Tag: Electric Cars

Are Electric Cars Really Green?

Are Electric Cars Really Green?Electric cars may not be as green as you might think. The YouTube video to debunk this myth and let consumers know that there is lots of room to do more work before they really make a large contribution to the environment. Check out the video after you finish reading this post and make up your own mind regarding whether it is the right thing to do. Are Electric Cars Really Green?

Are Electric Cars Really Green?

Based on the analysis that is portrayed in the video referred to above, all electric cars are not as great at reducing emissions as everyone thinks. Yes when you operate the car there are no emissions. But, the cost in terms of environmental impact of producing the batteries and also producing the electrical power to charge them is almost the same as a traditional gas powered car. Burning coal, oil and natural gas to produce electricity causes a great deal of pollution. Wind energy and solar panels are better but not as much as you might think based on the analysis.

The writer notes that the analysis did not take into account such issues as the impact of nuclear power, battery efficiency improvement, car breaking regeneration, improvements in electric cars over the next 10 years and other alternate power sources for electricity. Also who funded the research and are there any biases built into this analysis?

The bottom line is that the electric car business is still in it’s infancy and will have many new developments over the next 10 years and will get even better than it is today. So yes, it does not save us in terms of pollution today, but will it with improvements over the next 10 years. Time will tell.


Self Driving Driverless Cars for Senior Drivers

Self Driving Driverless Cars for Senior DriversA friend of mine just told me that he had to take his dad’s car because he could no longer drive and he had lost his license. It was actually a sad day for both of them. Recognizing that his father had lost his independence and needed more help was tough. It was even tougher for his father who now must rely on others to get around or take a taxi from time to time. This is where we think that self driving cars for senior drivers could be a solution to the aging problem for seniors and baby boomers in general.

Self Driving Driverless Cars for Senior Drivers – License

My friend’s father has already lost his license! Does this mean that if he owned a self driving car, that he could not operate it even though he was technically not driving? At the present time as we understand it, you must be able to take over the car and drive it in emergency situations. If you do not have a license, would this mean that he could not own a car or operate a self driving car?

A self driving car would certainly provide him with a degree of independence that he would not have. Many seniors facing this reality are very concerned about being able to drive, to get out, to buy groceries and to enjoy some entertainment. They do not want to be stuck in their homes.

It will be a few years yet before self driving cars are on the road in any large numbers, but this writer intends to have one sometime in the next 4 or 5 years! I love new technology and as a baby boomer, this car will likely drive better than I could in later years. So why not be safe and drive a driverless car. Or should we say operate a driverless car?


Self Driving Driverless Cars for Disabled

Self Driving Driverless Cars for DisabledSelf driving driverless cars for disabled consumers could bring a new level of independence! Imagine, your disability has prevented you from ever driving a car. With the introduction of this new technology, suddenly you can purchase a car that will drive you from point A to B and you do not need help from anyone, depend on a taxi or take a bus. This technology really has the potential to revolutionize car driving for disabled people, seniors who are uncomfortable driving and anyone who just wants to relax while traveling. But there are lot’s of hurdles to overcome and it may be a few years yet before this is a real possibility.

Self Driving Driverless Cars for Disabled – Issues

The technology still has a little ways to go. Google’s self driving car has over a million miles on it and most if not all car manufacturers have research and development projects to perfect this concept. It may be another 4 or 5 years before we see driverless cars on the roads, but they will be soon.

It is far more problematic to deal with the insurance and liability issues. Every city and government is struggling with how to handle the issues of a driverless car. Can anyone purchase and operate a driverless car? Do you need to have a driver’s license? Who is liable in accident? The owner, the car manufacturer, or the software supplier that is controlling the car?

What about hacking the car? There have been reports of so-called smart cars being hacked already. The hacker has taken over the car, the brakes etc and even stopped the car on the side of the road. This is another major area for manufacturers to think about and deal with.

Self driving driverless cars for disabled consumers would have a huge benefit for this segment of our population. Will they need to have a special drivers license? Will they be able to obtain insurance? There are lots of bureaucratic issues to be resolved before this happens. Rest assured that driverless cars are coming and these issues will get solved over time.


Chevy Volt Updates

Chevy Volt UpdatesThe new Chevy Volt for 2016 will allow consumers to drive 53 miles on electric power before the engine kicks in and begins generating electricity to drive the power train. This is a 40% improvement over older models and provides consumers with the ability to do most of their daily driving on electric power. The batteries can be recharged at home or they can be recharged by the engine. Either way the consumer is saving money and will  not need to fill their gas tanks as often. In fact some consumers report with the existing Chevy Volt that they go for months without needing to refill the gas tank. Over the next few years there will be more improvements in efficiency as well as battery technology.

Chevy Volt Updates

This improvement means that consumers can expect an average of 42 miles per gallon when powered by the engine compared to 38 for the current model. In addition there is no cost other than the cost of electricity when the car is running on battery power only.

The Chevy Bolt will also be upgraded. It will be available with electric power only in 2017 and will run approximately 200 miles before needing to be recharged. The volt has won awards and the new models are expected to continue this tradition. With lighter materials and better drive systems, consumers who commute to work short distances may seldom need to refill their gas tanks with gasoline.

We happen to think that the next five years more and more improvements will be introduced that will make it so tempting to purchase an electric car. In fact the writer feels that their next car will be a volt model. Our current vehicle gets good mileage and has a few more years to run before it should be exchanged for another vehicle.


Electric cars on the market

Electric cars on the marketElectric cars have been on the market for a number of years now. Electric cars on the market are gradually becoming mainstream. It used to be only the tree huggers and people who cared about environmental issues that supported electric cars. As the market matures and the products improve more and more people are taking notice of electric vehicles. They considering them as a real alternative to a gas powered car. We are also looking forward to when the Chevrolet Volt, pictured in this picture, will be offered in Canada as well as the US.

Electric cars on the market include

  • Nissan leaf – 80 kilowatt(80 horsepower) motor, heated seats, backup camera, Bluetooth, cruise, heated steering wheel and a range of 129 kilometers.
  • Mitsubishi I-Miev – 69 horsepower motor, heated seats, AC, range is 150 km’s
  • Smart EV – 74 horsepower motor, 135 km range, and had multiple charging options
  • Focus BEV,
  • BMW I3
  • Tesla – high end, all-electric car

Another important factor that is making electric cars or interesting to consumers is that there is an increasing number of charging stations. For electric cars to really take off, owners have to be able to depend on locations where they can take their cars and recharge. Otherwise these cars will be Limited to commuter cars and for one car family’s they are just not attractive.

Virtually every major car manufacturer is developing an electric car to take advantage of the increasing demand. Couple electric cars with self driving cars and you have a powerful momentum that will lead a significant change in the industry. Electric distribution stages will proliferate to answer the need. Right now Tesla is probably the most famous name with a car that has beat all of the safety ratings. They will also have other electric cars on the market in 2017. These will be aimed at a lower price and more attractive to consumers.


Electric or Hybrid – Buy Now

electric or hybrid vehiclesElectric cars and also hybrids are becoming more popular. More models are available and the charging infrastructure is gradually improving. However charging stations have a long ways to go before they begin to approach the convenience of gasoline and diesel fueled vehicles. So what should you do, electric or hybrid – buy now or wait a while longer. There are a number of variables that we think that most owners will consider before they make a decision. These new style of cars regardless of whether it is an all electric vehicle or a hybrid vehicle. Personally when the writer looked at these set of variables, we opted for a traditional gasoline fueled car that is very efficient on the roads. So what are the variables that you should consider?

Electric or Hybrid or traditional Fueled Cars

  • Price
  • Range
  • Charge
  • Power
  • Convenience
  • Upgrades

Price – is still a major factor with most hybrids and all electrics still higher than their gasoline counterparts. Operational costs not including maintenance are of course lower.

Range – Electric vehicles simply do not have the range so if this is an issue, you may want to consider a hybrid which can obtain much better range at highly efficient levels in terms of miles per gallon.

Charge – although most can be 80% charged in 30 minutes, availability of charging stations and cost of upgrading your power plug at home is an issue for many people.

Power – with direct drive electric motors, electric cars produce excellent acceleration compared to similar models in the hybrid and traditional area.

Convenience – charging is an issue, the cars are smaller  and not having to find a gas station to fill up when all of your trips are short in nature. Take this into account if you are planning to use it for anything more than commuting.

Upgrades – all cars are being upgraded every year, but electric cars are very computerized and now you may need regular software upgrades, firmware upgrades as part of your normal maintenance.

Check out all of the numbers as well as your personal needs and use. Before you make that big ticket decision about electric or hybrid vehicles. We opted for a traditional late model car that is fuel efficient and takes regular gasoline. We think the industry has a way to go before these cars and technology is mature.


New Chevrolet Volt

Nev Chevrolet VoltGM announced at CES this year that they will be releasing a major upgrade to the Volt at the Detroit Auto Show. The CES announcement of the new Chevrolet Volt is just the first salvo in the effort to maximize advertising of their latest upgrades and improve sales. While GM has not announced all of the changes that are coming with the new Chevrolet Volt, there are rumors of improved range, performance and other refinements that they hope will contribute to increased sales.

New Chevrolet Volt – Features

A new T shaped battery that weighs 30 pounds less and stores 20% more energy. A lower center of gravity to contribute to better stability. Two electric drive motors instead of one large one. Improved aerodynamic styling. A new 1.5 litre four cylinder engine to power the generator. The system should operate 12% more efficiently and weigh 100 pounds less than previous models. No news on improvements to the electric range of 40 miles. There is also an expectation of improved mileage from the current average of 37 mpg. They have a long way to go to catch up to the Toyota Prius which boasts over 50mpg combined.

New Chevrolet Volt – Time to Buy

We recently checked out the Toyota Prius and it turned out that not only could I not buy one, I could not even take one for a drive in our area. They are popular and sell out quickly. The Chevrolet Volt has still some maturing to do, since they have only been on the market for 7 years compared to 15 years for the Prius in North America. With one or two more major updates, the Chevrolet Volt might just be the car that wins the day in terms of total sales.

With the combined electric drive, gas powered support and the ability to recharge the batters from the electrical grid, it offers flexibility that other electric cars including the Prius do not. Time will tell. let us know your comments.


New Chevrolet Bolt electric car

Chevrolet Bolt electric carGeneral Motors has just released the new Chevrolet bolt electric car at the Detroit auto show. It is supposed to offer an impressive 200 mile range in a compact car on electric battery. This is a significant step forward for those people who need a city car for commuting. But have been reluctant due to the lower distance limitations of most other full electric cars. With a 200 mile range this is really a significant improvement. Commuters in cities and towns can now commute with confidence. They will be able to go to and from work without needing a charge for most commuters. They will need to recharge the batteries once per day over night.

Chevrolet Bolt electric car

It is a pure electric vehicle and at 200 mile range it is very competitive with the other players. It will be a companion car to the Chevrolet volt which is a combination gas-electric vehicle. Since it is a concept car, the vehicle range may improve even further as batter technology improves. There is an incredible amount of focus on developing better battery technology, generation capabilities and efficient power consumption.

The price of the Chevrolet bolt is claimed to be around $30,000 US. However it will be a few years before it hits dealer show rooms. There is no timeline as of yet from General Motors. Although General Motors has promised five new vehicles in 2015.

When gasoline prices were high, driven by high oil prices in the $100 range, there was a lot of motivation to get electric cars on the roads to control gas expense and pollution. With recent declines in oil prices to less than $50, many consumers will lose their interest in electric vehicles. The savings will not be as great and it will take longer for the electric vehicles to pay for themselves. There will have to be continued pressure on car manufacturers to improve gasoline driven cars and to also drive electric vehicles to a level that appeals to consumers.

Unfortunately from a pollution perspective, this recent decline in oil prices is not going to help those organizations meet their objectives and goals. It will be up to government to drive everyone to better more efficient cars etc.


Chevrolet Volt Outsells Toyota Prius

Chevrolet VoltThe Toyota Prius has been around since the year 2000, while the first generation Chevrolet Volt has only been around since 2007. There are various categories of electric cars, some you can plug in to charge, some that only run on electricity and those that run on a combination of electric systems and gas powered engines. The Chevrolet Volt is somewhere in between all of these and may just hit the right combination. You can plug it in to recharge the battery, you can drive up to 61 kilometers or just over 30 miles on battery alone, or over 300 miles with a combination battery and gas engine. But the gas engine does not drive the vehicle, rather it powers a generator which provides electricity to recharge the battery and run the electric motors. This combination provides independence as well as gas savings especially in stop and go traffic situations in the city.

Chevrolet Volt – Regenerative braking System

In addition, when you apply the brakes the regenerative system will also recharge the battery. Recharging can also be accomplished by the standard 110 volt system or a specialized 220 volt recharger in much shorter time. This is one area that the Toyota Prius cannot claim as a feature at the present time.

While the Chevrolet Volt outsells all other plugin cars, it has a ways to go yet to catch up to the Toyota Prius. GM is making major changes for their 2016 models with updates to the battery systems, distance that can be traveled along with other features. GM allowed reporters to look at the new model at CES, however were short on details preferring to wait until the Detroit Auto show to really take advantage of the press associated with the show.

GM has sold 70,000 of these cars and results from consumers ranked the car number 12 in affordable small cars with an MSRP price of $34,345. The volt gets poor marks for a cramped rear seat area and a small cargo area, however it did well in terms of nimble handling, seamless transition from battery to gas power. What will the 2016 model bring and what are the rumors for the latest model upgrade for the Chevrolet Volt from GM and will it finally overtake the Toyota Prius? Stay tuned for our next post!


Sunswift Eve Solar Powered Car

Sunswift Eve Solar Powered CarStudents hope to break 20 year record of 45 mph over a 310 mile course. This particular car is covered with solar cells as shown in the picture. While not esthetically pleasing, the objective is to show that this technology will work and will provide power over longer distances and also higher speeds. if perfected, the esthetic issues can be dealt with later to get it ready for mass production and for the public in general. The real challenge will be to not add weight to the car while improving the esthetics. It also begs the question regarding why more vehicles do not use solar technology. For example why does the Toyota Prius not include solar panels to augment the electrical power generation in the brakes and transmission etc.? Overall mileage could be drastically improved we believe if solar technology was included in cars like the Toyoto Prius. back to the Sunswift Eve Solar Powered Car, which is really the subject of this post.

Sunswift Eve Solar Powered Car

  • Capable of 87 mph
  • Uses as much power as a kitchen toaster and can travel 500 miles on solar power
  • Solar array generates 800 watts of power on a sunny day
  • Car body weighs 661 pounds made of carbon fiber

Results of Tests in July 2014

Exact facts and figures we cannot quote until the FIA has undergone ‘homologation’ or official verification of the record attempt. They will update the details in due time.

What we can reveal is this:

  • Our car traveled at over 100km/h for the distance.
  • The attempt only used $0.50 of electricity
  • Subject to verification from CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport) we may qualify for additional Australian land speed records for 100km and 500km electric cars.
  • We are the first FIA World Record set in Australia since 1984.
  • We are the first Australian record since 1994.
  • During a practice test run we achieved eVe’s top speed to date of 132km/h.

Is this the wave of the future? Who knows, but it is fun to keep track of these kinds of trials and tests to see what is being developed and what will make it to the factory floor for mass distribution.


Alternatives to Gasoline Powered Cars

Gasoline Powered CarsThere are lots of alternatives to pure gasoline powered cars. Fortunately there are more and more of them available on the market for consumers. Some are not priced well as of this writing. In other words it is still cheaper to buy a gasoline powered car than it is to purchase a hybrid or an all electric car. But once they are mass produced, the prices will cone down a great deal.

Aside from the extra cost of many of these different power trains, the savings are simply not enough to push consumers to purchases these cars on a mass basis. Over time confidence will grow as more and more people buy them and use them. There will become clear winners as well which will be based on maintenance free driving as well as strong support when there is a problem that must be fixed.

A new car power train that provides great mileage can fail as a product.  If support for repairs are less than consumer expectations. Right now we are still in the experimentation phase for “all electric vehicles”. Hybrids are well on the way into mass production. The Toyota Prius for example has been around for many years and continues to provide excellent operational characteristics. One of the major challenges is the battery. The cost, the longevity and the distance you can go on a single charge, not to mention how long it takes to recharge. Then there is the issue of where you will recharge the battery. More and more battery charging stations are appearing. Many more are planned over the next few years.

Gasoline Powered Cars – and the Alternatives

The next five years will show us many more new developments. It is an exciting time for car development.

Gasoline Hybrid Cars
Plugin Electrics

Electric cars
Ethanol and flex fuel
Biodiesel

Propane
Liquified and Compressed Natural Gas

Fuel cells
Solar
Steam

Some of the above types of power trains are clearly too far in the future. They will not be developed any time soon. Some will just not be economic. They will be given up in favor of other types of power trains. The future is exciting and yesterday Google made a big announcement. They will have a driver less car on the road in 2015 that can be purchased by consumers.


When will Electric Cars be Economic

When will Electric Cars be EconomicThere are two big negatives when it comes to purchasing electric vehicle today. When will electric cars be economic and what are the factors that are controlling the time for payback.  The first and foremost is the cost of the vehicle typically $10,000 more than the same size car in fact even the same model that is gasoline powered.

The other factor that troubles many consumers in addition to the increased cost, is the distance that you can drive an electric vehicle before needing the battery to be recharged. The other issue of course is once the battery is discharged how to charge it and where can you plug it in. These issues are being addressed by the industry through a number of initiatives. One is to decrease the cost of the lithium battery the price of electric vehicles and secondly to install plug-in charging stations on major highways across the country. This post will discuss the changes in prices for lithium batteries.

When will Electric Cars be Economic

Today’s gasoline powered car engine costs about $2000. An electric lithium battery will cost about $600 per kilowatt. A typical electric car will require a 20 kW battery making the cost of the battery about $12,000. This is $10,000 more than what the gasoline powered car engine costs and this is the main reason that electric vehicles are still very expensive compared to gasoline powered vehicles.

It is forecast ed that electric lithium batteries will drop in price from $600 per kilowatt down to approximately $300 per kilowatt in the next few years. This will save roughly six thousand dollars off the cost of an electric vehicle. And make it much more interesting to the consumer.

In the next 10 years by 2020, the expected cost of a lithium battery will drop from $300 per kilowatt down to approximately $100 per kilowatt making it compatible price wise with the $2000 car engine. We expect that by 2020 electric vehicles will be significantly higher sales than they are currently at this point in time due to the drop in cost for lithium batteries and also the fact that the cost of driving an electric vehicle is far cheaper per mile than a gasoline powered vehicle. In addition to enabling electric vehicles, the development and improvements to the lithium battery will have profound impacts on many other industries as well.


Advantages of Electric Cars

Advantages of Electric CarsA lot of people can see that electric cars are much more inexpensive to operate. Due to the lower cost of electricity as compared to the cost of gasoline on a per mile basis. However everyone is still scared off by the inconvenience of finding a place to recharge your vehicle. Or worse completely draining your batteries and being stranded somewhere on the side of the road. Still, the advantages of electric cars includes that it makes sense for government and industry to find a solution to make this work, because we are polluting the earth and we are over heating the planet.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of electric vehicles? What are the solutions that need to be focused on in order to remove or reduce some of the deterrents to the consumer accepting the electric vehicle as a solution.

First the Advantages of Electric Cars

The obvious one is that the electric vehicle is more efficient than gasoline powered cars even when you take into account that most of the electricity is generated from coal or oil fired plants. On a per mile cost to the consumer the electric vehicles are winning hands down at the present time. As power consumption increases with more electric vehicles on the road, the costs may increase, but then so will the costs of gasoline so there will still be a differential in favor of the electric car.

Cars with backup gasoline powered engines such as the Chevy Volt and the Toyoto Prius are ideal for electric vehicles. The gasoline engines and the brakes recharge the car’s batteries and if they run too low, then the gasoline engine takes over. The Prius works a bit differently in that in heavy demand and at higher speeds the electric motor and the gasoline engine works in tandem to power the car.

Environmentally at least locally you are not spewing pollution from a tail pipe into the air and hybrids are spewing less pollution than traditional gasoline powered cars. With the electric cars being more efficient overall, there is less pollution as well when you consider the pollution generated at the electrical coal fired plants.

Noise is much less with an electric car as well. Whether sitting at a stop light or accelerating there is virtually no noise generation at all.

In many cities across North America, hybrid and electric vehicles are allowed to drive in HOV lanes as an incentive to move to the more efficient hybrid or electric vehicles.

Next the Disadvantages

Some people are concerned that today’s electric grid cannot handle the increased use of electricity. And yes, today’s grid probably cannot. However if the demand increases in a gradual way since the penetration of electrical vehicles will be gradual as well, then the grid has time to respond with more plants and distribution networks.

There are just not enough plug in spots available to plug in your car and recharge it. Some parking lots are even afraid they will need to rewire their parking garages to accommodate these cars at some cost. Some consumers feel they are getting ripped off if a visitor plugs in their car and recharges the batteries while visiting.

Range of the current vehicles is still an issue for pure electric cars. The hybrids have their gasoline engines to fall back on. Basically you will need to charge your batteries every day and plan your trips around recharge points for the all electric vehicle. Charge time is another issue to consider. If you are charging overnight there is no problem. On the other hand if you have to wait an hour or two to recharge this can be a big chunk out of your day.

Fast charge stations cost a lot to install in your home, and 120V charging systems will take all night to recharge the batteries.

Electric vehicles are still more expensive to purchase than their gasoline powered counter parts. However as they become more popular, prices will decline through assembly line production.

Everyone is very concerned about how long the batteries will last. Usually the car will last much longer than the battery and consumers are faced with buying a new battery at considerable expense. A gasoline engine, if looked after will last the life of the car quite easily.

Also if cars are charging at night when usage is traditionally lower, then the grid is not impacted as much as everyone might at first think. Time of day rates will push more and more people to charge their cars at night as well.

The Future of Electric Vehicles is on the Horizon

At least now we know what the problems and issues are. As they are solved one by one, these all electric vehicles will become more popular and gradually over time become the mainstay of our transport solution.

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Electric Car Operating Costs

Electric Car Operating CostsYou have probably heard all kinds of figures quoted and bandied around about the new electric cars. The Volt is one of these cars that is now out on the market and we were wondering what it really does cost to drive one of these cars and how they compare to the traditional gasoline cars. We have always been able to depend on EPA fuel standards to tell us how cars compared in using gasoline but what about electric vehicles. There are three kinds of vehicles now. There is the standard gasoline or diesel driven vehicle. There are the hybrids that have both gasoline and electric driven power trains and then there are the pure electric cars that need to b charged every night.

Electric Car Operating Costs

Miles Per Gallon Equivalent

The Volt is supposed to get 99 miles per gallon equivalent, while the Nissan Leaf gets 93 MPGe. These figures come from recognized government agencies who look at this kind of thing and provide a way for us consumers to compare one type of car with another that has a totally different power source.

Combined Efficiency Numbers

When a car like the Volt is running on electricity it is supposed to be able to get 99MPGe, however it can only do this for an estimated 35 miles on a full charge. After that the gasoline engine takes over and provides power to the batteries which takes the cost up and the MPGe down to approximately 37 MPG. Depending on the mix of driving you do on average this combined number will vary a great deal. Again the government people suggest on average a driver should expect 60MPGe. This number will vary greatly depending on your driving habits.

How Does the Consumer Really Know What the Efficiency Is

For me it all comes down to dollars. We can figure out what the cost per mile is for a regular car simply by taking the total cost to fill up a tank full of gas and dividing that by how far we can drive on that tank of gas. Some people will go further than others based on their own driving habits. Consumers can figure their own personal numbers out on their own.

The same applies to hybrid and pure electric vehicles. Monitor your electrical usage and the associated cost. Next divide the cost by the number of miles you can drive or have driven and you will have a valid comparison of the cost per mile.

Fortunately the experts have done this for us and we do not have to track all of these numbers. It appears that a Nissan Leaf would cost about $561 a year if driven 15,000 miles. A  Nissan Versa which is a similar sized car power by gasoline is going to cost approximately $1444 per year if it is also driven 15000 miles. This is a savings of almost $900 per year! The Chevrolet Volt is calculated to cost about $600 a year and the Cheverolet Cruze about $1600 a year or a savings of about a $1000 a year.

Should Consumers Purchase an Electric Vehicle

The other factors that need to be considered are the original cost to purchase these vehicles after government subsidies are include must also be compared. The electric and hybrid car costs more than the traditional gasoline powered cars due to the economies of scale. There are hundreds of thousands of them being manufactured every year. It will be several years before you break even on the cost of the car with the decreased operating costs.

The other two important factors to consider is how well they hold their value when it comes time to trade or sell them and what the long term maintenance costs will be when you take into account the batteries which must be replaced at some point. The jury is still out on these numbers.

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Electric Cars – Consumer Ratings

Electric Cars Consumer ratings for electric cars are at their very early stages since they have really not been on the market that long and consumers have a skewed view of electric cars in general for two reasons. First the pure electric cars take a long time to charge and they do not go that far on a full battery charge to begin with. Secondly they are still very expensive compared to their counterparts in the gasoline side and the price of these cars eat up any money you might save on the consumption side.

However we expect that hybrid and all electric cars are here to stay and it is just a matter of time until the manufacturers figure out some of the kinks in these cars charging and longevity issues. Once they become mass produced, the price of electric cars will also come down a great deal as well. The range problem is a bit more difficult. If you place a larger battery in the car, the price goes up, but it also still takes a relatively long time to recharge the car’s battery.

Most Families Have Two Cars

A case can be made for a family with two cars to have one all electric car and the other a hybrid or a regular gasoline car. The gasoline car would be used for long trips, while the all electric car would be used for all of the short city trips which they are more than adequate for in terms of distance that can be supported by the batteries. Short trips around the city are notoriously bad for gas mileage with all of the stops and starts. A gasoline car that gets 30 miles to the gallon on the highway would be lucky to get 20 miles to the gallon in the city. This is a perfect situation for the all electric car and provides a maximum savings opportunity.

What are the Factors to Consider re Electric Cars

When it comes to rating cars, the consumer will consider the following items as part of their comparison of any car really. These factors are centered around practical issues which are important to their lifestyle and their personal economics.

  • Driving range on a charge,
  • Passenger carrying capacity,
  • Price, and
  • Availability

More Details

Driving range on a charge –  this has to be one of the most important factors. Will it take you where you want to go on a daily basis  without needing a recharge. It must last until the end of the day when you make it home. If it will not, what is the backup plan. Hybrids have gasoline engines to take over when the batteries run low. However all electrics must be recharged before they go further when the battery runs down.

Passenger carrying capacity – how many people will it carry and will you be able to handle the groceries, the kids and all of the sports equipment that many families have to deal with. This is a very personal life style item and one to be considered carefully.

Price – right now most hybrids and electric vehicles are carrying a hefty price tag. This is partly due to development cost recovery and partly due to the cost of the battery. These prices are sometimes subsidized by local governments in an effort to help this fledgling industry move along. However in most cases you are still going to pay a premiums for these cars. Will you save enough to provide you with a short of enough payback to cover the extra cost?

Availability – finally availability is improving. However they are not available in all markets. That means that mechanics etc are also not trained and available to support these cars. Check this issue out carefully before you make a purchase. You may even want to inquire how many mechanics they have trained. “How long they have been working on these types of cars before you make your purchase.


Electric Car Advantages

Electric Car AdvantagesThe major disadvantage of electric cars these days is their price and the availability of charging stations. If you can get past these issues, there are quite a number of advantages that consumers might be interested in. They do not offset the price yet, but many consumers who are environmentally conscious are beginning to invest in electric cars with their pocket books.

Electric Car Advantages

The biggest advantage is that you do not have to buy gas and you really are not that interested in the price of gas as it goes up and down. Electricity is gradually converting to what is called renewable energy, which means wind, solar and hydro with no correspond pollution to be concerned about. The cars themselves are not polluters and are very quiet as they are driven around the city.

They are also excellent commuter cars provided that a two way trip is within the battery’s capacity. This is pretty much a necessity unless you have a way of recharging the batteries at work or wherever you are visiting. More and more locations are providing charging stations and this will expand over times as well.

Another advantage of these cars is that you are not burning gas or generating heat when you are stuck in traffic. If you live in a city that is prone to a lot f pollution, then every electric car that is driven is contributing to a decrease in pollution. This is one of the reasons that places like California have some of the most generous programs available to help people purchase electric vehicles and to also install recharging stations.

Electric Car Advantages – Tesla

Tesla’s model S has proven that high speeds are possible and that acceleration can also be very high as well on the 0 to 60 miles per hour category. They are driving the research and the experience curve right now and will continue to do so in the sport category. Other cars such as the Ford Focus and the GM Volt are aimed at the mass production version of the electric car. They are gradually increasing in sales and will become more popular as more and more people try them out as rental cars etc.

The electric vehicle does not need oil changes for the engine or for the transmission, saving each owner something in the neighborhood of $200 a year or more in operating costs in addition to the cost of gasoline that might be used. Add in the supporting electronics and you have a vehicle which many kids are used to that is effectively an operate by wire kind of car.

Let us know of other electric car advantages that we may have missed and should include in this post. We would be glad to see them and will place them on this post as comments.


Affordable Electric Cars

Affordable Electric CarsUnfortunately there are not any affordable electric cars just yet even with all of the government subsidies. Case in point is the Ford Focus which comes in at $39,995 compared to the gasoline model that is priced at $16,995. Even with government subsidies of say $7000, the price for an electric vehicle of this type is nowhere close to the comparable gasoline model. Even if you get past the purchase price and expect to make it up on gasoline savings, experts have indicated that the price of gas has to go up to at least $6 per gallon which is a very hefty price from recent prices such as $3.50 per gallon in the US.

Affordable Electric Cars – Cost of Gasoline

In other countries, where gas is a lot more expensive, the push to electric vehicles may be moving faster, but not in the US or Canada. The car companies are trying to position themselves to be in a position to mass produce electric cars when the big conversion comes, but right now they are still focused on producing cars that are very affordable for the average consumer.

In addition there is a lot of pressure on car companies to make their gas guzzling cars more fuel efficient which makes it even tougher for the electric vehicles to compete. It is going to take either a significant increase in the cost of gas to move this forward or the car companies to mass produce their electric cars to really get the conversion of the public going towards electric cars.

The number of cars sold that either use a hybrid technique or all electric is growing. Between January and May of this year, 32,705 cars have been sold. This can be compared to only 14,226 last year for the same time period. If gas prices surge, this will increase the trend. It will also help the needed installation of infrastructure to charge these cars that depend on batteries only.

This is a push pull kind of situation. Gas must go up to drive electric vehicles. The sales of electric vehicles must go up to drive down prices which in turn will make them more attractive. In addition the construction of charging stations and the general availability of locations to charge these vehicles will increase. They will figure out the business case once there is more demand for charging of electric vehicles.

Affordable Electric Cars – Timing

It will be a few more years before we really see a general increase, but make no mistake it is coming. California is leading the way. This will be the first state to really prepare and drive the manufacture of electric cars into the consumer marketplace. For me right now, the Toyota hybrid is the way to go. You really have the best of both worlds. There is no need to be concerned about charging stations! Even these cars will be interim technology solutions. Once the auto makers solve the battery issue of longevity and charging, electric vehicles will take off in sales. Demand for them will increase dramatically.

It is going to be a few years yet before this happens.


BMW I3 Electric Vehicle

BMW unveils i3 electric car
The BMW I3 Electric Vehicle, planned to go on sale next year, is the first electric car to go into full-scale production from an established luxury automaker. Some people will be interested in this car because being green is the right thing to do. They want to drive an expensive car that is good on gasoline as part of the overall image of driving expensive cars that do not burn a lot of gas.

However we happen to think that if you are spending a lot of money on a car which you would be if you were buying a BMW, then the last thing you should really worry about is the amount of gas that you are using. Sure it is annoying that it costs a lot when you fill up at the pump, but so what you drive a really expensive car. Focus on an electric car for the masses instead of one for people who can afford expensive cars.

Specifications for the BMW I3 Electric Vehicle

At a price of 25,680 pounds th eBMW I3 develops 170 horsepower and 250 pounds of torque. It can reach from 0 to 62  miles per hour ins 7.2 seconds and has a top speed of 93 miles per hour. the range of this car is between 80 and 100 miles depending on how it is driven, hills etc. The BMW I3 comes with a fast charging wall box that can recharge the batteries up to 80 % in 3 hours.

As with all electric vehicles that only have electric power, they still take a long time to recharge. Charging using a regular wall socket can take up to 10 hours which is a very long time. A range extender engine can be added which is a gasoline engine that runs a generator to charge up the batteries while on the go. You can extend the range up to 180 miles by using the range extender. Better, but still not great when compared to traditional gasoline powered engines.

We will add more about this new car as more information becomes available and we get some reaction from readers.


Tesla 2013 Roadster

Tesla 2013 roadsterThe Tesla roadster is a sleek electric vehicle running 245 miles on a single charge. It runs 0 to 60 in 2.7 seconds. This particular car is a 2013 model and was seen in Palm Springs. It takes 45 minutes to charge on a 240 volt connection. The trunk is small and this is a really sleek car! This is a superb looking car and it is a very modern vehicle that heralds the future of electric cars. Although it is very expensive at this stage, it is really a test case for the manufacturers to see what works and what does not from everything to how the car performs to the power distribution stations where you can recharge the batteries.

Tesla 2013 Roadster – Owner Comments

At the time of writing this post and information I learned from the owner, the biggest issue is planning your trip to make sure there was a location where he could recharge the batteries. He had to plan his trip around this in much the same way it was 100 years ago when cars were first beginning to appear on the roads. They needed to make sure they knew were the next gas station was going to be or where they could purchase a couple of gallons of gasoline to keep them going.

These electric vehicles are much the same regardless of how much you pay for them. You have to plan were you can recharge the batteries and who you can pay to plug your car into recharge. It will be another decade before we see distribution systems offering power to recharge batteries. This is why in the writer’s opinion, the hybrid is the way to go to make sure you can always take advantage of the gasoline engine to power your car when batteries are running low.

Tesla 2013 Roadster – Planning Your Trip

I cannot imagine driving a car that I paid so much money for and just driving it around the city. I would want to take it out onto the main highways and really test it out in terms of performance. I would want to take it on longer trips and maybe even on a long vacation. Unfortunately at this stage in the evolution of 100% electric vehicles, recharging those batteries is a big issue.

Most if not all of them including the Tesla roadster can be plugged into a regular 100 volt socket that delivers a maximum of 15 amps. The problem with this is that it will take many hours to recharge the batteries. Who wants to wait around for even half an hour for the batteries to recharge let alone for many hours.

Visiting Friends

If you are visiting someone and you recharge the car overnight, this would be no problem. You might even pay your host for the electricity that you are using in much the same way you would pay the local gas station for gas. In the morning your batteries are recharged and you are ready to go. But what if you are on a long trip and cannot stop at a friend’s place. Where do you recharge your cars batteries? California is one of the few states that is setting up recharging stations along the interstate which will charge an electric cars batteries in less than an hour. Again you must know where they are and plan your trip around them.

The gentleman in Palm Springs that I met who owns the Tesla roadster was taking his car from Palm Springs to Vancouver where he lives. He was in the process of planning his trip. He had a couple of friends that he was going to visit along the way to recharge his car’s batteries. It will be interesting to see how he makes out and whether he got stranded somewhere with no battery power. I guess CAA or AAA will still tow your car to a recharging station. Who wants to have this happen especially when you are driving an expensive care like the Tesla Roadster.

Still Early Stage for Electric Cars

We have taken a different slant on this post about electric cars. The government and the manufacturers are really experimenting at this stage. They know that the electric infrastructure needs to be built up to facilitate more people purchasing these cars. They know it will take time. This is really the beginning of that infrastructure build up with California taking the lead. Let’s see how many states follow in the next 10 years.


Driverless Cars

We will not see driver less vehicles in mass production for a few years, maybe not for twenty years, but we will see them soon and this is because Google’s driver less car now has 300,000 miles on it with no one driving the car. Sure there has been a human behind the wheel ready to take over if needed. In that 300,000 it is rumored that they only took over once and that action actually caused an accident. Otherwise the car would have a perfect record! It was just a small parking lot fender bender, nothing serious. This is the future of cars

Using a Toyota Prius with GPS, radar and a 3D mapping camera to read signals, road lanes and pedestrians, this car has successfully navigated over 300,000 miles with no accidents.  Even three states have made self driving cars legal on their roads. These states are California, Nevada and Florida. They still want a human to sit in the driver’s seat to take over the controls if needed. Personally I think the driver is going to get bored and either fall asleep or spend time reading a book, which is not going to help in a situation that needs urgent intervention on the part of the driver unless there is some sort of alarm to grab his or her attention.

Will Driver Less Cars Reduce Accidents and Save Gas

The answer is believed to be yes in both cases. In fact so much so in the case of accidents that the automotive repair business will undergo a major shift in business once these cars become standard. There will still be accidents from time to time, but apparently many less than what occurs today.

They should use less gasoline as well since the cars will adhere to the speed limits and plan routes more carefully. Using a car like the Prius will automatically reduce gas consumption as well.

Productivity May Go Up

During commutes today, drivers need to focus on the road, while in a driver less car, they are freed of this responsibility leaving them time to focus on work, make phone calls and even finish their makeup and preparations for work. The expectation is that they will have a lot more time for work or other related activities, however this begs the question of how confident will we be of the auto pilot in the car and who good a job will it do. Does the driver really have to pay attention and monitor the car’s driving or will it issue an alarm of some kind when it needs help?

Can you depend on the driver less car to get you home after an office party were you have had too much to drink? Will the police still charge you if you have drank too much and if you are in the driver’s seat of a driver less car. In theory you are supposed to be sober enough to drive should the car need help and if you are too drunk, will they charge you when stopped?

Driverless Cars – What Happens to Our Insurance Claims

In situations were there is an accident, who is going to pay for the damages? First of all most people think there will be a lot less accidents so our insurance cost should decrease. Secondly there will be a battle between several companies as to who should be responsible. Is it the owners insurance who should pay since he should have been in control of the car, should it be the equipment manufacturer that should pay if it was a malfunction of the equipment or should the software developer pay since their software did not react quickly enough to avoid the accident. The first dozen cases will be difficult and will set the precedent for many law suits and claims for the future. They will be complex and argued in court to make sure that the right party pays for the damages, especially if someone is hurt.

This will be an exciting time as more and more innovations are placed in our cars. Think of it, if an airplane can be set on auto pilot to take off and fly across the country to land at another airport, why can’t you get into a car and do the same thing from your driveway to your vacation spot halfway across the continent or a few miles to the cottage!

 


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