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Arkansas Living March 2011 : Page-26

Driveway %\%ULDQ6ORERGDDQG$QGUHZ&RWWHU Nissan Leaf Source: Nissan Electrification of America’s automobile fleet has been hailed as a great step forward in reducing pollution and curb-ing our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil. When it comes to all-electric vehicles, choices are currently limited to the Chevrolet Volt, the Nissan Leaf, and a growing number of specialty manufacturers or retrofit kits. Other automakers, though, have electric car offerings in the wings. Comparing Cars Not all electric vehicles are alike. The Nissan Leaf, for example, boasts a driving range of roughly 100 miles. Once its 16-kWh lithium-ion batteries are drained, you better be at your destination and near a 110-volt power outlet for recharging, or have the phone number for roadside as-sistance handy. The Chevy Volt offers a gasoline safety net for its pack of 16-kWh lithi-26 um-ion batteries. The car will run on a charge for 40 miles. Once the batteries are exhausted, a gas-oline-powered gen-erator produces elec-tricity to keep the car rolling – at least until you run out of gas. The Volt can also be recharged by plugging it in to a traditional 110-volt outlet. This differs from traditional gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius where much smaller 1.3-kWh nickel-metal hydride batteries are recharged only by the gaso-line engine and a regenerative braking system (in hybrids, batteries essentially supplement the gasoline motor). Several electric co-ops are testing plug-in hybrid SUVs and bucket trucks – spin-offs of hybrid technology – that can switch be-tween a gasoline or diesel engine and 9-kWh to 16-kWh lithium-ion batteries. All-electric vehicles carry higher price tags than comparable conventional gas-fueled versions – typically $10,000 to $15,000 more, even after federal tax in-centives ranging from $2,500 to $7,500 (depending on battery capacity) are in-cluded. [NOTE: Learn more about elec-tric vehicle tax breaks, available through Jan. 1, 2012, at http://www.irs.gov/pub/ irs-drop/n-09-58.pdf.] Over time, bat-teries should become cheaper to build, lowering electric vehicle costs. As a quick comparison, we exam-ined the 2011 Ford Focus (manufacturer’s MARCH 2011  , 585$/$5.$16$6/,9,1*

Driveway Revolution

Brian Sloboda

Electrification of America’s automobile fleet has been hailed as a great step forward in reducing pollution and curbing our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil. When it comes to all-electric vehicles, choices are currently limited to the Chevrolet Volt, the Nissan Leaf, and a growing number of specialty manufacturers or retrofit kits. Other automakers, though, have electric car offerings in the wings.<br /> <br /> Comparing Cars<br /> <br /> Not all electric vehicles are alike. The Nissan Leaf, for example, boasts a driving range of roughly 100 miles. Once its 16- kWh lithium-ion batteries are drained, you better be at your destination and near a 110-volt power outlet for recharging, or have the phone number for roadside assistance handy.<br /> <br /> The Chevy Volt offers a gasoline safety net for its pack of 16-kWh lithium- ion batteries. The car will run on a charge for 40 miles. Once the batteries are exhausted, a gasoline- powered generator produces electricity to keep the car rolling – at least until you run out of gas.<br /> <br /> The Volt can also be recharged by plugging it in to a traditional 110-volt outlet. This differs from traditional gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius where much smaller 1.3-kWh nickel-metal hydride batteries are recharged only by the gasoline engine and a regenerative braking system (in hybrids, batteries essentially supplement the gasoline motor). Several electric co-ops are testing plug-in hybrid SUVs and bucket trucks – spin-offs of hybrid technology – that can switch between a gasoline or diesel engine and 9-kWh to 16-kWh lithium-ion batteries.<br /> <br /> All-electric vehicles carry higher price tags than comparable conventional gas-fueled versions – typically $10,000 to $15,000 more, even after federal tax incentives ranging from $2,500 to $7,500 (depending on battery capacity) are included. [NOTE: Learn more about electric vehicle tax breaks, available through Jan. 1, 2012, at http://www.irs.gov/pub/ irs-drop/n-09-58.pdf.] Over time, batteries should become cheaper to build, lowering electric vehicle costs.<br /> <br /> As a quick comparison, we examined the 2011 Ford Focus (manufacturer’s suggested retail price $16,640) and the Chevy Volt ($32,780 after tax credits). Both are four-door sedans roughly the same size.<br /> <br /> Chevy estimates the average Volt driver will spend $1.50 per day for electricity. Meanwhile, the average Focus owner will spend almost $2.90 on gasoline daily. At $3 per gallon for gas, the average Volt driver would save $550 annually – but would need to rack up that amount for 32 years to equal the difference in sticker price.<br /> <br /> However, if gas rose to $5 per gallon, a Volt driver would save more than $1,200 annually, lowering the payback window to 13 years. Of course, actual savings depends on the number of miles driven and car options.<br /> <br /> Charge!<br /> <br /> Electric cars can be recharged using a traditional 110-volt outlet found in homes. Under this method, referred to as Level 1 charging, it takes at least eight hours to charge a Volt and more than 20 hours for a Leaf.<br /> <br /> Since those are long standby times, consumers may decide to purchase a charging station to speed things along. A charging station enables Level 2 charging by way of a dedicated 240-volt circuit, similar to that used for electric clothes dryers. According to Edmunds Car Buying Guide (www.edmunds.com), Level 2 charging for the all-electric Leaf takes four hours while the Volt can be ready to hit the highway in as little as three hours.<br /> <br /> Today’s charging standards allow for power delivery of up to 16.8 kilowatts delivered at 240 volts and up to 70 amperes. The Volt’s Level 1 charging at 1.4 kilowatts is roughly equivalent to the load of a toaster; its Level 2 charging, estimated to be 3.5 kilowatts, is similar to the load of a heating and air conditioning system. Heavier-duty charging stations, like the ChargePoint from Coulomb Technologies, draw about 7 kilowatts.<br /> <br /> Charging stations must be installed by a licensed technician, and in many areas of the country, the work requires review by a local building inspector. Chevy estimates putting in a charging station will usually run between $1,200 to $1,500. But the tab can go much higher, especially if a household’s electric system needs upgrading to handle the increased load.<br /> <br /> Impact<br /> <br /> Studies by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a non-profit research consortium made up of electric utilities, including electric cooperatives, headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., show electric vehicles will reduce overall emissions of various air pollutants, even when taking into account emissions from power plants needed to produce the energy for recharging. In fact, plugging in cars at night when power costs and demand are at their lowest actually helps an electric system run more efficiently by trimming line losses. Down the road, some co-ops may offer special rates to encourage electric vehicle owners to recharge during these “off-peak” hours.<br /> <br /> Currently, electric vehicles are being released on a limited basis. Chevy plans to roll out only 50,000 Volts in this, the first model year. It won’t be until 2012, at the earliest, that individuals will be able to go to dealerships to purchase an all-electric vehicle without first getting on a waiting list.<br /> <br /> Only time will tell if the peace and quiet ignition of an electric car will replace the traditional engine’s roar.

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