Electric Power Fuel, Electric Power Propulsion, Hybrid Electric Vehicles
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Electric Power Fuel, Electric Power Propulsion, Hybrid Electric Vehicles

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History of the Hybrid Electric Power Fuel Vehicles began in the mid-1800s and held the vehicular land speed record until around 1900.

The high cost and low top speed of electric vehicles compared to later internal combustion vehicles caused a worldwide decline in their use, and only relatively recently have they re-emerged into the public eye.

Hybrid Electric Power Fuel cars started to become popular because they were quieter and ran smoother than other cars. Electric motive power started with a small railway operated by a miniature electric motor, built by Thomas Davenport in 1835.

In 1838, a Scotsman named Robert Davidson built an electric locomotive that attained a speed of six kilometers (4 miles) an hour.

Camille Jenatzy in electric car La Jamais Contente, 1899
Camille Jenatzy in the electric car La Jamais Contente, 1899.

1912 Detroit Electric car advertisement
Detroit Electric car advertisement in 1912.

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The electric car, EV, or simply electric vehicle is a battery electric vehicle (BEV) that utilizes chemical energy stored in rechargeable battery packs. Electric vehicles use electric motors and motor controllers instead of internal combustion engines (ICEs).

Vehicles using both electric motors and ICEs are examples of hybrid vehicles, and are not considered pure BEVs because they operate in a charge-sustaining mode.

Hybrid electric vehicles with batteries that can be charged externally to displace some or all of their ICE power and gasoline fuel are called plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and are pure BEVs during their charge-depleting mode.

BEVs are usually automobiles, light trucks, neighborhood Hybrid electric vehicles, motorcycles, motorized bicycles, electric scooters, golf carts, milk floats, forklifts and similar vehicles. BEVs were among the earliest automobiles. BEVs produce no exhaust fumes, and minimal pollution if charged from most forms of renewable energy.

Thomas Edison and an electric car in 1913 (courtesy of the National Museum of American History)
Thomas Edison and an electric car in 1913 (courtesy of the National Museum of American History).

Many are capable of acceleration exceeding that of conventional vehicles, are quiet, and do not produce noxious fumes.

BEVs may reduce dependence on petroleum, enhance national security, and mitigate global warming, depending on how their electricity is produced.

Historically, BEVs and PHEVs have had issues with high battery costs, limited travel distance between battery recharging, charging time, and battery lifespan, which have limited widespread adoption. Ongoing battery technology advancements have addressed many of these problems[citation needed]; many models have recently been prototyped, and a handful of future production models have been announced.

Toyota, Honda, Ford and General Motors all produced BEVs in the 90s in order to comply with the California Air Resources Board's Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate. The major US automobile manufacturers have been accused of deliberately sabotaging their electric vehicle production efforts.

Battery EVs may be cheaper to make and maintain than internal combustion engine vehicles because they have many fewer parts. They are less expensive to operate by a factor of ten over gasoline. Using regenerative braking, a feature which is standard on many electric and hybrid vehicles, a significant portion of energy may be recovered.

In general terms a battery electric vehicle is a rechargeable electric vehicle. Other examples of rechargeable electric vehicles are ones that store electricity in ultracapacitors, or in a flywheel.

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Electric Vehicles History

BEVs were among some of the earliest automobiles — electric vehicles predate gasoline and diesel. Between 1832 and 1839 (the exact year is uncertain), Scottish businessman Robert Anderson invented the first crude electric carriage. Professor Sibrandus Stratingh of Groningen, the Netherlands, designed the small-scale electric car, built by his assistant Christopher Becker in 1835.

The improvement of the storage battery, by Frenchmen Gaston Plante in 1865 and Camille Faure in 1881, paved the way for electric vehicles to flourish. France and Great Britain were the first nations to support the widespread development of electric vehicles. In November 1881 French inventor Gustave Trouvé demonstrated a working three-wheeled automobile at the International Exhibition of Electricity in Paris.

Just prior to 1900, before the pre-eminence of powerful but polluting internal combustion engines, electric automobiles held many speed and distance records. Among the most notable of these records was the breaking of the 100 km/h (60 mph) speed barrier, by Camille Jenatzy on April 29, 1899 in his 'rocket-shaped' vehicle Jamais Contente, which reached a top speed of 105.88 km/h (65.79 mph).

BEVs, produced in the USA by Anthony Electric, Baker, Detroit, Edison, Studebaker, and others during the early 20th Century for a time out-sold gasoline-powered vehicles. Due to technological limitations and the lack of transistor-based electric technology, the top speed of these early electric vehicles was limited to about 32 km/h (20 mph). These vehicles were successfully sold as town cars to upper-class customers and were often marketed as suitable vehicles for women drivers due to their clean, quiet and easy operation. Electrics did not require hand-cranking to start.

The introduction of the electric starter by Cadillac in 1913 simplified the task of starting the internal combustion engine, formerly difficult and sometimes dangerous. This innovation contributed to the downfall of the electric vehicle, as did the mass-produced and relatively inexpensive Ford Model T, which had been produced for four years, since 1908. Internal-combustion vehicles advanced technologically, ultimately becoming more practical than — and out-performing — their electric-powered competitors.

Another blow to BEVs in the USA was the loss of Edison's direct current (DC) electric power transmission system in the War of Currents. This deprived BEV users of a convenient source of DC electricity to recharge their batteries. As the technology of rectifiers was still in its infancy, changing alternating current to DC required a costly rotary converter.

Battery electric vehicles became popular for some limited range applications. Forklifts were BEVs when they were introduced in 1923 by Yale and some battery electric fork lifts are still produced. BEV golf carts have been available for many years, including early models by Lektra in 1954. Their popularity led to their use as neighborhood electric vehicles and expanded versions became available which were partially "street legal".

By the late 1930s, the electric automobile industry had completely disappeared, with battery-electric traction being limited to niche applications, such as certain industrial vehicles. A thorough examination into the social and technological reasons for the failure of BEVs is to be found in Taking Charge: The Electric Automobile in America by Michael Brian Schiffer.

The 1947 invention of the point-contact transistor marked the beginning of a new era for BEV technology. Within a decade, Henney Coachworks had joined forces with National Union Electric Company, the makers of Exide batteries, to produce the first modern electric car based on transistor technology, the Henney Kilowatt, produced in 36-volt and 72-volt configurations.

The 72-volt models had a top speed approaching 96 km/h (60 mph) and could travel nearly an hour on a single charge. Despite the improved practicality of the Henney Kilowatt over previous electric cars, it was too expensive, and production was terminated in 1961. Even though the Henney Kilowatt never reached mass production volume, their transistor-based electric technology paved the way for modern EVs.

After California indicated that it would kill its ZEV Mandate, Toyota offered the last 328 RAV4-EV for sale to the general public during six months (ending on November 22, 2002). All the rest were only leased, and with minor exceptions those models were withdrawn from the market and destroyed by manufacturers (other than Toyota).

Toyota not only supports the 328 Toyota RAV4-EV in the hands of the general public, still all running at this date, but also supports hundreds in fleet usage. From time to time, Toyota RAV4-EV come up for sale on the used market, at prices that have ranged up to the mid 60 thousands of dollars. These are highly prized by solar homeowners who wish to charge their cars from their solar electric rooftop systems.

In 2004, several Silicon Valley entrepreneurs (Elon Musk, known for co-founding Paypal and founding SpaceX, and Martin Eberhard) started Tesla Motors. In 2006 they announced the production of the Tesla Roadster. The Roadster, the design of which is loosely based on the Lotus Elise, uses Lithium-Ion batteries rather than the lead-acid batteries which had previously been predominant in BEVs.

The vehicle, using 6831 li-ion batteries, is capable of traveling 245 miles per charge, an equivalent fuel efficiency of 135 mpg (U.S.) (1.74 L/100 km), yet accelerates from 0-60 in under 4 seconds on its way to a top speed of 135 mph (210 km/h). Tesla is set to roll out the first fleet of Roadsters in Q1 of 2008.

As of July, 2006, there are between 60,000 and 76,000 low-speed, battery powered vehicles in use in the US, up from about 56,000 in 2004 according to Electric Drive Transportation Association estimates.

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Comparison to Internal Combustion Vehicles (ICV)

Battery electric vehicles (BEV) have become much less common than internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV).

Therefore, it is often helpful to consider many aspects of Battery electric vehicles in comparison to Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles.

Tzero an older model electric vehicle on a drag race with a Dodge Viper left behind
Tzero an older model electric vehicle on a drag race with a Dodge Viper left behind.


While petrol powered cars may reach 75 or 100 mpg (3L/100 km), electric cars may reach the equivalent of 200 mpg (1.5 L/100km) with their typical cost of two to four cents per mile. In contrast, gasoline-powered ICEVs currently cost about four to six times as much.

The total cost of ownership for modern BEVs depends primarily on the cost of the batteries, the type and capacity of which determine several factors such as travel range, top speed, battery lifetime and recharging time; several trade-offs exist.

Batteries are usually the most expensive component of BEVs, though the price per kWh of charge has fallen rapidly in recent years, and batteries from old or wrecked electric cars can be bought for battery-to-grid mini-power plants. The cost of battery manufacture is substantial, but increasing returns to scale may serve to lower their cost when BEVs are manufactured on the scale of modern internal combustion vehicles.

Since the late 1990s, advances in battery technologies have been driven by skyrocketing demand for laptop computers and mobile phones, with consumer demand for more features, larger, brighter displays, and longer battery time driving research and development in the field. The BEV marketplace has reaped the benefits of these advances. Some batteries can be leased or rented instead of bought.

One article indicates that 10 kWh of battery power provides a range of about 20 miles in a Toyota Prius, but this is not a primary source, and does not fit with estimates elsewhere of about 5 miles per KWH. The Chevy Volt is expected to use 50 MPG when running on the auxiliary power unit (a small onboard generator) - at 33% thermodynamic efficiency that would mean 12 KWHs for 50 miles, or about 240 watt hours per mile.

Ownership Costs

Initial costs for a Battery Electric vehicle can be higher, but overall cost of ownership is lower, simply because electricity costs less to create than gasoline. While the initial cost can be over 30,000US, the cost of electricity to charge the battery costs a fraction of a cent per mile, whereas most gasoline cars cost over 10 cents per mile. Thus, inital cost is higher, but overall cost is lower.

In the UK other changes in ownership costs include vehicle excise duty or road tax. Electric vehicles are now exempt and so BEV owners will save around £100 per year compared with an average conventional car. There remains some uncertainty about annual depreciation rates and resale values for BEVs due to the unknown length of battery-life and the low demand for battery electrics compared to other green car types. As BEVs lose their value faster than conventional cars depreciation rates are likely to be higher than for a conventional car at this time.

In the UK, BEV users who install additional recharging equipment will face additional financial penalties. Costs per standard charge point are around £500-£2000, depending on the difficulty of installation. Fully installed fast-chargers will cost between £10,000 and £30,000 per point although this depends on whether an on-board or off-board fast-charging system is used.

Running Costs

Some running costs are significantly less for BEVs than for conventional cars. In particular, fuel costs are very low due to the competitive price of electricity - fuel duty is zero-rated - and to the high efficiency of the vehicles themselves. Taking into account the high fuel economy of battery electric cars, the fuel costs can be as low as 1.0-2.5p per mile (depending on the tariff).

For a typical annual mileage of around 10,000 miles per year, switching from a conventional car to a battery electric could save you around £800 in fuel costs. However if the battery hire is considered a running cost, then the saving on fuel is cancelled out by the monthly battery leasing cost. In the New York City metropolitan area, the cost to run a battery (non-hybrid) electric car using standard deep cycle lead acid marine type batteries and is charged from the mains, costs about 3 times more to run than a conventional petrol car.

BEV operating costs can be directly compared to the equivalent operating costs of a gasoline-powered vehicle. A gallon of gasoline contains about 36.4 kWh of energy. To calculate the cost of the electrical equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, multiply the utility cost per kWh by 36.4. To calculate the equivalent mileage of a BEV, divide 36.4 kWh/gal by the energy efficiency in kWh/mile, to get the equivalent miles per gallon. For example, if a BEV owner's electricity rate is $0.10 per kWh, and the BEV gets 0.20 kWh/mile, then the owner is paying the equivalent of $3.64 per gallon of gasoline, and getting the equivalent of 182 miles per gallon.

Energy Efficiency and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Production and conversion BEVs typically use 0.17 to 0.37 kilowatt-hours per mile (0.1–0.23 kWh/km). Nearly half of this power consumption is due to inefficiencies in charging the batteries. Tesla Motors indicates that the well to wheels power consumption of their li-ion powered vehicle is 0.215 kwh per mile.

The US fleet average of 23 miles per gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 1.58 kWh per mile and the 70 MPG Honda Insight uses 0.52 kWh per mile (assuming 36.4 kWh per US gallon of gasoline), so hybrid electric vehicles are relatively energy efficient, and battery electric vehicles are much more energy efficient. A 2001 DOE estimate calculates a battery powered EV at 7 cents/kWh can be driven 43 miles for a dollar and at $1.25/gallon a gasoline vehicle will go 18 miles.

Generating electricity and providing liquid fuels for vehicles are different categories of the energy economy, with different inefficiencies and environmental harms. A 55 % to 99.9 % improvement in CO2 emissions takes place when driving an EV over an ICE (gasoline, diesel) vehicle depending on the source of electricity. Comparing CO2 emissions can be done by using the US national average of 1.28 lbs CO2/kWh [citation needed] for electricity generation, giving a range for BEVs from zero up to 0.2 to 0.5 lbs CO2/mi (0.06 kg/km to 0.13 kg/km).

Because 1 gal of gasoline produces 19 lbs CO2 when burned in a typical automobile engine, the average US fleet produces 0.83 lbs/mi (0.23 kg/km), a 40 mpg car produces approximately 0.47 lbs/mi and the Insight 0.27 lbs/mi (0.08 kg/km). CO2 and other greenhouse gases emissions are minimal for BEVs powered from sustainable electricity sources (e.g. solar energy), but are constant per gallon (or litre) for petrol vehicles.


Electric cars, particularly those using AC or brushless DC motors, have far fewer parts to wear out. An ICE vehicle on the other hand will have many mechanical, fluid, and electrical parts inlcluding: pistons, connecting rods, crankshafts, cylinder walls, valves, valve springs, valve guides, camshafts, cambelts, oil pumps, fuel pumps, water pumps, radiators, gearbox(also used in some EV's), clutch, distributors, spark plugs and their wires, air filters, oil filters, many coolant and vacuum hoses, injectors or carburators, turbos or superchargers, multiple gaskets and seals, numerous bearings, all of which can wear out, (lifters, pushrods, and rocker arms are unnecessary complications added in some American engines, but are slowly being outdated).

Both hybrids and EVs can use regenerative braking, which greatly reduces wear and tear on friction brakes - Prius taxi drivers report far less frequent brake maintenance.

Acceleration Performance

Although some electric vehicles have very small motors, 20 hp or less and therefore have modest acceleration, the relatively constant torque of an electric motor even at very low speeds tends to increase the acceleration performance of an electric vehicle for the same rated motor power. Another early solution was American Motors' experimental Amitron piggyback system of batteries with one type designed for sustained speeds while a different set boosted acceleration when needed.

Electric vehicles can also utilize a direct motor-to-wheel configuration which increases the amount of available power. Having multiple motors connected directly to the wheels allows for each of the wheels to be used for both propulsion and as braking systems, thereby increasing traction. In some cases, the motor can be housed directly in the wheel, such as in the Whispering Wheel design, which lowers the vehicle's center of gravity and reduces the number of moving parts. When not fitted with an axle, differential, or transmission, electric vehicles have less drivetrain rotational inertia.

A gearless or single gear design in some BEVs eliminates the need for gear shifting, giving such vehicles both smoother acceleration and smoother braking. Because the torque of an electric motor is a function of current, not rotational speed, electric vehicles have a high torque over a larger range of speeds during acceleration, as compared to an internal combustion engine. As there is no delay in developing torque in an EV, EV drivers report generally high satisfaction with acceleration.

For example, the Venturi Fetish delivers supercar acceleration despite a relatively modest 300 horsepower, and a top speed of around 100 miles per hour. Some DC motor-equipped drag racer BEVs, have simple two-speed transmissions to improve top speed. The Tesla Roadster prototype can reach 60 mph in 4 seconds with a motor rated at 248 hp.

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Electric Vehicles Batteries

Rechargeable batteries used in electric vehicles include lead-acid ("flooded" and VRLA), NiCd, nickel metal hydride, lithium ion, Li-ion polymer, and, less commonly, zinc-air and molten salt batteries.

The amount of electricity stored in batteries is measured in kilowatt-hour (kW·h or kWh), which is 1,000 watt-hours.


Batteries in BEVs must be periodically recharged. BEVs most commonly charge from the power grid (at home or using a street or shop recharging point), which is in turn generated from a variety of domestic resources; such as coal, hydroelectricity, nuclear and others.

Prototypes of 75 watt-hour/kilogram lithium ion polymer battery
Prototypes of 75 watt-hour/kilogram lithium ion polymer battery. Newer Li-ion cells can provide up to 130 Wh/kg and last through thousands of charging cycles.

Home power such as roof top photovoltaic solar cell panels, microhydro or wind may also be used and are promoted because of concerns regarding global warming.

Charging time is limited primarily by the capacity of the grid connection. A normal household outlet is between 1.5 kilowatts (in the US, Canada, Japan, and other countries with 110 Volt supply) to 3 kilowatts (in countries with 240 V supply). The main connection to a house might be able to sustain 10 kilowatts, and special wiring can be installed to use this. At this higher power level charging even a small, 7 kilowatt-hour (14–28 mi) pack, would probably require one hour.

This is small compared to the effective power delivery rate of an average petrol pump, about 5,000 kilowatts. Even if the supply power can be increased, most batteries do not accept charge at greater than their charge rate ("1C"), because high charge rate has adverse effect on the discharge capacities of batteries.

In 1995, some charging stations charged BEVs in one hour. In November 1997, Ford purchased a fast-charge system produced by AeroVironment called "PosiCharge" for testing its fleets of Ranger EVs, which charged their lead-acid batteries in between six and fifteen minutes. In February 1998, General Motors announced a version of its "Magne Charge" system which could recharge NiMH batteries in about ten minutes, providing a range of sixty to one hundred miles.

In 2005, handheld device battery designs by Toshiba were claimed to be able to accept an 80% charge in as little as 60 seconds. Scaling this specific power characteristic up to the same 7 kilowatt-hour EV pack would result in the need for a peak of 336 kilowatts of power from some source for those 60 seconds. It is not clear that such batteries will work directly in BEVs as heat build-up may make them unsafe.

In 2010, Altairnano's NanoSafe batteries are rechargeable in a few minutes, versus hours required for other rechargeable batteries. A NanoSafe cell can be charged to over 80% charge capacity in about one minute.

Most people do not always require fast recharging because they have enough time, six to eight hours, during the work day or overnight to recharge. As the charging does not require attention it takes a few seconds for an owner to plug in and unplug their vehicle.

Many BEV drivers prefer refueling at home, avoiding the inconvenience of visiting a fuel station. Some workplaces provide special parking bays for electric vehicles with charging equipment provided. In colder areas such as Minnesota and Canada there exists some infrastructure for public power outlets, in parking garages and at parking meters, provided primarily for engine pre-heating.


The charging power can be connected to the car in two ways (electric coupling). The first is a direct electrical connection known as conductive coupling. This might be as simple as a mains lead into a weatherproof socket through special high capacity cables with connectors to protect the user from high voltages.

The second approach is known as inductive coupling. A special 'paddle' is inserted into a slot on the car. The paddle is one winding of a transformer, while the other is built into the car. When the paddle is inserted it completes a magnetic circuit which provides power to the battery pack.

The major advantage of the inductive approach is that there is no possibility of electrocution as there are no exposed conductors, although interlocks, special connectors and ground fault detectors can make conductive coupling nearly as safe. Inductive charging can also reduce vehicle weight, by moving more charging componentry offboard.

Conductive coupling equipment is lower in cost and much more efficient due to a vastly lower component count. An inductive charging proponent from Toyota contended in 1998 that overall cost differences were minimal, while a conductive charging proponent from Ford contended that conductive charging was more cost efficient.

Travel Range Before Recharging

The range of a BEV depends on the number and type of batteries used, and the performance demands of the driver.

Finding the economic balance of range versus performance, battery capacity versus weight, and battery type versus cost challenges every EV manufacturer.

The weight and type of vehicle also have an impact just as they do on the mileage of traditional vehicles. Electric vehicle conversions depends on the battery type:

The General Motors EV1 had a range of 75 to 150 miles with NiMH batteries in 1999
The General Motors EV1 had a range of 75 to 150 miles with NiMH batteries in 1999.

  • Lead-acid batteries are the most available and inexpensive. Such conversions generally have a range of 30 to 80 km (20 to 50 miles). Production EVs with lead-acid batteries are capable of up to 130 km (80 miles) per charge.

  • NiMH batteries have higher energy density and may deliver up to 200 km (120 miles) of range.

  • New lithium-ion battery-equipped EVs provide 400-500 km (250-300 miles) of range per charge. Lithium is also less expensive than nickel.

With an AC system regenerative braking can extend range by up to 50% under extreme traffic conditions without complete stopping. Otherwise, the range is extended by about 10 to 15% in city driving, and only negligibly in highway driving, depending upon terrain.

BEVs (including buses and trucks) can also use genset trailers and pusher trailers in order to extended their range when desired without the additional weight during normal short range use. Discharged baset trailers can be replaced by recharged ones in a route point. If rented then maintenance costs can be deferred to the agency. Such BEVs can become Hybrid vehicles depending on the trailer and car types of energy and powertrain.


An alternative to recharging is to exchange drained or nearly drained batteries (or battery range extender modules) with fully charged batteries.


Zinc-bromine flow batteries can be re-filled, instead of recharged, saving time.

Uploading and Grid Buffering

Smart grid allows BEVs to provide power to the grid in anytime, specially:

  • During peak load periods, when the selling price of electricity can be very high. These vehicles can then be recharged during off-peak hours at cheaper rates while helping to absorb excess night time generation. Here the vehicles serve as a distributed battery storage system to buffer power.

  • During blackouts, as backup.


Individual batteries are usually arranged into large battery packs of various voltage and ampere-hour capacity products to give the required energy capacity. Battery life should be considered when calculating the extended cost of ownership, as all batteries eventually wear out and must be replaced. The rate at which they expire depends on a number of factors.

The depth of discharge (DOD) is the recommended proportion of the total available energy storage for which that battery will achieve its rated cycles. Deep cycle lead-acid batteries generally should not be discharged below 80% capacity. More modern formulations can survive deeper cycles.

In real world use, some fleet Toyota RAV4 EVs, using NiMH batteries, have exceeded 100,000 miles (160,000 km) with little degradation in their daily range.

Jay Leno's 1909 Baker Electric still operates on its original Edison cells. Battery replacement costs of BEVs may be partially or fully offset by the lack of regular maintenance such as oil and filter changes required for ICEVs, and by the greater reliability of BEVs due to their fewer moving parts.

They also do away with many other parts that normally require servicing and maintenance in a regular car, such as on the gearbox, cooling system, and engine tuning. And by the time batteries do finally need definitive replacement, they can be replaced with later generation ones which may offer better performance characteristics, in the same way as you might replace old batteries from a digital camera with improved ones.


The safety issues of battery electric vehicles are largely dealt with by the international standard ISO 6469. This document is divided in three parts dealing with specific issues:

  • On-board electrical energy storage, i.e. the battery.

  • Functional safety means and protection against failures.

  • Protection of persons against electrical hazards.

Firefighters and rescue personnel receive special training to deal with the higher voltages and chemicals encountered in electric and hybrid electric vehicle accidents. While BEV accidents may present unusual problems, such as fires and fumes resulting from rapid battery discharge, there is apparently no available information regarding whether they are inherently more or less dangerous than petrol or diesel internal combustion vehicles which carry flammable fuels.


The future of battery Hybrid electric vehicles depends primarily upon the cost and availability of batteries with high energy densities, power density, and long life, as all other aspects such as motors, motor controllers, and chargers are fairly mature and cost-competitive with internal combustion engine components. Li-ion, Li-poly and zinc-air batteries have demonstrated energy densities high enough to deliver range and recharge times comparable to conventional vehicles.

Bolloré a French automative parts group developed a concept car the "Bluecar" using Lithium metal polymer batteries developed by a subsidiary Batscap. It had a range of 250 km and top speed of 125 km/h.

The cathodes of early 2010 lithium-ion batteries are made from lithium-cobalt metal oxide. This material is pricey, and can release oxygen if its cell is overcharged. If the cobalt is replaced with iron phosphates, the cells will not burn or release oxygen under any charge.

The price premium for early 2010 hybrids is about US $5000, some $3000 of which is for their NiMH battery packs. At early 2010 petrol and electricity prices, that would break even after six to ten years of operation. The hybrid premium could fall to $2000 in five years, with $1200 or more of that being cost of lithium-ion batteries, providing a three-year payback.

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Most of the EVs produced in response to the CARB ZEV initiative by the three major US automobile manufacturers, General Motors, Chrysler Corporation and Ford Motor Company, as well as Honda, Nissan and Toyota were recalled and destroyed when the initiative was withdrawn. Notable exceptions are many of the Toyota RAV4 EVs and the Ford Th!nk.

Moreover, the three major American motor companies almost exclusively promoted their electric cars in the American market, where gas has been comparatively cheap, and virtually ignored the European market, where gas is significantly more expensive.

The apparent lack of good faith attempts to meet the ZEV initiative are addressed in a film on the subject, directed by former EV1 owner and activist Chris Paine, entitled Who Killed the Electric Car? which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2006, and was released July 2006.

Proponents' Arguments

Supporters point out the following:

  • BEVs reduce dependence on oil.

  • BEVs reduce dependence on price manipulated oil markets.

  • BEVs reduce vehicle energy costs by up to 90%.

  • BEVs are up to 75% energy efficient (with ReGen) VS as little as 15% for a petrol ICE powered car (inc. transmission losses).

  • BEVs have much more torque than an ICE (for a given power rating) and a flat torque curve.

  • BEVs mitigate global warming (if a renewable, carbon-free energy source is used such as nuclear power).

  • BEVs are quieter than internal combustion engine vehicles (Though in the newest ICE vehicles, engines only account for a small fraction of the noise; most noise is produced by tires and aerodynamics in an equal measure as BEVs).

  • BEVs do not produce noxious fumes.

  • BEVs can readily satisfy the needs for short trips and up to 500 km with Li-Ion and regeneration.

  • Home recharging is more convenient than trips to petrol stations.

  • BEVs can be recharged during regenerative braking (by converting the vehicle's kinetic energy to chemical energy stored in the battery).

  • Recharging costs are more predictable than gas prices, and not subject to volatile international incidents.

  • Maintenance such as oil changes, smog inspections (and their sometimes expensive consequences), cooling fluid replacement, and periodic repair and adjustments are reduced or completely eliminated, significantly reducing the cost of ownership.

  • BEVs can be powered indirectly by home photovoltaics using net metering, which offers advantages to both power producers and other grid users through peak demand satisfaction and to the EV user through cost reduction and load balancing, especially with time of use net metering.

  • BEVs can provide power to a home in the case of a power outage if specially equipped.

  • Even if powered by electricity from polluting coal plants, they are still far more energy efficient than gasoline-powered cars.

  • In case of an accident or during refueling no need to be worried about burning or exploding gasoline.

  • BEVs are favorable to hydrogen vehicles because there is no need to invest in a large scale system of hydrogen distribution/storage, and BEVs have a significantly higher energy conversion efficiency than hydrogen electrolization cycles. The electricity distribution system is already in place.

  • BEVs are powered by electricity, which can be produced from wind, hydro, solar or nuclear power giving zero carbon emmisions.

Opponents' Arguments

Skeptics of the viability of BEVs argue on conventional practicality grounds and in more general terms. Practicality grounds include:

  • Electricity is produced using such methods as burning coal, producing about 0.97 kg of CO2 (2.1 pounds) per kilowatt-hour[5] plus other pollutants and strip-mining damages: electric vehicles are therefore not "zero emissions" in any real-world sense, except at their point of use unless renewable energy (solar, wind, wave, tidal, geothermal, hydro power) or carbon neutral energy (nuclear fission/fusion) is employed. It must be noted that even when electricity is gained entirely from coal based power plants, the emission/millage is a lot less than those of oil based cars.

  • Zero emission electrical sources such as solar panels must still be manufactured, producing various pollutants.

  • Limited driving range available between recharging (using certain battery technologies).

  • Expensive batteries, which may cost anywhere from under US$1,500 (lead acid) to $20,000 (li-ion) to replace.

  • Batteries need to be replaced frequently (in the case of Li-ion batteries typically every 5 years).

  • Scaleability of battery manufacturing is unproven.

  • Poor cold weather performance of some kinds of batteries.

  • Danger of electrocution and electromagnetic interference.

  • Poor availability of public charging stations reduces practicality and may hinder initial take-up. People who live in flats or houses without private parking may not have an option to charge the vehicle at home.

It can also be argued that the current state of the automobile industry is simply experiencing a shift due to superseding technologies, as was the case when the automobile drove the production of horse-drawn carriages, saddles, and buggy-whips into obscurity. Future automobiles will thus shift toward low-cost and low-maintenance items, compared to today.

The problem of energy supply for transport may not be solved by choosing other energy sources but by rightsizing the vehicles and their usage. With Low-energy vehicles much of the above mentioned problems no longer exist - ultralights like the TWIKE even allow to contribute pedaling.

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Business Tips

Some tips on how to avoid business failure:

  • Don't underestimate the capital you need to start up the business.

  • Understand and keep control of your finances - income earned is not the same as cash in hand.

  • More volume does not automatically mean more profit - you need to get your pricing right.

  • Make sure you have good software for your business, software that provides you with a good reporting picture of all aspects of your business operations.

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