5 Reasons that Electric Vehicles are better than Gasoline Vehicles

I remember that the gasoline price is at $1.50 per gallon back in 2005 before deadly Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, Louisiana. Since then, the prices continue to skyrocket, and the gas cost nearly $4.00 per gallon today. Due to such high gasoline prices, the Electric Vehicles (EV) market has grown drastically over the past two years. From 1996 when GM introduced the first electric vehicle, the EV1, to 2001 the debut of the Toyota Prius hybrid, and now the 2011 Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt, the technology of electric car is going through rapid innovation and development. If you don’t believe the EV hype, here is a list of top 5 reasons that draw consumer’s attention to purchase a new electric car. 1,3

1.       Electric Cars have less noise, they are quiet.

If you have been a long time conventional car driver, your first time experience driving an EV is almost disturbingly quiet. Electric engines make almost no noise, which engineers have been perfecting for decades. The only sound you can hear is probably the muffled hum of tires on road. On the other hand, the noise level inside a gasoline vehicle can be as high as 75-80 decibels.4

2.       Electric Vehicles are more energy efficient.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy website2, for a conventional fuel car, the combustion engine loses 62.4% of fuel as heat, only 15% of the energy stored in the gas tank is used to move the car. The rest is lost through friction and external forces such as aerodynamic drag.  On the other hand, EV converts chemical energy to electrical energy at a rate of 90% efficiency.1,5

3.       Low maintenance cost.

Electric cars do not require oil changes, because there is no oil used to run the engines. Same for fan belts, air filters, spark plugs or any of other parts that need occasional replacement for a gasoline car. Even the brakes on an EV last longer than a gasoline car because EV slows the car by reversing the electrical motor instead of applying mechanical friction.1,6 The major component of an electric car – battery has high durability too, both Nissan and Chevy are offering 8 year/100,000 miles warrantees for the LEAF and Volt batteries. 1, 6

4.       Electric Cars save you money.

Electric cars can save money for gas, but people always said that EVs are so much more expensive to buy. For example, the 2011 Nissan LEAF SL has an MSRP of $33,7207, the four-door 2011 Honda Civic Si offers many of the similar features for price of %$24,4051. That’s over $9,000 cheaper. But there is a catch. The U.S. government is offering $7,500 in federal tax rebate for the purchases of a new EV. Many states like California offer an extra $5,000 incentives through 20151,7. That’s a total of $12,500 saving already! In terms of fuel cost, if you drive the Honda Civic 15,000 miles per year for five years, the cost for gas can be as much as $10,057. For the same mileages on a LEAF will cost only $3,000 for electricity.1

5.       Electric Cars have zero emissions.

All-electric cars like Tesla Roadster and Nissan LEAF have no tailpipe, because they have no heat or gases to release as a byproduct of combustion, therefore EVs are zero emission vehicles. 1, 6 In theory, EVs are not truly zero emissions because of the pollution comes from the electricity generation. However, an electric car reduces 35-60% less carbon dioxide emission from electricity than the CO2 pollution from the gasoline of a conventional car with an internal combustion engine.5 The Department of Energy estimates that a gasoline car emits 75 lbs of CO2 during a 100 mile trip, in comparison to 32 lbs of CO2 emits from a power plant to generate enough electricity to power an EV for the same 100 miles.2 In some areas, where rely largely on renewable power such as solar, wind or hydro, the emissions are even further less for EVs.

References:

  1. http://dsc.discovery.com/cars/top-10/reasons-to-buy-electric-car/intro.html
  2. http://www.fueleconomy.gov/
  3. http://www.nissanofauburn.com/electric-vehicles-versus-gasoline-vehicles
  4. http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelkanellos/2012/01/11/which-are-better-electric-cars-or-natural-gas-vehicles/
  5. http://www.sierraclub.org/electric-vehicles/myths.aspx
  6. http://www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/index#/leaf-electric-car/index
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5 Comments

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5 responses to “5 Reasons that Electric Vehicles are better than Gasoline Vehicles

  1. jucarosan

    While there is no doubt that EV’s are better in many different ways (you pointed out 5 of the many ones that can be argued) than gasoline vehicles; they also have some drawbacks that you didn’t point at all. Which are based on the same fact that there is not such a thing as a silver bullet for solving our transportation or energy source problems. Those basically are:

    1. Limited driving range: EV’s drivers get in average up to 100 miles for a charge. Thus, making them driving to a charging station to obtain the electricity required to drive another 100 miles. While it is possible to argue against the last argument that the average american drives less than 100 miles on a daily basis; then we will be enhancing an old social issue, americans would have more cars in their porch than what they actually need as EVs would become probably the urban vehicle used for short trips but it would not actually replace the main vehicle of a house. [1] [2]

    2. Time for charging: Related to the last argument, after you run out of electricity you would need to charge your car and it seems that the less an EV driver would be in the charge station is 30 mins but getting only a really short trip after that (15 – 20 miles). Thus making necessary to go again to a charging station (the house of the EV owner) and then plug-it for at least 3 to 4 hours in average before getting the 100% of the battery [2]. Compare that to a gas fill which takes maximum 15 mins if you are filling a really big SUV tank. In my case, I have a Honda Civic, and to fill the whole tank it takes less than 8 mins, and then I can actually drive up to 300 miles in average.[3]

    3. Cost of the vehicle: While you argue that you can get really good rebates and discounts from the government. We end at the same point as with other green technologies, without the help of the government they would not be able to succeed in the free market. Additionally, in your comparison you are comparing the EV to cars that actually make your math against the gas cars make sense; thus, favoring the EV and at the end making it seems to be cheaper. But, if you compare it to some of the best Honda’s and even the Ford Focus, they range in the $17,000 with really good gas consumption [4][5], therefore making the math of the EV’s more complex, even considering the rebates of the government. Additionally, if you don’t live in California, then the math would even be worst.

    The key here is availability of your car whenever you need it. It makes a big difference if you can use your car whenever you need and for the distance you need it, and not being terribly anxious about your lease bill. If not, take the bus or use a bike, is cheaper and cleaner and even help you with your daily exercise.

    By the way, if I would not have the budget constrain of a student and then early graduate student, I would actually buy the Chevrolet Volt.

    Sources:
    [1] http://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=116735
    [2] http://www.mygreenwheels.com/
    [3] Personal experience and http://automobiles.honda.com/civic-sedan/
    [4] http://automobiles.honda.com/civic/
    [5] http://www.ford.com/cars/focus/

  2. bradystoll

    I definitely agree with you that electric vehicles seem to be a very good solution to our current transportation problem. They will help us reduce our carbon footprint in a way that is achievable in the near future (unlike technologies such as hydrogen-powered vehicles) and that does not require Americans to change their lifecycle (by taking public transportation, or moving closer to their work, etc).

    However, there is a huge problem that must be addressed before they become realizable: infrastructure. As frequently mentioned in class, all energy sectors require huge infrastructures. For oil it is the pipe-lines, for solar and wind, transmission lines. Electric vehicles will also require new infrastructure before they are a viable technology on a large scale. Until people can insure that they will have a place to charge their car at work for the commute home, or at a concert venue, or grocery store, or high way rest stop, this technology will remain small. Very few people will be willing to give up the security of gasoline and the ability to guarantee they can continue their journeys when their fuel tank is empty for the sake of an electric vehicle. As mentioned above, those who do buy electric vehicles will likely have a back-up car for longer trips.

    Electric vehicles have a high potential to minimize the emissions of the transportation sector, particularly as coal and natural gas power plants are replaced with renewable sources. The issue of infrastructure and creating a network of charging stations needs to be addressed quickly so that the growth of the electric vehicle market is not hampered by this lack.

  3. I agree with most of your statements regarding the advantages of electric vehicles. However, I recently read some interesting pieces of news that bring up a few unforeseen disadvantages to electric vehicles.

    1. You had mentioned the quiet operation the electric vehicles – this can be and is often a bad thing, in terms of warning pedestrians about oncoming traffic. In fact, Audi is working on a simulated engine sound that will be emitted from speakers mounted underneath their electric vehicles (still in development). “With a silent EV, however, there is no warning. Sight must be relied upon, and for those that are distracted or have visual impairments, EVs are more dangerous than standard cars — where you can at least hear the splutter or rev of an engine…. Audi has given this problem its consideration, and is now developing a synthetic engine roar so the company’s e-Tron vehicles can be heard by unwary pedestrians.” Here is some more information: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/smart-takes/audi-e-sound-adds-an-engine-roar-to-silent-evs/25141

    2. A couple months back, several owners of the Tesla Roadster, an all-electric sports car, reported cases of “bricking” as a result of a prolonged time spent without charging the battery. “If the battery is ever totally discharged, the owner is left with what Tesla describes as a “brick”: a completely immobile vehicle that cannot be started or even pushed down the street. The only known remedy is for the owner to pay Tesla approximately $40,000 to replace the entire battery. Unlike practically every other modern car problem, neither Tesla’s warranty nor typical car insurance policies provide any protection from this major financial loss.” Further investigation also showed that it is possible to completely drain the battery if it is being inadequately trickle-charged or connected to an extension cord. Whether or not keeping it charged at all times should be considered as part of the regular maintenance of the vehicle (similar to checking fluids and changing oil in a gasoline car), this issue still creates a unique insurance situation in which a $40,000 part of a vehicle is not insurable. Here is some more information: http://jalopnik.com/5887265/tesla-motors-devastating-design-problem

    • I like electric cars. I like even more the thought that the environment will be the same or better for my son and his children the more we use them. However, I question your advantage number 5 in that electric cars are emission free. If by that you mean only that the vehicles make no emissions while driving, that my be true, but it understates the effect that the electric cars do have on the environment. Your post only comments on the CO2 emitted, but what about the other costs.

      Recent studies are beginning to question the overall impact of electric vehicles on the environment. For example, electricity generated to power electric cars caused more particulate matter pollution than that caused by an equivalent number of petrol driven vehicles.(1) Particulate matter comes from the combustion of fossil fuels and includes acids, organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles.

      While renewable energy sources will eliminate the impact of particulate matter, you must also consider the cost of mining, transporting, and assembling the batteries needed for electric cars. You also need to consider the cost of disposal, recycling, or re-purposing the batteries in the cars.

      An all electric fleet would be beneficial to the environment, economy, and future generations. Unfortunately, the technology is just not present to make electric cars sufficiently better for the environment than gasoline power cars.

      (1) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2100936/Study-shows-impact-electric-cars-worse-petrol-powered-vehicles.html

  4. thanks for this post,it helped me a lot.

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