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Electric Car Revolution Writes a New Chapter in 2016

At least two very significant announcements in the first quarter of 2016 will change the auto industry from now on. The Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 announcements of two affordable sedans with 200+ mile range will allow electric car ownership to be enjoyed by the middle class. All other EV releases currently on the market with less than a 200 mile range are obsolete and will probably see very low demand until they can improve range.

Of the two affordable cars with 200+ range Tesla Model 3 wins because of the super-charging infrastructure that they have built allowing EV transport connecting major population areas across North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

Current Contenders for Mass Adoption

Tesla Motors of California is buzzing along at high speed. During this past year they have released Model X and the Model 3, as well as started shipment of the Tesla Powerwall. They have not only chosen a location to build a battery 'Giga-factory', but have a portion of the factory up and running already in northern Nevada. They have also announced new variations and options for their flag-ship Model S. In addition they are trading on their own web site previously owned Tesla cars. In addition, the CEO Elon Musk has made significant contributions to the conceptual design of a high speed mid distance transportation system coined the 'Hyper-Loop'. The effort has inspired at least two spin-off companies and un-told number of college students doing research projects on their own version of the transportation system.

Chevy Bolt 200 Mile Range Affordable EV

At CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in January 2016, GM showcased the new Chevy Bolt with a driving range of 200+ miles per charge and an affordable base price in the mid $30k USD. The electric car boasts many new hi-tech features mainly in the category of connectivity. GM expects to start rolling them out of the factory by 2017.

  • Brief History of Electric Cars

    Although the history of electric cars dates back the the early 1800s, it became very popular in late 1800s to early 1900s. Then, it's popularity dropped almost entirely when gas powered cars became more economical to operate. Gas powered cars then dominated the twentieth century. With the oil embargo of 1973, President Jimmy Carter set in place a new focus for alternative transportation. The momentum died when President Reagan became president.

    Then in more recent times, the electric car was brought to California, USA in the 1990s. The cars were leased with no option to buy. After the lease was terminated, the cars were repossessed and destroyed. A famous movie was made about the event, called "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

    Although gas powered cars dominated the streets and freeways of the twentieth century, special purpose electric vehicles were used in abundance. Electric carts and fork lifts were used in warehouses, where the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning could not be permitted. One company, Smith Electric Vehicles has been making special purpose electric vans and trucks since the 1920s. Their most famous vehicle, and electric powered milk float. It made deliveries of cold milk early in the morning to residents of Great Britain. The neighbourhoods preferred them because they were quiet. Smith Electric Vehicles has re-organized several times, but still make electric powered vans and trucks today.

    Smith Electric Vehicle Home Page
    Smith Electric Vehicle Home Page

    Smith company has recently partnered with Ford Motor Company to produce some new Electric cars.

  • Advantages of Electric Cars

    Number one on the list of advantages is no emissions. Electric cars do not burn fuel directly, have no tail pipes, and keep the air smelling fresh. This means an electric car can go inside buildings. The second advantage of electric cars is that they are quiet. They are so quiet, in fact, that EV car designers are considering installing beepers that sound when the car is approaching a curb. Electric cars also have fewer parts and much higher reliability, requiring less servicing. Electric car alleviate the need to go to a gas station. You can charge car in the evening when electricity is cheap. If you have a grid-tied photovoltaic system (solar panels) you can get the maximum credits for day time generated electricity from your utility company and pay the best rate for night time charging.

    User Satisfaction The first segment of a behavioural study done by average Americans shows a high level of satisfaction from driving electric cars. The University of California, Davis and the BMW Group together have released the largest publicly available study in June, 2011 of electric-car users - including over 120 families who drove MINI E automobiles more than 1 million miles in California, New York and New Jersey. The report shows that the participants found the cars to be fun yet practical, easy to drive and recharge, and many said they would buy an electric car in the next five years, according to UC Davis researchers. The summary article can be found at the US Davis web site. The full report can be viewed as a PDF document.

  • How Electric Cars Work

    So many devices we use in our normal daily lives have electric motors. From washers and dryers, hair dryers, computer printers, to hand-held devices such as digital cameras, they all use electric motors. The simplest electric motor is a fan. You plug it in and it spins. An electric car's motor works the same way. It just has more power and controls.

    Electric motor core
    Electric Motor Core

    The other major component of an electric car is the battery pack. It is usually made of many individual batteries wire together into one or more modules. The batteries are rechargeable. Their are many battery technologies available from lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, to lithium-ion. However, the new electric cars coming out today use Lithium technology. Because of the expected increase in demand for electric cars, Lithium mines are opening up all the world. Bolivia has the largest Lithium reserves and are expected to be the largest supplier of Lithium.

  • Electric Car Infrastructure

    The two biggest limitations of electric cars is driving range and battery cost. Most new models coming out today can drive at speeds up to 85 miles per hour, but are limited to less than 100 miles distance. There is also a limitation on how fast a battery pack can be recharged. There are several proposals being developed to alleviate this limitation. Some ideas deal with creating an infrastructure similar to gas stations, where electric car owners can recharge or switch their batteries, at what's called charge or switch stations. Other ideas address extending the range by incorporating recharge mechanisms within the vehicle. Some of these techniques include regenerative braking, small gasoline engine that only recharges the battery, and software that optimizes charge times throughout the day.

    Electric car testing in Europe has shown that the distance concern is not really a problem. Jesse Burst, editor of Smart Grid News.com, surveyed many of the EV pilot test programs in countries such as Denmark, Germany, and Portugal. It was determined that overnight charging at home was more than enough to supply all around town driving needs for the next day. In most cases, having a charger at work is not even needed. Further more, home charging is usually a quick topping off function, which alleviates the need for a high powered fast charger.

  • Comparing Electric to Hybrid Cars

    Hybrid gas-electric vehicles are a big improvement over gas only vehicles. As new hybrid models are introduced they will become even more efficient, with a new generation of plug-in cars becoming available over the next two years. The main reason for continued use of both gas and hybrid cars is range extension. Once the infrastructure is created to allow electric vehicles to travel any unlimited distances without recharge delays, there will be no need for vehicles that use gasoline (petro). Here is an indepth video that discusses the market comparison of hybrid versus electric cars.

  • Commercial Vehicles Available

    There many applications where Electric trucks can be used, such as short haul duties at ports, yard hustling, construction sites, and airports. As with solar panels, the initial cost is somewhat high. However, the investment is re-couped rapidly with fuel cost savings, maintenance reductions, and government incentives. These applications account for 10% of trucking use. Find out what is available here.

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