It’s Less Expensive In The Long Run

teslaWe’re still going with our discussion of electric cars.  As I mentioned before, I can go on and on about a subject that I find important and this is indeed one of them. Electric cars have become an important part of our country’s future.

So let’s keep moving and discuss the cost comparison of a conventional car against an electric car.  As we know, our conventional cars run on gasoline and whether we want to believe it or not, gas HAS to increase in price.  I heard the simplest explanation about why gas has to increase in price from my girlfriend’s brother Paul and what he said made perfect sense.  He has a tree cutting service in Seattle and we were talking about why he was slowly starting to change out his company’s conventional cars for electrical ones.

Paul said that there was a large amount of oil in the Earth but there isn’t an infinite supply of it.  Just like a glass that’s filled with water, if you keep sipping and sipping, eventually the glass is going to be empty.  The same thing applies to our natural resource, oil.  If we continue to drill and drill and drill eventually the oil is going to run out.  As the oil runs out, “supply and demand” will take over.  Basic economics teaches us this.  If there is a big demand for a limited amount of “something” then the sellers of that “something” will sell to the highest bidder.

Not only will the owner have to bear the burden of the ever increasing cost of gasoline with conventional cars but there is also the cost of overall car maintenance.  After driving a certain distance, a car needs to be taken to a service center where they change the engine oil, coolant, wiper fluid, brake fluid, oil filter, etc. and check for basic wear and tear. This is usually a minimal cost for the overall upkeep of the car but can cost a considerable amount of money if there is a serious problem that needs to be tended to.

In an electric car however, this cost is much less. Firstly, an electric car doesn’t need to taken to a service center that often.  The number of parts to be checked in an electrical car are considerably much less than in a conventional car as there are fewer moving parts.   Also, electric cars have minimal heating problems so the use of coolants are also much less. The motor is often brushless and that provides zero friction which helps to preserve the engine’s life. You can definitely argue that it’s quite expensive to replace the battery pack but in its defense, the battery has a long recharge cycle and that means that you will only have to replace the battery pack after so many years. The cost of fuel of an electric car when compared to an internal combustion engine is 1/10th or even less depending on the location of electric tariffs.

After having said all of that, if you talk to a group of people, the overall cost of electrical cars isn’t really the most attractive aspect of the car. People genuinely like the idea of driving a car that doesn’t add pollutants to the environment. With millions of cars burning billions of gallons of gasoline each year, the earth is steadily getting destroyed.

Electric cars run on electricity however, there is no point if this electricity is obtained by conventional means. Therefore, smart manufacturers are opting for non conventional ways to produce energy. The modern electric industry is faced with several norms that make it mandatory for them to integrate other ways to produce electricity. Solar energy, hydel power and wind energy are a few that are effectively used. This lowers the carbon emissions and when electric cars use this electricity it is used in a more efficient way.  Companies are starting to catch on and they see the positive effects this alternative form of transportation can have on the planet.

They’ll Be Everywhere Soon

bmwelectriccarsThe 1990s saw a new era in the field of electric cars with Chrysler, Ford, GM and Honda all competing to make its name known in this new niche market. Currently, the present scenario is one where Toyota, Nissan and Tesla are creating electric cars that are truly taking this market to the next level.  These companies are giving more ease, comfort, benefits and value for the money that customers of electric cars are truly enjoying.  We have really come a long way.

It was Tesla, the brainchild of Elon Musk, that first revolutionized electric cars with the Tesla roadster in 2008. Since then, there have been several cars that the market has enjoyed.  There is Nissan with its Leaf, Tesla with its S and X, BMW with its activeE and iSeries, Renault with its Fluence ZE and Zoe, Honda Fit, Toyota RAV4 EV, Chevrolet Spark, Fiat 500e, Volkswagen e-Up! and e-Golf, Kia with Soul EV and Mercedes with its B-Class Electric Drive.  The list is getting bigger and bigger as time goes on.

Tesla plans to bring out Model 3 which, the company claims will be by far the most successful electric car it has released as it will be competing with all conventional cars in that price segment. Currently, the company is taking orders for the car and will be delivering shortly. Enthusiasts have ordered more than 300,000 models with a token money deposit. The Renault-Nissan Alliance who have managed to sell more than 300,000 electric cars already still leads the pack though.

The numbers are promising, no doubt, but how much significance do they carry? How fast are we advancing towards the future where all cars, which supposedly is in the hundreds of millions, are driven by electricity? What are the factors that act as hurdles to slow down the growth of this necessary revolution and how can we speed it up?

Let’s have a look at price. When compared to conventional cars powered by internal combustion engines, electric cars are more expensive. The majority of the cost come from the battery pack that gives power to the electric motor of the the car. Modern cars are using lithium-ion battery packs and with mass production manufacturers are managing to reduce the cost of the batteries at a steady rate. Soon we can expect battery packs to sell at a fraction of the cost that they are being sold for now and that will help to solve a major issue. Different companies have also found different answers to this battery pack problem. For example, Tesla, the company that is one of the leading producers of electric cars has resorted to another solution that is working perfectly. Instead of creating a dedicated type of battery for powering cars, they use conventional batteries that are used to power laptops and other mobile electronic gadgets. They are more compact in size and have cut cost up to 75%.

This has brought a huge change in the automotive scenario as other companies are following suit too and now, the current cost of many battery packs are presently $300-350 per kilowatt/hour compared to $1200 per kilowatt/hour in 2007. Economists all over the world see this a good sign. With this steady decline of price in the battery industry, soon we will see electric cars priced cheaper than conventional internal combustion engine powered cars and then let’s hope that we see an all out onslaught of these types of vehicles on our roads.

Electric Cars Are Our Future

electriccarElectric cars are powered by electric motors that run on battery packs. In most cases, the batteries are rechargeable and can be recharged through standard power outlets. When it comes to overall energy efficiency, the electric car beats out conventional engines as electric cars can reach energy efficiency up to 80% compared to 20-25% from conventional engines.  The electric car’s engine provides linear power and upon pressing the acceleration you can experience a gush of torque that is instantaneous and provides the car with a smooth rate of acceleration with zero delay.

Electric cars became commercially available when the market saw a decline in the gasoline supply and when the demand grew for an alternative form of transportation to combat the energy crisis. For a while though, the market was having success with cars that didn’t use as much gasoline and so internal combustion engine overshadowed the electric cars.  Now, with our environment being broken down into bits and pieces and fossil fuel deposits fast depleting, there is an obvious need for an alternative so electric cars are again being revived. The governments of most countries are unanimous in this decision and subsidies are being provided to people who buy and use electric cars.

Electric cars have several benefits over conventional internal combustion engines. They are almost three times as efficient, provide instantaneous power to the wheels, are quiet and therefore doesn’t cause sound pollution.  They don’t burn any fuel so there is no carbon footprint.  They run on renewable sources of energy therefore they don’t threaten to deplete the planet’s limited reserves.

Nothing is absolutely perfect so there are a couple of drawbacks to electric cars as well.  The battery packs and replacing them can be quite expensive. Another drawback is that they have limited range. Electric cars can’t go into a fuel station to get refills and then keep on going. They need to find an electric supply and charge for a considerable amount of time to recharge it’s batteries and run again. This can be seen as an inconvenience because it’s not always easy to find power outlets and the recharging can also take a considerable amount of time. But many companies have found solutions for these problems which, though don’t solve the problems completely, provide solutions which are functional until further research and development provides a foolproof solution.

Today, as we look at the present automobile scenario, we find that all the automotive giants around the world have realized the situation and after proper analysis of their target market have started to provide products according to what their customers want. Though these products vary a lot in comparison to their rivals, there is one inherent property that applies to all. They all use electricity and are targeting increased efficiency at a lower cost and minimal harm to the environment. You can find almost fifty different models of electric cars created by a bevy of companies that are being offered to suit the varying needs of different customers. Companies like Tesla and Nissan have plans to increase their electric car customer base to millions within the next couple of years and other companies are catching up fast.

Electric cars were initially planned to be daily city commuters. Unable to accelerate at great speeds and designed only for commuting a few blocks and taking you to work and the supermarket was something these cars were tailored for.  The cars did their job efficiently, but most people didn’t like the idea of buying another vehicle for long drives and long distance journeys. Therefore, engineering did its job and now we have high speed cars with high capacity power packs providing enough juice to drive hundreds of miles.

Where Are The Cars Going?

modeltSince the evolution of man from an ape to what he is today, man has discovered and done many things that has guaranteed his position at the top of the food chain.  However, these weren’t “all of a sudden” events and every discovery he made, no matter how small or how big, had significant impacts on his lifestyle. Two of the most important discoveries made by man that arguably changed the course of history were definitely the invention of wheels and figuring out how to light a fire.  From those, several other inventions were born.

Back in the day, man figured out that humans were able to manipulate animals and structures to get a desired result so they utilized the physical properties of the wheel along with other animals. The two were put together and humans ended up creating carriages drawn by horses and other domesticated animals. This was profound because these carriages gave humans the ability to travel longer distances faster.  After that, around the later part of the 19th century, man improved on the carriage and put fire and the wheel together.

From this, a new era arose.  An era where carriages weren’t carried by animals anymore but powered by internal combustion engines. And because of that combustion engine, cars as we know them today, have come a long way.  There have been some engineering feats that match Michelangelo’s artistic performance on the roof of Vatican in terms of ingenious.  We have been awed by the power of cars and mesmerized by their beauty.

With that said, it seems as if we are headed in another direction.  Internal combustion, since its conception, has carried us across many countries for millions and millions of miles but our curious minds won’t let us stop there.  Our future is in electric cars and we have already started our journey down that path.  Electric cars will definitely revolutionize personal transportation as we know it.

In fact, the journey had begun much earlier. With the development of the first modern cars.  Engineers were looking for the best possible way to power them.  Several methods were tested and electricity was taken into consideration too. The bulky storage requirements for batteries at the time made it difficult to consider.  There were also technical handicaps that failed to guarantee a sustainable power supply at that time so gasoline engines won by default.

People came to peace with that, and the multi billion dollar oil industry and the tycoons who rule it were happy. But with time people grew more conscious about the negative aspects of burning fossil fuels and though they are still the majority by a huge margin, people are changing their views on them and looking forward to something new.

They want something more efficient, that does the job without the incidental threats to the environment and also in a more cost effective way. Many possibilities have come up, like the hydrogen fuel cell powered car, the natural gas or bio diesel powered cars.  These options leave a much lesser carbon footprint, are easier to obtain and are renewable. But the one that has shown the most promise though is arguably the electric car.  In my next post, I’ll tell you why our future is with electric cars.