Target to eliminate pollution
For more than forty-five years the Clean Air Act has cut pollution as the U.S. economy has grown. Experience with the Clean Air Act since 1970 has shown that protecting public health and building the economy can go hand in hand. Clean Air Act programs have lowered levels of six common pollutants — particles, ozone, lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide — as well as numerous toxic pollutants. From 1970 to 2015, aggregate national emissions of the six common pollutants alone dropped an average of 70 percent while gross domestic product grew by 246 percent. This progress reflects efforts by state, local and tribal governments; EPA; private sector companies; environmental groups and others. The emissions reductions have led to dramatic improvements in the quality of the air that we breathe.
More than nine decades after legendary General Motors CEO Alfred Sloan famously pledged to offer “a car for every purse and purpose,” GM is set to ditch internal combustion engines for an electric future. The company also announced plans to introduce two new electric vehicles within the next 18 months after delivering the first mass-market electric car with the Chevrolet Bolt, which goes 238 miles on a single charge and costs $37,500 before tax incentives. GM said it would deliver at least 20 new electric vehicles globally by 2023. The plan comes amid a global shift in focus as regulators emphasize electric vehicles, battery costs fall and hydrogen fuel cell technology advances. China, GM’s biggest vehicle market, has signaled plans to ban gasoline vehicles, and Britain and France have announced similar plans. So GM might not have much of a choice, Autotrader.com analyst Michelle Krebs said. “If they’re still going to be a global player, they’ve still got to move ahead” even if the Trump administration rolls back fuel economy standards in the U.S., Krebs said. Meanwhile, other automakers have made similar pledges. Chinese-owned Swedish brand Volvo recently announced plans to make only hybrids or electric vehicles after 2019. GM will begin selling fuel cell-powered cars to retail customers in 2023, fuel cell chief Charles Freese said Monday. Fuel cells have fascinated the auto industry for years because their only emission is water. Cost and limited availability of hydrogen fuel have kept them from hitting the mainstream so far. GM said it had created a new system that allows the company to fit different types of battery cells into a vehicle’s underpinnings, speeding the development of future electric vehicles.
Cost of electric cars:
As of 2013, electric cars are significantly more expensive than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles due to the cost of their battery pack. However, battery prices are coming down about 8% per annum with mass production, and are expected to drop further as competition increases.
According to a 2010 survey, around three quarters of American and British car buyers have or would consider buying an electric car, but they are unwilling to pay more for an electric car. Several national and local governments have established tax credits, subsidies, and other incentives to reduce the net purchase price of electric cars and other plug-ins.
Car manufacturers choose different strategies for EVs. For low production, converting existing platforms is the cheapest as development cost is low. For higher production, a dedicated platform may be preferred to optimize design.
Battery first cost
Tesla Motors uses laptop-size cells for a cost of about $200 per kilowatt hour. Based on the three battery size options offered for the Tesla Model S, The New York Times estimated the cost of automotive battery packs between US$400 to US$500 per kilowatt-hour.
A 2013 study reported that battery costs came down from US$1,300 per kilowatt hour in 2007 to US$500 per kilowatt hour in 2012. The U.S. Department of Energy has set cost targets for its sponsored battery research of US$300 per kilowatt hour in 2015 and US$125 per kilowatt hour by 2022. Cost reductions of batteries and higher production volumes will allow plug-in electric vehicles to be more competitive with conventional internal combustion engine vehicles.
A 2016 study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) says battery prices fell 65% since 2010, and 35% just in 2015, reaching US$350 per kWh. The study predicts electric car battery costs to be below US$120 per kWh by 2030, and to fall further thereafter as new chemistries become available. McKinsey estimates that electric cars are competitive at a battery pack cost of $100/kWh (around 2030), and expects pack costs to be $190/kWh by 2020.
Li-Ion battery-powered BMW i3 showing the carbon fibre structure and the electric motor
The documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” shows a comparison between the parts that require replacement in gasoline-powered cars and EV1s, with the garages stating that they bring the electric cars in every 5,000 mi (8,000 km), rotate the tires, fill the windshield washer fluid and send them back out again. Other advantages of electric cars are that they do not need to be driven to petrol stations and there are often fewer fluids which need to be changed.
The cost of charging the battery depends on the cost of electricity. As of November 2012, a Nissan Leaf driving 500 miles (800 km) per week is estimated to cost US$600 per year in charging costs in Illinois, U.S. as compared to US$2,300 per year in fuel costs for an average new car using regular gasoline.
Much of the mileage-related cost of an electric vehicle is depreciation of the battery pack. To calculate the cost per kilometer of an electric vehicle it is therefore necessary to assign a monetary value to the wear incurred on the battery.
The Tesla Roadster’s battery pack is expected to last seven years with typical driving and costs US$12,000 when pre-purchased today. Driving 40 miles (64 km) per day for seven years or 102,200 miles (164,500 km) leads to a battery consumption cost of US$0.1174 per 1 mile (1.6 km) or US$4.70 per 40 miles (64 km).
Great effort is taken to keep the mass of an electric vehicle as low as possible to improve its range and endurance. However, the weight and bulk of the batteries themselves usually makes an EV heavier than a comparable gasoline vehicle, reducing range and leading to longer braking distances. However, in a collision, the occupants of a heavy vehicle will, on average, suffer fewer and less serious injuries than the occupants of a lighter vehicle; therefore, the additional weight brings safety benefits despite having a negative effect on the car’s performance. They also use up interior space if packaged ineffectively. If stored under the passenger cell, not only is this not the case, they also lower the vehicles center of gravity, increasing driving stability, thereby lowering the risk of an accident through loss of control. An accident in a 2,000 lb (900 kg) vehicle will on average cause about 50% more injuries to its occupants than a 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) vehicle. In a single car accident, and for the other car in a two-car accident, the increased mass causes an increase in accelerations and hence an increase in the severity of the accident.
Some electric cars use low rolling resistance tires, which typically offer less grip than normal tires. Many electric cars have a small, light and fragile body, though, and therefore offer inadequate safety protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in America had condemned the use of low speed vehicles and “mini trucks,” referred to as neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) when powered by electric motors, on public roads. Mindful of this, several companies (Tesla Motors, BMW, Uniti) have succeeded in keeping the body light, while making it very strong.
Electric Car safety
At low speeds, electric cars produced less roadway noise as compared to vehicles propelled by internal combustion engines. Blind people or the visually impaired consider the noise of combustion engines a helpful aid while crossing streets, hence electric cars and hybrids could pose an unexpected hazard. Tests have shown that this is a valid concern, as vehicles operating in electric mode can be particularly hard to hear below 20 mph (30 km/h) for all types of road users and not only the visually impaired. At higher speeds, the sound created by tire friction and the air displaced by the vehicle start to make sufficient audible noise.
The Government of Japan, the U.S. Congress, and the European Parliament passed legislation to regulate the minimum level of sound for hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles when operating in electric mode, so that blind people and other pedestrians and cyclists can hear them coming and detect from which direction they are approaching. The Nissan Leaf was the first electric car to use Nissan’s Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians system, which includes one sound for forward motion and another for reverse. As of January 2014, most of the hybrids and plug-in electric and hybrids available in the United States, Japan and Europe make warning noises using a speaker system. The Tesla Model S is one of the few electric cars without warning sounds, because Tesla Motors will wait until regulations are enacted. Volkswagen and BMW also decided to add artificial sounds to their electric drive cars only when required by regulation.
Several anti-noise and electric car advocates have opposed the introduction of artificial sounds as warning for pedestrians, as they argue that the proposed system will only increase noise pollution. Added to this, such an introduction is based on vehicle type and not actual noise level, a concern regarding ICE vehicles which themselves are becoming quieter.
Electric Car Charging Infrastructure
With more and more manufacturers investing in their own electric car programs, the infrastructure to back up the new wheels on the road needs to be continually improved. According to a new study by the University of Michigan, the key stakeholders in the expansion of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging projects are doing just that.
Nearly 16,000 public charging stations have been made available in the few short years since 2009. These stations sport an average of 2.7 chargers per unit, meaning a lot of cars can charge at the same time. In fact, with 542,000 registered EVs in the United States, this means that if all 43,000 charging connectors were used at the same time, nearly 8 percent of all electric cars could be charging at once. These numbers don’t include private charging or shared stations.
Electric car statistics
Final numbers for electric vehicle (EV) sales in the U.S. were recently released for January. The 70% year-over-year increase in monthly sales continued the strong momentum from 2016. Following a 5% decline in sales from 2014 to 2015, U.S. EV sales jumped by 37% in 2016.
By year-end there were about 30 different EV offerings, with total sales of 159,139 vehicles. Five different models sold at least 10,000 units in 2016: Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X, Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Ford Fusion Energy.
More than half of all EV sales took place in California, driven by the state’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which requires that a certain percentage of an automaker’s sales must be ZEVs. California’s goal is to put 1.5 million ZEVs on the state’s roads by 2025.
Despite the decline in 2015, EVs in the U.S. have grown at a 32% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past four years:
Study found that an 80 percent renewables future is feasible with currently available technologies, including wind turbines, solar photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, bio power, geothermal, and hydropower.
The study also demonstrates that a high renewables scenario can meet electricity demand across the country every hour of every day, year-round.
Variable resources such as wind and solar power can provide up to about half of U.S. electricity, with the remaining 30 percent from other renewable sources.
Increasing renewables to supply 80 percent of U.S. electricity does not, however, limit energy choices to one specific pathway. Rather, the NREL study shows that a range of renewable energy scenarios provide the nation with multiple pathways to reach this goal.
Renewable energy provides substantial benefits for our climate, our health, and our economy. It dramatically reduces global warming emissions, improves public health, and provides jobs and other economic benefits. And since most renewables don’t require water for cooling, they dramatically reduce the water requirements for power production compared to fossil-fueled power plants.
In an 80 percent renewables future, carbon emissions from the power sector would be reduced by 80 percent, and water use would be reduced by 50 percent.
The Renewable Electricity Futures Study is arguably the most comprehensive analysis of a high renewable electricity future to date.
The study was assessed by 140 peer reviewers, used state-of-the-art modeling to achieve the results, and includes detailed assessments of costs, challenges, and opportunities for each renewable energy technology. It serves as an accurate, realistic portrayal of what can be achieved in the coming decades.
Since the study was performed at a very fine geographic and time scale (looking at 134 regions across the U.S. on an hourly basis) the results are robust and closely detail how renewable energy sources and potential vary by region.
Some parts of the country have substantial wind resources. Other areas have more solar potential. Still others have extensive biomass or geothermal resources.