There are many reasons to buy any smart electric vehicle, electric hybrid or plug-in hybrid. Rising gasoline costs are probably the biggest and most pressing issue when considering an electric car purchase. The environment and the planet is another concern. Whatever the reason, buying any planet-friendly BEV, PHEV or eco-friendly car instead of that internal combustion engine car that burns fossil fuels will certainly have a positive effect to help save the planet and save you money too.

To make smart electric car purchasing decisions, it is important to understand what the different types of electric vehicles are and how smart electric cars work.

There are three types of power-assisted electric vehicles that use some type of electric motor. The Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) is, as the name suggests, a battery-powered vehicle. There is no other source of power for the vehicle, no gasoline-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) and therefore the battery needs to be charged between uses and will discharge during use until it is depleted. At this point the vehicle can no longer run so you will need to be close to a charging point before running out of gas, I mean electric juice.

Two types of hybrid electric vehicles offer the best of the world of electric vehicles and ICE. Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) uses an electric motor to propel the car or to increase power. Generally, the result of this is to extend the distance you can travel on one tank of fuel, giving the hybrid electric car better fuel economy.

Lastly, there’s the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). This works in a very similar way to HEV, but with one important difference: the battery can be connected to a charging point to fully charge the battery to its maximum capacity. In comparison, the HEV can only charge its battery with the current generated by its ICE, or through regenerative breakdown (a process in which energy is recovered during breakdown rather than lost). By fully charging the battery, you can prolong the use of electrical power and reduce the use of gasoline, making the PHEV the most economical of the hybrid electric vehicles.

The drive train of a BEV is very simple: a battery powers the motor, which powers the electric vehicle. Hybrid electric vehicles will operate with an ICE and an electric motor in parallel or in series, and both the ICE and the electric motor will be able to drive the electric or hybrid vehicle. A capacitor also allows power to be channeled back to the battery, and in the case of the PHEV, a separate charging circuit like the BEV is included to separately charge the hybrid electric vehicle.

There are two types of batteries that are used in cars BEV, PHEV and HEV. Nickel metal hydride batteries are an older technology and one that degrades more quickly than others. Newer lithium-ion batteries are much more efficient and durable in both electric and hybrid vehicles. They do not suffer from memory formation like nickel metal hydride batteries and tend to be able to provide more engine power than the alternative.

Older hybrid electric vehicles can still use lead-acid batteries, but these are now generally considered bad for the environment and no longer used.

There are pros and cons to switching to an electric or hybrid vehicle. They are cheaper to drive than ICE cars and have good speed, and hybrid electric vehicles have good range as well. But the BEV class can generally run only up to 40-200 miles, leading to what’s known as range anxiety. Hybrid electric vehicles also outperform when using ICE, providing much greater range.

Another drawback is that the batteries wear out and need to be replaced. This is an expensive part of the car, and in a BEV, battery failure means the car will not fully function. A hybrid at least has its ICE to fall back on.

However, the overall operating costs for the owner are much lower than for a vehicle with an ICE. The electric or hybrid vehicle has fewer moving parts and therefore less chance of failure requiring repair. The fuel efficiency of a hybrid is vastly increased, saving money for every mile driven, and for a BEV it is even less, since electric power is cheaper than gasoline.

One of the greatest benefits of these vehicles is for the planet. Our oil reserves are finite and dwindling, and their continued use in this way further pollutes the environment. Switching to electric or hybrid vehicles will dramatically reduce emitted pollutants and slow the rate at which our planet’s natural resources are being depleted.

When it comes to the economy, electric and hybrid vehicles could be a very positive development. The production of large numbers of these vehicles would require the construction or conversion of manufacturing factories and the hiring of workers to staff the factories. It is often claimed that our economy is heavily dependent on oil and that turning away from it would destroy us, but the truth is very different. By adopting these technologies, our economy can shift its dependence on oil to alternatives, just as our automotive needs do.

Insuring a fully electric or hybrid vehicle can cost slightly more than a gasoline vehicle. Although small savings are possible thanks to the improved risk profile of people who own electric vehicles, other costs are higher. However, repairing electric or hybrid vehicles currently costs more because there are fewer of these vehicles on the road and because replacement parts are less abundant. This increases repair costs, which insurance companies pass on to owners. Savings in running costs can help offset this.

The options are varied when considering the purchase of one of these cars, giving potential owners a good range of options when it comes to their vehicle’s power, size, and range. The following cars are currently available or will be released soon, green road ready cars. Full details are not available for some of those cars that are not yet for sale.

The Nissan Leaf is an all-electric car that goes 100 miles per charge and up to 90 mph, and starts at $ 33,720. It is a modern-looking car with a reasonable range and a competitive price. The Tesla Roaster is also fully electric, with an incredible 245 miles per charge, a top speed of 125 mph, and it starts at $ 101,500. This is an impressive-looking car with equally amazing performance and a range like no other electric car.

The all-electric Smart-ED model has a maximum range of 98 miles and a top speed of 60 mph. This little car will be perfect for driving around the city. Starting at $ 599 a month for a four year lease.

Ford’s all-electric car, the Ford Focus has yet to launch, but is expected to have a range of more than 100 miles per charge. This car will be available from the end of 2011 and it seems to offer all the high-tech options people could want, in a very stylish exterior. Final pricing and other details have yet to be released.

The Chevrolet Volt is a PHEV that is capable of speeds of 100 mph. Fuel economy depends on how often you charge the battery, with official figures posted at 60 mpg using gasoline and electricity combined. Pricing starts at $ 32,780, giving it a reasonable price coupled with good performance.

The Toyota Prius is a PHEV that has an incredible 475-mile range on a single tank of gas, when using a combination of gasoline and electric motor. Unfortunately, since it won’t be available until early 2012, there are no further details on performance and pricing.

A fully hybrid version of the Toyota Prius is also available, with a base price of $ 23,520. With a combined mileage of 50 mpg and a top speed of 112 mph, it has enough power and efficiency for anyone. This is a tried and true hybrid car with a good reputation.

Ford’s Fusion also has a hybrid version, with a starting price of $ 19,820. With a range of 700 miles per full tank of fuel and 41 mpg, it’s powerful and stylish, and it has the range to take you wherever you want to go.

Cadillac’s Escalade Hybrid is a luxury SUV, so it’s priced a bit higher, $ 74,135. Fuel efficiency is good for an SUV up to 23 mpg and a range of up to 575 miles per tank. This SUV balances the needs of a larger family with a desire to be a little more eco-friendly, and it does so with incredible style.

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