Multimedia

Chicago Auto Show Blog

Electrification and other thoughts

Posted by: Mark Bilek

Electric Vehicles are coming - Just not yet.From the Chevrolet Volt to the Nissan Leaf to the Mitsubishi MiEV, there's been a lot of talk about electric vehicles in the news lately. The reporting ranges from insightful to ridiculous and everything in between. So, I thought I'd take time out to set the story straight on electric vehicles.

First off, mainstream electrics aren't coming to Chicagoland anytime soon. Though the Chevrolet Volt launches this fall, it's not coming to this market for at least another year. Ditto the Nissan Leaf, which will initially be sold only in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and Tennessee.

The reason for this is quite simple; batteries and Chicago's climate don't play nice. Most batteries like to be cool, but not cold. Extreme cold and extreme heat greatly reduce the capacity of a battery, and we have lots of cold and heat here in the Windy City. So an electric vehicle that has an ideal range of 100 miles in 60 degree weather might see practical range drop by 50% when the temperature dips below freezing.

Eventually, the electrics will come. The reason is simple--efficiency.  Even the most fuel frugal gasoline or diesel engine is only about 30% efficient. In other words, a piston engine transforms 30% of the energy in the fuel into forward motion. The other 70% is lost to heat and friction.

When properly sized, electric motors are substantially more efficient--in some cases twice or three times as efficient as a comparable piston engine.

The drawback to producing an electric car has always been battery capacity. Quite frankly, until battery capacity and temperature compatibility are greatly improved, pure electric vehicles aren't likely to gain much traction in the marketplace. That's why Chevrolet hedged its bets with the Volt. Both the Leaf and Volt use electric motors and battery power to turn the wheels. The Leaf works like a golf cart. Owners charge the batteries and drive until the charge runs out.

Unlike the Nissan Leaf, the Volt adds a range-extending gasoline engine to the equation. When the battery charge is depleated, the gasoline engine turns a generator to create electricity to keep the batteries charged and the electric motor powering the wheels.

You might not think that's not very efficient, but it is. The reason is quite simple. The gasoline engine is tuned to run only at its most efficient speed, regardless of how much electricity is needed by the electric drive motor. The engine simply kicks on and charges the batteries at a constant state and then the batteries store that energy until needed.

Both the Volt and Leaf can be plugged in to recharge the batteries. Nissan says the Leaf can drive up to 100 miles on a single charge. In the case of the Volt, Chevy claims optimum range on purely electric power is 40 miles. The difference is between the two is that in the Leaf you have to stop and charge the batteries when the charge runs out, while in the Volt the gasoline engine kicks in and allows you to drive another 300 miles or so.

Nissan Leaf Web site

Chevrolet Volt Web site

« Last Post Next Post »

View all Posts from this Blog

Follow Us Socially Using #CAS16

Blog

More

Thursday, May, 19, 2016

Nissan Leaf Charged Up for 2016

While the completely redesigned Chevrolet Volt and soon-to-be produced Bolt garner most of the electric-car media ...

Friday, May, 13, 2016

Ford GT a Sellout!

Ford received 6,506 fully completed applications from people around the world in the one-month window to apply to ...

Wednesday, April, 20, 2016

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Honda is encouraging safer driving habits with a social media campaign titled #PhoneDownEyesUp. The campaign ...

Wednesday, April, 13, 2016

Ford Now Accepting Applications for GT Supercar

For the first time, 2015 Chicago Auto Show goers were able to see the Ford GT supercar in person at the show and ...

Wednesday, March, 30, 2016

Cars are the Star of the Big Apple

Automakers lit up the Big Apple last week with an assortment of flashy vehicles that debuted during the New York ...

Monday, March, 14, 2016

Buick Presents Cascada to Midwest Automotive Media Association

Buick Vice President of Marketing Tony DiSalle spotlighted the all-new Buick Cascada during the Midwest Automotive ...

Monday, February, 29, 2016

Chevy Inspires Kindness in #DayItForward

Today is a unique day in history, one that does not come around often but has inspired goodness throughout ...

Friday, February, 19, 2016

Test Tracks Are A Gear Shifter

Of everything to see and do at the Chicago Auto Show, some of the most popular attractions are the test tracks, ...

Wednesday, February, 17, 2016

Women's Day Revs Up Excellence

Women's Day at the Chicago Auto Show is a revolutionary way to bring a diverse group of women with a common ...

Monday, February, 15, 2016

Nonstop Action at Family Fun Day

Presidents Day at the auto show featured an enthusiastic selection of family fun and appealed to all family ...

More

5/20/2016 9:15:27 AM

Chicago Auto Show producers, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, shares the facts & myths on how frequent you really need your oil changed

5/19/2016 4:37:49 PM

The Chevrolet Volt and Bolt aren't the only talk of the EV town

5/17/2016 10:36:48 PM

Mark your calendars for July 16! Help support the USO of Illinois & local troops. #BBQ4Troops

5/16/2016 1:23:49 PM

We worked on this project for Nissan in January and are happy to share it now! We wrapped three Nissan crossovers with custom red #chrome wraps and chrome, black, and white #vinyl accents. They were showcased at The Chicago Auto Show after a snowy photo shoot in Wisconsin. Let us know what you think! #CAS16 #averychrome #chromewraps #Nissan

5/16/2016 10:23:50 AM

Were you one of the 6,506 people who submitted an application for the Ford GT? Well, in just one month, the supercar has sold out

5/13/2016 12:01:00 PM

There used to be a "South Side Day" at the 1951 Chicago Auto Show! #FlashbackFriday

5/12/2016 1:17:06 PM

A Chevrolet can shift faster than a Porsche? - via Autoblog

5/10/2016 9:23:31 AM

City stickers have been a part of Chicago motoring heritage for decades." - via Daily Herald Media #TheNewMcCormickPlace #1971

5/8/2016 8:49:00 AM

When life turns into a nonstop merry-go-round ride of diapers, dishes and Little League games, a sanity break is in order." - Top Cars for Mom's Day Out via Cars.com

5/6/2016 4:04:50 PM

The Chicago Auto Show Changed their cover photo.

More

5/21/2016 5:49:20 PM

Finally! 8 Online Marketing Tips For Car Dealers That Convert https://t.co/YqolonnLyT @chiautoshow

5/20/2016 2:07:34 PM

@ChiAutoShow Use our efficient and hassle free #Vehicle #Transport Services Call US 877-223-1973 Or Visit https://t.co/AyMaP10Jr2

5/20/2016 9:30:51 AM

RT @ChiAutoShow: Chicago's new-car dealer association sets the record straight on oil change frequency: https://t.co/loCmW41Fgf - via @ABC7

5/20/2016 9:26:26 AM

Chicago's new-car dealer association sets the record straight on oil change frequency: https://t.co/loCmW41Fgf - via @ABC7Chicago

5/19/2016 4:48:56 PM

The @Chevrolet #Volt & #Bolt aren't the only talk of the EV town; the @Nissan #Leaf is charged up for 2016: https://t.co/Adtn0QahSZ

5/18/2016 5:26:01 PM

@ChiAutoShow I didn't, but my colors would be Liquid Blue with Ingot Silver LeMans stripes, or a nod to Shelby w/white ext and blue stripes!

5/17/2016 11:53:28 AM

RT @12pointsigns: Frosted red #chrome wraps for the Nissan Winter Warriors at the @ChiAutoShow @AveryDennison https://t.co/gAcQIHTDED http…

5/17/2016 10:26:18 AM

Frosted red #chrome wraps for the Nissan Winter Warriors at the @ChiAutoShow @AveryDennison https://t.co/gAcQIHTDED https://t.co/3fzvUhg57B

5/16/2016 9:00:07 PM

@ChiAutoShow RT Check out the @Ford #GT transformation over the years...1965 & 2016 Chicago Auto Shows! #TBT https://t.co/Qn4RIb14mc