Electric Car

An electric car is an automobile that is propelled by one or more electric motors, using electrical energy stored in rechargeable batteries. The first practical electric cars were produced in the 1880s. Electric cars were popular in the late 19th century and early 20th century, until advances in internal combustion engines, electric starters in particular, and mass production of cheaper gasoline vehicles led to a decline in the use of electric drive vehicles.

Since 2008, a renaissance in electric vehicle manufacturing has occurred due to advances in batteries, concerns about increasing oil prices, and the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Several national and local governments have established tax credits, subsidies, and other incentives to promote the introduction and now adoption in the mass market of new electric vehicles depending on battery size and their all-electric range.

Compared with cars with internal combustion (IC) engines, electric cars are quieter and have no tailpipe emissions. When recharged by low-emission electrical power sources, electric vehicles can reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to IC engines. Where oil is imported, use of electric vehicles can reduce imports.

Recharging can take a long time and in many places there is a patchy recharging infrastructure. Battery cost limits range and increases purchase cost over IC vehicles, but battery costs are decreasing. Drivers can also sometimes suffer from range anxiety- the fear that the batteries will be depleted before reaching their destination.

Electric cars are a variety of electric vehicle (EV). The term “electric vehicle” refers to any vehicle that uses electric motors for propulsion, while “electric car” generally refers to highway-capable automobiles powered by electricity. Low-speed electric vehicles, classified as neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) in the United States, and as electric motorised quadricycles in Europe, are plug-in electric-powered microcars or city cars with limitations in terms of weight, power and maximum speed that are allowed to travel on public roads and city streets up to a certain posted speed limit, which varies by country.

While an electric car’s power source is not explicitly an on-board battery, electric cars with motors powered by other energy sources are generally referred to by a different name: an electric car carrying solar panels to power it is a solar car, and an electric car powered by a gasoline generator is a form of hybrid car. Thus, an electric car that derives its power from an on-board battery pack is a form of battery electric vehicle (BEV). Most often, the term “electric car” is used to refer to battery electric vehicles.

Much of the mileage-related cost of an electric vehicle is depreciation of the battery pack. To calculate the cost per kilometer of an electric vehicle it is therefore necessary to assign a monetary value to the wear incurred on the battery.

The Tesla Roadster’s battery pack is expected to last seven years with typical driving and costs US$12,000 when pre-purchased today. Driving 40 miles (64 km) per day for seven years or 102,200 miles (164,500 km) leads to a battery consumption cost of US$0.1174 per 1 mile (1.6 km) or US$4.70 per 40 miles (64 km).

The cost of charging the battery depends on the cost of electricity. As of November 2012, a Nissan Leaf driving 500 miles (800 km) per week is estimated to cost US$600 per year in charging costs in Illinois, U.S., as compared to US$2,300 per year in fuel costs for an average new car using regular gasoline.

According to Nissan, the operating electricity cost of the Leaf in the UK is 1.75 pence per mile (1.09 p/km) when charging at an off-peak electricity rate, while a conventional petrol-powered car costs more than 10 pence per mile (6.21 p/km). These estimates are based on a national average of British Petrol Economy 7 rates as of January 2012, and assumed 7 hours of charging overnight at the night rate and one hour in the daytime charged at the Tier-2 daytime rate.

Great effort is taken to keep the mass of an electric vehicle as low as possible to improve its range and endurance. However, the weight and bulk of the batteries themselves usually makes an EV heavier than a comparable gasoline vehicle, reducing range and leading to longer braking distances. However, in a collision, the occupants of a heavy vehicle will, on average, suffer fewer and less serious injuries than the occupants of a lighter vehicle; therefore, the additional weight brings safety benefits despite having a negative effect on the car’s performance. They also use up interior space if packaged ineffectively. If stored under the passenger cell, not only is this not the case, they also lower the vehicles’s center of gravity, increasing driving stability, thereby lowering the risk of an accident through loss of control. An accident in a 2,000 lb (900 kg) vehicle will on average cause about 50% more injuries to its occupants than a 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) vehicle. In a single car accident, and for the other car in a two car accident, the increased mass causes an increase in accelerations and hence an increase in the severity of the accident.

Some electric cars use low rolling resistance tires, which typically offer less grip than normal tires. Many electric cars have a small, light and fragile body, though, and therefore offer inadequate safety protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in America had condemned the use of low speed vehicles and “mini trucks,” referred to as neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) when powered by electric motors, on public roads. Mindful of this, several companies (Tesla Motors, BMW, Uniti) have succeeded in keeping the body light, while making it very strong.