Filed under: Electric Cars

A Basic Guide to Plug-in Hybrids

Plug-in hybrids are the same as traditional hybrid vehicles in that both have an electric motor and gasoline engine. However, plug-in hybrid vehicles have large rechargeable battery packs. Additionally, plug-in hybrid vehicles cover long distances without using gasoline. One can drive a plug-in hybrid car for up to 60 miles. Plug-in hybrid cars not only offer the advantages of owning an electric car, but also maintain a driving range that is the same as that of conventional cars. A plug-in hybrid driver may travel in a full electric mode and then a downsized gas engine when the electric charge is finished. In comparison to other conventional vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles have considerable benefits in terms of fuel efficiency. Depending on the model, a hybrid vehicle would achieve double of a conventional car’s fuel economy. Also, a plug-in vehicle would deliver two times a standard hybrid’s fuel economy.

Despite the mentioned benefits of plug-in hybrid cars, there are a number of criticisms that have been raised.

High Cost of Extra Batteries

Critics have asserted that owning a plug-in hybrid car is expensive because of the costs spent on the batteries. To counteract this claim, it has been noted that cheaper and more powerful batteries can be sold at prices that are a few thousand dollars less than those in today’s hybrids, once they are sold in high volumes by manufacturers. Recharging is mostly done at night.

Heavy Because Of Extra Batteries

Critics have also claimed that plug-in hybrid vehicles are heavy because of the additional batteries. In response to this criticism, supporters of plug-in hybrids have said that the cars have a low gas engine weight to offset the batteries’ extra weight. Fuel efficiency, especially at high speeds is mainly affected by aerodynamics.

Switching of Pollution to Power Plant

Critics have also noted that in plug-in hybrid vehicles’ power is produced from the electric grid. Consequently, pollution is simply switched from grids to power plants. Supporters of plug-in hybrid cars have responded to this criticism by stating that the emissions, particularly greenhouse gases are extremely lower compared to gasoline. This is the case even for an average car’s power grid. Vehicles that charge off-peak make use of power originating from the plants, and that do not go off at night. Most of the power used in most parts of the United States is obtained from cleaner sources including hydropower and natural gas. Capturing conventional emissions from power stations is much easier compared to doing so from millions of gas-powered cars.


Leave a Comment November 22, 2013

Electric Cars and Battery Bikes Featured by Panasonic’s Smart City

Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (SST), which has several partners, but is led by Panasonic, is marketing its initial units. SST, located in Fujisawa Japan, has promised to deliver a green lifestyle including plug-in scooters, bicycles and electric cars. Fujisawa, a Tokyo suburb, is well known for its ambitious targets. This includes an overall seventy percent reduction in carbon dioxide from the levels of 1990. There are plans for approximately thirty percent of the total energy generated for the town to be renewable.

The new town, which is constructed on the site of the former Panasonic television industry, is taking shape. There are around fifty units that are in different completion states. The first new town owners will be witnesses in March 2014. By the time the town is fully built in the year 2018, it will have about three thousand residents. According to a Fujisawa Partner Accenture’s Senior Manager, Noboku Asakai, the novel town is a reflection of Japan’s future. The senior manager further added that there is an increasing energy demand. Although a third of the national energy was generated from nuclear, most of them shut down following the Fukushima disaster. One of the trending topics is carbon dioxide reduction. Japan has not been left behind and is striving towards the novel energy economy.

Fujisawa’s first houses are almost ready. It is essential to note that housing in Japan is costly. It costs around five hundred thousand dollars or more without considering any eco-features. The leader of SST project did not give the exact price of the units. It was however, acknowledged that the houses will be slightly expensive compared to conventional housing. The overall housing cost will be cheaper, owed to the low operating expenses. By American standards, the new town’s houses are small, and large by Japanese standards.

Although, there has been a declining rate of population growth in Japan, the country has been sluggish in adopting electric vehicles. This implies that the country is extremely far from achieving its goal of reducing emission as per the Kyoto agreement. Once the construction of the new town is completed, residents will be urged to drive or use electric cars. Charging will not only be ubiquitous, but electric car-based sharing and rental programs will be introduced. There are also plans to incorporate solar-powered stations to charge swappable bicycles and scooters. Asakai stated that Fujisawa residents who will not be driving will be more active, while the drivers will have to be more eco-friendly.



Leave a Comment November 22, 2013

An Overview of the Chevy Volt

For its initial thirty five or so miles after fully charging, the Chevy Volt operates solely as an electric vehicle. During those miles, the car does not burn any gasoline. It draws energy from a lithium ion battery (400-pound) pack that contains 16KW energy hours. Only about fifty percent of that energy is consumed. This is a means of making sure that the batteries attain the warranted service of 100,000 miles. Since a range of thirty five miles is impractical, the Chevy Volt has an engine powered by one and a quarter liter of gas. However, the engine does not drive or operate the wheels. The power supplied is only used in operating the generator to sustain a battery charge adequate enough for the car to have another extra three hundred miles in range.

Unlike Nissan Leaf and the Toyota Prius, Chevy Volt does not have an iconic outward appearance. To enthusiasts, Chevy Volt is snazzy, while to other consumers, it is competent. There is no extraordinary feature about the car’s physical appearance. It has stylized side mirrors, black door panel insets, and a flat-top rear spoiler. Though a Chevy Volt has a pretty good look, people are less likely to turn their heads with disgust or delight when they spot it from a distance. Another difference is with respect to the drive’s athleticism. The car has an electric motor that is double the size of Prius’ electric motor. Hence, the power that Volt supplies to the wheels is instantaneous and stronger than that of its Prius counterpart.

The impressive acceleration or speed of Chevy Volt is another feature that distinguishes it from other hybrid cars. It is unfortunate that the engineers did not achieve huge success in providing a braking experience that is seamless. The initial action of the brake pedal that leads to regenerative breaking may feel loose for several drivers. A slightly uneasy hesitation may be felt when the brake is pushed further, depending on the surface of the road. After mastering how the Volt operates, the sensation is likely to disappear for many drivers.

A similar sophistication level that makes handling and accelerating a Volt so effective and fun is applicable to interior part. The seats are not only firm, but they are also comfortable. The materials have a high quality feel with few exceptions. The Chevy Volt continues to evolve, despite the fact that virtually all top engineers and executives from the car’s earliest days have shifted to other projects.


Leave a Comment November 15, 2013

Factors that Determine the Total Cost of Electric Car Ownership

There are a number of factors to consider when calculating the total cost of owning an electric car. Here are some of the factors to take into consideration.

The Car’s Actual Price

Pinpointing a car’s MSRP is easy enough, but many calculations make use of the minimal base price instead of what is paid by most consumers prior to driving off the lot. Trim levels and options can add thousands of dollars. It is also essential to acknowledge the fact that there are deals and incentives, irrespective of the type or model of car. Such deals and incentives can lead to a several thousand dollars difference. For accuracy, it is advisable to use numbers that come from the dealers directly for the vehicle that your intend to purchase.


Electric cars have been in the market for a short time. Hence, it is quite difficult to know the appearance or even the value of a strong second-hand electric vehicle. Conventional hybrid cars have operated well in times of rising gasoline prices. The harsh reality is that the range of electric vehicles depreciates over time, particularly for cars powered by the battery and that do not have a thermal management system that is active.

Fuel Price

It is commonly assumed that 0.12 dollars are needed for one kw-hour of electricity and approximately four dollars a kw-hour for a gas gallon. There is some doubt on whether the low costs of fuel would increase the competitive edge of electric cars over time. When the prices of gas spike, the edge may widen further. The actual kw-hour price differs widely across the United States, and is likely to swing further on the basis of season, utility rate plans, home solar and time-of-use programs. It is a tough challenge to forecast on actual electric vehicles.

Miles Covered

On the basis of anecdotal data, it is clear that the miles clocked by electric vehicle owners annually are fewer compared to internal combustion vehicles. Therefore, it is problematic to use the countrywide mean of twelve thousand or so miles in a minimum cost per mile.

Costs of Maintenance

Electric vehicles are beneficial in that they do not require changes in oil and other exhaust systems’ maintenance costs. According to research studies, this is about a thirty-five percent cost decrease over time. Other calculations have found the equivalent of three or four percent maintenance costs per mile for electric vehicles. This is in comparison to combustion engine vehicles that have six percent maintenance cost per mile. Generally, all the factors mentioned above should be considered to find the total cost of owning an electric vehicle



Leave a Comment November 15, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Owning an Electric Vehicle

Just like virtually anything in this life, electric cars are linked to a number of upsides and downsides. Here we will cover some of the cons and pros of vehicles that operate on electricity instead of petroleum.


Among the key pros of electric cars is that operating them is cheaper. Electricity is cheap and ubiquitous in most parts of the globe. Additionally, there is a big cost advantage that electricity has over gasoline. The cost per mile needed to fuel an electric car is a third to a quarter the gasoline cost, given the significant efficiency of electric vehicles in comparison to internal combustion models. Maintaining an electric car is also cheaper, since such cars do not have exhaust systems and therefore do not need oil changes.

Another pro of owning an electric vehicle is that it is not only quiet, but also quick. It will only take a single ride in a car powered by a battery to comprehend the improved quality of ride offered by an electric vehicle compared to a car with a combustion engine powered by petroleum. An electric vehicle is not only quiet, but is also smooth. Additionally, such vehicles offer a high torque or balance. Other additional pros include the fact that electric cars can be recharged at home and are not associated with tailpipe emissions.


Among the key cons of electric vehicles is their higher cost compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. The price range for most electric vehicles is 30,000 to 40,000 dollars. This is in comparison to midsized gasoline-powered cars such as Ford Focus and Honda Fit, which can be bought for at most 20,000 dollars. Another con of electric vehicles is lack of diversity. This means that there is a limited consumer choice. Most of the plug-in electric cars in the market are sub-compact or compact with a midsize range. The most popular electric vehicle has a polarizing style, which means that customers would either love or hate it.

The fact that it takes a long time to refuel electric vehicles is also a downside. An hour of charging an electric car from a 240-volt electricity source would add about 20 to 25 miles of range. This is why drivers planning to take several road trips are often advised to plug in before retiring to bed. Another con is the limited range of electric vehicles. The most affordable electric cars would have a range of 80 to 100 miles. Drivers are thus advised to properly plan unless they are driving electric cars with a back-up range-extending engine.



Leave a Comment November 8, 2013

China’s Electric Vehicle Plans to Face Challenging Realities

China boldly made an announcement four years ago concerning its plan to produce five hundred thousand new energy cars on an annual basis. It further added that the sales were to account for 5 percent of the total sales of passenger cars. China’s new energy cars include hydrogen-fuel-cell cars and plug-in cars. The manufacture of lithium-based electric car batteries turned out to be tougher than the manufacture of cell phone batteries. The Chinese government is aware that its original goals could not be achieved.

According to the most current policy, which was issued in September, ten thousand new energy cars are to be sold in each of the megacities by the year 2015. The sales goal was five thousand cars for the smaller cities. Regardless of the downshifts of the sale targets for electric vehicles, the central government of China still holds the dream of being the powerhouse for new energy vehicles. The automotive industry division director, Qian Minghua, said that it was essential to let the market play its role under the guidance of the central government. Since there were still a lot of pending issues, Minghua admitted that the journey would be a long, winding road.

Beijing also plans to subsidize electric cars. Since Chinese customers rarely buy plug-in electric cars, their prices are quite high and their driving range is short. According to the latest subsidy policy for electric cars, fleets are subsidized more heavily and for longer time periods compared to passenger vehicles.

Another observation worth noting is that of local governments taking a practical move to learn more on the way consumers use electric cars. The Shanghai International Auto City is situated on the outskirts of Shanghai and a district that hosts a large Volkswagen plant, as well as numerous car supplier centers. It is also the central point of the electric vehicle zone or demonstration area that seeks the best intercity integration, as well as new energy cars.

At the electric vehicle zone, there is an electric rental plan, electric car sharing, as well as an electric car service center capable of importing electric vehicles without going through several custom procedures. To date, about eighty thousand people have attempted using electric vehicles. This is according to the new energy department’s project manager, Lucas Cao. The electric vehicle zone also plays the role of surveying those who take driving tests and give them advice according to their vehicle likes, dislikes and intents. From the above information, it is clear that China is taking practical strides toward becoming an electric vehicle powerhouse.


Leave a Comment November 8, 2013

Belleville Man Builds an Electric Car

Chris Roberts, a Belleville man, made lemonade out of a lemon. He took a non-operational 1985 Renault Alliance DL convertible, and changed it to a fully operational electric car. Robert is a 38-year old infrastructure specialist who lives in Ameren, Illinois. His normal duties include supporting the operations personnel in the implementation of advanced metering infrastructure for the utility. He works at the Collinsville office, and commutes in his new electric car. There are a number of reasons why he chose to use the ’85 Renault car.

One of the key reasons why Roberts chose the ’85 Renault car is its convenience. He said that he had owned the car until 2006 following the breaking of the second of its riming belts. He added that his family had a Renault history. This means that he knew the car inside and out since he had used it for a long time. He further added that he took almost three years to work on the conversion to an electric car. This entailed putting the car parts together in the garage. He purchased all the components, including batteries, and put them together. The technical details of this process have been presented at a website,

Roberts claims that the car was manufactured in Kenosha and was a joint venture with American Motors Company, although it carries a French nameplate. The car had numerous problems. After putting a new timing belt in the car in Saint Louis, the car could only make it to Belleville where a new timing belt snapped. As it later turned out, the broken timing belt interfered with a large part of the engine. Breaking of the belt is one of the most common problems faced by car mechanics. This is what promoted Roberts to junk the engine and go electric.

When Robert was younger, his father, an electrician by profession had helped him in working on cars. Roberts said that his dad assembled a circuit that runs all the dashboard’s original gauges. There is an electric plug inside the gas cap flap. The plug will perfectly fit a regular 220-volt dryer outlet. A 100-foot extension cord would also be needed.

Roberts has driven the electric car for almost 500 miles. Connections, settings, and adjustments are still being made. Roberts is still trying to figure out the high end of the electric car’s range on a single electric charge. He approximates the range to be between forty to fifty miles. A recharge would take three to four hours and two passengers are held by the car.


Leave a Comment November 1, 2013

Cooling Hybrid and Electric Cars

When the mystery of boiling of fluids in the form of micro-channels was unveiled by scientists, formulas and models that can be used to cool high-power electronic gadgets was cracked. The high-power electronics in question include hybrid and electric cars, computers, aircraft, and several other devices. According to Suresh Garimella of Purdue University, Mechanical Engineering department, if a liquid is set in cooling system, it is possible to analyze the amount of fluid removed rather than heating the liquid to a temperature that is less than the boiling point.

Liquids that are boiled in tiny channels would behave differently from those boiled in large cooling systems. Spherical bubbles are not formed when liquid is boiled in the tiniest channels. Instead, a long continuous oblong slug or liquid annulus is created in liquid form. The influence of the liquid’s boiling behavior is determined by each channel’s cross sectional area. The innovative cooling system that makes use of the smallest channels can also be employed in electric and hybrid cars. The cooling system can help in preventing such devices from overheating. Some of the devices susceptible to overheating include high-power and bipolar transistors that are often fitted in green and clean electric and hybrid cars. Chips are required when accelerating a car from zero to 60 mph in ten or less seconds. These chips play a vital role in driving of electric motors, as well as switching large power amounts to electric coils from the battery pack. Electric motors function as generators when braking the car and this leads to production of power for recharging battery packs. It has been proven that high-power gadgets produce an amount of heat that is four times that produced by normal computer chips.

Researchers have discovered that a dielectric liquid can be used in electric and hybrid cars. This is a fluid that does not conduct electricity and can be directly used in circuits where they do not cause electric shots. Micro-channels were also directly engraved on silicon chips’ tops. Since both the chip and channels are made of silicon, expansion from heating does not cause a significant difference. With the cooling channels between each chip, it is extremely easy for the chips to be arranged on top of each other. The benefits of high-speed camera have also been utilized by researchers to capture the circulating fluid’s behavior. Researchers aimed at testing a broad range of channel sizes. Generally, the system is effective for cooling electric controls in hybrid and electric vehicles.


Leave a Comment November 1, 2013

$2,000- $4,500 Price Cut for 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

There has been an ongoing price competition between plug-in vehicle makers. The war continued last week when Toyota made an announcement of its intention to reduce the prices of its 2014 Prius Plug-in car. The same case is applicable to the 2013 plug-in models. There are no new features or technological aspects in the Prius plug-in version of the United States market. The affordability of the car model is determined by the model that a consumer chooses. Eventually, it emerges that there is a general reduction on the 2013 prices by 2, 010 dollars for a similar car. Consumers who order the 2014 Prius plug-in in advance will managed to save about 4, 620 dollars in comparison to the 2013 models.

Following the price reduction, the pre-incentive costs for the Prius Plug-in base model hybrid prior to destination is 29,990 dollars. The price for the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Advanced is 34,905 prior to destination. The same rebates and tax credits should be expected since none of the cars has been altered from the 2014 model year. Also, perks such as the solo driver access of Californian HOV-lane are to remain. A major question that arises is whether the price cuts of Toyota are sufficiently big to give them a competitive advantage in the market. Lately, the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid vehicle sales have been dropping, partly because of competitive pricing of 2014 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in cars. Although each car’s base model examples are more costly compared to 2014 Prius plug-in hybrid price cut, they give an electric range of 38 and 21 miles respectively. Therefore, they have surpassed the 11 miles of electric vehicle range offered by the Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

California Prius Plug-in owners can apply for the state-offered green HOV sticker program, which would tremendously lower commuting times for those willing to purchase Prius plug-in. This is mainly because of the low emissions and plug-in status of the car. The Prius Plug-in is the ultimate choice for a person in need of HOV lane access to take less commuting time in the morning bit for some reason, do not want to plug in daily. This is because the car has a 1-8 liter gasoline engine that has a much higher efficiency compared to the Volt and C-Max Energi. However, for real fans of electric vehicles, the price cut by Toyota will probably trigger the need to momentarily examine rival vehicles with higher plug-in capabilities.



Leave a Comment October 24, 2013

Fusion Energi Plug-in Car Defended by its Owners

According to Fusion Energi owners, this plug in car is wonderful and has proved to have numerous advantages. They claim that the hybrid Fusion plug-in vehicle can help in saving the planet. The car’s design is also great, and is built in accordance to global standards. It is not only technologically marvelous, but its pricing is also fair. Owners further add that they drive for approximately two hundred miles without using any gas.

This defense comes amidst critical reviews from Brad Berman of According to Berman, the appeal of Fusion Energi is restricted by the diminished trunk size. The car’s trunk size was reduced to create room for its battery pack. However, Fusion Energi owners claim that the trunk size is not a deal killer. Most of the people who own this car have other vehicles that have ample capacity for handling cargo. Also, most of them may prefer to travel alone in order to maximize the rear seat that that can be folded down. Basically, the owners of Fusion Energi think that the trunk’s small size is an issue that can be managed. The owners love the car to an extent that they consider it the market best in terms of battery power.

Although the Chevy Volt may have a wider range of all-electric cars compared to Fusion Energi, the latter has more benefits. Fusion Energi is an electric-only car that is workable and almost luxurious. It saves gas, energy, and money. Judging from most reviews, it is clear that gas saving is a determining aspect in the buying decision. Seventy-five percent of reviewers have also said to have bought the car because of its technology and styling. It is interesting that all the respondents are men who are techno-geeks. Many view global warming as a reality and has been largely caused by human activities. Hence, they hold the opinion that investing in hybrid and electric vehicles such as Fusion Energi is the surest way to attaining a clean environment and at least contributing to lessening global warming.

It is essential to acknowledge the fact that the car has impressive technology. With the car, you can drive through dashboard-scored efficiently on increasing speed, cruising and braking. The car has lane monitoring and collision systems that are extremely helpful and effective. The car comes with an application that can automatically detect the car’s charge status, as well as its location. It is clear that the Fusion Energi plug-in car is worth giving a test drive.


Leave a Comment October 17, 2013

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