Filed under: Electric Cars

The Mystery of Electric Car Powering

imagesAn electric car battery is a product that can play a major role in creating novel industries. The battery is designed in such a way that it can power an electric car for 200 to 300 miles on a single charge. A battery that has the potential to compete and even completely replace a car’s combustion engine does not exist yet. However, if a battery of such caliber could be devised, it might turn to multibillion dollar market in the first few years of its existence. This is according to LeVine, Quartz’s Washington correspondent. Such a battery could result in a great improvement in energy security. Such a battery could also lower the effect on climate change since less exhaust will be released into the environment. The U.S. and several other nations are gearing their efforts towards developing such an electric car battery.

The interest in the electric car battery prompted LeVine to go to one of the Energy Department’s laboratories, the Argonne National Laboratory. He was allowed to fully access the Battery Department for about two years, a period which he emerged with an interesting book titled, “The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World.” The battery now depends on the national labs of the government for essential scientific research following the winnowing or closure of several America’s corporate laboratories. Therefore, it was an Argonne scientist who was the mastermind behind the invention of battery chemistry that led to a great improvement of electric cars’ performance. The chemistry in question is Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt, NMC. A specific NMC version is used for the Chevrolet Volt, as well as Nissan Leafs’ next generation. A major drawback that has been that only 40 miles are covered by the Volt on pure battery energy alone prior to switching to the gasoline fueled engine.

LeVine’s book revolves around the effort that it will take to invent a new battery capable of achieving five times the current mileage. Stability has always been a major issue with electric car batteries. Therefore, this new battery researched by LeVine should maintain its stability and be affordable. The effort was labeled NMC 2.0 by Argonne’s scientists. As much as these scientists have made forward strides numerous times, they always discover problems. An example of such a problem is referred to as voltage fade, which is a serious instability that could make an electric car battery unusable.

Just as he pushed for solar innovation, President Obama pushed for battery innovation. This led to the invention of Envia and Solyndra. It is thus clear that financing efforts for battery invention is industrial policy form.


Leave a Comment February 20, 2015

NHTSA Delays Pedestrian-Alert Noises for Hybrid and Electric Cars

Quiet_Car_--Toyota-Google_ImagesOne of the reasons why electric and hybrid cars are preferred by most people is their calm operation. Regulators have however, noted that this may pose a risk to pedestrians. Following this, numerous attempts have been made to incorporate noise-making devices into new electric and hybrid vehicles. The role of such devices is alerting unaware or blind pedestrians of approaching cars. In 2011, there was the signing of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act into law for the sole purpose of attaining the mentioned objective. Implementation of the law has apparently stopped. The final ruling date for the proposed standards has been postponed until the end of this year by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). This implies that the proposed rule will be implemented in the year 2018.

The delay in question has further prolonged a debate that has been ongoing since the launch of the first hybrid cars more than ten years ago. Some groups, including the administration have raised numerous concerns following the rise of electric and hybrid cars. The administration has raised fears that pedestrians who are visually impaired or blind may be unaware of approaching cars in the absence of normal engine noises. In 2008, a conference was convened by NHTSA following the issue’s publicity. Two successive research studies were also conducted.

The first study was conducted in 2009 and it led to the finding that in comparison to conventional gasoline-fueled cars, electric and hybrid cars were twice as likely to cause pedestrian collision. The second study, conducted in 2011, led to the finding that there was a 35% higher probability of pedestrian collision in hybrid cars compared to conventional gasoline-fueled vehicles. In the first study, only data from twelve states was used. Additionally, the study included injuries from the year 2000, when hybrid cars were few on the roads. This was also ten years prior to the launch of the current electric cars’ generation. Nonetheless, there was the signing of Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act into law, with NHTSA gearing its efforts towards implementing it.

The rules proposed by the agency have been criticized by carmakers on the grounds of the sounds’ loudness. They have proposed for such devices to be put on cars that are quietest and not only on hybrid and electric cars. Some electric and hybrid drivers have also been reported to oppose the devices in question. This is because they like their cars to operate silently. A standard feature that has been provided by several electric car manufacturers is the alert noise.


Leave a Comment February 13, 2015

Going Green City-Wide in Fort Collins, Colorado

44238099001_4028682761001_video-still-for-video-4028843547001The municipalities of Northern Colorado could financially benefit from electric and hybrid car technology. This could be the case if such municipalities are patient enough to reap the savings the technology brings. Although it is initially costly to purchase green vehicles, cities such as Fort Collins have claimed that this cost is eventually worth the payoff. Hybrid car’s on average cost between $3,000 and $4,000 more compared to a gasoline-fueled counterpart. An electric car may cost between $5,000 and $7,000 more. These figures were given by the Fort Collins Operation Services’ Assistant Director, Tracy Ochsner.

Electric and hybrid cars make just more than 5% of the street-legal fleet in Fort Collins. Based on lifetime costs of the vehicle, a Ford Fusion bought in 2012 by Fort Collins will be cheaper than its gasoline fueled counterpart bought by the city in the same year by $11, 460. A Nissan Leaf bought in 2013 by the same city will result to projected savings of $21,625 over the gasoline fueled Ford Fusion. Because of the mentioned savings, Ochsner noted that when the city plans to replace a city vehicle it considers an electric, hybrid or other fuel cars. Fort Collins government started buying hybrid cars in 2000 and currently, there are 37 hybrid cars. The city started buying electric vehicles in 2013 and currently owns seven.

Ochsner said that the city is always in search of vehicles that are fuel-efficient and that operate efficiently. In this way, money will not only be saved on fuel, but the city will depend less on foreign fuel. Emissions are completely eliminated or greatly reduced. The major goal of the city is minimizing greenhouse gases. Fuel-efficient cars can achieve this goal of minimizing greenhouse gases. There are seven fleet-specific charging spots in Fort Collins city. Three more charging stations will be put up this year. Another notable fact about the city is that all its cars are run to approximately 90,000 miles prior to putting them up for sale in an auction. A gasoline fueled car lasts 7 to 8 years in the city while a hybrid car lasts ten to twelve years. Electric cars last ten to fifteen years, partly because of battery limitations associated with an electric car’s mileage. Ochsner added that the city plans on buying more hybrid cars as there are many vehicles that need replacements. As battery ranges increase the distances covered in travel, additional pure-electric cars will be bought. Many of the hybrid and electric cars in question are for in-town and daily tasks.




Leave a Comment February 13, 2015

A Review of BMW’s 2016 328e Plug-in Hybrid

BMW_i8_IAA_2013_01BMW has released a plug-in 3-series dubbed the 328e. This is following the release of such cars by other automakers such as Audi and Mercedes Benz. A major question arising following the production of such a plug-in hybrid by BMW is concerning the extent of the electric vehicle range that people can expect from the car. Audi has set its baseline at 30 miles on pure electric energy. BMW on the other hand has set a maximum of 22 miles on pure electric energy for its plug-in hybrid vehicle. For the Mercedes C350 plug-in hybrid car, they have cited a range of 20 miles on pure electricity.

Considering the fact that the new plug-in car by BMW will have a short range, there are some advantages that will be enjoyed. One of the key advantages is that its lithium-ion cells are fewer than those of Audi, making the BMW’s plug-in battery smaller than the Audi’s. This implies that it will be much cheaper than Audi. The whole component set of the hybrid car would also have less weight. According to the development engineer of BMW, this new model will have numerous advantages, including minimal emissions. This means that it is an environmentally friendly plug-in vehicle.

The new model by BMW has a 2-liter gasoline engine that is turbocharged. The car has an automatic transmission through which the rear axle receives output. There is an eDrive’s trick within this transmission in that BMW has replaced the conventional torque converter with a torque transformer. This transformer is commonly referred to as the electric motor. The electric motor in question performs its functions on the input shaft and for this reason, there is no energy that goes to waste. When the car decelerates, the electric motor serves as the generator. The car has a battery pack situated at the back that plays the role of providing the juice needed for car operation. A disadvantage is the battery pack’s housing is so big that it causes the trunk floor to be pushed up by an inch or more.

Two-hundred and forty-five horsepower is achieved by incorporating the two plug-in hybrid’s power plants. A short test drive revealed that the new plug-in hybrid by BMW begins in the electric mode. In this way, the car is ready to move when the start button is pushed. A notable feature is that the car provides a wide range of driving modes such as Max eDrive and EcoPro. The car performs well in the Max eDrive, which is a pure-electric mode.



Leave a Comment February 6, 2015

Hybrid Sales Slow but Steady Following Lowered Gas Prices

gasGas prices have greatly dropped over the last few months and can go as low as $1.69 a gallon. Even with the decreased price, the cost of hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius has remained constant. According to Toyota owner, Rick Collins, shoppers have a tendency to have a short memory when shopping for cars. Most opt to purchase trucks and SUVs when the prices of gas go down. Meanwhile, the hybrid cars are left sitting on the lots. It is however, worth noting that the hybrid cars in question do not sit on the lots for a very long. Shoppers still prefer hybrid vehicles mainly because of their aggressive deals and pricing from car manufacturers. Contrary to this, Chevrolet dealer Mr. Knoepfler, claims that shoppers are not really attracted by the hybrid car’s pricing.

Knoepfler adds that a majority of the customers are aware of the fact that gas prices will eventually go up. They clearly know that they will be in possession of the vehicle for a long time during which gas prices will not remain constant. Knoepfler added that the automaker does not sell conventional hybrid vehicles. Instead, it sells electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt. Despite the gas prices, people are switching from hybrid to electric cars. Car dealers have noted that considering the fact that the economy is gradually improving, consumers will not have a problem driving cars, whether hybrid or non-hybrid cars.

Those who will choose hybrid cars will have numerous reasons to celebrate. There are several benefits of owning or driving a hybrid car. One of the major reasons is with respect to minimizing environmental pollution. Emission of fuel fumes rich in greenhouse gases is a major disadvantage of conventional gasoline cars. These emissions are extremely low when driving electric or hybrid cars. Another reason why it would be beneficial to choose hybrid cars is in terms of mileage and range. Hybrid cars have a better range and can cover longer mileage compared to traditional gasoline-fuelled cars.

Buying a hybrid car during this period when the gas prices are low is even better since owners can fill up their tanks for as low as $20 to drive as far as 600 miles. This is according to Rick Collins of Toyota. He emphasized the fact that shoppers need to take advantage of the low prices of gas and purchase hybrid and electric cars. Toyota is a global automaker that has manufactured several hybrid cars, as well as plug-in hybrids and electric cars.


Leave a Comment February 6, 2015

Ballot Proposal Triggers New Fees for Hybrid and Electric Cars

Ford_Focus_Electric_at_the_2012_Stockholm_Car_FestivalMichigan has presented a proposal that would affect hybrid and electric car owners. If voters approve the proposal in May, a separate law that would create an annual surcharge of $75 on electric cars and a surcharge of $25 for a majority of hybrid cars will be implemented. The role of the proposed new fees is distributing road maintenance costs to car owners who do not pay or pay little taxes on state gas. These taxes are the primary source of funding for infrastructure in Michigan. The senate majority leader says that hybrid and electric car owners are using state roads while not using any fuel. Therefore, the proposed charges are more like user fees.

The proposal has faced some criticisms with some critics pointing out that high registration fees are already being paid by hybrid and electric car owners. These fees are based on the cost of purchasing the vehicle and act as the source of road revenue for the state. Last year, the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor did some analysis and found out that over its lifetime, an electric car can generates more state revenue. However, some of the revenue in question is generated from the sales tax for the state, mostly directed toward cities and schools.

The cost of Ford’s 2012 Focus Electric car is nearly twice that of its gasoline-powered counterpart. This results in almost an extra $700 in tax on sales at the time of purchase. Up to $1,011 in state taxes could be saved by an electric car owner over a range of 165,000 miles within 11 years. The extra car registration fees that would be paid by such a driver within this period are about $842. According to Charles Griffith, a member of the Ecology Center, most of the electric car owners are fine with paying road taxes.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has reported that about five states: Nebraska, Colorado, Washington, Virginia, and North Carolina have agreed to the adoption of electric vehicle surcharges. Other states were still deliberating on the idea. Several states, as well as the central government are providing incentives that would encourage people to buy electric cars. These cars are inclusive of those manufactured by Detroit carmakers or that feature batteries made in Michigan.

The proposal in question was initially debated in June, 2013 in the House Transportation Committee and was greatly opposed by the auto industry. The proposal then re-emerged late last year with the inclusion of registration fees.


Leave a Comment January 30, 2015

Cork Reports a Major Increase in Sales of Electric Cars

Ford_Focus_Electric_with_badging_WAS_2011_924It has been projected that Cork will see a major increase in electric car sales. The number is expected to be five times more than what was reported the previous year. Kearys car dealership has noted that up to 20 Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf electric cars will be sold in January, 2015. This will be more than what was sold for the entire year of 2014. In October last year, there was the launch of Drive4Zero campaign, which has pushed for an increased interest and need to buy electric vehicles. The campaign introduced a number of initiatives like grants to aid in charging electric cars at work or home. Another key initiative is the introduction of free parking joints at various locations. Electric cars have a high probability of becoming more attractive in the future thanks to lower running costs in comparison to diesel or petrol vehicles.

Drive4Zero campaign incorporates several Cork companies, car dealerships, research organizations and other stakeholders. The aim of the campaign is to promote the adoption and popularity of electric vehicles in Cork. It also aims at making Cork a base for electric vehicle adoption. Keary’s Motors’ principal dealer, Brendan Keary has noted that since the campaign began, there has been a tremendous increase in inquiries about and sales of electric cars. He further added that January alone might report a sale of 20 Renault Zoes and Nissan Leaf electric cars. The campaign has really increased the popularity of electric cars and sparked the interest of consumers. Keary added that electric car shoppers are diverse and happy with the purchases made. There is a continual improvement in the batteries, which has resulted in a gradual improvement in range.

Other project partners in addition to Nissan and Renault include Mitsubishi and BMW. As mentioned above, there are grants offered to allow consumers to install charging points in their homes or work places. The scheme also provides consumers free parking spaces. Most of the buyers of electric cars are happy with their decisions. They recommend anyone considering purchasing a car to go for an electric vehicle. There are numerous benefits associated with electric cars. One of the major advantages is in respect to charging. Electric cars charge faster compared to non-electric cars. An eighty percent charge can be attained within 20 minutes. Generally, running an electric car is not that costly. The tax on the road is less than 100 dollars per annum. It is therefore evident that electric vehicle sales are likely to increase considering the numerous benefits enjoyed.



Leave a Comment January 30, 2015

The New Plug-in Hybrid Volt Unveiled by GM

'14_Chevrolet_Volt_(MIAS_'14)A new version of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid was unveiled by GM amidst the increase in gas prices and shrinking of the number of people interested in fuel-sipping vehicles. For most of this past year, cheap gas prices have been a big break for not only GM, but its competitors also. Detroit saw major profits increase with pickups and sport utility car sales. Although GM and other big companies are relying of a new technology that will not only satisfy regulators, but also prepare for future sales, consumers have shown a great interest in SUVs.

An independent car consultant in Connecticut, Maryann Keller, has said that with some places selling gasoline below 2 dollar per gallon, consumers may still not be interested. She claims that the Volt is a costly vehicle that fails to deliver a great value for its consumers. However, the Volt model that debuted on Monday at the Auto Show in Detroit can cover up to 50 miles when charged once. This is in comparison with the current version that can only cover 38 miles prior to recharging the battery with the gasoline engine. The car covers an average of 41 mpg if the battery is run down and the driver chooses to use a tank full of gas.

Another model that was introduced by GM at the Detroit Auto Show is the new Chevrolet Bolt EV version, whose price tag is estimated at $30,000 dollars. The car is fully electric and has a range exceeding 200 miles. The model will be put on sale by the year 2017, according to GM. With respect to the profit outlook, the production cost of Volt was cut by about $10,000. In this way, the vehicle would be more profitable. Plug-in hybrid cars such as Volt can go for long distances using electricity owed to the fact that their battery is larger in size compared to that of conventional hybrids. To use less gas and get more electric drive, drivers recharge their cars by plugging them in.

The long-term plans of GM revolve around meeting the future rules and regulations. Short-term plans will entail trying to meet the needs of consumers. The automaker also has plans of making key developments with the Volt, as well as other models. Chevy as a brand has been better known for Camaros and Corvettes that are tire-screeching rather than efficient technology. The Volt has given the Chevy brand a huge boost.


Leave a Comment January 23, 2015

Hybrid Car Sales Higher than Those of All-Electric Cars

volt-concept-620The sales of all-electric cars have been low because of the car’s short range on charge. GM plans to change this by launching a new Chevrolet Bolt that will have a range of 200 miles on one charge. The automaker plans to launch this new model in approximately two years time. In addition to giving details concerning the range, GM reported the car’s price to be estimated to be in the low $30,000. This price will be quite attractive to customers who would not normally consider purchasing an all-electric car for the apprehension of running out of power. When the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid was introduced in 2007 as a concept car, it was deemed everyone’s electric car. The car had the capacity to cover 38 miles using only battery power. Drivers who had worries of getting stranded could use the gas generator. However, the car’s sales were hampered by is price tag of $40,000.

The Chevrolet Bolt has been said to be mini SUV and its range will be three times that of Chevrolet Volt. Hybrid cars of Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Kia and Chevrolet have continued to report high sales volume. Customers prefer them because they are convenient. The sales of all-electric cars are not as high as those of hybrid cars. Among all the hybrid cars, Toyota modes are leading in sales followed closely by Ford models. The popularity of all-electric cars may be high in big cities since there are many people there that travel for short distances frequently. Additionally, there are more battery charging locations available in the cities.

According to Don Elwell, the director of public relations at Alan Jay Automotive Network Marketing, the demand for all-electric cars has further lowered following the decrease in gas prices. According to a Ford’s salesman, only two all-electric cars have been sold by the dealership. The salesman further noted that hybrid cars sell better than all-electric vehicles. While the mile range of Ford Focus is 70, it may depend on factors like the status of the air conditioner. A study conducted by AAA showed that the driving range of an electric car is affected by temperature extremes. The average range according to the test was found to be 105 miles at a temperature of 75 degrees. When the temperature was constant at 20 degrees, the range went down by 57%. Warm temperatures did not stress the battery range that much, but delivered 69 miles on average.


Leave a Comment January 23, 2015

A Review of Toyota’s 2015 Camry SE Hybrid

'12_Toyota_Camry_Hybrid_(MIAS_'12)In the past two or so decades, Toyota has fallen short of its customer expectations and has therefore not been America’s bestselling car. The Camry is almost at the top of charts with respect to resale value, reliability, practicality, fuel economy, and other metrics considered by buyers. A few people have also praised Toyota’s sedan for the sports-like qualities. To satisfy its customers, Toyota has made major improvements and amendments for its 2015 Camry. The car will be a bit sportier, thanks to a snout that is longer and lower. It will also have a slightly folded and creased hood, and chiseled flanks with a wide stance.

Toyota’s Camry hybrid will now have three levels, the LE, the XLE and the 2015 SE level. Some of the additional features of the new SE include aluminum wheels of 17-inches, mesh grille, a spoiler and a trim that is dark chrome. All the 2015 Camry vehicles’ structure will be stiffened in addition to having spot welds in specific areas like door openings and the cowl. The car’s power steering has also been amended and it will have a traditional feel of a hydraulic system. In an effort to attain a linear pedal response, the new Camry will have a brake booster that is dual-stage.

The new SE Camry is great in terms of responsiveness with features such as a shock valve, suspension bushings and anti-roll bar. In comparison to other Camrys, the new SE has a firmer shape and is more comfortable. There is a quite remote feel for the brake-pedal response. Although it was expected that the SE hybrid would be sportier, it is not quite the case. Test numbers have shown that there, the new model doesn’t have additional liveliness. The stopping distance of the SE Camry is the same as that of the Camry XLE model.

Basically, Camry hybrid models are sportier compared to non-hybrid models, owed to a drivetrain that is more powerful. A primary reason for the high Camry sales is the fuel economy. Despite the alterations made to the SE model such as a wider rubber, the car’s mileage is similar to that of XLE hybrid model. The average mileage for the new model is 31 mpg, which is thriftier compared to the previous Camry by 5 mpg. Some of the major competitors of the SE Camry are Hyundai’s Sonata hybrid, Ford’s Fusion hybrid, and the Optima hybrid by Kia.



Leave a Comment January 16, 2015

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