Are you tired of paying ridiculously high prices at the pump? Would it not be cool to do all of your daily driving without having to fill up at a gas station? Well, now this is becoming a reality for people who drive electric vehicles, also known as EVs.
What is an Electric Vehicle?
Electric vehicles are propelled by an electric motor (or motors) powered by rechargeable battery packs. The batteries transfer energy to an electric motor, the motor turns the drive train, that turns the wheels. It is a highly efficient technology; up to 80% of the energy in the battery is transferred directly to power the car. Everything is computer controlled and a display shows you how the car is performing. The display lets you know about how much battery power you have left, and if you need to find a place to recharge, you can use the software built into the car or on your mobile device to guide you to the nearest charge point. When you are ready to charge your EV’s battery, instead of a gas tank there is a power cord, and instead of refueling, you recharge: just plug it in.
Benefits of electric vehicles
Electric vehicles are quickly gaining popularity and for a good reason. Besides helping our environment by keeping our air clean, they are also convenient, sleek and quiet, and for most of the short distance driving we do they are the perfect way to get from point A to point B, safely, reliably, and comfortably.
Consider the following advantages of EV’s over internal combustion engines (ICE’s)
1. Energy Efficient. Electric motors convert 75% of the chemical energy from the batteries to power the wheels. In comparison, internal combustion engines (ICEs) only convert 20% of the energy stored in gasoline.
2. Environmentally friendly. EVs emit no tailpipe pollutants, although the power plant producing the electricity may emit them. Moreover, electricity from nuclear-, hydro-, solar-, or wind-powered plants causes no air pollutants.
3. Reduce energy dependence. Electricity is a domestic energy source, and by using EV’s we are reducing our dependence on foreign oil as a nation.
4. Performance benefits. Electric motors provide quiet, smooth operation, stronger acceleration and require overall less maintenance than ICEs.
5. Tax Incentives. The US government is supporting a more widespread use of EV’s by providing special tax credits. Electric vehicles purchased in or after 2010 may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. The credit amount will vary based on the capacity of the battery used to fuel the vehicle.
Disadvantages of electric vehicles
Some of the main drawbacks of EVs are battery related challenges outlined below. Yet, most of these issues can be resolved with a little extra planning on the part of the consumer.
1. Driving range. Most EVs can only go about 100–200 miles before recharging, where as gasoline vehicles can go over 300 miles before refueling. While this is an issue, taking a look at the statistics reveals a different perspective. As it turns out, more than 80% of Americans drive less than 40 miles round trip for their daily commute (US Department of Energy), which is just right for an EV.
2. Recharge time. Fully recharging the battery pack can take 4 to 8 hours. Even a “quick charge” to 80% capacity can take 30 min. This issue can be taken care of by recharging overnight, when you are done driving for the day, and electricity may be cheaper. However, for a quick charge during the day, charging stations are popping up everywhere in convenient locations across the US. Another option that is available on the market is an extended range EV: it starts by using battery power, but when the battery power runs low, gasoline fueled engine kicks in to power the electric motor, which in turn drives the wheels. So for shorter trips, you can rely on electricity, and still take longer road trips whenever you want. Anywhere you go, you can simply plug in or fill up.
3. Battery Cost and Weight Currently, the large battery packs are expensive and may need to be replaced one or more times. They are also heavy and take up considerable vehicle space. However, battery technology continues to advance, and researchers are working on improved battery technologies to increase driving range and decrease recharging time, weight, and cost.
Overall, with the speed of technological advancements in the car industry, it will not be long before electric vehicles will become totally compatible with internal combustion engine cars, while boasting major personal and environmental advantages. As Americans, we have had a long love affair with cars, often choosing power and speed over preserving our environment. However, as a society we have started to turn the page, as more of us make a conscious decision to opt for clean, comfortable electric vehicles.