Is electric vehicles the future of transportation?
There’s a worldwide battle going on with climate change, rising fuel prices, fuel shortages and declining fossil fuels. With these common problems, we’re finally seeing a huge flip, not only in the government, but consumer’s opinions, on electric vehicles. It doesn’t matter if you are a tree hugger like me — an everyday good person trying to do their part; or non-believer of climate change. It is hard to escape and wave away what is going on in the world. Vehicles not only take us from point A to point B, but they are a source of freedom and independence. Between the daily news and social media, you are going to see the increase in interest, need and demand for alternative forms of transportation.
I’m not talking about walking more, bicycles or even horse and buggy. Although any of these choices would be good for the environment. No, I’m talking about electric, battery electric, plug-in hybrid, hybrid and fuel cell electric vehicles. These are the 4 types of electric vehicles available in Canada right now. But don’t panic, manufactures are still producing traditional combustion engines. Difference is they are now making more of them fuel efficient.
I’m hoping that once you learn about electric, you may forget that traditional engine and get on the electric band wagon.
First, what is an electric car?
When talking electric, we’re talking about a vehicle that runs off electricity instead of gasoline. They have rechargeable batteries that are charged by everyday electricity. Some electric vehicles may also have a gasoline engine, this helps extends the driving distance. With the 4 types of electric vehicles on the market in Canada today, which one do you choose?
What are the different types of electric vehicles?
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)
100% battery powered, with zero tailpipe emissions, no combustion engine and are charged at charging stations or an outlet. With BEV’s you will notice there are some interesting and some may say quirky designs, look at Tesla’s range of saloon cars. (for more details on BEV)
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV)
100% electric, electricity used to power the electric motor, is produced by combining hydrogen and oxygen, science at its best. These vehicles also have no tailgate emissions and water is the only by-product. (Read more about FCEV)
Conventional Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)
These are gas-electric hybrid vehicles that have an electric motor combined with a gasoline engine. Primary powered by the electric motor, the gasoline engine will cut in when the speed increases or weight in the vehicle does. The internal computer controls the two power system that will optimize for the best economy depending on the type of driving condition. Through regenerative braking the batteries will charge and the energy produced will convert to kinetic energy. (Read more about HEV)
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)
These vehicles are very similar to HEV’s. The 2 differences are, not only can they run fully on batteries, but they can be fully charged by plugging in. This makes them very appealing for the desire of 100% zero emissions on any journey. (Read more about PHEV)
Are electric vehicles expensive?
Will going electric break the bank, or will it amount to the same cost as a traditional combustion vehicle? Let’s take a look at what these 4 electric vehicles can cost and some big pro’s and con’s for the pocket book.
For FCEV the initial cost is higher than what you would expect. For example, take a look at the Hyundai Tucson FCEV, a nice looking vehicle. You don’t need to plug in. The recharging is completed by hydrogen fuel. You can be charged in as little as 5 minutes. The only downfall at the moment is that Canada does not have enough fueling stations. Until the infrastructure is upgraded, it may be a challenge to own one right now in your community.
When we look at HEV’s they can be a bit higher in price. However if you compare a similar combustion engine, the price is very close, as the fuel economy is very good. If we look at for example, a 2014 Honda Accord, you can get up 46 miles per gallon, but for a non-hybrid only around 30 miles per gallon.
Now compare the cost between 100% battery powered, PHEV’s and HEV’s, there is a big cost difference. HEV’s have 2 power systems, and they cannot be charged on public networks. However HEV’s do have a longer range than you battery powered electric vehicle, and they use conventional fueling stations.
Last but not least is PHEV’s, they are very similar in cost to a combustion engine but they are lower in cost to their cousin HEV. Now this depends on the distance driven on electric power, for example the Chevy Volt can run over 60 km before the gas engine kicks in. As they still have 2 power systems, the maintenance cost can be higher.
Brief history of electric vehicles
Why electric vehicles failed in the past
Electric vehicles have been around since the 1800’s. Several countries tried their hand at what they thought would be the biggest invention, but were not successful until the 1890’s. Everything changed when William Morrison, a chemist from Iowa, became successful with a 6 passenger vehicle. However, his design was not perfect &emdash; it looked like a modified electric wagon. But it sparked the interest in many automakers. By the early 1900’s, around a third of the vehicles on the road in the United States was electric.
New York City had 60 taxis that were electric, and housewives across the country were raving about them. They were loved for being clean, easy to drive and affordable for city living.
So what happened? Electric was the best thing, and many innovators like Ferdinand Porsche were successful with their creation. In 1898 he developed the electric P1 and became the first worldwide creator of the hybrid electric car. Another famous inventor Thomas Edison partnered with Henry Ford in 1914 to create the best affordable electric car.
However that partnership took an unexpected turn, one that not only effected North America but the world. Back in 1908 Henry Ford created the Model T, and boy, was this a big one. It took the auto industry into a whole new world. Between the availability, low fuel costs (thanks to the discovery of Texas crude) and affordability, electric faded away, until the 70s that is.
Electric vehicles making a comeback
Almost 40 years after electric went to sleep, what woke the electric dragon from slumber? We have gas shortages, rising fuel prices and let’s not forget the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973. All this caused the US Congress to pass the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development and Demonstration Act of 1976. With General Motor’s, many auto makers and even NASA (in 1971 the electric Lunar rover, became the first manned vehicle to drive on the moon) helped raise the electric profile, but not enough. Fast forward to the 1990s and we have a growing concern worldwide about the environment and the impact fossil fuels are having. With the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendment in 1990 and Energy Policy Act in 1992, a renewed interest in the U.S. took flight.
Who are the big players in manufacturing?
Here we are in 2019 and wow, are there many automotive manufactures creating fun, sleek and sexy electric cars. Here are some samples of the top electric cars for tree huggers to housewives and yes, CEO’s and celebrities. Now the first two are from the same inventor &emdash; he does not need an intro as his name is known worldwide, Elon Musk and Tesla. These two are curvy and attractive, in that good-looking second and third glance vehicle way.
We first have the Tesla Model 3, it’s a sleek looking all electric sedan in and out, fun to drive with available up to 310 mileage. The pricing is in the middle $38,000 to $40,000, but when you take the rebates into consideration it is on the very affordable end. The next is the Tesla Model S Performance, now this one is sexy, it’s got curves and performance that will give any speed monkey a run for their money. When you a boost a zero to 60 time in 2.4 seconds and a 345 mile range with a 100-kWh battery, you have some very big bragging rights. The only thing right now stopping many from buying is the price tag, starting around $79,000 most can’t open the pocket book that far.
Are electric vehicles cost effective?
Don’t worry, there have some very nice and affordable electric vehicle to choose from. These include the Chevrolet Volt EV, Nissan Leaf and BMW 13. All of these vehicles are stylish, affordable, starting around $29,500 to $45,000, practical and available. Any one of these would be good for daily city driving and living. Also good for a road trip to your favorite hiking spot in the mountains, or must go to county farmers market then antique store.
I have two more worth mentioning even though they are on the higher end they have the wow facture. First there is the Audi E-Tron, it is what you would expect from Audi. Fast and luxurious with all the features you have come to love from the master German manufacture, but electric. A price range around $75,000, those who desire a 360 horse power and pound feet of torque from 408 to 489 with boost mode, will love.
Lastly on my list is the Jaguar I-Pace, the winner of both the Canadian Green Utility Vehicle of the Year, and the Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year for 2019. The Jaguar I-Pace is not only sleek and modern but it is the first to put Tesla to the test. This electric vehicle has the stylish features, all the bells and whistles but most importantly the performance and range, you come to know with Jaguar. Price starting around the $80,000 it is on the upper end but well worth the investment.
Which provinces are supporting the electric car industry in both funding and rebates?
With so many Canadians wanting their next vehicle to be either fuel efficient or electric, manufactures are hard at work. They are creating what they hope will turn the buyers green, or at least thinking about it. The new federal rebate program IZEV launched on May 1st for electric cars. The Federal and certain provincial governments are hoping the combined rebate program, will encourage more and more drivers to go electric. The government hopes that the provinces that don’t have a rebate program, will start one soon, as interest and demand are rising.
With the Federal government and the British Columbia and Quebec provincial governments offering rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles. The pricing and desirability become much more attractive and attainable for the everyday driver. Even the driver with the taste for luxury can’t complain.
Why you should switch to electric vehicles
Whether you are going electric for environmental, financial or even trending, an electric car is a vehicle for you. It will save you nicely in the long run, and the planet will thank you. Going electric will not be a fad or go back to sleep like it did in the early 1930’s and again 1970’s. The world is changing and we can’t sit by any longer, this is not only a need but a demand, if we have any hope of reversing the damage occurring. I’m not saying every car on the road needs to be electric, but it needs and must be fuel efficient and as close to low or zero emissions as possible.
With rising demand, new technology and most if not every automotive manufacture going down the electric road. The availability and popularity will not only lower the cost, but there will be a model for every consumer. From your first car owner to your novice looking for their next sweet ride. I hope some questions were answered and the now need to know electric bug has awakened and you are now leaning more towards the electric and cleaner future.
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