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August 4, 2014

Clean Energy: The Pros and Cons of Electric Cars

Electric cars have been around for a very long time and long been considered efficient vehicles. They have gained and lost popularity but are getting their second chance as environmental concerns rise. They are environmentally-friendly and cost-effective. However, they are initially expensive and just not built for some type of travels.

History
Electric cars have been around since the 1800’s. The inventor is unclear. Thomas Davenport invented the first American-built electric motor. Their popularity rose from there. The years 1899-1900 were the high point for electric cars. Then, their popularity and production dropped.

While, electric cars were having their high points, gas-powered vehicles started to get more attention. There were better roads that allowed longer travel times than electric cars could handle. Gas got cheaper. Gas-powered cars were faster. An electric starter got rid of the hassle of using a crank. Even better, Henry Ford put cars into mass production. This all lead to a lower price when electric car prices skyrocketed. Electric cars were all but extinct by 1935.

Their return began in the the 1960-70’s, when people began to look for alternative fuel sources to reduce exhaust emission and foreign dependency. Environmental concerns have continued the production of electric vehicles.

How It Operates
An electric car maintains a battery pack that supplies energy to an electric motor. The electric motor turns the wheels of the car and doubles as a generator. When a car glides or stops, it starts recharging the battery. Also, heavy duty circuits control voltage and convert it to AC or DC. The battery pack is recharged by home outlets, home charging stations, or public charging stations.

Pros

  • Electricity is cheaper than gas, lowering overall fuel prices.
  • Non-combustible engines require less maintenance. That means no more oil changes or other typical routine maintenance.
  • An electric car is quiet.
  • It’s better for the environment both because of the reduction in emission but also because of the chance of recycling it.
  • They qualify for hefty tax credits.

Cons

  • They have a higher initial price. The price of replacement batteries (which can suffer in certain weather conditions and have a life of about a decade) cost a few thousand dollars to replace.
  • There are less qualified mechanics. (This can mean back to the dealership with higher prices.)
  • Charging stations aren’t as numerous as gas stations, and they could take 45 minutes for a quick recharge and hours for a full recharge.
  • Typically, electric cars only go about 100 miles before needing a recharge.
  • There’s not much variety among suppliers and car designs.

Electric powered cars once enjoyed popularity and maybe they will again. Research is being done into extending battery packs, building more charging stations, and increasing production for lower prices. Until that point, consumers have to consider their vehicle use carefully to determine if electric cars will perform well for them.

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