The Travel of the Electric Car

some cars at zero pollution
some cars at zero pollution

The electric car revolution is clearly at hand. Aside from the actions undertaken by the electric car manufacturers, the government is now taking a more active participation in the change that is approaching at the horizon.

One such move is the government requiring that electric and hybrid vehicles produce more noise when travelling at low speeds. The purpose of the noise is to warn pedestrians of the presence and passing of these vehicles.

The move is an application of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 as electrics and hybrid vehicles produce less noise compared to its conventional engine vehicles. This is most important when the electrics or hybrids are at low speed to warn pedestrians, bicycle riders and those that are visually disabled. The main agency proposing the changes is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and their main proposal is to have car makers produce more noise at speeds under eighteen (18) miles per hour. At higher speeds, these new vehicles are able to produce adequate noise.

For manufacturers, a wide range of options are available but the sounds need to be uniform in order that other road users can distinguish between ambient noise and the oncoming vehicle. The government agency has opened commentaries from concerned citizens on the proposal and would use the recommendations for the final rules to be implemented. It is projected that the new noise regulations would save future accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists on the road.

This is but another sign that the electric revolution is here. The figures from 2012 clearly show the increasing market share of electrics and hybrids on the road. Amongst the biggest gainers is the Chevrolet Volt, which tripled its share in the United States this year alone. A total of 23,461 Volts were sold but this represents only one third of a percent of total sales of passenger cars in the country.

Experts are projecting an annual sales figure of 3.8 million electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles by the year 2020. Other vehicle sales include the Nissan Leaf or non plug in hybrids such as the Toyota Prius would continue to climb in sales in the coming years.

Just wait and see.

Electric Car Sales Buoyed for November

Electric cars
Electric cars

The month of November is a high point in the electric car revolution, as this month is the fourth consecutive month where sales records have continued to increase. The increase for this month was attributed to the introduction of the Ford C-Max Energi plug-in electric hybrid into the market.

The steady upsurge was observed by Aaron Chew of the Maxim Group, as he counted 7,600 electric cars sold in November. This makes the total count for 2012 at 47,500 and the experts predict that the year would close at about 56,000 electric and plug in hybrid electric vehicles sold.

Other incentives have helped buoy sales for the electric car. These include Nissan’s U.S. $199 leases and U.S. 5,000 price breaks on the Leaf, jumpstarting sales for the year. There have also been a number of new models that have widened the selections of buyers for electric cars. Ford for its part sold 1,259 units of the C-Max Energi just in November, a month after it was introduced into the market. The highest seller was the Toyota Prius plug in at1,766 units followed by the Chevrolet Volt, which posted 1,519 units sold. Tesla, despite its secretive sales records, was said to have sold 1,150 of its Model S sports sedans in the same period.

Despite the sales, there are still some major issues that electric cars face in the coming years, some of which are as follows:

a)      The Cost. While electricity is much cheaper compared to gasoline, the cost of amortizing an EV is still way above the standard costs for an internal combustion engine vehicle. The prices though are steadily decreasing, making it more affordable to purchase an electric vehicle in both the short term and long term.

b)      The Source. While the main issue with gas guzzlers is the emission of pollutive greenhouse gases from the vehicle, electric cars do not have this problem. The main issue is the generator of electricity, which is still the coal fired electric generator. Even with natural gas generators, there are still emissions created and thus allocation of this pollutant factors must still be addressed.

c)       The Technology. The main drawback is still the power source of electric vehicles as the range and effectivity is still determined by the amount of electrical power stored in the battery packs. While many of these battery developers are bellying up because of the prohibitive costs and limited market scale, the improvements in the technology are around the corner to make the electric car as dependable as it is affordable as the standard gasoline powered car.

Ford Seeking to Lead Hybrid Market

hybridcarsign
hybridcarsign

In another strategy poised to push Ford to the top of the hybrid market, the Detroit based company is launching C-Max Energi plug in hybrid. This vehicle has been rated at 620 miles by the Environmental Protection Agency. This was confirmed in a telephone interview and would be appearing on the Energi’s windshield wiper as it arrives in dealerships next month.

This rating has left the competition eating its dust. The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid has been certified at 540 miles and the Chevrolet Volt at 380 miles. This prompted Toyota spokesperson John Hanson to say “Congratulations to Ford” in an email.

Carmakers have only included the estimated range in their selling point of vehicles as consumers start to focus and value fuel efficiency and economy. The recent scholarship indicates the range number as it would become a greater factor in the decision-making process in purchasing vehicles.

According to the study conducted by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at the New York University, “The 21st century is emerging as the century of the ‘supercommuter’.  The recession has made people much more”. This is was further explained by Mitchell L. Moss, Center Director in saying that more and more Americans are willing to travel beyond the bounds of their metropolitan regions for their jobs and commute ninety miles or more one way. He added that with more fuel efficient cars like hybrids and electrics, the future of the supercommuter is set. “It fits their lifestyle, they can drive more using less gas – or no gas”, he said.

Ford noted that the Energi can deliver up to 21 miles of all electric range with an EPA certified 100 mpg in combined urban and highway driving. When using hybrid mode, the car has a combined rating of 43 mpg. All this gives the C-Max as a hybrid vehicle with a rating of 570 miles of total range. According to Ford engineers, “We know customers are sensitive to fuel economy, but they’re also concerned about range because they look at the time between fill-ups.”

Ford expects that the Energi version would account up to twenty percent of C-Max sales in the US alone with a base price of US$33,475 with a federal income tax credit of US$3,750 that would lower the price to US$29,995.

Another plus factor for the vehicle, at least for those in California, is the grant of approval for coverage under the Golden State Green Clean Air Vehicle Sticker program under the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program. This, together with the other incentives, would surely create greater demand for the plug-in hybrid car demand.

Partnering the Electric Vehicle in your Garage

NSSANleaf
NSSANleaf

Like many others who seek to put in their share for Mother Nature, a U.S.$33,000 investment on a vehicle is but a small price to pay. This is the all-electric 2012 Nissan Leaf and with its quiet and efficient ride, you find yourself choosing this car over your regular internal combustion engine vehicle.

Currently, a majority of Americans own two cars and many are choosing a highly efficient fuel using vehicle as their alternate vehicle. Amongst the top choices for this are electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf. As one chooses a second car, the question is what would be a good companion vehicle to this environmentally sound vehicle?

In order to assist you in your choice, a range of factors need to be considered. These include the option to have a car aged less than ten years, able to travel long distances, easily purchased and serviced at any local dealer. This is the list of highly recommended second vehicles:

  1. Toyota Prius Hybrid. While this may not be as quick off the block as the Nissan Leaf, it is able to combine great mileage together with trunk space because of its hatchback configuration. This car, because of its long history, easy to use, purchase and maintain.
  2. The 2003 Volkswagen Jetta Wagon GL. This is a diesel powered beast, able to travel long distances and great luggage space availability. It is able to travel 31 miles to the gallon in city driving can easily be recovered when taken out to the freeway to open up the 1.9 liter four cylinder engine exceeding the EPA’s threshold thirty nine miles to the gallon.
  3.  The 2012 Kia Sorento. This is best for active families, either going on weekend trips or even just soccer practice. This seven seater SUV is able to provide twenty five miles to the gallon, which is quite high but since it is able to carry seven individuals, this is efficient in itself. Another plus for this is the price, at only US$21,250 for an SUV of its size and capacity.
  4. Rental. Another cost efficient option, especially for long drives would be just opting for a rental for your needs. Instead of worrying about the price and the maintenance, together with the fuel costs, opting for a rental can be a hassle free experience for those that take those long trips every so often.

As can be seen, having an electric car, especially for a growing brood may not be enough. You can choose to have a second car, albeit an efficient and cost effective one. Study your options so that your contribution to the Mother Nature with the electric car would not go to waste in the long run.

Top Ten Plug Ins for 2012

electricsedan
electricsedan

Top 10. The expanded market Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt. As new markets in Canada and the UK receive the Opel Ampera, the European version of the Volt, the market base is expected to increase. As for the Leaf, it would also start to show up in Nissan showrooms in the UK and other fifty states in the United States.

Top 9. The SmartforTwo Electric Drive. The Smart Car builder Daimler has said that it would be launching its third generation SmartForTwo Electric Drive car in thirty new markets by the fall of 2012. The delay from the original summer 2012 launch was due to quality control issues with its battery supplier Li-Tec.

Top 8. The Honda Fit EV. This EV from Honda was scheduled to be released in Oregon and some parts of California by the summer of 2012, with only 1,100 scheduled to be built in the next three years.

Top 7. The Mitsubishi i. This is the updated version of the MiEV and is available in both Japan and the United Kingdom since the start of 2012. Costing just about U.S.$29,125 before the application of the incentives from state and federal law, this is clearly one of the most affordable EVs in the market today.

Top 6. The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid. The Prius Goes Plural campaign in full swing, the Japanese car giant has offered this new hybrid version to its current stable of hybrid models.

Top 5. The Ford Focus Electric. The market ready ones would become ready for the market by the spring of 2012. This is the first pure electric vehicle from one of the Detroit Big Three carmakers.

Top 4. The Fisker Karma. Despite the delays, the Fisker Karma has now become available. The first ones though need to be recalled for some minor repairs but the current issues of the company may eventually make this car an endangered species, especially with its six-figure purchase price.

Top 3. The Toyota RAV 4 EV. This is the joint venture project between Tesla and Toyota. The first few vehicles would become available in California, hopefully by mid-2012.

Top 2. The Ford C-Max Energi. This is a plug in version of the Ford C-Max wagon. This vehicle is scheduled to become available in the United States within 2012 while Europe would have to wait until 2013.

Top 1. The Tesla Model S. This is one of the longest waiting lists for cars in history, with 6,500 individuals placing their order together with U.S.$5,000 two years before its actual availability. This vehicle is one of the most awaited releases for 2012.