What You Need to Know About Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicle technology has been around for more than 100 years, but the current iteration of EVs has only been available since 2008 when the Tesla Roadster was brought to the market. The Tesla is now gone, but a whole slew of vehicles have emerged including battery electric vehicles (BEV), hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).

All the different names mean one thing: you need to understand what is out there to ensure that you get the type of vehicle that meets your needs, advances your lifestyle or both. Let’s take a look at electric vehicles and what these cars mean for you and your wallet.

Fuel Savings — Across the board, EVs of all stripes use less fuel than conventional internal combustion engines. BEVs use no gasoline, deriving energy strictly from the electric grid. Hybrids, whether conventional models or the plug-in variety, rely on a gasoline energy as well as a battery pack to drive these cars. FCEVs are rare, but include the Honda FCX Clarity, a vehicle that runs on hydrogen.

Reduced Emissions — ‘Tis true: you’ll pollute less with an EV, but you’ll still have some impact on the environment, sometimes indirectly. Vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf EV tout not having a tail pipe, suggesting that driving such a vehicle means no pollution is emitted. However, the Leaf taps into the power grid and coal burning plants supply the power hat helps EVs run. Thus, the Leaf and vehicles like it indirectly pollute. Hybrids pollute too, but less so than conventional models as these run on gasoline only part of the time. FCEVs offer no pollution whatsoever as these vehicles run on hydrogen.

Vehicle Costs — You’ll pay thousands of dollars more for an EV than you will pay for a comparable gas-powered car. Sometimes those differences can be measured in the tens of thousands of dollars. Electric battery packs are expensive, costing manufacturers $8,000 to $12,000 to produce, a cost that is passed on to the consumer. However, if you keep your vehicle for many years you may recoup this cost. Moreover, federal tax credits and local incentives can reduce your ownership costs.

Recharging Inconvenience — Except for conventional hybrids and FCEVs, you’ll need to recharge your vehicle for it to run on electric power. You’ll also face a limited vehicle range of 65 to 90 miles between charges. If you buy a plugin hybrid, such as the Chevy Volt, you extend your range as a small, gas engine kicks in. You’ll still pay for gas, but use less of it.

One area that is hard to quantify with electric vehicles is actual mileage. The Environmental Protection Agency has attempted to come up with a comparable number, but those figures may not tell the whole story. Much caution must be exercised when shopping for an EV as well as any new car.

What Electric Cars Are All About

An electric car is an automobile propelled by one or more electric motors that use electrical energy that is stored in batteries, that then projects the power through electric motors towards the drive train of the vehicle.

The first electric cars appeared in the 1880s, electric cars were popular in the 20th century and earlier in the 19th century until the common combustion engines were made for mass production and petrol was cheaper to use than electric.

During the 1970’s and 1980’s the energy crisis hit which stopped the electric vehicle in its tracks.

Fast forward to 2008 when a renaissance in electric vehicle manufacturing occurred due to advances in battery technology power, technology management and also concerns about increasing oil prices and not to mention the need of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Since 2008 many governments, local authorities and countries have given tax breaks, tax benefits and government grants to help the electric vehicle market grow and to reduce the aforementioned in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases and CO2 emissions.

Benefits Of Electric Cars

There are many benefits for electric cars, a significant drop in air pollution due to no tailpipe pollutants, is of significant importance. Greenhouse gases and other such emissions are greatly reduced like in the case of BMW’s I range where BMW build these cars with as much eco-friendly components as they can and their factory units are solar powered reducing fossil power and their carbon footprint by half from the very start of the production stage.

The other benefits of electric cars in 2014 is that we now have a new kid on the block in Tesla motors, these pure electric cars have a range of up to 300 miles per charge. Tesla are licensing patents on its technology to the other motor industry giants to try and push and achieve an increased range for all new electric cars.

Other benefits are FREE Road Tax and a £5000 grant from the Government towards a new electric car. Also if you live in the UK and travel of an average of 720 miles a week this will only cost you, as of November 2014, £27, now that’s got to be a benefit.

Plug-In Electric (Hybrid) Cars

During the 21st century the biggest demand is in the plug-in electric car as these vehicles have a better range and are more practical for the average business person who has to travel more than 100 miles per day. Furthermore, due to the better known range anxiety the production of plug-in electric cars has been fuelled from the beginning of 2008.

However, from 2010 a new dawn had appeared with the cars such as the Chevrolet Volt, Vauxhall Ampera, Mitsubishi Outlander in 2014, and the BMW i3 range extender in 2013. These cars have taken the electric car format and generally had an engine of small capacity working as a generator to keep the batteries recharged, which then ultimately gives you a bigger range scope.

Another benefit to plug-in electric cars is that you can now achieve 290 mpg, which as we know from the prices at the pumps, as of November 2014, a gallon of petrol would cost £6.00 on average. So as we can see this is a massive reason to go and purchase a plug-in hybrid car.

Charging Plug-In and Pure Electric Cars

This is very easy nowadays with the capability to charge from your own home also with superchargers across the UK and other charging facilities across the UK. By 2020 the European Union has said that the UK must have a minimum of 60,000 electric car charging points, bearing in mind that this is only six years away we feel that you will be in safe hands to charge your car at any time no matter where you live in the UK by 2014.

So the locations can be;

A home charger which is discreetly placed on one of your outside walls, on a shed or in your garage.

From a charging station across the network of UK roads, in supermarkets, at supercharging stations from Tesla, from fire stations,from other government locations to park-and-ride’s, airports and anywhere else that can fit one.

These chargers are dependent on the power unit, a charge can take anything from 30 minutes to 8 hours to fully charge your car, however, the average time to charge a Pure Electric Car nowadays is down to 4 hours in many cases. If you travel less than 100 miles a day and you sleep for four to eight hours a night you can have a fully charged car without ever having to go to a petrol station again and waste time at the pump.

With a plug-in hybrid it is much the same, however, you can obviously travel a lot more than 100 miles a day, in fact you could travel up to 1000 as these vehicles are not dependent on being plugged in to a power unit.

Advanced Vehicle Technologies and Insurance Costs

With the advent of increasingly expensive new vehicle technologies, collision repair shops are asking what kind of repairs might be considered good enough. For insurance companies, the question is when a vehicle should be written off because of cost consideration. With the advent of Advanced Vehicle Technologies (AVT), some vehicles that are still roadworthy may instead become writeoffs because of their high AVT content. Examples of AVT include using of high strength steels in vehicle structures, aluminum chassis, carbon fibre cells and body parts, advanced welding and bonding techniques, electric vehicles and hybrids and electronic safety features and driver aids.

The impetus for using AVTs is pretty simple – reduce fuel consumption and increase combustion efficiency, which in turn reduces exhaust emissions. To this end, manufacturers have sought to improve vehicle efficiency by using materials substitution, downsizing existing vehicle designs, systems or components as well as using new structural, systems or component designs. They have also adopted alternate materials in conjunction with these new designs. Other manufacturers have also improved efficiency of engine accessories by converting some systems like the water pumps and power steering systems to electricity-driven designs. All these add up to additional costs for the consumer, the collision repair shop and the car insurance company. This is when the question of what car insurance companies should pay for in terms of repair crops up. As the repair costs add up across the board, it will only be natural for insurance companies to increase premiums. While increased insurance premiums may not affect owners of expensive luxury or sports cars too much, imagine the impact this will have on lower-income car owners who struggle to make monthly payments. Bolstering this statement is the fact that technologies that only BMW or Mercedes employed half a decade ago have now found their way in entry-level cars like the Ford Focus. As an insurance industry expert has put it, “Advances in technology drive costs. We’re talking about the increasing complexity, the equipment required to make the collision repair and the training that’s necessary to make the repair successfully and correctly.”

This can change how commuters use their cars, such as reducing car use or giving up on certain kinds of trips altogether. With less use of cars, even collision repair shops will feel the pinch when less accidents result on average. One only has to look into collision repair data in mild winters to see what we’re talking about.