The Pluses and Minuses of Battery Powered Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles, especially pure electric BEVs, are the darlings of hardcore environmentalists because they don't pollute. Period. There are no "tailpipe emissions" at all. How could there be? There are no tailpipes. And the evaporative emissions are so small, they're not even worth noting. Greenhouse gas emissions? Forget it. BEVs are clean, clean, clean.

That being said, the electricity that goes through the grid and into the storage batteries of each electric car has to come from somewhere.

This has led to very complicated analyses of the overall environmental impact of the process of electrical generation, transmission, and delivery versus other energy sources. For gasoline, an analogous trail takes you from oil well, through pipeline, to refinery, to gas station, to the tank of your car and, finally, out the exhaust system. Although we won't bore you with the details of this "well-to-wheels" analysis, suffice it to say that electric vehicles come out way ahead on the nonpolluting scale.

In the United States, the largest portion of our electricity is generated by coal-fired generating plants. That might sound "dirty" but the best of today's coal generating stations emit minimal amounts of pollution. Generation plants that use natural gas or gas produced from coal are even cleaner overall, and wind, water, and geothermal sources of electricity are virtually pollution-free. So is nuclear power, for that matter, but most environmentalists don't want to go there.

In addition to the good news on the environmental front, EVs offer good news in the quest to limit our use of foreign oil. More than 95 percent of the electricity used to charge EVs originates from domestic resources. For example, the United States possesses huge amounts of coal and bountiful supplies of natural gas. Solar power is another largely untapped source that could be employed in each household and workplace to charge electric vehicles.

Because electric motors are so efficient, EVs also have a positive story to tell on the operating costs front. Electricity rates vary widely across the country, but no matter what the cost of a kilowatt hour in your locale, driving an EV will almost certainly be less expensive than driving a conventional gasoline-powered car. After you own it, that is.

Which brings us to the primary (and some would say monumental) downside of electric vehicles—they can be very expensive. Why? Batteries, that's why. To store the amount of energy required to give


Coal is not only the fuel that fostered the Industrial Revolution, but it could also be the fuel that fosters our Post-Industrial Age, because estimates indicate there are enough coal reserves to last 300 years.

them acceptable range, electric vehicles need substantial battery capacity, and those batteries are expensive. Many of them use relatively expensive base materials, and those materials then have to be combined and crafted into functioning electricity storage modules. Although electric motors and the controllers that operate them are pretty cheap in the overall scheme of things and very efficient to boot, the batteries needed to power them are worlds more expensive than installing an empty container designed to be filled with gasoline or diesel.

In addition, there is the need for a recharging system. Obviously a conventional gasoline car doesn't need to be "recharged"; in essence, it is recharged every time you fill its tank with gas. In contrast, batteries need to be recharged frequently, and you, as the owner of the EV, are required to have the equipment to do that. Publicly available far between. The equipment is not prohibitively expensive (and often it is built into the EV itself), but it adds further expense.

recharging stations are few and licly accessible places to recharge your electric car. Even if there were thousands more, the long recharge required to bring batteries back to full power limits their usefulness.

The big question is, could the price of batteries and charging equipment go down significantly if manufacturers were to scale up for big-time electric vehicle pro-

electric car can be a great choice. You can recharge it every night at home; it will operate for pennies a mile;

duction? The answer to that is more complicated than a simple yes or no. Some portions of the process would undoubtedly benefit from economies of scale, but other portions, such as bat-

electric car can be a great choice. You can recharge it every night at home; it will operate for pennies a mile;

tery production that requires the and in many jurisdictions you can use the high occupancy vehicle (carpool) lane even if you're alone in the car.

use of scarce natural resources (sound familiar?), would realize only partial benefits. Batteries still could be very expensive.

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Hybrid Cars The Whole Truth Revealed

Hybrid Cars The Whole Truth Revealed

Hybrid Cars! Man! Is that a HOT topic right now! There are some good reasons why hybrids are so hot. If you’ve pulled your present car or SUV or truck up next to a gas pumpand inserted the nozzle, you know exactly what I mean! I written this book to give you some basic information on some things<br />you may have been wondering about.

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