Gas prices fluctuate and daily traffic becomes harder to navigate.
We are concerned about saving money at the pump, and want to be environmentally responsible too.
Auto manufacturers are now providing vehicles that aren't just powered by gas. Read below to learn about what options are available, and what the differences are between these different types of vehicles.
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Gas/electric hybrids take different forms but the basic set up involves combining a gasoline engine with an electric motor, which together or separately to drive the wheels. Electricity produced from the engine and generator is stored in a battery. The stored electricity combines with kinetic energy produced by the brakes to power the motor.
Gas/electric hybrid vehicle (HEV) emissions vary depending on the vehicle. In general, HEV’s have lower emissions than conventional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles, because the electric motor offsets how often the engine is used. HEV’S have the potential to operate in “electric-only” mode, which means they can operate producing no emissions. Visit the government's website to find the most fuel-efficient vehicles.
||Dispelling hybrid myths
Hybrids have been available in Alberta since 2001. Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) are now making their way to market as well. Learn more about this and the Extended Range Battery Electric Vehicle (ERBEV)
One of the main concerns people have about buying an Electric Vehicle has been termed as 'Range Anxiety.' This is because the maximum distance these vehicles travel before needing to plug in ranges between 120 km and 180 km, depending on the vehicle. Many people feel that this limitation excludes Electric Vehicles as a viable primary car in their household.
Auto manufacturers are working to provide options to that combine eco-friendly driving with extended range capability. Currently, two main styles of vehicle are making their way into markets. The Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), and the Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV).
Advertised as providing the same benefits of electric cars over short distances by getting you anywhere from 16km up to 80km on electric charge alone, the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) provides an option that is expected to use approximately half the fuel of a conventional hybrid for the average consumer. This is primarily because the battery on a Plug-in Hybrid will work autonomously from the gas engine, powering the vehicle in 'electric-only' mode for longer periods and at higher speeds than with a standard Hybrid vehicle.
What sets the PHEV apart from a conventional Hybrid?
Hybrid Electric Vehicle
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle
The Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) is based on the same framework as the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), but have a gas engine built in so that the vehicle can now be used for trips that are longer than the range of the current BEV's available today.
Range of the EREV
The EREV's entering the market have a smaller Battery pack than the pure Electric vehicles, reducing the electric-only range to between 50km and 80km. This range is significant, as distances shorter than 65km make up 80% of the trips we make in our vehicles. for that other 20% where we want to go further, the Gas Engine in an EREV will kick in and give you another 400km to 600 km of fuel efficient driving, depending on the model you choose.
Why so efficient?
Unlike the Plug-in Hybrid, the gas engine of the EREV does not power the car itself. The gas engine acts as a generator to the highly efficient Battery Electric Motor, so it only needs to cover the average power needs of the electric motor, burning less fuel.
One hundred percent electric. Zero tailpipe emissions. Extremely low maintenance.
Nearly a penny per kilometre to operate.
The Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) brings with it a different idea of driving, one that some people feel may be more suited to their lifestyle than what cars today have been able to offer.
An electric motor is very different from gas engines. There are no gears, no oil, no fan belts, no fuel filters. It is a complete shift of thinking from the common vehicles of the last hundred years, and all the maintenance that came with them.
To think of plugging in your car overnight instead of stopping at a gas station once every week or two may put people more in mind of their mobile phone or their MP3 player than of their car, but it really is that simple. The basic maintenance that some people take care of themselves on their vehicle has essentially been removed, along with the oil, gear box, torque converter and the fan belts. Think of using your brakes significantly less, because in city driving the car will use your forward inertia to recharge it's battery whenever you take your foot off the accelerator.
What are the drawbacks to driving a BEV?
The first and most publicized is 'Range Anxiety,' as the range on BEVs available today can vary between 120km and 180km. It is expected that as battery technology improves that so too will the range. How often would will we over-drive that range? Even at the lowest rated available range of 120km, the BEV can handle over 80% of the trips we make, often city stop-and-go driving, where we would not use a cent of fuel.
Another reason that people may not be "plugging in" to the electric car is the charging requirement.
Another concern among consumers is that they do not have the capacity to plug in their vehicle at home, and there is nowhere to 'charge up' around Alberta.
Many of the BEVs, and the Extended Range Electric Vehicles can be charged on the 110v plug in that you use for your block heater today (ensuring it is a 20 amp dedicated circuit). For faster charging, many manufacturers have customized 220v plug-ins available to be installed at your home, which is nothing new, as chances are you may already have one for your stove or dryer.
Charging times vary between the different models, with the longest taking nearly 22 hours on a 110v plug to charge from empty, to as quickly as 6 hours on a 220v. In thinking of charging times, how many days will we have driven 120-180km per day, and need the full amount of recharge time to get back to full?
Charging stations are not yet available in Alberta, but there are over 1000 stations installed across North America and over a dozen in Canada. These stations provide a fill-up similar to a fuel station. As these charge stations become more common place across Alberta and technology improves to allow more range on a single charge in a BEV, the number of consumers who feel that this kind of vehicle is right for them will continue to grow.
The first of the BEVs are beginning to make their way into the marketplace today, as well as a new selection of Extended Range Electric Vehicles. Every major auto manufacturer has at least one model planned to be released nationally by the end of 2012.