Electric Vehicle Concerns for Winter
Nov11

Electric Vehicle Concerns for Winter

[ad#Top of Post Left]The big push for electric vehicles or EV, has been targeted at large population centers.  Specifically in the US, where pollution, traffic, and even safety can be bettered if more people drove short distance electric vehicles.  However, as EV owners are finding out, there are more bumps in the road when driving an all electric commuter.

Most notably is the recent outcry by individuals who find that their electric vehicles distance capabilities are greatly decreased during the winter months.  Heating the cabin of a vehicle requires a lot of extra energy from the battery, energy that would normally be used to spin the tires to advertised lengths.  However, large population centers like New York and Chicago get quite cold during the winter, lowering the usability of green technology.

Some work has been put into redesigning EV cabins, to supposedly make them super insulated.  There are designs being tested right now that claim to be able to heat a cars cabin using only the passengers body heat.  Unfortunately, this isn't being put to use right now and those frigid winters in the Windy City are mighty freightening in a tiny little electric car.

Consideration is also being given to electric vehicles that remain on a power grid, which would allow them to be preheated before the driver even gets in the car.  However, some doubts have been raised over any savings that would normally be made by driving an all electric vehicle during the colder months of the year.  Turns out that the  inefficient internal combustion motor is great at giving off heat and providing a toasty drive to work in January.

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EV Stations In Houston
Nov19

EV Stations In Houston

[ad#Top of Post Left]EV or electric vehicles are considered the future by many automotive industry experts.  This green technology has its limitations, one of which is it's source of power, where it fills up or plugs in.  Up until now, the most common place to recharge your EV's batteries would be at home.  The range limitation of an all electric vehicle limits the purchase opportunity to many long range commuters, so Houston is taking a step to provide other charging station solutions.

"I recognize that Houston is a car city," she said. "But let's make sure if you have a particular type of car you want to drive, and it's an electric vehicle, let's make sure it's supported."

Businesses are already jumping in and offering to support the cities initiative.  In addition to opening up carpool lanes, the city is working with businesses like Walgreens, Best Buy, and other markets to install these EV charging stations.  It's named the NRG Network and already has plans to install these charge spots in 150 stations.

eVgo Charge Station

eVgo Charge Station

Other problems plague the EV chargers, such as the time it takes to fully charge the usual lithium-ion batteries.  Most of the stations Houston plans on installing will take up to 4 hours to fully charge your vehicle.  This doesn't exactly lend itself to a quick run into Walgreens for some milk.  Only 50 of the 150 NRG network stations in Houston will be the quick-charge type, which will typically fully charge an EV battery in about 30 minutes.  This becomes a much more manageable time, which could be completed by the time you wait in line at a market and do your weekly shopping.

Taking further steps to support electric vehicles, the NRG Network in Houston has agreed to install the quick-charge stations in residences.  The cost seems relatively inexpensive, a 3 year $49 month agreement is all that is needed.

The new EV stations in Houston, branded as eVgo, are believed to be on the crest of a technological wave.  This wave carries the futures of efficient vehicles, losing our dependency on foreign oil, and many more environmental factors.  Lets hope that the Houston experiment catches on and other cities catch the wave soon.  If we get enough early adopters we can finally drive the price of an EV down and start seeing some real savings that will bring more people on board.

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2012 Toyota RAV 4 EV Version
Nov19

2012 Toyota RAV 4 EV Version

[ad#Top of Post Left]Toyota has announced and debuted their upcoming EV RAV 4 (electric vehicle), unfortunately not much is still known.  We do know that Toyota has been working closely with the electric vehicle brainiacs over at Tesla, the creators of the supercar EV.

The first difference to notice between the existing RAV 4 model lineup and the Tesla assisted built RAV 4 is the coming and going.  That is, the front bumper and rear gate look different than the gas powered versions available now.  Gone is the spare tower housing and the front bumper has received some updates that include LED fog lights.

Inside the 2012 RAV 4, the EV version will be developed almost entirely by Tesla.  The heart and soul of the current generation EV's is the lithium-ion batteries, which Tesla has reportedly perfected.  Toyota is aiming for a 100 mile range thanks to Tesla's electric vehicle technology.  Pretty big all electric range, decent space, but mini-van like styling.  Hopefully there won't be any immediate recalls.

2012 Toyota RAV 4 EV (Electric Vehicle) Pictures:

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Lamborghini Electric Supercar
Jul20

Lamborghini Electric Supercar

Like other car makers, Lamborghini has started focusing on the possibilities of creating an green all electric vehicle  or EV.  Porsche and Ferrari have already announced their intent to produce electric or hybrid cars, worth of wearing a supercar name.  Why wouldn't Lamborghini jump on board?  Although not yet wrapped in a cool Italian name, the Lamborghini EV concept car has already been hinted at.

Currently there are only Lamborghini artists rendering of what the Lamborghini EV may look like.  Low, mean, and built to hold big batteries, the sharp lines help it fit perfectly into the Lamborghini lineup.  Research and development says the Lamborghini EV will use 4 electric motors, one at each wheel.  Not only will this setup help with handling but also in producing supercar worthy power.

According to Lamborghini research, the number one complaint with EV vehicles is the lack of sound.  It's impossible to appreciate the supercar experience, without the sound of a throaty engine or high strung turbo or supercharger.  Lamborghini has answered this call with the fitment of jet turbines, which will hopefully be integrated some way, other than just for sounds sake.

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Is The Cost of EVs Too High?

Nissan Leaf

The automotive industry has had it's fair share of shakeups in the past few years.  Recalls, major advancements in efficiency requirements, performance upgrades, and now the next logical step will be towards an all electric vehicle (EV).  There are plenty of experts and industry analysts that will give you their opinion of what to expect in regards to cost-benefit analysis, but what about the common person looking to purchase a new EV?

Cost Of Components

One of the first electric vehicles to hit the US will be the Nissan Leaf.  The all electric car utilizes a lithium-ion battery, which happens to be the most expensive part in the car.  For early adopters, the cost of purchasing a Nissan Leaf will be an estimated $33,000, most of the cost directly related to the cost of the battery.

Expensive batteries applies to all production and future electric vehicles.  Keep in mind we are talking about all electric, not a hybrid where the traditional motor can kick in and still provide power.  Therefore, replacement costs will become a concern in a few years when the batteries are no longer holding a charge.  Will it be cheaper to replace the car than to just replace the battery?

Lease The Battery As Only Option

To combat the fears of replacement Nissan is planning on offering a lease option for the battery.  So, on top of the initial cost, buyers will be pressured into spending up to $150 on a lease of the vehicles power source.  It's less like a lease and more like a never ending insurance policy, which would help offset the costs of replacement if the battery fails.

From this type of planning it's obvious that shelf life of the lithium-ion battery is a concern.  What about other components, what kind of wear does an all electric vehicle have on other aspects of the vehicle.  Furthermore, when replacement becomes the only option, what kind of environmental impact will that have?  All around the cost is too high and each question answered leads to more questions.

Planning Ahead

Nissan estimates that all electric vehicles will be 10% of all car purchases by 2020.  To prepare for such an influx in demand, Nissan has started equipping factories to be able to produce 500,000 EVs per year by 2012.  Putting all our eggs in one basket?

In my very humble and admittedly cheap opinion, we should be focused on driving down the cost of battery before assuming the consumer will pay for such a venture.  In the world economy today, I can't imagine the common buyer to consider a $33,000 luxury-lacking EV.  Furthermore, even taking into consideration the amount of money saved by not needing to stop at the gas station, how long would it take to pay off such an investment?  Who wants two extra car payments a month, one for the car loan itself and another for the lease on the battery?

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