Are Electric Vehicles Ready for Prime Time?

Okay, so you are ready to do your part to reduce fossil fuel usage and you are considering an EV (Electric Vehicle). Several manufactures are marketing EV’s, but which one is right for you? Everyone has different driving styles and needs. How far can you go on a 100% EV? How reliable are they? Are there any savings? Some of these questions will be answered below to help you determine if this technology is ready for you.

There are three types of EV’s available. But, are they ready for prime time? You decide.

  1. Dedicated EV- Electric only
  2. Extended EV Electric with gasoline engine
  3. Plug-in hybrids

Dedicated EV is an electric only vehicle. There are four models available or expected out by 2012.

  1. Nissan Leaf is a four-door five-passenger hatch back pure battery electric vehicle. It has an expected range of 100 miles between charges, which Nissan says is sufficient for 90% of Americans. It takes eight hours or more to fully charge with a 220-volt outlet and longer with a 110-volt outlet. The starting price is estimated at $33,600. The warranty on the battery and related hardware is eight years or 100,000 miles. The estimated cost to replace the battery is $18,000. Expected availability is December 2010.
  2. Mini E Cooper is a two-door two-passenger pure battery electric vehicle. It has an expected range of 156 miles under ideal conditions. Most drivers get about 100 miles between charges. It takes approximately 3 hours to charge with a 240 volt 48 Amp outlet or 4.5 hours with a 32-amp outlet. If using a 110 volt 12 amp outlet it takes approximately 26.5 hours to charge. This is a two-passenger vehicle because the battery takes up the entire back seat. The regenerative braking takes a little getting used to, the system kicks in as soon as the driver lifts his foot off the accelerator pedal. This causes the vehicle to begin slowing before the brake pedal is applied. BMW is leasing these vehicles as part of a special program. They are developing a replacement based on the BMW 1 Series, which is due out in 2011.
  3. Ford Focus EV is a four-door sedan based on the redesigned 2012 Focus. The prototypes have a 23-kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery pack with an estimated range of 100 miles. Charge time is approximately 6 hours on a 220-volt charger.
  4. Tesla Roadster first started selling in 2008. It has a price tag of $111,000, it is a two-seater sports car. It is based on the Lotus Elise with a fiberglass body. This car is a rocket, it can accelerate from zero to 60 in under four seconds. It has a range of 245 miles with a massive 53-kilowatt-hour battery pack. Full charge takes 3.5 hours on a proprietary 240-Volt 70 amp charger. It has a very stiff and jarring ride with a very basic interior. It is awkward climbing into the cockpit because of the tall wide sill. The loud battery-cooling fans emit a constant roar behind you. Tesla is developing a lower cost $50,000+ model S sedan expected to be released in 2012.

Extended EV electric with gasoline engine

The Chevrolet Volt is the only model that falls within this category. It is a four-door four-passenger sedan. The Volt does not have a rear bench seat like most vehicles because of the T shaped battery pack. It has a range of 40 miles on electric power. GM states this is sufficient for 75% of commuters. Once the battery level drops below a certain level, a small gas engine kicks in to provide enough electric power to run the electric motor. The overall range is 300 miles before filling the gas tank or charging the batteries. GM says the Volt can run with never being plugged in. However, it will impact the fuel economy. Charge time for the Volt is four hours on 220 volt or eight to 10 hours on 110-volt outlets. The Volt charges faster than the dedicated electric vehicles because it has a smaller battery. The battery warranty for the Volt is the same as the Nissan leaf. The warranty on the battery and related hardware is eight years or 100,000 miles. The starting price for the Volt is $41,000. The replacement cost of the Lithium-ion battery is approximately $8000, which is $10,000 less than the Leaf. The electric motor produces 149 horse power and 273 pound-feet of torque. Those torque numbers are about the same as a V-6 engine.

Plug-in Hybrids

There are no manufactures producing plug-in Hybrids as of this writing. However, there are some aftermarket companies producing aftermarket add on batteries for the Toyota Prius. The extra cost of these add on batteries is approximately $11,000. This added battery boosts the gas mileage by approximately 50% for the first 35 miles. Once the battery is depleted, the Prius reverts back to its regular hybrid operation at which time the fuel economy drops slightly below that of a standard Prius because of the added battery weight. Toyota is field-testing the plug-in Prius for commercial use. There are no expected models for retail customers until 2012.

Some things to consider before purchasing an EV

What are your driving habits? What are the longest distances you will be traveling? When driving a pure electric vehicle; if the battery runs out completely with no charging stations available you will be stranded. With the long charge times, it will take some time to make the vehicle usable again. This is where the extended range Volt becomes more practical. Filling up the gas tank is faster than waiting for the battery to charge.

Using other electrical features like the Air Conditioning, Heating, Lights, Wind Shield Wipers and playing Music; engineers say this can consume approximately 50% of the battery power which will reduce the vehicles range.

Lithium-ion technology battery life is undetermined, however, the eight year 100,000 mile warranty on the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf do give some piece of mind.

Cost savings

An EV costs about.04 cents per-mile (depending on the electric rates in your area). You can compare that to a Toyota Corolla at 30 mpg paying $2.80 per gallon, the per-mile cost is.09 cents.

Government incentives

The first 200,000 EV buyers from each automaker are eligible for $7,500 federal tax credit. There are also some regional incentives; for instance, California will offer an additional $5000 tax credit for “zero emission” vehicles. Check your area for local incentives.

To conclude, there are four 100% electric vehicles available by 2012. One extended range vehicle, which could be zero emission if your driving range is within the available battery level. And there are the more common Hybrids, like the Prius which runs mostly on regular gas but with great mileage and with the future pilot of the Prius as a plug in, this vehicle will eventually fall within the extended range category.

Is the EV ready for prime time? Your driving habits and needs will tell. How far do you drive daily, can you plugin at work? Are most of your driving needs around town? This is where the greatest benefits will be realized. What part of the country do you live in? Will an EV work in your environment? Parts of the country with extreme heat or cold will require more battery usage to heat or cool the vehicle, which will reduce the range. Will this reduce your cost savings?

With government incentives, the cost of one of these EV’s can be reduced to a more acceptable range, keeping the cost closer to a conventional gas vehicle. There are also reduce maintenance costs with an EV, no oil changes and the electric motors are mostly maintenance free.

Electric Vehicle Connectors

Green is no longer just a color; it’s a movement rooted in environmentalism and sustainability. As people around the world have realized that we need to protect the planet if we want it to stay healthy and beautiful for future generations, more and more products have entered the market to push the green movement forward. Electric cars are one of those developments, giving consumers the choice to be more environmentally friendly in their everyday transportation. Although most Americans own and use gas-powered cars, electric vehicles are growing in popularity and as their technology progresses, they will become even more convenient and appreciated. Electric vehicle connectors are an integral part of this new form of transportation; the cars need them to power up. But before we get into specifics, let’s look at the basics of electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles are a type of automobile that uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion. Unlike gas-powered cars, they are fueled by electricity, which can come from a variety of sources (fossil fuels and nuclear power, but also renewable sources like tidal, solar, and wind power). They require less maintenance because they don’t have as many parts as traditional vehicles, and they offer tax benefits. Electric vehicles are also easy to charge at home, run on renewable energy, and emit no pollution from their tailpipes. There are many benefits to owning an electric car, but like most things, they come with disadvantages too. Electric vehicles can take several hours to charge and aren’t able to last on long road trips. They will also increase the demand for electricity and there are very few models currently available.

Charging up an electric vehicle is easy, but it will require some patience. The most convenient (but also expensive) option would be to purchase a charging station for home use. If you charge your car overnight, it will always be ready for the morning commute.

To make the process of charging an electric car more convenient, national societies and commissions work together to establish industry standards for electric vehicle connectors. The common connector for the United States is the J1772 combo plug, which was chosen by the Society of Automotive Engineers. It allows for AC and DC charging, is 43mm in diameter, and contains five pins. Designed for single phase electrical systems with 120 V or 240 V, electric vehicle connectors use a 1 kHz square wave at +/- 12 volts on the pilot pin (to detect the vehicle, communicate the maximum allowable current, and control the charging process). These connectors will often be located outside, so it is important that they are able to withstand environmental concerns like wind, rain, and heat. They are also equipped with many safety features like shock protection, connector pins located on the inside (so humans have no physical access), and pins that have zero voltage when not in use.

Technological advancements and growing popularity are helping consumers see electric vehicles as a viable alternative to their gas-guzzling automobiles, but it will take a while longer for them to truly compete. Right now, electric cars are just a great alternative for environmentally conscious drivers looking to make a change.

Download a Factory Auto Repair Manual Online – Do it Yourself

How you can benefit from do it yourself factory auto repair manual.

Cars have become so technologically advanced in today’s automotive marketplace that mechanics, repair shops and dealerships are faced with the difficult task of maintaining current and up-to-date repair guides to match the ever-changing service needs of their customers. Gone are the days of simple and basic repair jobs as contemporary mechanics face an ever-changing barrage of hard to master vehicles and their intricate mechanical systems. Additionally, the outdated repair manual has become another dinosaur of the automotive repair industry as most repair shops are opting to incorporate online factory repair manuals into their arsenal of tools.

Automotive manufacturers, parts suppliers and repair procedure publishers all have adapted their traditional methods of providing repair documentation to include computer-based and online solutions. Original Equipment Manufacturers, (OEM) are the best source for providing timely, accurate and up-to-date repair manuals as well as Technical Service Bulletins, (TSB). The dilemma arises when attempting to find just the right computer-based provider of online repair manual documentation. Evidence has shown that switching the repair shop to a computer or web-based solution, increases productivity and lowers total cost of operation over the old paper based manuals.

An effective online or computer-based repair manual solution is optimal for increasing time management productivity as the manuals and information are made available to any computer worldwide. Additionally, the information provided by an online repair manual can be updated quickly and easily, in real time, thus making the most current information available to everyone in the organization.

This timely information will include specifics such as year, make, model and also intricate elements of automotive repair like wiring diagrams and engine schematics. Also, advice and tips on how to accurately perform the repair job are made readily accessible to the mechanic making use of these efficient, computer-based methods. Factory part numbers and typical labor times are also provided and updated regularly via the online repair manual product. This has proven itself invaluable to smaller repair shops and private mechanics by allowing them to more accurately provide bids on labor and parts.

Industry-specific information like diagnostic flowcharts, maintenance schedules and procedures, vehicle identification numbers, exploded diagrams and specific information pertinent to make, model and year of the car, are at the fingertips of the service manager or mechanic. Also, tech and repair articles specific to most any possible car are made available through these time-saving, online repair manual options. This is important as advice and training can be made readily available to mechanics and managers of service operations.

It’s plain to see that having a computer-based technical manual at the ready can actually pay for itself in a short period of time with the increased productivity and quality control benefits they inevitably provide. In these modern times a company that relies on efficient, accurate and technologically sound information would definitely benefit from an online repair manual software package.