From time to time, we invite a “guest blogger” to contribute to The NativeVoice. Today’s blog is authored by our partner and customer, Esurance.
With the Nissan LEAF making its market debut this year, the Ford Focus EV due out in late 2011, and BMW working on a small electric car that could launch in 2012, it seems that the era of the electric vehicle (EV) is finally upon us.
But with so much hype and hoopla circulating, many of us could barely fill a thimble with what we actually know about EVs. With that in mind, we compiled this list. It’s by no means a comprehensive overview, just the top 5.1 most important things to know about the long-awaited and highly-touted electric car.
In a (layman’s) nutshell…Rechargeable batteries provide electricity to a controller, which powers a motor, which, in turn, spins the wheels. Yup, that’s it. Instead of filling up with gas, batteries are “filled up” with electricity. Recharging can be done by plugging into a normal 120- or 240-volt electrical outlet and takes anywhere from 4–10 hours.
Though driving range might vary depending on the type of vehicle and batteries, most EVs can go 80–100 miles on a single charge. While that’s not sufficient for a Thelma & Louise-type adventure, for the general population, it’s plenty of power to get to work and home again with a few errands in between. Plus, similar to fuel-powered cars, the way you drive an electric car can affect battery efficiency.
Because there are 3 different categories of electric cars – Highway Capable, 3-wheeled “motorcycles,” and Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) – safety standards vary somewhat. Low-speed NEVs and 3-wheeled vehicles are currently subject to different requirements, but all highway-capable electric vehicles are regulated by the same standards as gas-powered vehicles. In March of this year, 41 countries met in Geneva and agreed on international safety standards for fully electric vehicles.
Until recently, the Tesla Roadster was one of the few highway-worthy EVs on the market. At $110K a pop, it was about as accessible as a NASA space shuttle. With the Chevy Volt expected to hit showrooms later this year at the high end of $30K, and the Nissan LEAF scheduled for a December release at around $28–35K, electric cars are becoming more and more affordable.
Subtract from these prices the $7,500 federal tax credit you’ll get if you buy an electric car before the end of 2011, and the odds of being able to afford an EV in the near future jump from out-of-this-world to pretty-darn-good. And that’s without mentioning how much you can save on gas and maintenance.
Electrical vehicles are 100% emission-free and 97% cleaner than gas-powered vehicles. According to Scientific American.com, the cost of charging an electric vehicle is equivalent to paying 75 cents per gallon in gas. Over the life of a vehicle, the total “fuel” savings are likely to be thousands of dollars. They’re also 3 times as efficient. It all adds up to a happier, richer you and a happier, richer planet.
Buying an electric vehicle isn’t the only thing you can do to reduce or offset carbon emissions. Eco-advocates like NativeEnergy offer numerous offsetting options and “support an evolving portfolio of carbon-reducing projects.” And as a long-time partner of Esurance, NativeEnergy offsets the electricity used in each of our permanent office locations.