Most would be surprised to hear that battery operated cars were more popular than fossil fuel combustion models in the early automotive days. Many of these over 100-year-old cars still operate mainly due to the low maintenance required compared to gasoline models. Mind you, low maintenance does not mean no maintenance!
Most major car manufacturers are now offering all electric models such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. In addition, Tesla offers ONLY electric options with 3 current models to choose from. Also, Volvo is planning to switch its entire automotive fleet to electric within the next few years. Hybrid models offer the best of both worlds: electric operation as well traditional internal combustion engines with some combination of both.
(image credit – autoweek.com)
It is interesting to note that today’s electric cars are quicker than most gasoline models. Tesla has claimed its newest model will do 0 to 60 in less than 2 seconds, something most professional drag racers, except in the top classes, could not do just a decade ago!
A higher initial purchase cost of approximately 30 percent is offset by federal and state tax credits as well as lower operating costs. Although electric cars require some maintenance, most of the normal items such as oil changes are not needed. Currently, the cost to charge up an electric car is pennies on the dollar compared to gasoline/diesel versions.
Range anxiety seems to be one important item not to be overlooked that is holding back the industry. Most electric cars can only travel up to about 200 miles before needing a charge. In comparison, most fossil fuel cars can travel double or even triple that number on a full tank of fossil fuel. Also needing consideration is the fact the gasoline stations out-number electric charging stations by many times. Many feel that electric models will not overtake fossil fuel models until there is wide-spread charging stations though-out the country.
Although many models can be charged via the normal 110-volt house-hold system, this can take many hours. A special “higher voltage” line is needed for quicker charging and this can cost thousands of dollars. Also of note is the fact that there is no industry standard for charging, both in terms of connectors and voltage.
Although automotive battery technology is not new, very little research has been done since the early years. Manufacturers are claiming, with some skepticism, new models will be available in the next few years with range limits double of that which is currently available.
(image credit – tesla.com)
EVs Designed For Cleaner Future
Not to be forgotten, electric cars offer zero pollution “at the tail pipe”. This is a major selling point in big cities with pollution problems such as Los Angeles. There are, however, issues with producing the electricity needed such as the disposal and safety associated with nuclear energy as well as pollution created by tradition natural gas/coal operated electricity plants.
Clearly the future is electric cars. Every major car manufacturer is betting on it. As the technology develops, all of these issues should be able to be resolved.