Monday, May 9, 2011

Electric Vehicles

The electric car is something that has been raising eyebrows across America for many years. The fascinating thought of not having to empty your wallet to fill your gas tank interests a lot of people; and it should. However, the most interesting about this concept is that the electric car industry is great! Companies such as Tesla, Chevy, and Nissan and many others are working to make electric vehicles more convenient and practical.
One common misconception about electric vehicles is that they just began to produce them recently. However the idea of electric vehicles has been around since about 1835. It all started with his paten "Improvements in propelling machinery by magnetism and electromagnetism."   This patented his invention of a small electric motor railway.  He invented this railway by being the first person to use an electric DC motor to power machinery. A couple years later Robert Davidson invented an electric vehicle that could travel at a rate of 4 mph, and after that the first electric carriage was invented. “When nickel-ion, rechargeable batteries were invented, the electrical entrepreneur and inventor, Thomas Edison, immediately recognized their potential for powering electric cars. This should have been the defining moment in the history of electric cars....but events which would derail the natural course of events were about to unfold...” (EV History)
Early EV

            While electric vehicles became more popular gas-fueled vehicles also began to rise in popularity. Three companies that really wanted to see the electric cars go away included General Motors, Firestone and Standard oil of California. These three respectable companies came together to form the National City Lines, and although most think highly of these companies some of the things they did to establish themselves in the automotive industry are not so respectable. Many beautiful electric train lines were bought by The National City Lines and had become dismantled. National City Lines dismantled these train lines to create roadways for their gas-fueled cars. However, one of the most important times in the history for the electric vehicles came in the early 1900’s when a man named Hennery Ford came along with his idea of the assembly line making it easier than ever to mass produce these gas-guzzling cars. And once more gas combustion engine vehicles became easier to make, the cheaper they became. On top of this the discovery of Texas crude oil reduced the price of gasoline so that it was affordable to the average consumer. So with electric cars selling around $1,750 and gas cars selling from $500-$1,000, along with gasoline becoming affordable, electric cars were nearly extinct by 1935 as was the development for their use as personal transportation.
Today however the electric vehicles are making a comeback and with the advancements in technology they are being made better than ever. “In 2007, a visionary man called Shai Agassi, formed a company called Project Bette Place, for the sole purpose of rolling out investment in a recharging grid structure to support electric cars across the world. He has convinced the Israeli government to support his plan and Israel is now the most innovative country in the world when it comes to electric transport. Within the next decade its entire private vehicle fleet will probably be all electric! The project will be rolled out in other countries also, as they come on board and decide to go electric.
Project Better Place has now partnered with Renault-Nissan in this enterprise, as both businesses are mutually interdependent. Without the cars, the grids will have no customers. Without the grids, cars will not sell as well as they could. So it's win win all round” (Project Better Place) This type of business cooperation is exactly what is needed in order to make the popularity raise in electric cars. These two companies are doing a great job in creating an electric vehicle infrastructure for Israel and need to expand Project Better Place to improve other countries as well.
One big thing to ponder while thinking about electric vehicles is recharging stations. Some people think about recharging your electric vehicle to be similar to going to the gas stations to fill up on electricity, however a more practical comparison would be to compare charging your cell phone to charging your car. It is said that the run-of-the-mill American drives around an average of 50 miles per day so the need to recharge while on the road will no longer be an everyday thing. Instead it will only be needed during long trips since you can charge your vehicle overnight like you do with your cell phone. Another topic that is important is wireless charging, because with wireless charging I feel like the things you can do with electric cars are endless. At Google’s home office in Mountain View California they have the first Plugless Power wireless electric vehicle charging system on the market to offer consumers. The wireless charging system at the moment is mainly used to for Google’s multiple low speed short ranged vehicles and also include plug-in vehicles in its on campus employee car sharing program. (Plugless Power™ )
Plugless Power™
Now that electric cars have evolved into a practical and available option there are many benefits to being an electric vehicle driver.
One of the first benefits of having an electric vehicle is the money you will save by purchasing one. Depending on the electric vehicle you buy, you should cut your fuelling cost in halve. You will no longer have to worry about rising gas prices, and you can budget accordingly. And now with advancements in charging technology, you can save money by charging up at home. Now with gas prices raising higher than ever there is so much money to be saved by switching to electric cars, it’s unbelievable.  
Electric cars save you money and are also less of a mess than the cars we have today. Electric Cars are decently simple, in mechanical terms; therefore there is less to go wrong. Once you have a reliable battery, you shouldn't have any problems and you will also take notice that electric cars take less maintenance. Yes, the battery will be replaced every 4 years or so, but it’s nothing comparable to the costs of gas cars, like engine-tuning, mufflers, oil changes, starter, radiators, or water pumps.
“There are also other financial incentives to driving electric vehicles. These are state-grants and tax reliefs. Actually, I consider these to be rather mean-spirited at the moment, and I hope they will be increased as the urgency of having good environmental policies becomes clear to us all.” (Advantages) Not only do electric cars save people a lot of money but they are also pleasant to drive.
Electric vehicles are more enjoyable to drive because they are not as loud as gas fuelled cars. If you like peace and quiet when you drive than electric cars are the right choice for you. Along with being quite electric cars also have other advantages such as private or priority parking in certain areas also depending on what area you live in you may be able to take advantage of car-pool-lane, or bus-lane privileges.
When you are giving up your gas fuelled car you are not giving up any torque. Another perk is that there is no need to change gears to change speeds because electric cars don't need gear boxes, or torque converters. “They have full power at all speeds and offer a smooth ride from the get-go! This is ideal for stop-and-start city driving and traffic jams. When you're just starting to move from a stopping position, your engine has the same power propelling it as it has at higher speeds. Gas cars, on the other hand, have a "limited torque curve." This means electric cars have better acceleration than a lot of gas fueled cars. This is definitely a big deal because a lot of people do not want to give up speed when switching to electric cars.
Nissan Leaf - Zero emission
As far as choices go there are actually many more EV’s than you would expect. There are 3 cars that are I am going to talk about which are the Nissan Leaf. The first being the Nissan Leaf, thhe second being the cars made by Tesla, and I will also talk about the Chevrolet Volt. The all-electric Nissan Leaf has been named World Car of the Year 2011 in a ceremony at the New York International Auto Show. The jurors noted that it was "the world's first, purpose-built, mass-produced electric car", and added, "The good news? It feels just like a normal car, only quieter."A panel of 66 automotive journalists from 24 countries named the Leaf the best thing on four wheels, choosing it over 39 other automobiles from around the world. The jurors called it “the gateway to a brave new electric world.” The Leaf's closest rivals for the title were the Audi A8 and BMW 5-Series. Previous winners of the award are the Volkswagen Polo, Volkswagen Golf, Mazda2, Lexus LS 460, BMW 3-Series and Audi A6.“This award validates EV technology. There are still hurdles to be cleared in terms of cost and range, but any car — and the technology underpinning it — that tops a field of 39 cars ranging from the Aston Martin Rapide to the Peugeot RCZ to the Volvo S60 must be taken seriously.” (Leaf)
Left- Model S.............Right- Roadster
“The second EV that was very appealing was the Tesla. Tesla Motors has delivered more than 1,500 Roadsters worldwide, a significant milestone as the automaker's momentum builds in North America, Europe and Asia. The fleet of Roadsters spans more than 30 countries. They have accumulated more than 8.5 million miles (14 million kms) in real-world driving, saving 415,000 gallons (1.6 million liters) of gasoline and more than 22,000 barrels of oil.” Roadster has earned global appeal.” ( Tesla)  The Tesla Roadster is selling for about one hundred thousand dollars in the US and Tesla’s other mainstream car the Model S is going for around seventy-seven thousand dollars. These cars are a little pricey because of how uncommon they are but when they are more commonly made than the price will be sure to drop. The Roadster gets about 245 miles to the charge and also goes 0 to 60mph in about 3.7 seconds which is .1 second faster than the 3rd generation SRT-10 Dodge Viper, which is considered by most to be an extremely fat car. The Tesla Model S gets 300 miles to the charge and does 0-60 in about 5.6 seconds compared to the 2006 Camry which does it in 7.3 seconds. (Tesla Motors)
Chevy Volt
The Leaf and the Tesla are both very nice electric cars but another good one is the GM Volt. “Chevrolet Volt owners made fewer trips to the gas station in March, going an average of 30 days – or nearly a month – between fill-ups. In fact, some Volt owners say they are challenging themselves to see how fuel-efficient they can be by tracking how far and how long they can go without buying gasoline.” (Volt) The Chevy Volt can get up to 1,000 miles in between fill ups, making it one of the most fuel efficient cars ever made. “On a fully charged battery and tank of gas, the Volt has a total driving range of up to 379 miles. Because the Volt can use gasoline to create its own electricity in extended-range mode, long trips are possible. Typical electric driving range is 25-50 miles depending on temperature, terrain, driving technique and battery age. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a gas-powered engine-generator seamlessly engages to extend the driving range until the vehicle can be recharged” (Volt) However the cost of the Chevy Volt has some Americans shying away from it. The Volt has a base price of around $40,000 but with around $7,500 in federal tax credit the price can in the high $20,000’s or low $30,000. (Dumaine)
However I do not think these prices are to out of control, especially compared to the cars put out by Tesla. Another thing to think about when talking about the prices of Electric cars is that after they are around for a while two things will happen that will lower the prices. The first thing that will happen to lower the prices of electric cars is there will be more of them around, and sense there is more options the concept of supply and demand will fall into the favor of the consumer. The second reason the price for electric cars will drop is because as of now there is basically no market for used electric vehicles, but when these cars become more common there will eventually be enough of them around so that there will be a reasonable amount to choose from.
I think that electric cars are a good alternative to driving gasoline fueled cars because of the multiple advantages, and the cars that can be chosen from. With an electric vehicle you can save a ton of money, you no longer have to worry about the constant maintenance that is needed with other cars, they are quieter than gasoline fuelled cars, and they provide exceptional acceleration. Also with options such as the Nissan Leaf, the cars made by Tesla Motors, and the Chevy Volt I think that there should be a lot of Americans thinking about making a switch to an Electric Vehicle.
Obama/Chevy Volt

Work Cited 
 Dumaine, Brian. "CAN THE VOLT CHARGE GM?." Time 176.4 (2010): 40. Middle Search   Plus. EBSCO. Web. 9 May 2011.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Should America Use Electric Cars?