Future of electric cars

According to the Electric Drive Transportation Association, the number of battery powered vehicles in the US grew to 76,000 in 2006 from 56,000 in 2004. From 1992 to 2006, the average growth for electric cars was around 28.5%. Automobile manufacturers are motivated to pursue battery powered technology due to the demand to reduce dependency on petroleum, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide a more cost-effective means of transportation.



Motor technologies

There are 4 types of electric motors: DC Brushless, AC Induction, Permanent Magnet and Switched Reluctance.

·                    The AC induction motor is the most utilized and proven; there is, however, the penalty of reduced motor efficiency.  At additional cost, the AC Induction allows the car to have the fastest acceleration with average top speed.

·                    The DC Brushless has become popular due to its small packaging size and performance output though material costs do exact a price penalty. The DC Brushless will allow the car to have the highest top speed but the slowest acceleration.

·                    The Permanent Magnet motor offers average top speed and average acceleration.

·                    Switched Reluctance motors offer the most cost effective solution of the four motors although there is complex controller software involved to have it function quietly.


Battery technologies

The 3 most common battery types are: Lead-acid, nickel-metal hydride, and Lithium Ion. The average lifespan of these batteries has historically been around 3 to 4 years.

·                    Among the three, lead-acid is the most commonly produced and cheapest.

·                    With a smaller size and higher performance than lead acid, nickel-metal hydride comes with a higher price tag.

·                    New Lithium- based battery chemistries (though the most expensive to date) have proven to have the longest life cycle and highest energy density. They are non-toxic and are the safest battery solution for transportation.



US Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

As part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the US government provides a tax credit for buyers of plug-in electric vehicles. Any buyer of an electric car would receive a base of $2,500 plus an additional $417 per kWh for batteries greater than 4 kWh up to a cap of $7,500. Electric Vehicle manufacturers of the GM Volt or Phoenix Motorcars SUT and SUV would qualify for $7,500 tax credit.


President-Elect Barack Obama has claimed that he will support legislation providing a $7000 tax credit to everyone who buys an electric car as an incentive to put a million electric cars on the road. California gives purchasers of plug-in vehicles a $5,000 rebate and many other states are considering tax credits or rebates for purchasers of plug-in vehicles. For example, last month the Governor of Oregon announced a “Climate Change Agenda” that includes a $5,000 tax credit for plug-ins and all-electric vehicles.


Operating costs & energy efficiency

At $3.78/gallon, a car powered by an internal combustion engine with 23 mpg efficiency would cost about $9.80 per 60 miles. On the other hand, a battery version of that same car would cost $1.75 per 60 miles. Maintenance costs are also lower for an electric car as you do not have to add or replace engine oil, transmission fluid, air filters, etc.


Regenerative braking also allows an electric vehicle to recharge while decelerating or braking so brake linings and related parts wear out much more slowly and require far fewer replacements.


The energy consumption efficiency of a lithium-ion powered car is $0.176 kWh/mi. The average gasoline operated car with 23 mpg has an efficiency of $1.58 kWh/mi. A hybrid vehicle with 70 mpg has $0.52 kWh/mi efficiency. Clearly, battery electric vehicles are much more energy efficient especially when looking at the truck and SUV market segment where relatively low fuel efficiency is the norm.



Battery electric vehicles charge from the power grid, where electricity is generated from a variety of sources: Solar panels, wind-generated electricity, hydroelectricity, nuclear, and coal. Normally, a battery electric vehicle will be charged overnight using an integrated vehicle charger in around 5 to 6 hours using a 220 V source. Phoenix Motorcars has introduced the first EV that can also be charged to around 95% charge capacity in as fast as 10 minutes.


This requires off-board equipment and industrial 480V 3-phase power, already widely commercially available today, with the idea of “charging stations” using large stationary battery banks to charge at offpeak intervals (in the middle of the night, for example) or from other renewable energy sources.




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