Join the electric car revolution

Posted 6/20/17

A revolutionary transition in transportation has begun, namely, the electrification of nearly all modes of transportation.

Norway has had an electric ferry since 2015. Boeing and Microsoft have …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Join the electric car revolution

Posted

A revolutionary transition in transportation has begun, namely, the electrification of nearly all modes of transportation.

Norway has had an electric ferry since 2015. Boeing and Microsoft have invested in a company that plans to make hybrid electric/fossil fuel aircraft. Electric buses are more commonly seen on city streets. Production has begun on 18-wheelers powered by hydrogen fuel cells that generate electricity, driving the wheels. Tesla, until now focused on luxury electric vehicles (EVs), has more than 300,000 reservations for its affordable Model 3 EV.

What is the driving force behind this transition?

Most of the energy generated by burning fossil fuels in engines is wasted and heats the atmosphere rather than driving the wheels. This is a basic law of physics that no engineering improvements can circumvent.

Electrical motors are not subject to this limitation and are therefore much more efficient.

If you drive 10,000 miles a year, your car gets 25 miles per gallon, and gasoline costs $3 per gallon, you spend $1,200 annually on fuel costs.

If you travel the same distance in a standard-size EV and your electricity cost is our PUD price of 10 cents per kilowatt hour, your annual fuel cost is $222.

Additionally, you will never need an oil change or an engine tune-up, nor a new muffler or spark plugs. Most EV drivers will seldom if ever visit a public charging station because they can plug in their EV at home and recharge the batteries overnight.

EVs also provide a big benefit for the environment.

The gasoline-driven vehicle discussed above produces 8,000 pounds of CO2, the substance that drives climate change. If the EV is charged in Port Townsend, where electricity is nearly carbon free, 10 percent as much CO2 is produced.

Are you in favor of buying local? Charging your EV in town directly benefits our PUD, whereas burning gasoline enriches big corporations and faraway countries.

RANGE ANXIETY

Given these advantages, why aren’t all new cars EVs? Until recently, the range of EVs on a single charge was less than 100 miles, which generated “range anxiety.” However, the new Chevrolet Bolt travels 238 miles on a single charge, and other manufacturers will follow suit.

The lifetime of lithium ion batteries that power EVs has not been tested by long-term experience. However, EV batteries are guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 miles. Although EVs can be charged easily at home or work, fast charging for long trips currently is not widely available. Depreciation on EVs is more rapid than on standard cars because technology development is rapid.

Not ready to invest in a new EV? You can buy a 3- to 5-year-old Nissan Leaf with a range of 60-80 miles for less than $8,000. Do you suffer from range anxiety? A plug-in hybrid lets you drive electric for 30-50 miles and use gasoline for longer trips and significantly reduces your fuel costs and CO2 production.

There are many ways to become an early adopter and join the transportation conversion revolution!

(Thomas Engel is a retired University of Washington chemistry professor. He is the moderator of the Local 20/20 Energy Action Group and serves on the PUD Citizens Advisory Board. He currently drives a hybrid gasoline-electric Prius, but is closing on the purchase of an all-electric Chevy Bolt.)

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment