Are Electric Cars Really Three Times More Efficient than Gasoline Vehicles?

Are electric cars really three times more efficient than gasoline vehicles?
Are electric cars really three times more efficient than gasoline vehicles?

There have been a number of investigations into the efficiency of electric vehicles and their gasoline counterparts and one such organisation, which is used extensively by the U.S. government for fuel economy figures, is fueleconomy.gov. This website offers a very interesting insight into the efficiencies of electric vehicles and their gasoline counterparts and indeed seems to answer the question once and for all as to which is more efficient.

Before we look at the official data when comparing these two types of fuel, which do you think is the more efficient and by what degree?

Basic efficiencies as we stand today

When looking at the efficiency of gasoline and electric cars we are basically looking at the amount of energy which is available from the fuel source and how much, as a percentage, is actually converted into power for your vehicle. While you may expect there to be a number of caveats and different scenarios, the bottom line is that electric vehicles convert around 60% of the energy available from grid to actual power at the wheels, while gasoline vehicles only convert around 20%.

Yes, from the energy stored in the gasoline fuel supply for traditional fuelled vehicles only around 20% of it actually makes it to power at the wheels – a loss of 80%.

Why are we not using more electric vehicles?

There are number of reasons why electric vehicles are not as popular as their gasoline counterparts at this moment in time, many of which revolve around journey capacity, recharging stations, cost, and efficiency. However the fact is, that when looking at pure and simple efficiency of power supply to actual power to the wheels, electric vehicles are in theory around three times more efficient than their gasoline counterparts.

In reality, this gap is almost certain to increase because gasoline engines are notoriously inefficient while developments in battery technology seem set to make electric cars even more efficient. We have the likes of IBM researching a lithium air battery, we have nanotechnology companies looking at introducing this revolutionary technology to the battery arena and ultimately we will see significant improvements in battery technology within the next 10 years.

Quote from ElectricForum.com : "Is adding a body kit to your standard electric car detrimental for the battery in the long run?"

Should governments be investing more money in electric vehicles?

Historically, the main argument against electric vehicles, aside from journey capacity, price and recharging stations, has been the fact that they still assist in creating emissions during the process of creating electricity at power stations around the world. However, it has been shown that the emissions created by electric vehicles are far less than their gasoline counterparts and indeed air pollution across towns and cities around the world is directly impacted by tailpipe emissions from gasoline powered vehicles.

From a layman's point of view, it is difficult to see why governments around the world are not spending more money on electric vehicles and battery technology. However there are a number of other factors to take into consideration, such as taxation income on oil, and its various by-products, which plays a very important role in helping to fund an array of public services and government operations.

Many people have suggested a whole host of different reasons why electric vehicles will eventually take over from their gasoline counterparts but the subject of balancing government budgets is one which will always be there in the background.