Electric Vehicles – Growing Presence on European Roads

With the cost of fuel skyrocketing around the world, and more consumers becoming conscious of the negative impact cars have on the environment, car manufacturers focus their production efforts on new full-electric vehicles as well as new hybrid models. Ford Motor Company has had development plans in the works for environmentally friendly vehicles to be increasingly prevalent on the roads for years-particularly in North America. As one of the many initiatives Ford is currently taking in the quest to provide the public with more fuel-efficient alternatives for vehicles, the company is promising to introduce five full-electric and hybrid vehicle models in Europe by the year 2013. This plan is part of Ford’s global electric vehicles plan. Electric and hybrid vehicles will greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions as well as reduce fossil fuel consumption.

While protecting the environment should be at the forefront of what people look for in purchasing a new vehicle, the hybrid car movement is still rather new, and the full-electric vehicle is still somewhat of an abstract concept to many consumers. According to a survey done by consumer reports, price, range and overall performance are generally top considerations for most consumers in the market when buying a new vehicle. Another consideration for people who would possibly consider buying an electric vehicle, is the accessibility of electric charging stations-people are more likely to buy, if they know it would be easy to “charge up” the vehicle conveniently. Ford, however, has a vision to bring a wide range of top performing fuel-efficient, “green” vehicles to millions.

John Fleming, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe and Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing and Labour Affairs, stated in a press release, “These new advanced technology models are key to Ford’s commitment to delivering a portfolio of alternative power train vehicles globally and to European customers in the next few years,”

The first full-electric car to be launched as part of Ford’s agenda is the Transit Connect Electric. This vehicle is a compact van, commonly used for workers that need to carry excessive cargo. The idea is that electric charging stations will be housed at the workplace for employees to charge-up before going on their route of daily work tasks. This full-electric vehicle was featured at the New York Auto Show in 2010. It is said to have a 40 KW, 300-volt Siemens electric motor, and a lithium-ion battery to power the vehicle for an estimated 120,000 miles total. With an 80-mile range, the Transit Connect Electric vehicle is said to be a “smooth, quiet ride” by a test driver. When connected to a 240-volt outlet, the vehicle would take six to eight hours to be fully charged.

The next car in Ford’s electric vehicle line up for its global electric vehicles plan will be the Ford Focus Electric, coming out in 2012. This vehicle will be powered 100 percent by lithium-ion batteries. The result of an all-battery powered vehicle is zero emissions. The range reaches 100 miles, and with a 220-volt outlet, takes six to eight hours to reach a full charge. The car will also have a handy interface which tells the driver specific details about the battery charge and range. The Focus is a compact electric vehicle with a modern exterior.

“Ford is committed to help lead the way to find creative solutions and ensure that electrified vehicles can deliver benefits to our customers, the environment and our business around the globe in a sustainable way,” stated Nancy Gioia, Ford Director of Global Electrification.

Ford will then launch two versions of the C-MAX-a hybrid-electric version and a plug-in hybrid-electric version-in 2013. The C-MAX will be the first hybrid-electric vehicle model launched in Europe, and the first model to utilize Ford’s new 1.6-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine. The traditional gas-fuelled C-MAX is a seven-seat vehicle that was launched in North America for the 2011 model year. A smaller version will be developed for the hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric versions releasing in Europe. The Ford plant in Valencia, Spain will be building the vehicles, which will be for the European market only. Fleming said, “The Hybrid-Electric and Plug-In Hybrid-Electric derivatives of the all-new Ford C-MAX are great news for the Valencia plant and region, for Spain, and for Ford customers across Europe.”

The last remaining hybrid-electric vehicle due to launch by 2013 is still yet to be determined. However, the launch of all five hybrid and electric vehicles have caused much hype since Ford originally announced its plan.

Vehicle to Grid – How Electric Vehicles Interact With a Smart Power Electricity Network

What is Vehicle to Grid
Also called Vehicle 2 Grid or V2G, Vehicle to Grid is the process of connecting your electric car into the transmission electricity network. If you have an electric vehicle then you will definitely want to consider setting up V2G through a simple metering system and contract with your local electricity supplier.

What do I need to consider before deciding to connect my vehicle to the grid?

  • Firstly you have to have an electric car which can be charged by a standard electricity outlet.
  • The second thing you will want to do is determine some basic driving habits – i.e. if you drive almost your entire vehicle range to work and back every day, then there is unlikely to be much energy left over to swap between your battery and the grid, which makes setting up V2G a little redundant
  • Having decided that V2G connectivity is possible and feasible, you will need to look at the right products on the market to help you achieve this. I.e. which inverter should be used and which electricity trading contract will suit your needs the best?
  • If you decide suddenly that V2G is not good for you, how can you get out of an otherwise more expensive contract?

Once these basic items have been checked off the list, it is time to call up your utility and start the process of applying for V2G. You can then purchase a suitable inverter which allows you to feed back into the grid (this will be similar if not identical to the type of inverters used on solar PV grid connected power supplies). Of course you will have to decide what sized inverter to go for.

For example, a 5kW inverter may cost $1000 and a 2kW inverter may cost $600. Therefore you have to be sure that you can recover the $400 over being able to sell a higher rate of electricity in peak times. Some simple maths will help you work out the optimal solution, but just be aware of the various pay offs for each option.

Why is Vehicle to Grid (V2G) Good?
Vehicle to Grid applications have a number of benefits for all sorts of businesses and stakeholders. Vehicle to Grid (V2G):

  • Empowers the home consumer to make sensible choices about when they use their electricity through smart metering
  • saves the consumer money in the long run through effective electricity management
  • is green! Every time you supply the grid with electricity during the yearly peak energy demand, you are reducing the need to upgrade the electricity network with more transmission lines and generators
  • You are helping to bring electric vehicles (EV’s) onto the market
  • You are reducing your carbon footprint! This is a big ones these days
  • The electricity company can save money and reduce their unit electricity prices, or reduce the need to increase them
  • reduce the amount of electricity transmission line needed. I.e. the car transports the electricity to where it is needed.
  • Cuts down on the amount of fuel stations required
  • Reduces our addiction to foreign oil through the accelerated introduction of electric vehicles and ability to replace fossil fuel generation with renewable energy generation.
  • Allows more sustainable energy and renewable energy to be introduced onto the electricity grid, as electric vehicle batteries can now act as a buffer to intermittent generation.

The last point is an important one. Traditional transmission networks are struggling to cope with large percentages of intermittent renewable and sustainable energy generation, as electricity generation from these sources is largely dependent on the elements. Therefore to have the ability to store electricity somewhere is important. In many countries power utilities are approaching this by pumping water up a hill and regenerating during peak times (~60% efficiency) or storing hydrogen formed by electrolysis underground ready for re generation (~40% efficiency). Storing electricity in batteries is a much higher efficiency (60% – 90%) however is a little costly.

Japan uses large battery sheds to store small amounts of energy, however vehicle to grid systems also work very well as storage mechanisms and are likely to play this role in the future as more electric vehicles hit the market. How soon we will see such networks will largely rely on the countries commitment to renewable and sustainable energy sources, as well as the abundance of wind, sun and wave energy. Although many companies claim to have a green lining, short term economics of such projects still remains the number one driver for the introduction of such technology.

The advantage to the end consumer who is running a vehicle to grid system is the savings in electricity for essentially hiring out the storage space in their electric car battery. So as we can see, it is a win win for many as it not only reduces the stress on our electricity transmission and generation networks, allows more sustainable energy to be placed on the system with lower carbon emissions, but also saves the end user money whilst making electric vehicles more affordable. It also weans us off our foreign oil addiction through the cost effective introduction of electric vehicles, a topical issue as we approach peak oil status around the world.

For more information you may want to consult your electricity network to find out about their smart metering tariffs. You will also want to look into the purchase of an electric vehicle, or an electric vehicle conversion in able to make use of the vehicle-2-grid (V2G) technology. I guess we can all look forward to a cleaner, greener, cheaper carbon restrained future, and V2G is going to help us get there in a big way!

Electric Vehicles

Nowadays people have more varied choices in buying vehicles and cars. As now they have the option of electric vehicles. But what exactly electric vehicle is? In simple words an electric vehicle, or EV, is a vehicle with one or more electric motors for propulsion. Thus, the motion may be provided either by wheels or propellers driven by rotary motors, or in the case of tracked vehicles, by linear motors.

The energy used to propel these kind of can be obtained from various sources such as:

1. From chemical energy stored on the vehicle in on-board batteries: Battery electric vehicle

2. From both an on-board rechargeable energy storage system (RESS) and fueled propulsion power source: hybrid vehicle

3. Generated on-board using a combustion engine, as in a diesel-electric locomotive

4. Generated on-board using a fuel cell: fuel cell vehicle

5. Generated on-board using nuclear energy, on nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers

6. From more esoteric sources such as flywheels, wind and solar

7. From a direct connection to land-based generation plants, as is common in electric trains and trolley buses

Electric vehicles generally use electric motors used to drive vehicles because they can be finely controlled, they deliver power efficiently and they are mechanically very simple. Moreover these electric motors often achieve 90% conversion efficiency over the full range of speeds and power output and can be precisely controlled. Thus it won’t be wrong to say that these electric motors can provide high torque while an electric vehicle is stopped, unlike internal combustion engines, and do not need gears to match power curves.

These days electric vehicle is designed in two ways those are Battery Electric Vehicles and Hybrid vehicles. Battery Electric Vehicles covert chemical energy to electrical energy in batteries; whereas Hybrid vehicles, which convert chemical energy to electrical energy via an internal combustion engine and a generator. However, there is another less established form of electric vehicle which is the ‘plug-in hybrid’. This ‘plug-in hybrid’ attempts to combine the benefits of both these designs and allows the moderate capacity batteries of a hybrid vehicle to be recharged not only from the internal combustion engine and generator.

Electric Vehicles include electric wheelchairs, the Segway HT, electric motorcycles and scooters, motorized bicycles, golf carts and neighborhood electric vehicles. Furthermore some working electric vehicles include heavy work equipment, fork lifts, and numerous other service and support vehicles. Thus, if you are an environment conscious then electric vehicle is best for you.