Tesla Model S
With a few exceptions, it's generally accepted that emissions from gas- and diesel-powered vehicles are contributing to global warming and some fear the end of the world's fossil fuel supplies could be close at hand. With only so much oil in the Earth's crust and ever increasing pressure from governments around the globe to improve fuel economy and lower emissions, automakers have been forced to begin developing vehicles powered by alternative propulsion methods. While there is no clear leader to replace the combustion engine yet, there are several contenders.
One technology that is gradually gaining momentum now is electric propulsion. Just about every major automaker is working on electric vehicles, from the impractical (the hastily-converted Scion iQ EV) to the practical (the bespoke Tesla Model S, Motor Trend's 2013 Car of the Year). The future of the electric car hinges on two things: range and infrastructure.
More from Motor Trend
- 2013, 2014 compact crossover comparison
- 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus vs. 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Pack
- Lamborghini reveals Egoista concept at 50th anniversary gala
- Corvette spied testing with Ferrari 458 Italia, Audi R8 v10
Range anxiety is a very real issue that skeptics of electric cars often seize upon. Of the 10 full-electric cars currently available to the public, the average range is 94.2 miles, with the low end represented by the iQ EV (EPA-estimated 36-mile range), and the opposite end of the spectrum with the Model S (EPA-estimated 265-mile range for the top-spec, 85 kW-hr battery pack). Compounding the range issue is that it takes on average six hours to fully recharge a battery pack for electric cars. That means a trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, a 382 mile journey that'd take just five-and-a-half hours in a traditional gas-powered car, could take nearly forty hours in an electric car like the Nissan Leaf, which has a 73-mile range and a 6-hour recharge time. As a single car for a family that likes to travel, most electric cars just aren't practical yet.
So what are automakers doing to fix the problem? Two things: better infrastructure and bigger, better batteries that can store more energy. The challenges facing both solutions are daunting. Not only do automakers need to work to make their electric vehicles charge faster, but they also need to make fast-charging stations as abundant as gas stations are. One automaker currently working on solving the infrastructure issue is Nissan. The Japanese automaker is currently developing a fast charger that could charge a Leaf battery from empty to 80 percent full in about 10 minutes, reportedly without severely impacting battery life.
In the more immediate future, electric car maker Tesla is tackling the problem with both bigger batteries and by building its own infrastructure. Its flagship Model S for example, is currently available with 60 kWh and 85 kWh battery packs. Even the Model S' smallest battery, the 60-kWh pack, dwarves the 24 kWh and 23 kWh batteries used by the Leaf and Ford Focus Electric, respectively. The 60 kWh battery gives the Model S an EPA-estimated 208-mile range, while the larger still 85-kWh battery sports a 265-mile range. Tesla knows that big batteries can only help so much.
To make the electric car a practical solution for single-vehicle families, the automaker has opened rapid-charging stations — or "Superchargers" in Tesla parlance — up and down both coasts. The Superchargers are capable of adding about 150-miles of range in around 30 minutes. The Supercharger network includes five strategically located stations on the West Coast designed to facilitate travel between Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas and two on the East Coast to allow travel between Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.
Must-See on MSN
I find it amazing that 70 years ago the Nazis ran 30% of their war machine, including jet aircraft, on synthetic fuel. With all our modern technology why can't we synthesize fuel for internal combustion engines?
Also, there is enough natural gas and coal available to power the world for hundreds of years, so the only reason we are running around screaming that the sky is falling is because of the false global warming narrative. The environmental wackos would have us all driving horse and buggies again, and reading by candle light.
Can you imagine the benefits? Can you imagine the cost of adding this system to all the roads? Can you imagine how much BP would lobby against it?
Face it. Electric cars are very limited, they give off dangerous fumes, and have to be recharged with expensive electrical energy, mostly from fossil fuels.
On the Farm, we use Electric Golf Carts to do a lot of light work. Its great. Its not enclosed, so no fear of breathing the batteries acid fumes. Replacing batteries are very expensive, approximately $1000.00. This has to be done just about every three years with just moderate use.
Natural Gas, Ethanol, and clean diesel seem to be the way we are headed. On the Farm, these fuels are the most efficient, least expensive, least to upkeep, and the most reliable.
Regarding alternative fuels, (" the (Honda) GX is currently the only factory full-CNG vehicle on the market") Not true .....there is a little-known manufacturer of a Natural-Gas Powered, 3-wheeled CAR known as the AMERICAN ROADSTER CNG by ECO FUELER. (eco-fueler.com) The company also manufactures a Home Fueling Compressor, which is a $3,500 value, and is included in the price of the vehicle. (around $19,000)
I don't see anything wrong with producing electric cars for those that like them and want one. What I have a problem with is using global warming as an excuse. The earth hasn't gained 1 degree in the last 15 years or so. Make the cars for those that want one, just stop blaming global warming.