These types of vehicles use an electric motor rather than a gasoline engine, so especially in cities, they're a great pollution solution, not to mention being far more economical to run at around 6p per mile.
In addition, with the UK Government's Electric Car Grant Scheme planned to reduce carbon emissions, major funds are set to be injected over the next few years to promote this technology and build a growing electric charge point infrastructure across the country. In turn, car manufacturers are racing to produce enhanced electric cars that will appeal to the wider public.
Thus, it has never been a better time to get your head around the ins and outs of electric cars. The following guide will help you do just that.
Difference between Gasoline Cars and Electric cars
Since most electric cars are currently converted from gasoline cars, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two on the outside. When you drive an electric car however, you will notice that it is nearly silent compared to the normal engine sounds of a gasoline powered vehicle.
The big difference though comes when you have a look under the hood:
The other major difference is that the 'fuel' for electric cars costs a lot less per mile than it does for gasoline ones. And although electric vehicles generally have a 50-mile limitation before a recharge is needed, the average person living in a city or suburb will rarely drive more than 30 or 40 miles per day.
Explaining the Core Functions of an Electric Car
The motor that powers these types of vehicles comes in two forms:
DC motors - these originate from the electric forklift industry and can run on anything from 96 to 192 volts. Their installation tends to be simpler and less expensive than the AC version. A typical DC motor will be in the 20,000-watt to 30,000-watt range and their main feature is that it allows you to accelerate the car up for short periods of time. For example, a 20,000-watt motor will accept 100,000 watts for a short period of time and deliver 5 times its rated horsepower. Too much overdriving however will cause the motor to heat up so much that it burns out, so those who like a little extra speed need to be careful of this.
AC motors - these run at 240 volts AC with a 300 volt battery pack. Their installation allows for the use of almost any industrial three-phase AC motor, which makes it easier to find a motor that fits a specific size, shape or power rating. When you brake, an AC motor turns into a generator and delivers power back to the batteries.
The controller's function is to take power from the batteries and deliver it to the motor. To tell it how much power to inject, the accelerator pedal hooks to a pair of potentiometers (variable resistors) which signals the right amount.
Most controllers send a power pulse of more than 15,000 times per second - this is important as it keeps the pulsation and motor outside the range of human hearing.
The batteries in electric cars will last for approximately 20,000 miles, 3 - 4 years or 200 full charges. It has to be said that the lead-acid battery pack is currently the weak link in electric vehicles, for these reasons:
The good news is that there has been alot of talk about replacing them with fuel cells. This will solve the problem nicely.
If you're concerned about the environment and want to keep your fuel costs down, electric cars are quite simply the way of the future. There is also a great deal of excitement about other variants of this type of 'Green' transport which use both fuel and electricity - to learn more about them, see my previous article titled 'Simple Guide to Understanding Plug In Hybrid Cars'.