I recently attended a National Drive Electric Week event in South Bend, organized by South Shore Clean Cities. It’s a public and informal way for the public to learn more about EVs (electric vehicles).
The event was a hybrid (sorry, couldn’t resist) of enthusiasts from the public with car dealers and the Clean Cities. I brought my own Ford C-max Energi to show, and was joined by other makes and models, including the Mitsubishi i-Miev, Nissan LEAF, 2 BMWs, and Tesla Models S and X.
Members from our Provincial leadership as well as our transportation department came along too, on the look-out for something that could fit our mobility needs. Unfortunately, the dealer turn out wasn’t as strong as hoped, so we didn’t get to test drive anything.
Right now, EVs are typically split into two categories: PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) and BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles). (The Dept. of Energy has a nice publication here. I’ll try to summarize below).
PHEVs can run on gas or electricity, which eliminates “range anxiety”. When the battery is depleted in a PHEV, it switches seamlessly over to a traditional gasoline hybrid (like a Prius). Electric as fuel is cheaper (like paying ~$1.00/gallon gas) and doesn’t fluctuate like gasoline. The drawback of a PHEV is that EV mileage is still somewhat limited you have to replicate the cost of both powertrains in a single vehicle.
BEVs run solely on electricity. Thousands of parts from the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) are eliminated and replaced with a simple electric motor (it goes from ~2,000 moving parts to ~20). Just think: no more messing with oil, oil filters, coolant, transmission fluid, spark plugs, alternators, radiators, etc. Ironically, I’m at a Toyota dealer right now waiting on them to change the coolant and transmission oil in my Prius! The largest constraint for a BEV at the moment is price, range, and model availability. Each of these are improving annually. Electric vehicles are expected to reach “price parity” with conventional ICE vehicles within just 8 years. In some fleet situations, they already have a similar TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) because of their reduced maintenance and fuel costs. The market is still small but growing around 40% per year.
I’ll post a few links below for further reading. Several nations now have announced deadlines to eliminate sales of ICE vehicles in favor of EVs. Major corporations and electric utilities are pushing the market forward, and manufacturers are announcing plans to electrify much or all of their lineup. A LOT has changed even just in the last year. Now, I have to get back to getting our EV charging stations purchased (I’ll save that for another post).