A Short Guide to the Electric Car

An  electric car  is powered by an electric motor instead of a gasoline engine.   The electric motor gets energy from a controller, which regulates the amount of power—based on the driver’s use of an accelerator pedal.  The electric car (also known as  electric vehicle  or  EV ) uses energy stored in its rechargeable batteries, which are recharged by common household electricity.

Unlike vehicles powered by fossil fuels, BEVs are most commonly and conveniently charged from the  power grid  overnight at home, without the inconvenience of having to go to a filling station.  Charging can also be done using a street or shop charging station.

Electric vehicles first came into existence in the mid-19th century, when electricity was among the preferred methods for motor vehicle propulsion, providing a level of comfort and ease of operation that could not be achieved by the gasoline cars of the time.  The  internal combustion engine  (ICE) is the dominant propulsion method for  motor vehicles  but electric power has remained commonplace in other vehicle types, such as trains and smaller vehicles of all types.

Although electric vehicles have few direct emissions, all rely on energy created through  electricity generation , and will usually emit pollution and generate waste, unless it is generated by  renewable source  power plants.  Since electric vehicles use whatever electricity is delivered by their electrical utility/grid operator, electric vehicles can be made more or less efficient, polluting and expensive to run, by modifying the electrical generating stations.  This would be done by an electrical utility under a government energy policy, in a timescale negotiated between utilities and government.

A hybrid electric vehicle combines a conventional (usually fossil fuel-powered) powertrain with some form of electric propulsion.  Common examples include hybrid electric cars such as the  Toyota Prius .  The  Chevrolet Volt  is an example of a production  plug-in hybrid .

The Tesla Roadster is a screaming-fast, all-electric two-seater sports car built on the frame of the Lotus Elise.  The specs, if they can be delivered, are impressive:  0 – 60 mph in less than four seconds, 135-mpg equivalent, 200-mile range, and a brilliant tech design that wires together nearly 7,000 mass-commodity rechargeable lithium batteries.

Battery life should be considered when calculating the extended cost of ownership, as all batteries eventually wear out and must be replaced.  The rate at which they expire depends on the type of battery technology and how they are used — many types of batteries are damaged by depleting them beyond a certain level.  Lithium-ion batteries degrade faster when stored at higher temperatures.

The electric car in one form or another is here to stay, and as battery technology improves and charging gets faster and more available they will become a cheaper and convenient way to get around. Its a technology we have to embrace as fossil fuels are not a viable long term prospect.