When it comes to cleaning up the automobile, it appears that electric vehicles are the path that will be taken here in the United States. Nissan and Chevy have both already entered the EV market with their 100% electric Leaf and gasoline backed up Volt respectively, and Toyota and Ford prepared to release EV models of the Prius and Focus soon, with just about every other major auto maker having some sort of electric model in the works.
While EVs are a big improvement over your typical gasoline or diesel fueled car, there are some well known drawbacks that everyone from an educated cautious consumer to raving EV opponent could tell you about:
• EVs can’t travel as far on a full charge as a normal car on a full tank of gas (range anxiety)
• EVs cost a lot more than a comparable gasoline vehicle
• It takes too long to charge up an EV’s battery
• EVs aren’t as clean as they claim to be when you’re getting electricity from dirty power plants
There is no denying these facts; yes the range isn’t as good on an EV, yes they cost more, yes it takes longer to charge an EV than to fill up on gasoline, and yes, if you’re getting electricity from coal, natural gas, or petroleum your EV isn’t really emissions free.
However, all of those issues are facts TODAY, but are on their way to simply being hiccups in the transition to an EV world. Some recent news shows that these problems are already been remedied.
In preparation for its launch of the Focus EV model Ford is teaming up with Sunpower to provide solar generation systems to complement EVs.
The systems are designed provide enough electricity to offset the needs of driving 1,000 miles per month in an EV. This addresses the concern of anyone who wants their EV to be truly a zero emission vehicle, and allows quick access to a firm that can provide a readymade system rather than having to shop around and have a system custom designed.
Not only does this solar/EV union provide truly clean transportation, it will also help boost the economic benefits of EVs. Complaints about the added cost for EVs are very much warranted, and even over the vehicle’s lifetime you probably won’t be able to recoup the added cost of the vehicle from fuel savings. However with a solar powered EV you are getting the fuel for the vehicle for free. It’s true you have to put additional money up for the solar system, but depending on state and federal incentives available you can get a return on that investment pretty quickly. Not to mention your solar EV fueling system will last at least 25 years, during that time you might have moved on to your 3rd, 4th, or even 5th electric car.
Now you can see that one bright idea is already working to knock down two of the common EV problems. Meanwhile a team of student researchers in Germany have just demonstrated an EV that can go over 1,000 miles on a single charge.
This car isn’t much to look at, and certainly not something you’d want to be driving every day, let alone for 1,000 miles at a time. However it shows progress being made in design and engineering to increase the driving range of EVs beyond what is offered by EV models available today.
We’ve been constantly improving gasoline and diesel fueled cars for over 100 years to get to where we are today. Meanwhile EV development has been started and stopped with little real backing since the 1970s. Imagine what we could accomplish with 100 years of sustained improvement in EVs from commercial industry!