Electric Powered Cars
What are the advantages of electric cars?
Electric cars are currently the most efficient cars.
This is because the electric motor converts electricity to motion
with about 85% to 95% efficiency. The electricity output of a battery
is typically 60% of the electricity that went into it. That efficiency
is many times higher than hydrogen or compressed air. Hydrogen fuel
cells typically output 25% of the energy that was used to charge
them. Compressed air vehicles can't do any better.
The electric battery is very old technology. It is
old technologies that are the most refined and robust. Lithium Ion
batteries have been in production since about 1990. These batteries,
although quite new, have high energy density. Compared the lead
acid and metal hydride batteries of old, the lithium ion batteries
are more costly and relatively short lived (limited several hundred
recharge cycles before replacement). However the Lithium Ion batteries
are much friendlier to the environment. And the high energy density
makes them ideal for things like cars and laptop computers.
Because battery technology is so diverse right now,
there is no single right way to care for all batteries. It is important
to know how to care for the specific battery in an electric car
because the batteries are expensive. Batteries may cost $5,000 to
$30,000 depending on the vehicle.
The battery of an electric car will typically contain
the energy found in one gallon of gasoline. Hopefully, this capacity
will increase in the next few years. This means that the battery
is the equivalent of a $10,000 one-gallon gas tank. Just keep in
mind that the electric motor does many times the work with that
energy than an equivalent gasoline engine.
Battery weight is a problem. The batteries can be
very heavy. Keeping the battery weight under 2,000 lbs is a challenge.
If the battery is too small and light, the vehicle won't go very
far and the battery will be short lived. If a large battery is used,
much of the battery's energy will be spent towing around its own
weight. Batteries don't get any lighter as they approach empty.
To compensate for the heavy weight of the battery,
the chassis of an electric car must be as lightweight as possible.
Electric cars will likely be made of plastic, fiberglass composites,
aluminum, titanium, and magnesium.
There are several all-electric cars on the market.
And there are even better all-electric cars that will be available
in a year or two.
I'm not mentioning neighborhood electric cars. I think
it's just another term for golf cart.
Roadster (US) - $100,000
At $100,000, this two seater isn't that practical. But it
is the biggest step forward in electric cars since like .
. ever! One short peddle stomp for man, one giant technological
leap for mankind.
2010 Tesla Model S (US)
- $50,000 +
A practical luxury sedan. It's very fast and can travel up
to 300 miles on a single charge if equipped with the pricey
- $30,000 to $40,000
(Also: Cadilac Converj, Holden Volt, Opel Ampera, Vauxhall
The first practical electric car for America! And Europe!
And Australia! Production of this car will pave the way for
widespread manufacuring of more electric cars in the future.
Mitsubishi i MiEV (Japan)
2010 price - $21,000 after tax breaks
(Also: Peugeot 1001, Citoen Re-Volt)
Small, average and electric. It's capable of 80mph and a
range of 100 miles.
Mercedes BlueZERO - $21,000
It's a concept built for production. Cross your fingers.
There are three varieties of energy storage and power generation.
Each power system has its own sets of compromises. But this
one car should reach several markets with the different energy
Aptera (US) $25,000 -
Built like an airplane and registered as a motorcycle, this
is one of the most efficient electric cars made. It has a
super low drag coeficient of 0.15 and its very light weight
for an electric car. Wear a gorilla Halloween mask when you
drive it just for the shock factor!
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid - $30,000
This Prius might skirt my chiding comments if it can be plugged
into an electrical socket.
Dodge Circuit - $80,000
So much car and so much potential. What we really need are
economical electric cars. Please Chrysler, put this thing
in the $30k and under range!
Th!nk City (Norway) - $17,000
No, I did not squish the picture! This two seater is just
a cut above the golf cart classification. It tops out at 65mph.
And the range is over 100 miles. The four door Th!nk Ox is
due for 2011 and is capable of 80mph and a 100 mile range.
Phoenix Motorcars (Korea) - $45,000
Electric cars from Korea and distributed through North America.
It comes in two flavors: SUV and four door pickup. It's capable
of 100+mph and 200+ mile range. It looks kinda like a Pontiac
Aztek. I hope that doesn't become a trend.
E (Redcoats :-) - $?
This Mini is not yet ready for large scale production. It
will be part of some socialist plot or beta program in England
before private sales. This may be due to an undisclosed price
tag that may exceed $100,000 per car.
Bollore/Pininfarina BLUECAR - $25,000
Capable of 80mph and a range of 150 miles. It's beautifully
designed as far as pill-shaped cars go. Let's hope it makes
its way to the US.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Cars
Plug-in Hybrid electric cars are electric cars with
a gasoline generator. This system may be the ideal transportation
technology for a peak oil civilization where gasoline is subject
to price hikes and supply interruptions.
A "plug-in hybrid electric car" is different
from a "hybrid electric car." The plug-in hybrid electric
car (Chevy Volt) is primarily electric. There is only one motor
that powers the wheels; and that motor is electric. The gasoline
engine in the plug-in hybrid electric car is used to charge the
battery when it gets low while driving. A hybrid electric vehicle
(Prius) uses the gasoline and electric motor to directly power the
wheels. The hybrid electric car does not usually plug in to a wall,
but instead gets all of its energy from gasoline.
The plug-in Prius will break the trend. It will have
the electric motor and gas engine drive the wheels while having
extra batteries to support electric-only driving. This requires
a complex transmission and complex power management system.
The big advantage with the plug-in hybrid electric
car is that the vehicle may fill up from a wall socket or gas station.
The multi-fuel capability means that the vehicle can survive on
one diet should the other not be available. Think of the plug-in
hybrid electric car as an omnivore.
The big electric powered car on the horizon is the
Chevy Volt. This will be manufactured in large, accessible quantities
and at affordable prices. I'm sure prices will also be subsidized
by the government (tax credits etc) to promote the technology. Hopefully,
the final consumer price will be under $30,000 out the door. The
Chevy Volt will look and behave like a conventional car. It will
be priced and sold like a conventional car.
The Volt will contain a 1.4L gas engine borrowed from
the new Chevy Cruz. This gas engine will be used to extend the range
of the vehicle once the batteries run out of juice after 40 miles.
Hydrogen and Electric
The MPG Illusion
To read more about batteries, visit the Battery
University web site.
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