EV Basics II – An Electric Vehicle Primer

Important Acronyms:

BEV – Battery electric vehicle, a vehicle which uses only batteries and one or more motors to provide the force that makes it go.

EV – Electric vehicle, any vehicle that uses electric power to provide some or all of its propulsive force.

FCEV – Fuel cell electric vehicle, an electric vehicle which uses a hydrogen fuel cell as its source of electric power.

HEV – Hybrid electric vehicle, a car or truck that uses both an ICE and an electric motor.

ICE – Internal combustion engine, the powerplant of choice for the dirty, inefficient vehicles of the 20th Century.

PHEV – Plug-in hybrid vehicle, a hybrid vehicle with a battery pack that can be charged from a wall socket.

Have you just developed an interest in electric vehicles? Are you looking to learn some EV fundamentals? You’ve come to the right place! Read on, and you will start your education on the wonders of EVs. In this article, I will introduce readers to some of the various different types of EVs and explaing some of the advantages and issues associated with each type. Note that this article is only an introduction. I will go into more depth on different aspects of the subject matter in future installments of the “EV Basics” series.

There are several different power trains available which use electric motors. The simplest of these vehicles is the battery electric vehicle or BEV. This is a pure electric vehicle which uses only a battery pack and an electric motor to store energy and create the power necessary to make the car or truck move. BEVs have been around for a long time. In 1835, Thomas Davenport built a railway operated by a small electric motor. In the early years of the 20th Century, BEVs competed quite successfully with ICE-powered vehicles. It was not until Henry Ford started building the Model T that gasoline-powered cars that BEVs faded from public view.

In the 1960s, BEVs began to make a comeback. Interest in electric vehicles has grown steadily since then as concerns about pollution and dependence on foreign oil have permeated mainstream consciousness. Currently, BEVs are being designed and built in a wide variety of styles and layouts, from electric scooters, to low-speed electric cars such as those produced by Zenn Motor Company, to high-power freeway burners such as the two-seat Tesla Roadster or the family-friendly, five-passenger eBox by AC Propulsion.

BEVs must face a few hurdles if they are to replace ICE-only cars as our primary method of transportation. Historically, they have had limited driving range, significantly less than the range of a gasoline-powered car. Additionally, BEV have generally taken several hours to recharge the battery pack. In a world in which people have gotten used to instant gratification, this poses a real problem. The good news is that many people are working on these issues, and dramatic improvements are being made in both range and recharging time. Current EV designs have achieved ranges of more than 300 miles and charging times have been brought down to two hours or less in some models charged with high-powered “smart” chargers.

In the 1990s, Honda and Toyota introduced the American driving public to the hybrid electric vehicle or HEV. These vehicles use both an ICE and an electric motor. There are different types of HEVs which layout the engine and the motor in either a parallel or a series configuration. In a series configuration, the ICE acts only as an electrical generator. In a parallel configuration the ICE again acts as a generator, but it also drives the vehicle’s wheels just as the engine would do in an ICE-only vehicle.

HEVs provide significant benefits over ICE-only cars in two distinct areas. Firstly, the electric motor allows engineers to operate the ICE more efficiently because an HEV can rely heavily on the electric motor at points in which the ICE would be operating very inefficiently. Secondly, the battery pack in an HEV can be used to recapture the energy used while braking. To accomplish this, engineers create regenerative braking systems which used the electrical resistance of a generator to slow the car down long before they mechanical brakes come into play. The energy from the generator is then stored in the battery pack for future use. In a car without regenerative braking, all this energy is wasted by creating heat and wearing down the brake pads.

HEVs also have some problems. Unlike BEVs, they require some gasoline or other liquid fuel to operate. Also, they are more complicated then either a BEV or an ICE-only vehicle because they require both types of drivetrain components under one hood. However, they eliminate the range and recharging issues associated with BEVs, so HEVs can be viewed as a good transition step to the vehicles of the future.

Recently, much attention has been paid to plug-in hybrids or PHEVs. In essence, a PHEV is an HEV with a larger battery pack, a plug which allows the battery pack to be charged from a wall socket, and a control system which allows the vehicle to be operated in electric-only mode. The wall-charging feature allows a PHEV to get some of its power from the utility grid (or from a local power source such as a photovoltaic array or wind turbine) and some of its power from gasoline. Recently, several companies and individuals have been working on creating plug-in versions of the Toyota Prius. These conversions allow the Prius to run in all-electric mode until it reaches roughly 35mph. They give varying traveling ranges in all-electric mode, depending on which type of batteries are used and how many extra batteries are installed.

While these plug-in Priuses are a good start, PHEVs as a genre have even more potential. General Motors recently introduced the Chevrolet Volt E-Flex concept car, a PHEV which can travel up to 40 miles in electric only mode. It has a large electric motor and a one liter, three cylinder ICE. PHEVs of the future could follow this trend even further, maximizing the electric elements of the drivetrain while reducing the ICE to a tiny power plant which gets used only as a last resort.

In the last few years, fuel cell electric vehicles or FCEVs have grabbed many headlines. These are electric vehicles which use a hydrogen fuel cell to provide power, eliminating the need for a battery pack. Proponents point out that hydrogen is the most abundant of the chemical elements and that the only gas emitted from an FCEV is steam made from pure water. Detractors point out that nearly all hydrogen currently available is made from natural gas, a petroleum product. Hydrogen is also difficult to store in quantities sufficient to give FCEVs adequate range and it can present safety hazards when pressurized in tanks. Finally, FCEVs currently require complex, bulky support systems which take up excessive space and result in power delivery systems which are far less efficient than those present in BEVs.

Fuel cells have some potential to become part of the overall energy scenario in the future. However, many feel that FCEVs have been used primarily as a distraction and a stalling device. Companies and politicians keep telling us, “We’ll have FCEVs in the near future, but until then keep driving your Hummers!” These tactics keep people from demanding BEVs as soon as possible. As one saying puts it, “Practical, viable fuel cells are ten to twenty years away, and they always will be.”

One other type of electric vehicle is the human-assist hybrid. The most common example of this vehicle type is the electric bicycle. These are commonly-available, inexpensive, and they give people the health benefits associated with exercise while providing an additional boost when needed. Legally, they must be limited to 20 mph in electric assist mode, and the electric-only range of electric bikes now available is almost always less than twenty miles.

However, readers should ponder the fact that a small, aerodynamic vehicle can cruise at 65 mph on a flat road while using only five horsepower. Imagine the roads covered with small, efficient vehicles that use tiny electric motors and human power to achieve freeway speeds without putting a significant burden on the utility grid. While no major corporations are working on vehicles like this, small groups of dedicated individuals are working to make this type of vehicle available to the general public. These low-power vehicles could become the ultimate transportation solution for an energy-conscious society.

So there you have it! You now have enough information to join EV-related conversations at your next social gathering. You can talk about the different types of EVs, letting people know what is available now and what is coming in the near future. If you are still curious for more details on the benefits of electric vehicles and the advances which are being made in the field, please see the other articles in this “EV Basics” series.

Are Hybrid Vehicles a Safe and Practical Choice?

Hybrid cars are quickly becoming a popular choice in transportation based in part on their better gas mileage and lower impact on the environment. In fact, their popularity can be seen as I drove around looking at Capitola condos; chances are you’ll see a few driving around. Just as with any other new vehicle, though, there are potential safety concerns. The next few paragraphs will detail some of the safety concerns associated with this relatively new technology, and will hopefully help you decide if the practicality of hybrid cars is worth the investment.

Truth be told, the fact that hybrids run on both gasoline and electricity has no real bearing on their safety. Each individual hybrid car has been tested time and time again by various accident rating institutions such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, and Safe Car. Many of the hybrid cars are smaller in size, more maneuverable, and more able to avoid collisions. They also rank relatively high in safety ratings for vehicles in their weight class. Their safety, overall size, and fuel economy make them a great choice for visiting a few of the homes featured at a Capitola real estate broker.

It should be noted, however, that hybrid vehicles do present some unique potential hazards when they are involved in an accident or when they need to be repaired. However, by understanding them, and taking some commonsense precautions, the risks can be minimized. The first potential hazard to consider is that the high voltage hybrid battery and the vehicle’s power train components create a shock hazard. While there is no confirmed record of a person being electrocuted while servicing a hybrid, certain precautions must be taken.

Hybrid vehicles by their very nature contain high voltage electronics. Because of this potential safety concern, high voltage cables and parts are usually color coded to warn of the potential danger. Unless the battery is disconnected, these cables should be avoided. As for the batteries themselves, all hybrid vehicle batteries have a safety switch or a quick disconnect mechanism. It is these and other safety protocols that have been instigated by hybrid car companies to ensure the safety of their clients, rescue workers, and mechanics. This is not a job for the back yard mechanic who lives in a Capitola condominium.

Of course, those who drive, repair or rescue accident victims are not the only people that should be considered when it comes to hybrid safety. Bystanders and pedestrians are also an important consideration. For many of them, one of the perceived advantages of hybrid cars could cause a potential danger. Hybrids cars are extremely quiet on the road. This lack of sound makes their approach fairly unnoticeable, especially by those with vision impairment. Thankfully, there are some industry insiders are trying to create technology to slightly increase the sound of the hybrid engine, and is being developed by Lotus.

Hybrid cars are not only becoming more practical and affordable, but their safety is comparable to conventional vehicles of the same size class. Depending on your transportation needs, and financial status, a hybrid vehicle might be a great investment for you. Whether you buy a hybrid or a Capitola condo for frugal reasons, but have their places as investment in living a good life and being responsible.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles Are the Future of the Auto Industry

With the rise in the price of gasoline, more and more people are taking interest in electric vehicles as means of transport. Another major advantage of electrically operated vehicles is that these vehicles offer pollution free means of transportation. Therefore even if 70% of people start using an electrically powered vehicle, we will be free of global warming caused by emission of gases like CO and CO2. There will be almost no instances of cancer caused by pollution.

Electric vehicles are more energy efficient than the contemporary vehicles wherein the electric vehicles operates at approximately 47 percent of effectiveness, while a contemporary vehicle operates at about 19 percent only.

But the electric car which can truly replace a traditional car is still in the conceptual stage as the electric vehicle would need continuous electric power from the batteries. The major disadvantages of present day electric cars are the time period required for recharging the batteries and their limited range

Now, it has almost been a century since the electric car has been popularly discussed, but recent developments in the hybrid electric vehicles technology and the growing concerns for the environment has revived the drive for an hybrid electric vehicles and this has become a realization today

Due to this problem of recharging batteries, a new type of design conceptualized in the minds of researchers and they came out with a solution. The researchers have put forward a new electrical vehicle fitted with on board electric power storage system and means of generating power. The generated power would be stored in the storage system and would be used to drive the vehicle. This new type of vehicle is called hybrid electric vehicle or HEV.

The present day storage system in hybrid electric vehicle comprises of stack of lead acid batteries as these can be charged in parallel with the load. The generating system consists of electric generator powered by internal combustion engine.

Researchers are optimistic about the performance of the hybrid vehicles. They are sure that the hybrid electric vehicle or HEV will be far more fuel efficient than the traditional vehicle powered by internal combustion engine.

The Benefits of Finding Used Cars for Sale Online

Searching online is a popular and beneficial way of finding used cars for sale. This is an excellent arena for car dealers and private sellers to advertise their cars, and for buyers to view second hand cars without the hassle of travelling round garages and listening to sales pitches. Buyers can browse cars at leisure from their own homes and have time to think clearly about their decisions instead of being rushed into buying in a high pressure situation. Car dealers who advertise online can also reduce overheads, especially in the number of sales people employed.

Used car listing websites

There are many good car listing websites. One such website is Finding Motors which offer the option of viewing used cars for sale by make, body type, price range, fuel type and gearbox. Prospective buyers can also do localised searches to find a car that they can purchase near home. This website deals with U.K. used car sales.

When viewing used car sales online potential buyers can view photographs and also email the car dealer or owner with questions regarding the car. This is a much more efficient method than having to go and meet the person to discuss the vehicle when you are just at the perusing stage. Of course, if you do intend to buy the car from the classified advertising site, it is very important to meet the seller, view and test drive the car, and possibly bring along a car mechanic to check that everything is in proper working order.

Car dealership’s websites

Some car dealers offer incentives to customers who search their websites before purchasing from the actual dealership, such as giving online discount. This also enables prospective buyers to view a car dealership’s current stock online and determine if their showroom is worth a visit or not. Having customers who have already checked out their used cars for sale online cuts down on the dealer’s time and manpower as well. Online advertisements also give car dealers much greater coverage of the second hand cars they are trying to sell and widens their range of customers, potentially bringing them a lot more business.

Online research

Another significant advantage of the Internet when checking second hand cars for sale, is the ability to acquire a large amount of information in a short space of time. You can obtain a detailed report of the vehicle by submitting the vehicle identification number to Carfax. This will supply you with information on the car’s owners, any accidents and any major mechanical issues. This equips you with the knowledge needed to make an informed decision so you select the best car for your budget and needs. Obtaining the same information offline can take up to two weeks.

Save time and money

With reliable websites that advertise used cars for sale, there is no longer the need to solely rely on the time-consuming method of going round car dealers and pouring over newspaper advertisements. You can use online tools to narrow the search to your preferences of make, model, price, fuel type etc and conduct most of your research and correspondence with the seller online. Having gathered a large amount of information on the car you would like to buy and other comparable types of used cars can also give you bargaining power. The seller will be aware that you know a lot about the car as well as the value of similar used cars.

Therefore, the Internet is by far the best and most efficient way of finding used cars for sale.