Filed under: Electric Cars

The Possibility of Flywheel Technology Driving Out Battery from Hybrid Cars

Batteries are not only problematic to dispose of, but they are also intensive to make. The answer could lie in flywheel technology, referred to as Kers in Formula One World. Hybrid cars are a nod to green motoring and are halfway battery between a fully-electric Nissan Leaf and the traditional gas motor. While hybrid vehicles can retain a traditional diesel engine, they also have the ability to draw in kinetic energy from the braking motion of the car. They then use that kinetic energy for powering an extra electric motor.

The manufacture of batteries is an energy-intensive process, and more than 50kg can be added to a vehicle’s mass by the weight of a battery. This implies increased usage of fuel. It is however, essential to acknowledge the fact that hybrids still cover more miles compared to traditional versions of a similar model. The issue of fuel efficiency also comes about. Every time a hybrid system is used, one is going from kinetic energy to electric energy to chemical energy, and back again. Kinetic energy, which in normal cases is lost in the form of heat during breaking, is translated to electric energy. This conversion is mediated by a generator used for charging the battery. The losses incurred during conversion are unavoidable. Moreover, environmental problems arise as a result of battery disposal.

Batteries are not the only means of storing kinetic energy. It is possible to make hybrid cars with flywheels in place of batteries. In such a case, a flywheel is spun by the kinetic energy recovered during braking. The energy recovered is then preserved in a spinning wheel prior to being released during acceleration. The energy amount stored in a flywheel depends on the mass, as well as the rate, at which the flywheel is rotating. An 80bph boost has been provided by prototypes.

In comparison to batteries, flywheels give the possibility of improved efficiency of fuel. This is by maintaining energy in mechanical form instead of transitioning through mechanical, electrical and chemical states. A characteristic of flywheels is that they are light in weight. A typical flywheel will weight six to eight kilograms. Also, in terms of disposal, flywheels do not present several problems or issues. The use of flywheels evidently sounds promising. The big question is whether hybrids with flywheels could be in competition with the battery hybrids. A major demerit of flywheels is that there energy density is lower than that of batteries. This means that the rate at which flywheels can release energy is higher compared to that of batteries.


Leave a Comment February 13, 2014

Why You Should Think of Buying an Electric Car

If you are thinking of buying a new vehicle, an all-electric version should be considered as a leading option. Many people are discouraged from investing in hybrid and electric cars because of the high costs associated with them. What they fail to understand is that the cost is worth it considering the many advantages associated with electric vehicles. Many people lack adequate information and facts concerning electric cars. According to a national survey conducted by a union of scientists, it is clear that about twenty five percent of households in America could not afford electric cars. For such families, owning such a car would deter them from fulfilling their driving needs.

Despite the fact that many people are unsure of what to expect with electric cars, others have claimed that electric vehicles are quite running, fun and considerably high tech. It is also essential to add that electric vehicles offer the advantage of instant torque. Drivers have also noted that they offer regenerative banking and smooth acceleration. Electric vehicle owners have also claimed that driving an electric vehicle is more fun compared to driving a gasoline-powered car. From the reviews of electric car owners, it is evident that electric vehicles are a worthwhile investment.

By driving or owning an electric car, a driver has something to gain directly. Some of the benefits include saving money. On a long-term basis, buying an electric car would save money on fuel. This is mainly because such vehicles have a good mileage. This means that one can cover long distances using less fuel.

Another fact worth mentioning is that a person who owns an electric vehicle tends to indirectly benefit alongside other societal members. For instance, there are health and environmental benefits reaped from driving an electric car. Air pollution has been one of the complaints aired in relation to driving gasoline-fueled vehicles. The gas emissions not only pollute the environment, but they are also detrimental to health. Driving electric cars prevents emission of such fumes.

Buying an electric vehicle is a sign of taking responsibility. For example, an electric car owner would not be considered cheap, but environmentally responsible. Everyone has a role to play in society. Choosing to buy an electric car may be the first step towards taking responsibility for your own health, as well as the health of general society. Owning an electric car is like showing reliance on renewable, domestic and clean energy. Consequently, this promotes a long term economic, environmental and societal health.



Leave a Comment February 6, 2014

A Review of Toyota’s Camry Hybrid in India

One of the latest advancements that Toyota has made is its entrance into the niche hybrids’ market in India. For this reason, a lot is anticipated from this automaker. The price of Toyota Camry is about Rs. 2,975,000. This is a reasonable price, considering the fact that hybrid cars are more costly compared to conventional gasoline-powered vehicles.

With respect to its design, Toyota’s Camry Hybrid is not only fuel-efficient, but is also eco-friendly. It is an environmental-friendly version of the well-known luxury sedan. With the controversy revolving around global warming and emission of greenhouse gases, it is essential for drivers to consider owning eco-friendly cars. Toyota Camry hybrid is one of the perfect choices that would serve the purpose.

Compared to the normal Camry, the hybrid version has a few embellishments and improvements. Since the original model is quite pleasing to the eye, the additional embellishments in the hybrid version only serve to enhance road presence. There are remarkable changes in the design of the front-end parts. The hybrid version has chrome infested fog lamps, headlamps that have been redesigned, front bumper that features a wider air dam and a new radiator grille. Changes have also been made on the wheels. The hybrid version has 17-inch wheels, which are much bigger, compared to the original Camry. It is quite hard to distinguish the rear end of the two versions because there is not much difference. Generally, in terms of aesthetics, the hybrid version of Camry is more rounded and it is premium.

It is also essential to evaluate the Camry Hybrid in terms of performance. One of the notable features about the hybrid version is that it has two propulsion sources. One of the sources is a VVT-I petrol engine that is 2.5 Liters while the other source of propulsion is in the form of an electric motor. The car’s petrol engine produces power amounting to 160PS. In reality, it is possible to drive the car solely on electric r power. However, in this state, it can only cover short distances of up to 40km per hour after which the petrol engine takes over.

The performance of Camry Hybrid is fairly good with both motors working. While the feedback offered by the steering is decent, it is definitely not as good as that offered by other cars of a similar price range. Hence, the handling is not inspiring. Another drawback is the fact that the car has only one gearbox, which apparently reacts slowly. There are a few options to choose from when purchasing hybrid vehicles in India.




Leave a Comment February 6, 2014

The Eco-Friendly Car of the Year Title Goes to…

The 2013 Nissan Leaf has been named as the eco-friendly car of the year by is a website for consumers whose aim is to assist ordinary consumers select the right car based on their specific needs and preferences. Other cars that were competing for the title include the Volkswagen Jetta Sportswagen TDI and Chevrolet Volt. This announcement was made to by Joe Wiesenfelder, the executive editor of According to Joe, Nissan Leaf is not only accessible, but there are also many available and it has started providing some answers to the limitations that discourage people from purchasing it.

The two major limitations that often keep people from purchasing Nissan Leaf are with respect to its charging rate and price. The 2013 Nissan Leaf actually costs almost six thousand dollars less than the 2012 Nissan Leaf. This reduction in price was attained by shifting production locally. The production of the 2013 Nissan Leaf took place in a U.S. plant located in Smyrna, Tennessee. Price reduction also followed the downgrading of the base model features. In terms of charging rate, majority of the 2013 Nissan Leaf cars utilize an on-board charger that is much faster. Prior to the year 2013, Nissan Leaf had a 3.3 kilowatts charger, which translates to the addition of ten to twelve miles per hour of charging. The charger is now 6.6 kilowatts, except for the rock bottom trim option. In this case, the number of miles per hour of charging is doubled from twenty to twenty-five.

That upgrade has helped Nissan Leaf per gain popularity with mainstream purchasers. This is an essential upgrade that has enabled a greater number of purchasers to easily access Nissan Leaf. The CEO said that the sales might have been better if that feature were available in earlier Nissan Leaf features. Currently, the roads have sufficient Nissan Leafs. Apparently, the cost of owning such a car is low coupled with the fact that they have proven to be reliable.

One of the main reasons why Leaf outdid Volt is with regard to evolution. Evolution is a key aspect for any vehicle. Unfortunately, there has not been much evolution for Chevrolet Volt over the years. It is common for auto companies to redesign their car models every three to four years. This means that new versions of Volt and Leaf are yet to be released. Since its inception, the changes made to Nissan Leaf have been more dramatic and greater compared to those of the Chevrolet Volt.



Leave a Comment January 27, 2014

Etiquette of Charging Electric Vehicles

There are specific rules to keep in mind when charging an electric vehicle. These rules are what collectively refer to charging etiquette. In this article, some of the major rules to keep in mind will be highlighted.

One of the key rules is for electric vehicle charging spots to be strictly for electric vehicles. This means that internal combustion cars should not park in charging spots meant for electric or plug-in vehicles. This rule needs to be strictly adhered to regardless of whether the parking lot is free or crowded. Even when the charging spot is infrequently used, it should still be strictly for electric vehicles.

Another rule to keep in mind is that of charging an electric vehicle only out of necessity. If a driver does not need charge, he or she should not charge the vehicle. Rather, the charging spot should be left free for an electric vehicle driver whose car might need charging. Additionally, it is essential to avoid the habit of leaving nasty notes. There are some instances where an electric vehicle driver may need to leave a note. For instance, when an electric vehicle charging spot has been occupied by a conventional engine car, a note may be left. In this case, the note should not be nasty. Rather, it needs to be calm and written using a polite language. A polite note has a positive impact in that it is likely to convince offenders not to repeat the offence.

Another rule to keep in mind is that asking for a charge is okay. For instance, if an electric vehicle charging spot is in use, a driver can park next to the vehicle and leave a note requesting the owner to plug in his or her car once the session has ended. A driver who happens to get such a note should honor the request. When leaving a note, it is recommended that a person leave a contact name and mobile phone number.

An important rule is never to unplug a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Even owners of vehicle such as Nissan Leaf should not not unplug a plug in car such as Chevy Volt simply because there are back-up gas engines. Unplugging should only be done when the charging session has finished. In such a case, it is advisable for the driver unplugging the charger to write a note giving an explanation for his or her action. Such a note should not only be full of gratitude, but it should also have contact details.


Leave a Comment January 27, 2014

An Overview of Chevrolet Spark Electric Vehicle

The 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show was marked by the formal introduction of the 2013 Chevrolet Spark electric vehicle. According to General Motors, this car can be described as a five-door, urban mini car that is affordable. Earlier on, GM had asserted that Spark EV’s plug-in version will provide consumers a similar package as that of a gasoline-powered model. At the same time, the car will deliver the performance and technology of full electric power. The nameplate, Spark, first came to United States buyers in the year 2012. However, the nameplate can be said to date back to the year 1998 with its original brand, Daewoo Matiz. Daewoo Matiz is a modern vehicle manufactured by GM Korea, the South Korean automaker.

In 2005, the second generation model was introduced, while in 2010, the third generation was launched. All the car’s generations have been marketed under Daewoo, as well as several other brands of General Motors. The Spark electric vehicle is a small vehicle mainly designed for Asian and European standards. In terms of size, its length is about 144.7 inches, which is about two inches shorter compared to the BMW Mini Cooper. The car’s gas version provides 85 horsepower. The horsepower is bumped to 130 by the electric variant.

There are a number of features associated with the Spark electric vehicle. One of the key features is a lithium-ion battery that is 20-plus kWh. This battery is expected to give an approximate range of seventy to eighty miles. The warranty of the battery pack is 100,000 miles or eight years. The lithium-ion battery pack is 254 kg and has a volume of about 133 liters, which comprise of prismatic cells totaling 336. It is also essential to acknowledge the fact that the Spark electric vehicle is the first of its kind to provide the fast charging capability of SAE Combo DC. This gives the car the potential to charge up to eighty percent within just twenty minutes.

Another feature of this electric vehicle is that it has two seven-inch color LCD screens that are not only reconfigurable, but also offer high resolution. This is in addition to having a gauge that clearly shows the expected range of driving. A standard feature offered by the Spark electric vehicle is MyLink radio. Some of the tools included in the feature are Pandora, Stitcher and Tuneln global Internet radio. Some of the color choices available for Spark electric vehicles include Black Granite, Electric Blue, Silver Ice, Summit White, and Titanium.



Leave a Comment January 20, 2014

The European Perspective of Electric Cars’ Range in Winter

Apparently, this is a bad winter in Europe and the United States. The headlines mainly highlight the cold whether while the news on media platforms are reporting the effects of the terrible cold. The big question is how electric vehicles are coping with the terrible conditions. Norway has proved that the situation is not that bad. Electric vehicles have the highest share of the general new car market in Norway. Admittedly, this choice is not market driven, considering the fact that Norway’s tax structure makes fifty percent of the gasoline cars’ price. This is however, a clear indication that electric vehicles have the potential to withstand the cold.

Some electric car drivers have reported a 20% decrease in range when driving cars such as Nissan Leaf in Oslo and around the Mediterranean Sea. The car that was used for testing in the south had summer tires and the north was associated with winter tires. This alone has the potential of minimizing the range by up to ten percent, keeping in mind that in Europe, electric vehicles are sold with tires that have a special low-rolling resistance. Norway drivers have added to that when driving since they usually have the heater on since the weather is so cold.

Some tough hardcore electric-vehicle drivers on some forums have proudly claimed that they drive with gloves in full winter gear along with ski coats and hats to maintain the optimal range. This however, is not a perfect solution. It is essential for an electric car to appeal to the average guy. Drivers would expect to be warm in their cars. Engineers have discovered an effective way of minimizing heat consumption by preheating. In this case, while the car is charging, it heats the cabin. Still, there is the need for drivers to be informed about the anticipated range, particularly when driving during winter. To help such drivers, Auto Bild, a German magazine, has published an article that sheds light on electric vehicles and the challenge of driving in winter.

An advertised driving range of 130 miles has been linked to the Renault Zoe. However, it has been found that this vehicle cannot cover a range exceeding 36.6 miles in winter, especially in the snowy Alps. Only about 38 miles could be covered by the BMW i3 and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. According to the conclusions made by Auto Bild, the best electric vehicle to drive in extreme winter conditions is the Tesla. This does not come as a surprise because most drivers have claimed that Tesla is also the best electric vehicle for summer driving.


Leave a Comment January 20, 2014

U.S. Outlander Delayed by Mitsubishi Because of Tight Battery Supply

Mitsubishi is postponing the sale of the Outlander plug-in hybrid car in the U.S. to the year 2015. Initially, the official release of the car in the United States market was planned for this year. The main reason for the postponement is that Lithium Energy Japan (LEJ) has not supplied adequate batteries for Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi ought to have learned a lesson from the strong-arm tactics employed by Tesla on a similar issue.

Some time back, the CEO of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk warned that battery supply issues could compromise Model S sales. Musk said that lithium-ion cell production was to be one of the greatest challenges. Hence, there was the need to have numerous batteries. Musk claimed that Tesla Motors’ issues were more of production related and not the generation of demand. The whole supply chain should move in cadence for there to be a growth in production. In the case of Tesla Motors, 7,000 cells are required by each car. Musk was quick to point out that the company’s demand could be more than the whole laptop industry by a significant margin if or when Model E is in production and the vehicle sales amount to 500,000 per annum. In October last year, Musk said that he has plans of negotiating with other suppliers of batteries so that they could supplement battery supply.

Panasonic was interviewed concerning the comments made by Musk and the company said that it was committed to the supply of batteries to support Tesla Motors’ business. Panasonic’s goal was to provide a total of three-hundred million battery cells by the year 2014. This is according to Jeff Howell, the Panasonic battery executive. In October, Panasonic and Tesla made an announcement that there had been an update and expansion of its earlier agreement. The battery maker has plans to supply approximately two-billion battery cells in the next four years.

Meanwhile, the supplier of ill-fated battery packs in Boeing Dreamliners was GS Yuasa. GS Yuasa also supplied batteries to hybrid and electric cars from Mitsubishi and Honda. A new Japanese factory was opened in 2012 so that it could partly supply an annual amount of fifteen million battery cells to Honda. The factory was also meant to support the new Outlander plug-in and fifty thousand Mitsubishi i-MiEVs. Currently, Mitsubishi can produce about sixty thousand Outlander plug-in cars per year. This has increased from thirty thousand in the year 2013. However, the U.S rollout would be delayed because of inadequate battery supply. Mitsubishi has plans of increasing its battery suppliers.


Leave a Comment January 13, 2014

Slow Adoption of Electric Vehicle Incentives in Massachusetts

One of the milestones recorded by Massachusetts is registration of two thousand electric cars. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection spokesman, Edmund Coletta, has called the milestone an excellent start. However, the goal set by the governor to register 370,000 electric vehicles by the year 2021 will need more help and effort by consumers. According to Coletta, it is hoped that the state will continue to register electric vehicles through the coming years. It is also believed that it will need more than small-sized state programs and wishful thinking to achieve such a goal.

Recently, $550,000 in grants was approved by a Democrat governor, Deval Patrick. The grants were given to a total of twenty communities to help them purchase forty-seven electric vehicles for official purposes. Part of the grant money was also to be used for installing charging stations. Although such a move is useful, it does not replace sales tax relief, cash subsidies, access to HOV lanes and expedited charging station permissions. It is not clear why the state is focusing more on the electric vehicles for municipalities. There is a total of 2.5 million in the form of grants that would serve the purpose of subsidizing car purchases. It is unfortunate that such relief is not available to consumers. Massachusetts does not have the tax credits and rebates for pop and mom buyers despite having liberals in control of state government. Such tax credits and rebates are currently available in eleven other states.

The Sierra Club’s Director of Green Fleets, Gina Coplon-Newfield said in a blog post last year that the owners of electric vehicles in the state have incurred penalties for solo driving in HOV. Gina wrote that drivers should feel rewarded rather than hindered for cleaner driving and that Massachusetts should have programs and incentives in place to encourage a switch to electric vehicles. Last March, Massachusetts launched a state-sponsored Electric Vehicle Initiative and Electric Vehicle Task Force. The task force officials have been holding meetings with stakeholders such as utilities, electric vehicle drivers, auto companies, and environmental agencies. There is optimism that Massachusetts would form meaningful consumer electric vehicle incentives soon. Such incentives may be in the form of sales waivers, carpool lane access and tax credits. In this way Massachusetts will transform to a leader in electric vehicle adoption.


Leave a Comment January 13, 2014

Electric Cars Hit Hard by Depreciation

Although plug-in electric vehicles have been considered advanced in terms of technology, an analysis has shown that over the next five years, most of them are likely to undergo tremendous depreciation. Among the greatest power gaps are the year 2014 plug-in electric car models that will be powered by the batteries only. Such cars lack a gas engine. This is according to a report presented following analysis that Kelly Blue Book conducted. Some of the plug-in electric cars that are likely to depreciate tremendously are below.

Ford Focus Electric Car

This is a compact electric car whose value will be twenty percent of $35,995, its initial price in five years. This is in comparison to a well-designed traditional Focus Titanium, which will still be worth 36 percent.

Chevrolet Spark Electric Car

In five years time, this electric car is estimated to cost 28 percent of its initial price, $28,305. A comparable traditional model of a similar car will still stand at forty percent of its original value. This clearly shows that electric cars will depreciate more compared to their traditional counterparts of a similar version.

Nissan Leaf

The best-selling Nissan Leaf has been estimated to be worth 15 percent of the price of the 2013 model in five years time. This is in comparison to a Nissan Sentra SL of similar version that would retain the value of 36 percent.

According to the Kelley Blue Book’s Director of Residual Consulting, Eric Ibara, pure electric vehicles have not been fast to catch on in the resale market. Customers have shown willingness to purchase a new electric car rather than a second-hand or used car. At the top of the 2014 model list presented by KBB, the cars with the highest rate of depression are the Fiat 500E, Smart Fortwo electric and Leaf. Addressing the depreciation concerns, the CEO of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk said in May that he had plans of personally backing the value of reselling Model S electric sedan for purchasers using the finance program of Tesla. Tesla stated that the deal provides for a resale value that is higher than that of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar or Lexus.

KBB further reported that plug-in electric cars with backup gasoline engines are much better. For example, the new Panamera E-Hybrid by Porsche has a projected 37 percent resale value in comparison to 41 percent resale value of a similar conventional model. The plug-in Prius by Toyota has a 35 percent resale value, which is only 2 percent less compared to a similar conventional car. Generally, it is clear that hybrid and electric cars are likely to depreciate greatly in future.


Leave a Comment January 6, 2014

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