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Introduction To Electric Cars And Electric ScootersPosted 11/04/08 • Last updated 01/17/11 • 2075 views • 0 comments
A common myth about electric vehicles (a.k.a. EVs) is that they simply move pollution around - meaning that instead of emissions being spread out by millions of cars, they're concentrated at a smaller number of power plants. This perception fails to account for the efficiency advantage EVs hold over internal combustion engines.
Studies have shown that because of the efficiency of electric motors and large power plants, plug-in hybrids and EVs decrease overall carbon emissions even when most of their power comes from coal burning power plants. Electric vehicles also provide the option of making their associated emissions as low as desired by recharging them with renewable and/or nuclear energy.
One huge benefit of electric vehicles is their low fuel costs as compared to gasoline vehicles. Based on electric rates in the USA of around 10 cents per kilawatt-hour, an electric moped costs on the order of 1 cent per mile to recharge. An electric motorcycle costs 1-2 cents per mile, and an electric car costs 2-3 cents per mile.
In comparison, if gasoline costs $4 per gallon, a 50 mpg car costs 8 cents per mile to refuel. A 31 mpg car costs 13 cents per mile.
In other words, if you drive 10,000 miles per year, an electric car will save you $1,000 per year on fuel costs alone as compared to a 32 mpg gasoline-powered car. On top of that, because there are no moving parts in an electric motor (as opposed to many in an internal combustion engine), there are many fewer things that can go wrong with an electric car (and no oil changes!), which means they'll probably save considerable money on maintenance costs as well. Electric vehicles have roughly 90% fewer parts than gasoline-powered vehicles.
Types of EVs
Electric vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, from electric bicycles to scooters to mopeds and motorcycles to cars. In addition to fully electric vehicles, there are also hybrid gas/electric cars which run on a combination of an electric motor and internal combustion engine. Soon there will be plug-in hybrids, which will be able to function as purely electric vehicles over short distances (approximately 40-60 miles), and switch to hybrid mode and utilize both electric and gasoline engines for longer distances.
Among electric mopeds, the ZAP Zapino is probably the cream of the crop. It's capable of travelling 30 mph, 30 miles per charge, has a 3000 Watt motor, and costs $3495. The Zapino also has an optional lithium ion battery upgrade which will increase its range to 65 miles per charge. Another neat feature of the Zapino is that it is offered in variety of colors (black, red, lime green, sky blue, and pink). Another well-established electric moped maker is Skeuter. Their mopeds (such as the Hornet) are capable of speeds up to 30 mph, a range of nearly 30 miles per charge, with a 1500 Watt motor and a cost of approximately $2000.
There are a few electric vehicles which fall between the moped and motorcycle categories, and may be classified as either, depending on each infidividual state's laws.The R Martin EVD. is capable of a 50 mph top speed and real-world 30+ mile per charge range, and costs just $3600. It has comparable specs to the Brammo motorcycle, but at less than a third of the price. The EVD is quite possibly the best electric vehicle available for the price. Another example is the vehicles from EVTAmerica, such as the R-20, which is capable of a 45 mph top speed and a range of 30+ miles for a price of $2500.
The most popular electric motorcycle available is probably the Vectrix Electric Maxi Scooter. The Vectrix is capable of a top speed of 62 mph and real-world range of approximately 35 miles per charge at a cost of roughly $9,000. Another competitor is the Brammo Enertia Electric Motorcycle which has a top speed of 50 mph and real-world range of approximately 35 miles at a cost of $12,000 for the standard model.
Neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) are generally limited to a top speed of 25 mph, and are only designed for driving around residential areas. Among the most popular NEVs are the Zenn Hatchback and ZAP Xebra. The Zenn is capable of a top speed of 25 mph and range of 35 miles per charge at a cost of roughly $12,000. The Xebra has a top speed of 35-40 mph and range 25 miles per charge at a cost of $11,700. Because it's a 3-wheeled vehicle, the Xebra is classified as a motorcycle and thus avoids the safety requirements which limit most NEVs to 25 mph.
Highway Speed Electric Cars
The well-known cream of the EV crop is the Tesla Roadster, which is capable of a top speed of 125 mph, a range of 220 miles per charge, and just for kicks, goes 0 to 60 mph in under 4 seconds. Unfortunately you need to plunk down $100,000 to buy one.
Some more affordable highway speed electric cars are approaching the production stage. The first will be the Green Vehicles Triac, available late 2008. At a cost of just $23,000 the Traic will have a top speed of 80 mph and range of up to 100 miles per charge.
By the end of 2008 the Aptera 2e is scheduled for release. At a price of $26,900, the 2e will have a top speed of 85 mph and range of 120 miles per charge.
In 2009 the CityZENN, ZAP Alias, and Miles XS500 are planned for release. The Alias will have a top speed of 156 mph and range of 100 miles at a cost of around $32,000. The CityZENN projects a top speed of 80 mph and impressive range of 250 miles per charge, at a price in the $25-30,000 range. The XS500 will have a top speed of 80 mph and a range of 120 miles at a cost of around $37,000.
So clearly there are many options for EVs, and the future of the technology looks bright. With a significant reduction in associated greenhouse gas emissions, a move toward electric vehicle technology will be an important step toward reducing our global warming impact.
Major Automaker EVs in 2010
Even the big automakers are now all pursuing electric vehicle technology, and most are shooting for 2010 release dates. The most well-known is GM developing the plug-in electric gas hybrid Chevy Volt. Toyota is similarly working on a plug-in Prius, and Volkswagen plans to produce a test fleet of plug-in hybrid electric cars by 2010.
External Links and Further Reading
- Cefo, Nevres (2009), Two Cents Per Mile: Will President Obama Make it Happen With The Stroke of a Pen? (1st ed.), Nevlin, LLC, ISBN 0615293913
- Leitman, Seth; Brant, Bob (October 2008), Build Your Own Electric Vehicle (2nd ed.), McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0071542732
- Electric Car - wikipedia.org
- How Electric Cars Work - howstuffworks.com
- Tesla Motors Silicon Valley Showroom
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