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!
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.
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.