Electric Car 101
An electric car is powered by electricity instead of gas. This electricity can come from your main power grid, by plugging into to it at your home. Or it can come from renewable sources if you have the technology installed at your home. Usually people recharge at night while they sleep.
The power is stored in the car batteries, which can typically power 50 miles of driving. Some batteries do more, but are very expensive. New batteries are currently being developed with longer distance capabilities. Hopefully, these will become more affordable when the demand for electric vehicles reaches a critical mass.
The batteries used to power electric autos are large and heavy, because they have to replace gas in powering the vehicle. In an electric car, you will still have the normal smaller 12volt car battery that all gas cars have to power the car accessories. The electric vehicle batteries are in addition to this---similar but bigger. In an electric vehicle, there are lots of batteries working together, not just one extra battery. This is why they take up so much space.
Any car, or vehicle, can be converted to become electric. Several custom-designed e-cars are now commercially available also. In the near future we can expect it to be commonplace for car dealers to stock electric models.
From the outside, an electric car looks just like any other vehicle. But it doesn't sound like any other vehicle. It is almost silent. Imagine how peaceful our neighborhoods would become again if we all went electric! We have put up with a lot of noise pollution as well as air pollution because of our use of the gasoline engine.
Electric cars are not the same as hybrids. Hybrid cars are those that use electricity and gas. When the car is doing short journeys, or sitting in traffic wasting fuel, it can switch to electric mode, or shut down the engine and thus save energy.
So what's beneath the hood?
Here, take a peek.....
Photo of electric engine by Scott Andress.
Instead of lots of greasy pipes, you get a lot of wires! As well as a lack of grease, your electric vehicle does not have any need for:
So how does it work?
Battery cells are connected to an electric motor which powers the various car mechanisms---steering, brakes, air-conditioning etc.
Instead of forward and reverse gears, there's is an electric shifter.
Instead of a fuel tank gauge, you will see a voltmeter on your dashboard.
To start your car, you use the key in the ignition, choose forward/backwards drive mode, put your foot on the accelerator pedal and you're off!
An electrical controller rations the amount of volts that go to power the motor. When you put your foot down all the way, it gets the full voltage of your battery. When you take your foot off, there is no power going through. In between, there is an even gradation of voltage power, giving you smooth acceleration.
They're clean!They're green!