The times, they are a-changin’. Formerly relegated to the automotive dustbin, the electric car was never widely adopted or embraced by consumers because of its limitations. Unlike hybrid cars, which are powered by a mix of gasoline and electricity, electric cars are powered entirely by electricity. This fact is simultaneously the biggest strength and weakness; no more expensive fill-ups at gas stations several times a month, but a limited range and speed combined with a drawn-out time period of recharge. Recent advances in battery technology, coupled with the rate at which automotive engineering is advancing, have allowed car manufacturers to get interested in and create some pretty amazing electric cars. Our current technology has made the idea viable, but this was not always the case.
Electricity vs. Fuel, Pros and Cons, and Batteries
Electric powered vehicles have long been championed as being better for both your pocketbook and the environment. But are these claims true, and does science support these claims? The answer is a resounding yes. With no fossil fuels to purchase, that is a recurring savings, and with no emissions there are savings of a different kind. Electric powered cars have no carbon footprint, at least not directly. There is still some associated pollution, but it is much further up the chain with the power plants that produce the extra electricity.
There are some pros and cons, basically these: electric cars have no emissions, cost an overall two cents a mile to operate, but have a far more limited range of around 100 miles and take much longer to “fuel up”. Gasoline or diesel powered vehicles produce emissions, cost an estimated 12 cents a mile to operate, but have a range of 300 miles or more and can be refueled in minutes. Another big pro for electric cars is none of the maintenance – oil changes, leaking head gaskets, etc since no gas means no oil requiring these upkeeps. The choice comes down to what you will use the vehicle for; if you travel frequently on the roadways, especially at distances over 100 miles, the electric car may not be suitable for that – at least not yet.
One of the drawbacks to electric vehicles is the batteries. Because of the power required to move the vehicle at speed, the batteries are large and consequently heavy. There are several different types of batteries; lead-acid, nickel metal hydride, zebra, and lithium ion. By far the most important battery type is the lithium ion, which is the most prevalent among more recent designs of electric cars. Using the same type of technological advances that have occurred in laptop batteries, new types of lithium batteries are being studied and created to produce more efficiency. Currently, however, the lifespan of batteries that are being developed may be as much as 180,000 miles!
Electricity breakdown – A wonderful breakdown of electricity, including it’s availability, advantages and disadvantages.
Vehicle Fleet – Proposal about increasing the use of electric vehicles in a fleet system, on this list because of the supreme amount of detailed and relevant information.
Comparing costs – The US Department of Energy breaks down the comparative costs associated with electricity vs. fuel.
Battery breakdown – Good explanation of electric vehicle (EV) batteries and their future.
Battery research – Argonne National Laboratory’s battery research page, with great information on future technology.
National statistics – Breakdown in table format showing the energy consumed by types of transportation, underscoring the need for reduced dependence on gasoline.
Electricity vs. Ethanol – With the advances being made in both these fields, will they be able to coexist?
Fuel Aspects – Good breakdown of the pros and cons associated with alternative fuels.
Keeping “current” – A review of EV technology, recently published, as well as what is coming soon.
Super battery – New lithium ion battery that lasts over 180,000 miles with no significant deterioration.
Boston Consulting Group – Focus report on EV batteries, including their outlook to the year 2020.
Interested consumers – Great article showing that consumers are ready to buy electric cars, but are worried about the price.
Plug In – Asking a basic question to it’s readers: Should I drive electric? Click and find out if you should.
Electrifying Times – The latest electric car news can be found here.
EVDL – The EV Discussion List is the Internet’s oldest and most comprehensive EV resource.
What’s Here and What’s Coming
Electric cars were first introduced in 1832, long before internal combustion became the standard. How then did they become displaced and pushed aside by gasoline engines? Simply, it was the limitations on battery technology at the time. Batteries were initially very heavy and not able to be recharged, leading to their eclipse by the ease of refueling gasoline. But now, auto manufacturers, emboldened by public sentiment, are throwing a lot of money into the research and development of EVs. Several major auto companies have already released viable electric cars, and even better ones are on the way.
Historic timeline – A chronological time-line of the invention and advancement of electric transportation.
Tesla Roadster – Tesla Motors makes electric cars, and this is their sports car.
Roadster review – The Car Connection resource about the Tesla Roadster, with pictures and reviews.
Mitsubishi i MiEV – Mitsubishi’s foray into the world of EVs, the i MiEV is innovative and responsible.
i MiEV review – Popular Mechanics tested the i MiEV, see here what they found out.
THINK City – THINK has been in the electric car game for almost two decades, and the City is their most recent development.
THINK City review – Tested in England, the Guardian tells you it’s review of this car.
Nissan LEAF – Nissan’s flagship EV, the LEAF is practical as well as affordable.
LEAF review – The Chicago Tribune makes their case about the LEAF following their testing.
ZAP – ZAP makes a full line of electric vehicles, including trucks, and some of their customers are the US Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Wheego LiFe – Yet another 100% electric car, the LiFe is currently awaiting EPA approval.
Coda – Coda Automotive is an all-electric company, meaning that all of their money goes into EVs, not just a portion of it like Nissan.
GEM – Global Electric Motors is a similar company to ZAP, focusing on all electric fleet vehicles.
Ford Focus Electric – Coming in 2010, Ford Focus enthusiasts will be happy to see this all electric car.
Mercedes E-Cell – The E-Cell is slated to be released sometime in 2013, and is rumored to deliver the same caliber of performance of a regular gasoline Mercedes SLS.
This article is a resource created by Cheap Car Insurance meant to educate and raise awareness concerning electronic cars. Sharing is permissible. Please contact us if you have any questions. Get a car insurance quote in your area.