What is an EV?
Unlike a gasoline car powered by an engine, an EV is powered by an electric motor and batteries stored inside the car. When the batteries need recharging you simply plug the car into a 120 volt or 240 volt outlet from the convenience of your home. Most EV owners charge their cars overnight, others may give their batteries a boost by charging after short trips.
There are approximately 4,000 EVs on the road today in the US. Many of those are conversions made from existing cars such as Geo Metros, Ford Escorts, Volkswagen Rabbits, Hondas and trucks like the Chevy S-10 and Ford Ranger. The others are purpose-built vehicles built in small quantities by several companies throughout the world.
* No exhaust or emissions test
* No tune ups
* No more messy oil and antifreeze changes
* Totally silent operation
* Costs 60%-75% less to operate.
Depending on driving habits and terrain, a typical EV averages 40 to 70 miles per charge. Approximately 85% of the cars in the US are driven less then 20 miles a day. Today, the needs of many two car families can be met with one of the cars being an EV.
Because EVs are so quiet and peppy they are fun to drive. Most EVs today can outperform their gasoline cousins. The GM EV1 will accelerate from 0 to 60 in under nine seconds. A modified version of the GM Impact broke the land-speed record for EVs in 1994 with a top speed of 183.8 mph. Handling characteristics in an EV can be comparable to that of a gas car.
History of Electric Vehicles
EVs appeared shortly after 1830 when Joseph Henry invented the first dc-powered motor. Thomas Davenport is credited with building the first practical EV In 1834. In 1847 Moses Farmer built a two-passenger electric car and in 1851 Charles Page invented a 20-mph electric car. Gaston Plante paved the way for early electrics when he built a "rechargable" battery in 1859. In 1899 EVs captured world attention when Camille Jenatzy's "Jamais Contente" set the first land speed record of 66 mph in a streamlined vehicle powered by two 12 volt motors. The first distance record was set in 1900 when the BGS Company's electric car was driven 180 miles on a single charge.
By 1912 there were 34,000 electric cars registered in the U.S. and almost 50 companies producing electric vehicles from 1895 to 1920. Popular models of the time were the Baker and Detroit Electric. Women liked the electric cars because they didn't need to be cranked and doctors prefered them for their reliability.
Although the early gasoline-powered cars were noisy and often broke down, their range was better than that of electric cars. The demise of the electric cars came in 1912 when Charles Kettering invented the electric starter. The Model T revolutionized mass production and gasoline was plentiful. The Golden Age of the gasoline-powered car had begun.
The Golden Age lasted for almost 50 years into the 1960s, however it produced a golden haze in the sky which raised concerns about air pollution. GM began work on thier Electrovair, a converted Corvair, and Ford began development of their sodium-sulfur battery. However, the manufacturers couldn't financially justify the costs to push the technology especially when Americans were interested in muscle cars. Visionaries and hobbyists continued where the manufacturers left off and converted their own individual cars. In 1967 the Electric Auto Association was formed.
The oil crisis of the 1970's caused another wave of interest in EVs. Ford continued development of their sodium-sulfur battery and Chrysler teamed with GE to work on the ETV-1 program. GM began work on their Electrovette, based on the Chevette. At the same time many independent EV companies began to appear such as Sebring/Vanguard. This small start-up company produced 2000 CitiCars and was at one time the 5th largest automaker in the U.S. Many CitiCars still exist today.
As we enter the next century the EV will become a predominant people mover in our society. The final outcome of this transition towards EVs as a viable means of transportation is an environment that will be healthier for future generations to enjoy.
The age of the EV has finally arrived, again.