Introduction Background: The Century Old Electric Car Electric cars are hardly a new concept, “the electric vehicle has been around for over 100 years. ” (“Advanced Vehicle Testing Activity: History of Electric Vehicles. “) These early electric cars, shown in Figure 1, were quiet and clean in comparison to internal combustion engine vehicles and therefore were preferred by those who could afford them.
However, several major developments led to their extinction: • Crude oil prices dropped due to the discovery of oil in Texas • Electric starters eliminating the hand crank thus simplifying the operation of internal combustion engine vehicles • Reduced price of internal combustion engine vehicles due to mass production • Improved systems of highways led to longer commutes and electric cars had a very limited range Figure 1: Early Electric Cars, 1902 Phaeton (right) & 1918 Detroit (left) Photos provided by the U.
S. Department of Energy.
The Worlds First Production Electric Vehicle In 1996, GM release the first production electric vehicle called the EV1. GM first marketed the car in Los Angeles California and Phoenix Arizona in response to the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate.
The original ZEV mandate from 1990 said, that by 1998, 2% of all new cars sold in the state of California by the automotive manufactures would have to meet the zero emissions standards. (“Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program”, 2010) Problems/concerns Regarding Large Scale Implementation of Electric Cars General Motors EV1 Speci?
cations • • • • 78. 2 mile range Acceleration: 0-50 mph in 6. 3 sec Time to Recharge: 5Hrs 18 min Weight: 2970 lbs 3 Figure 2: 1996 General Motors EV1 Present Day Electric Cars A number of automotive manufactures are beginning to release electric cars into today’s market. One of the more promising/affordable cars, set to be sold later this year, is the Nissan Leaf. While the Leaf may have a MSRP of $32,720, government incentives of up to $7500 off would bring the cost down to $25,280, making it one of the most affordable electric production vehicles to hit the market. Figure.
3: 2011 Nissan Leaf Nissan Leaf Speci? cations • • • • 100 mile range Battery Capacity: 24 KWh Time to Recharge: 8Hrs Weight: 2980 lbs Problems/concerns Regarding Large Scale Implementation of Electric Cars Problem Statement 4 High fuel costs and the ever growing concerns about global warming has placed a lot of pressure on the world to steer away from vehicles with high carbon emissions. The current environmental state is a problem that should concern everyone, and the recent oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico is just one more sign that we need to relieve our dependency on oil.
The electric car could be a potential solution, however, wide scale implementation of these vehicles is proving to have a number of problems of their own. A few the problems/concerns slowing the transition include: 1. Higher initial cost of electric vehicles 2. Battery life, longevity and replacement costs 3. Limited vehicle range and slow recharge rates 4. Redirected carbon emissions from vehicle’s tail pipe to power plant’s smoke stack 5.
Government policies and money hungry oil companies Higher initial cost of electric vehicles The Nissan Leaf may be more affordable than past electric cars, but it is still significantly higher than similar internal combustion engine vehicles. Nissan Leaf – MSRP $32,720 Toyota Matrix – MSRP $16,700 Figure 4: Electric/Gas MSRP Comparison Battery life, longevity and replacement costs Batteries don’t last forever and eventually need to be replaced. Electric cars require a large number of batteries, replacing them will likely set owners back thousands of dollars.
Limited vehicle range and slow recharge rates With a range of approximately100miles per charge and charge time of approximately 8 hours, electric cars will not be for everyone. However, for the 78% of Americans who drive under 40 miles per day, it may be a viable alternative. (“Plug-in Prius: high fuel economy, high price”) Problems/concerns Regarding Large Scale Implementation of Electric Cars 5 Redirected Carbon Emissions: From Tailpipes to Smoke Stacks While electric cars may eliminate direct “tail pipe” carbon emissions, they are charged through our existing power grid and therefore still produce indirect carbon emissions.
“Coal-fired plants contributed 47. 7 percent of the power generated in the United States” between April 2009 and March 2010, leading to approximately 1. 3 lbs of CO2 per KWh. This all means that electric cars that produce zero tail pipe emissions, if charging through the existing power grid, would generate roughly 1. 3 lbs of CO2 per KWh. In the case of the Nissan Leaf, having a total storage capacity of 24KWh and a estimated range of 100 miles, this equates 31. 2 lbs of CO2/100miles.
Table 1: Net Generation by Major Energy Source: Total (All Sectors) Government Policies and Money Hungry Oil Companies A lot of controversy still exists about what exactly happened to the electric car of the early 1990s. There was even a 2006 documentary film entitled “Who Killed the Electric Car? ”. The documentary points out that the automobile manufacturers, the oil industry and the government (the Bush administration) all had something to gain from preventing the market growth of the electric car. The oil industry obviously feared competing technologies that could alleviate some of our dependence on oil.
Surely the fact that Cheney, Rice and Card were all previously board members or executives of the oil and auto companies, was not just a coincidence! The automotive companies knew the electric cars would be less profitable over the life of the car due to decreased repair cost. Combined, automobile manufacturers, the oil industry and the government, were able to put enough pressure, on the California Air Resources Board, thus forcing the mandates for strict emissions to be removed.
Without the mandate in place, to force companies to produce alternative fueled vehicles, the EV1 along with the disappeared and GM turned its back to produce what knew best, which for the most part was trunks and SUVs. Problems/concerns Regarding Large Scale Implementation of Electric Cars 6 Signi? cance Global Fossil carbon emissions have been increasing exponentially over the last few hundred years. Table 2, below, shows the breakdown of how many million metric tons of carbon are present in the atmosphere. “Since gasoline is about 87% carbon and 13% hydrogen by weight, the carbon in a gallon of gasoline weighs 5.
5 pounds (6. 3 lbs. x . 87). ” (“How can 6 pounds of gasoline create 19 pounds of Carbon dioxide?. “) So while a gallon of gas only weighs 6. 3 pounds, every gallon burned emits approximately 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. So, an average gas powered car that gets 20 miles per gallon would produce 1 lb of CO2 per mile. This significantly higher than the example of the Nissan Leaf, which was earlier calculated to produce 31. 2 lbs of CO2 per milers (. 312 lbs CO2 per miles), less than 1/3 the emissions. According to the Automotive News Data Center, there were over 16. 1 million vehicles sold in 2007 and that is just in the US.
If a significant amount of alternatively fueled vehicles do not reduce the number of gas powered vehicles on the road, we will continue to see an exponential increase in global fossil carbon emissions. Table 2: Timeline of Global Fossil Carbon Emissions Problems/concerns Regarding Large Scale Implementation of Electric Cars 7 Conclusion The worlds dependency on oil continues to threaten the environment. The current environmental state should concern everyone, and the recent oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico is just one more sign that we need to relieve our dependency on oil.
While the electric car could be a potential solution, wide scale implementation of these vehicles has proven to have a number of problems of their own. Their high initial cost, battery replacement costs and limited range has led to serious delays in their implementation. In order for there to be an effective large scale implementation of alternatively fueled vehicles, there needs to be greater incentives to potential buyers. Although there are some government incentives, such as the up to $7500 off the Nissan Leaf, the final cost of electric vehicles are still significantly higher than similar gas powered models.
In order to drive down the cost of electric vehicles, stricter mandates, similar to the 1990 Zero Emission Vehicle mandate, need to be placed on automotive manufactures and dealers. Forcing the manufactures and dealers to sell a certain percentage electric cars would eventually lead to zero emissions vehicles the general public could afford. We can not allow poor government policies of the past and greedy, environmentally destructive, oil companies control our destinies. Although there are a few issues with electric cars, it is crucial they are resolved in a timely manor. Making sacrifices now will insure a cleaner environment in the future.
Problems/concerns Regarding Large Scale Implementation of Electric Cars 8 Recommendations • Greater government incentives should be provided to individuals buying electric cars. • The quantity of electric cars sold, should be matched with “green” charging stations. • Increase the federal funding to programs such as “Cash For Clunkers” to remove inefficient vehicles from the road. • Implement stricter mandates on automotive sales to force auto manufacturer and dealer to sell a minimum number of alternately fueled vehicles. Problems/concerns Regarding Large Scale Implementation of Electric Cars.