Getting Started with PEV’s
So you’re considering a plug-in electric vehicle?
Choosing a PEV is likely a good fit if:
- You use your vehicle mainly for medium-distance commuting or shorter trips such as shopping, school and errands
- You are concerned about auto-emissions and the environment and are ready for an eco-friendly ride
- You love being on the cutting edge of new technology
- You would like to achieve cost savings from not purchasing gasoline, and are concerned about our dependence on foreign oil
Getting to Know the Technology
PEVs are distinctive and forward-styled like any new car model! Yet you may not even know you’re driving next to a PEV except for how quiet its electric motor runs. Similar to how there’s a car now for every style driver, taste and budget, soon there will be a PEV model across more sizes, features and prices, too, as nearly every major auto manufacturer has or is planning a PEV model available for purchase.
Nissan’s LEAF is an all-electric car with a lithium-ion battery, top speed of 90 mph and a range of 100 miles on a single charge.
The Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in extended-range electric vehicle. It stores the electric power in a lithium-ion battery and has a 9-gallon gas tank to fuel a gasoline generator. The electric motor powers the car for the first 40 miles and then the gas kicks in to provide another 375 miles of range on a full tank. It charges in about half the time as the Nissan LEAF but with about half of the pure electric range.
The Tesla Roadster is an all-electric sports car with a price tag of over $100,000 and has a range of 240 miles on a single charge. Zero emissions as it goes from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds highlights the fact that PEVs bring speed, style and performance to the
More PEV models are on the way from Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Coda, Ford, Tesla, Toyota, and other manufacturers around the globe, including light-duty electric trucks, too.
Electric Vehicle List
How far can you go? Most all-electric vehicles do have a shorter range per charge than conventional cars when they fill up with gas, because of the size, weight and cost of the battery system.
Most of the PEVs are targeting an 80 to 100-mile range per battery charge, with the high-end versions capable of 200 to 300 miles, and the extended-range hybrid capable of 300 and more miles. Don’t forget, research shows that over 90% of all household car trips in the U.S. are less than 100 miles.
For longer trips, you’ll need to charge the vehicle. Soon, a network of high speed charging stations will make long distance PEV travel much easier. But, in the near term, electric vehicle charging stations (DC Fast Charge) are opening locally and across the country but they require multiple hours to fully recharge a battery. Into the future, other long distance options may include swapping out batteries en route, as the cost of batteries falls.
Into the future, other long distance options may include swapping out batteries en route, as the cost of batteries falls. Another long-distance option into the future may include swapping out the battery en route.
PEVs run on stored electric energy in batteries, which are the most expensive component in most electric-drive vehicles.
Most new all-electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries, similar to your laptop or cell phone, rather than the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in most hybrid electric vehicles.
Battery capacity is rated per unit weight and per unit cost and lithium batteries offer a high power-to-weight ratio, high energy efficiency, good high-temperature performance, and low self-discharge. These batteries contain non-toxic materials and some of their components can be recycled. The automotive and battery industries are working to develop a sustainable recycling model, including second-life uses since they still contain energy for less intense usage.
Good news here – with 10 times fewer moving parts, owning an all-electric PEV means less regular maintenance. No, there’s no engine, transmission, spark plugs, valves, fuel tank, tailpipe, distributor, starter, clutch, muffler or catalytic converter. That means no tune-ups or oil changes and overall, savings on maintenance costs. The main maintenance cost is for the battery, including replacement.
All cars today are complex electrical equipment on wheels and auto manufacturers are quickly training their own service people on all-electric models as well as delivering training to outside auto service companies. Until this training becomes more widespread, you will probably be bringing your PEV to the dealer to be maintained – which will likely be covered by your warranty.
As the name implies, “fueling up” your PEV means plugging it in to an electric power source.
Most PEVs will charge on a standard 110-volt outlet. Yes, you can use the same outlet you plug in your leaf-blower or band-saw in your garage (yet safety and full-functioning charging do call for a dedicated line or circuit panel, depending on your situation.)
The simplest way will be to plug in your vehicle when you get home and charge overnight. How often or how long you actually need to recharge will depend on how far you are travelling, how much energy is stored in the battery, and the type of charging system you have, but simple Level 1 electric-outlet charging can take up to 20 hours for a full charge..
Most owners choose to speed up charging time by installing a dedicated Level 2 charging system, which requires 240-volt capacity- like your stove or clothes dryer- and speeds charging to 3 to 8 hours. The installation contractor or your electrician will tell you if you have electrical capacity where you need it for this upgrade and guide you through the permitting process.
On the road
Figuring out how to get “fueled up” via charging stations away from home is the next priority for PEV owners.
The Greater Charlotte Region is premiering PEV charging stations in multiple areas. (First, upload Charlotte regional locations and then LINK to http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/locator/stations/ ) and the number of public and commercial charging stations is growing steadily.
Now, mapping out your options ahead of time is a good idea or planning ahead to charge up while you are at work, shopping or at an event.
Charging up at a public station will be easy, since the manufacturers all agreed on similar technology to connect your car to the power sources.
Prices will depend on the site owner, but many in our region are currently free of charge.
At commercial stations, you’ll be able to pay with your credit card, a pre-paid smart card, a radio or infrared ID tag, a pre-paid subscription and even cash. Or charging may be included as part of your parking fee in local parking garages and lots that offer charging.
In an Emergency.
Most vehicle manufacturers are offering roadside assistance including emergency roadside charging, and new mobile fast-charging systems will be available soon through auto clubs, like AAA, to provide an emergency roadside charge.