A Brief History of Batteries and Battery Tech

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

What comes to mind when you hear the term “car battery”? Fifteen years ago, the answer would have been quite obvious. But lately the idea of what a car battery entails has shifted away from that essential-but-oft-forgotten black box under the hood to state-of-the-art propulsion systems of the near future. When talking about batteries, we focus less on volts and more on kilowatt-hours and MPGe. We’ve mentioned batteries a lot lately, specifically in regards to the Chevrolet Bolt, GM’s potentially game-changing affordable all-electric vehicle. But when we talk about the Bolt’s 238 miles of battery range, how is that different from talking about the battery at the end of your jumper cables?

Continue reading >>>

Electric Boogaloo: EVs for the Average Car Shopper

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Automakers are on the verge of revving up their electric-vehicle production efforts. Global demand is certainly growing: countries around the world are planning markets in which 100% of vehicles sold will be completely emissions-free. Norway is probably the most prominent example, having declared a 2020 deadline for 100% EV and Fuel Cell adoption. Most auto manufacturers are therefore also moving in that direction, though their timetables aren’t quite as aggressive as Norway’s. Hyundai has promised 8 plug-in hybrids and 2 all-electric models in the next 4-5 years, Volkswagen AG has pledged to offer a plug-in version of every model in its lineup by 2025, and Honda wants fully electric cars to account for two-thirds of its total sales by 2030. So within 5, 10, or 15 years, buyers can expect most new cars being produced to be battery-powered.

Continue reading >>>

Electric Motors Without the Equations

Nissan Leaf Cutaway

Earlier this year, Bloomberg published an interesting article on the future of electric vehicles in relation to oil demand. It points out that global EV sales increased 60% in 2015, the same rate of growth seen by the Ford Model T in its early years. Though EVs still only command about 0.1% of the worldwide auto market—and the current glut of cheap oil has kept many people behind the wheels of their favorite crossovers and trucks—more affordable batteries, growing cultural acceptance, and the looming threat of global warming will most likely only improve EV sales from here on out. Bloomberg itself predicts “the 2020s will be the decade of the electric car,” anticipating that at some point EV demand will surpass even demand for oil.

Continue reading >>>

Could Now Be a Good Time to Buy a Tesla?

2015 Tesla Model S

Tesla has seen a lot of time in the news during the past couple of weeks over crashes involving its Autopilot system. Low gas prices also might be hurting its business plan, and there are some growing questions about reliability. This all begs the question: is now the right time to think about buying a Tesla? The answer is a qualified “maybe,” because the decision essentially comes down to how much risk you’re willing to assume.

Continue reading >>>

Our 10 Favorite EVs

2011 Chevrolet Volt

There’s been quite a bit of debate as to where electric cars will fit into the consumer car market in the next few years. Tesla’s recent announcement of their P85D shows that electric cars are starting to infiltrate even the ranks of performance vehicles. Although there have been a number of additions to the EV category in recent years, a lot of people still question the practicality of transitioning to a purely electric vehicle. Battery charge times and driving range on a single charge certainly leave a lot to be desired. These are legitimate concerns, but automakers are making strides in addressing them. With the addition of home charging stations, charge time drops drastically, and more public charging stations will certainly help extend the EV’s range. And of course Tesla is making waves with its 30-second-swappable batteries.

Continue reading >>>

Can Charging Mats Sever the EV Cord?

Nissan Leaf charging

Remember when you were a kid and all you wanted for your birthday was a remote-controlled car?

When the day finally arrived, your heart raced as you ripped open the wrapping paper and saw the gleaming red car under the clear plastic of the box. You, at long last, were the proud owner of a real remote-controlled car.

After tearing open the packaging and having your dad free the car of its inner restraints, a horrible realization occurred. Your car wasn’t a real remote-controlled car, it was tethered with a wire from the remote to the car. What fun is that?

The disappointment was intense, and you hung your head as you followed the car through the kitchen, maneuvering it around adults’ feet, trying to keep the wire free.

Now you’re all grown up and have finally purchased the electric car you always wanted, only to suffer the familiar disappointment of realizing you can’t go far without attaching a wire.

Continue reading >>>

Green Update: More EVs and Hybrids Coming

BMW ActiveE

Audi’s E-tron is coming into production later this year as an R8 with four electric motors to give you 313 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. You can probably get this thing on a limited lease, but if you’ve got the bread, you can buy this sled.

As long as we are still in cloud cuckoo land, consider the Porsche 918 Spyder, which we have reported on before. For $845,000, you will get a hybrid that

promises a top speed of 198 m.p.h., fuel economy exceeding 70 m.p.g. and lower carbon emissions than a Prius. Between its race-bred V-8 and electric motors, the plug-in Porsche will kick out roughly 730 horsepower and is said to be capable of 0-to-60 m.p.h. acceleration in just 3.2 seconds, yet travel up to 25 miles on electricity.

More German stuff at slightly lower cost: BMW’s ActiveE (photo above) has been made available to a lucky few (700) on the coasts for testing. One report praises the car for its “near-gymnastic dexterity” and its remarkable braking system that applies progressive and strong braking force as you take your foot off the accelerator. This is called “one-pedal drive,” and could be the future for EVs.

Continue reading >>>

Solar-Powered Roads Could Answer Everything

Aside from figuring out the little problem known as the debt ceiling that our esteemed political leaders have been bickering over for the last few weeks, our country has a few other major issues standing firmly in the way of future progress.

One is a crumbling Interstate highway system. Another is an antiquated electric power grid, and a third is our persistence to quickly burn through the world’s supply of fossil fuels.

One invention, coming from a man in the idea Mecca of North Idaho, could solve everything. Get ready for solar-powered roadways!

First, some stats:

Continue reading >>>