the combustion engine and the other set of wheels with the electric engine. A big advantage of the hybrid vehicle is that it can use the very efficient electric engine at lower speeds (for example urban areas) and the combustion engine for extra power on the highways or for extra range.

To sum it up, an electric vehicle consists of:

– Electric Engine
– Battery

A hybrid vehicle consists of:

– Electric Engine
– Battery
– Energy source (internal combustion engine, fuel cell, etc)

The disadvantages of the electric vehicle and the hybrid are mostly the cost. Compared to the conventional car they can cost more to purchase. This has two main reasons; the first being that the conventional car is mass-manufactured which makes it cheaper (compare one million units produces versus one thousand units produced) and the second is the current price of batteries. Batteries at the moment are the biggest cost within the vehicle, the larger your battery is, the larger the cost is in the total price of the vehicle.

Another disadvantage which currently mostly applies to the electric vehicle, is the range it can cover. Current vehicles are of such a weight and their batteries can only hold a certain amount of power. Comparing the electric vehicle to a conventional petrol car they can cover a lot less ground on a full charge or tank. The first argument to counter this disadvantage is that most people do not drive distances that can not be covered by an electric vehicle. Current electric vehicles can cover about double or four times the daily distance required by many people! However, there are three movements currently helping to overcome the range anxiety problem. The first is the battery manufacturer, which improves the technology so that the battery will weigh less and can contain more power. The second is the charging industry, where solutions are found in fast charging. Conventional charging can take up to eight hours to charge your vehicle. The goal is to reduce this to an acceptable amount of mere minutes. The third force is heading for battery swapping; much like a petrol station, an electric vehicle can swap the empty battery for a fully charged one.

For the future of the electric vehicle and the hybrid there are many options, the most popular ones are:

– Fuel Cells
– Fast Charging of batteries
– Better batteries that weigh less and hold more power
– Battery swapping stations
– New car design options

Lots to expect from the electric vehicle and the hybrid vehicle!