5 Electric Vehicles Worth Considering

The term “electric vehicle” is not used solely to describe those cars that run on electric power only. The industry now calls any car that has at least at electric option an EV, adjusting the terms accordingly.

Thus, a plugin hybrid is called a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle or PHEV; the Chevrolet Volt fits this category. A straight hybrid, such as the Toyota Prius, is an HEV while an FCEV is a fuel cell electric vehicle or what the Honda FCX Clarity is. Terms such as BEV represent battery electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus Electric.

Regardless of how it is described, today’s car shopping consumer has several choices for consideration including the following five EVs worth your inspection:

1. Nissan Leaf — Nissan’s Leaf is priced about $36,000 and runs exclusively on electric power. Its range is about 70 miles, making this car perfect for the person who relies on a vehicle for a local commute. Its drawback is its limited range which means, like the Ford Focus EV, you’ll have to recharge before you can move on.

2. Chevrolet Volt — Is it an EV or is it a hybrid? Neither. The Chevy Volt is a PHEV and it has an electric-only range of 35 miles before a 1.4-liter gas engine kicks in. No emissions are emitted when this model operates in EV mode — the gas engine ensures that you can take long trips without having to recharge the electric motor. Base price is $39,995; you may do better buying the similar-sized Chevy Cruze for half the price.

3. Ford Focus Electric — The Ford Focus is already a popular car in its own right. The Focus BEV gives Ford its first major EV and is a good alternative to the Nissan Leaf. Its price point, however, is at $39,000, making this car one of the more expensive EVs on the market. Consider the gas version instead.

4. Mitsubishi i-MiEV — The “i” as it is commonly called is the lowest cost pure EV on the market. This vehicle retails for about $29,000 and with its federal tax credit in place can cost buyers less than $21,000, just a few thousand dollars more than a conventional gas-powered vehicle.

5. Toyota Prius — The Prius made this list should come as no surprise. The Prius is the best selling EV in the world and is now available in several body styles and includes a PHEV edition. The Prius has the broadest offerings of EVs available, giving shoppers much to consider when comparing new cars.

Most major manufacturers offer additional EV choices including Toyota with its Camry Hybrid, the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Chevrolet Malibu with eAssist and others. You may be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit with some new models and find state incentives such as rebates available to you as well.

What is an Electric Vehicle Conversion Specialist

Electric vehicle conversion refers to the modification of a conventional internal combustion engine or the ICR driven vehicle to one that is battery electric propulsion, thus creating a battery electric vehicle.

The career outlook for an Electric Vehicle Conversion Specialist is good. They make on average $39-$59 thousand a year. Electric vehicles are quickly becoming a mainstay in the auto arena.

Many major automobile manufacturers in the US have started performing ICE conversions, but due to lack of consumer demand, the programs had been terminated. However, a few re-builders specializing in electric car conversion have started offering new or remanufactured conversion to satisfy the limited demand. One major reason for the rather low demand is the high price of completed vehicles, which can double the price of a comparable ICE vehicle.

Why It’s Green

People who have owned and used electric vehicles points out that the ranges of these cars are adequate, and that it is more convenient to simply plug the car for charging rather than driving to get some gas. Aside from these, electric vehicles are also quiet if not totally silent and they are non-polluting because they use renewable energy rather than gas, which produces air pollutants.

Professional and Personal Qualities

Generally, people without experience or modest knowledge in mechanics and electrical devices should not attempt to maintain or operate a ‘home made’ electric vehicle.

A career as Electric Vehicle Conversion Specialist is hard to come by in most states due to the lack of demand for electric vehicles. But in some places, and where companies manufacture electric vehicles, an electric car conversion specialist may be highly demanded.

Skills and Trainings

If you are planning to become an electric vehicle conversion specialist, you need a wide range of skills to be able to perform your duties. For instance, you’d need to have knowledge on automobile surveying and be able to identify problems in potential conversion vehicles. Such skill will be required to identify and purchase a good used ICE vehicle and will come handy especially when the conversion is done by another builder.

Aside from that, basic mechanics knowledge is also required as a builder should be able to manufacture small brackets for mounting sensors, switches and relays. Some other required skills and training for would-be electric car conversion specialists should include machine shop skills, welding, automotive mechanics, basic electric skills, as well as basic electronic skills.

EV Basics IV – Electric Vehicles and the Environment

Important Acronyms:

BEV: Battery Electric Vehicle – A vehicle powered exclusive from energy stored in its battery pack.

CO2 = Carbon Dioxide – A type of “Greenhouse” gas emitted by cars and power plants. CO2 emissions have been identified as a major cause of global warming.

EV: Electric Vehicle – Any vehicle that uses electricity to provide some or all of the power to its wheels.

ICE: Internal Combustion Engine – The smog-belching, globe-warming automobile power plants used in the dark ages of the 20th Century.

NOx: Nitrogen Oxides – Chemicals which create smog and other health hazards.

In previous articles in the EV Basics series, I have touched on the environmental benefits of driving an EV. Now, it is time to look at these benefits in more detail. Recently, some readers may have noticed a well-organized media campaign trying to discredit EVs. Most of the anti-EV sentiments sound like this, “A car has to get its energy from somewhere, doesn’t it? What difference does it make if it gets it from a gas tank or a battery pack?” These are valid questions. I will answer them by explaining why EVs produce less smog, fewer greenhouse gases and use less energy overall than their ICE-powered counterparts. By the end of this article, readers should understand why it is better for the environment to power cars with electricity from the grid instead of gasoline made from oil.

If we generated all of our electricity through renewable sources such as wind or solar power, driving EVs would produce no smog-forming pollutants such as NOx. However, our utility grid currently gets power from a variety of sources, most of which produce NOx and other pollutants which can create health hazards for local communities. How much pollution do power plants create, compared to tailpipe exhaust from ICE-powered vehicles? According to research compiled by Sherry Boschert, author of the book, Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that Will Recharge America, use of EVs would reduce the amount of NOx generated by automobiles somewhere between 32 and 99%. Different studies have arrived at different figures, but virtually all agree that the reduction in NOx and other local pollutants would be significant. The total amount of pollution reduction for any location would depend on the local power plants. Areas with cleaner power plants would decrease overall pollution more than areas with dirty plants. However, nearly all urban areas would see a major improvement in local air quality because power plants are generally located far away from population centers while tail pipes produce smog right where we live and work.

Greenhouse gases, on the other hand, are a serious problem whether they are produced next door or on the other side of the globe. EVs can reduce this burden on the environment as well. As is the case for smog-forming pollutants, an EV would produce absolutely no greenhouse gases if it were charged from a grid that was fueled by power plants which produced no greenhouse gases. However, EVs produce far fewer greenhouse gases even when charged by today’s old-fashioned grid. In his research paper entitled Debunking the Myth of EVs and Smokestacks, Chip Gribben concludes that EVs charging exclusively from power generated by old-fashioned, coal-burning plants would still reduce CO2 emissions by 17 to 22% relative to ICE-powered cars. In areas where the grid is relatively “clean,” such as California and Arizona, EVs would reduce automobile-related greenhouse gas emissions by 71% or more.

Many people believe that the most important oil-related global disaster will occur when oil runs out. Clearly, there is only so much oil we can pull out of the ground (or the tar sands, oil shale, etc.). If we do not have a suitable replacement for oil in place by the time it becomes impossibly rare and expensive, society could collapse completely. EVs help on this front in two ways. Gribben concludes that EVs charged from the grid use energy twice as efficiently as do ICEs fueled using the current oil/gasoline infrastructure. Since they are twice as efficient, EVs use half as much fossil fuel to get the same distance, assuming a grid that is supplied exclusively by fossil-fuel burning power plants. So we may conclude that EVs would allow humanity to “stretch out” our finite oil supply and get as much “mileage” as possible out of the available oil (pun intended!).

At the same time, switching to EVs would allow us to power our cars from a more flexible energy source, the power grid. Paul Scott, co-founder of the EV advocacy group Plug-In America, tells audiences, “Get all your cars on the grid, then clean up the grid!” If we start switching our cars to grid power right now, then they will benefit directly from advancements and improvements in renewable power generation. As fossil fuels become scarcer and more expensive, power plants using alternative energy sources will fuel an increasing percentage of our grid power demand. If we are using EVs as this transition occurs, we can keep driving along without having to rebuild our transportation infrastructure. When fossil fuels run out completely, we will be ready!

One last quote, this one by the rap group, Public Enemy, “Don’t believe the hype!” The oil industry has unimaginable amounts of money at its disposal. When they spend a tiny portion of their profits trying to create the illusion that EVs are just as bad for the environment as ICE-powered cars, countless media outlets pick up their stories. When they try to discredit the scientific community’s conclusion that our cars are dangerously warming the globe, millions of people take them seriously. It is up to every person who cares about our planet to counter any these misinformation campaigns. It is up to you to spread the truth about EVs to people who have been inundated by oil industry propaganda. Now go out there and start setting people straight.