Multimedia

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 #CAS15

Blog

More

Wednesday, August, 26, 2015

9 Best Cars for Dog Lovers, According to AutoTrader

In light of #NationalDogDay, Autotrader compiled a list of the “Best Cars for Dog Lovers” based on ...

Friday, August, 21, 2015

TOYOTA BECOMES OFFICIAL VEHICLE OF CHICAGO CUBS AND WRIGLEY FIELD

The Chicago Cubs and Toyota have just teamed-up for a long-term partnership, establishing Toyota as the Official ...

Wednesday, August, 12, 2015

9 Road Trips to Take Before Summer Ends

Chicago in the summertime is absolutely amazing – don’t get me wrong – but every once in a while ...

Friday, August, 07, 2015

GM Announces Apple CarPlay, Android Auto in 14 Models

If you thought your world was centered around mobile technology before, just wait. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay ...

Wednesday, August, 05, 2015

2016 NISSAN MAXIMA REDESIGNED AND BETTER THAN EVER

The Midwest Automotive Media Association hosted its July meeting and luncheon at the CATA headquarters to showcase ...

Tuesday, July, 28, 2015

Hyundai Santa Cruz Predicted to Come to Market

When the Hyundai Santa Cruz was on display as a concept car at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show it immediately caught the ...

Friday, July, 24, 2015

MAMA Track School

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend a performance driving school hosted by the Midwest Automotive ...

Tuesday, July, 21, 2015

Chicago Auto Show Specials Hit the Streets

Toyota announced pricing for their 2016 Special Edition Camry and Corolla – both Chicago Auto Show ...

Thursday, July, 09, 2015

USO #BBQ4Troops Media Kickoff Event

To kick off the month-long USO Barbecue for the Troops program, Chicagoland’s new-car dealers and the USO of ...

Wednesday, June, 17, 2015

Honda Pilot Officially on Sale Tomorrow

Attention all SUV lovers: First debuted at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot officially goes ...

More

8/29/2015 9:24:05 AM

A birds-eye view of the nation’s largest auto show, and this isn’t even all of it

8/27/2015 5:32:09 PM

Mobil Free Watch

8/27/2015 10:09:55 AM

Remember your 1st car? Upload a picture of it here with #MyFirstCar to win VIP Pit Passes to the NASCAR Xfinity Race Series at Chicagoland Speedway: http://bit.ly/1JQUeuo - Josh Reaume

8/27/2015 10:06:04 AM

Who let these two get behind the wheel of a Pontiac?! #ThrowbackThursday #1956CAS

8/26/2015 3:50:54 PM

9 Best Cars for Dog Lovers, according to Autotrader: http://bit.ly/1JyPg3n #NationalDogDay

8/25/2015 11:49:08 AM

Who loved the Camp Jeep experience last year at #CAS15? Can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2016

8/24/2015 9:30:05 AM

“One of the greatest discoveries a person makes, one of their great surprises, is to find they can do what they were afraid they couldn’t.” – Henry Ford #MotivationMonday

8/22/2015 1:53:07 PM

Sexy Girls Free Watch

8/21/2015 4:21:07 PM

The Chicago Cubs and Toyota have just teamed-up for a long-term partnership, establishing Toyota as the Official Vehicle of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field: http://bit.ly/1I0rDLr

8/21/2015 9:57:01 AM

If you’re driving with a baby or toddler in tow, then picking the right car seat is extremely crucial for their safety on the road. Check out these car seat safety tips to make sure you’re choosing the best car seat for your kids: http://www.safekids.org/tip/car-seat-tips

More

8/29/2015 10:38:27 AM

@NewCarPromos @NAIASDetroit @ChiAutoShow @LAAutoShow @detroitautoshow @whitesox @Cubs are you guys on instagram?

8/29/2015 10:25:44 AM

@NewCarPromos @NAIASDetroit @ChiAutoShow @LAAutoShow @detroitautoshow @whitesox @Cubs ahh the Cubs are hot right now

8/29/2015 10:24:18 AM

@quickcarloannow @NAIASDetroit @ChiAutoShow @LAAutoShow @detroitautoshow We are proud Chicagoans. We're split 50/50 @whitesox versus @Cubs

8/29/2015 10:19:54 AM

@NewCarPromos @NAIASDetroit @ChiAutoShow @LAAutoShow @detroitautoshow are you guys in based in Chicago?

8/29/2015 10:18:52 AM

@quickcarloannow @NAIASDetroit @ChiAutoShow @LAAutoShow We're biased... We love the @ChiAutoShow, but the @detroitautoshow is a close 2nd.

8/29/2015 9:24:07 AM

A birds-eye view of the nation’s largest auto show, and this isn’t even all of it! http://t.co/3G6Oc8soIM

8/29/2015 1:40:12 AM

#MercedesBenz CLK320 at the 2004 #Chicago Auto Show @ChiAutoShow http://t.co/eJA1sor23j

8/28/2015 10:55:49 PM

RT @FordMustang: Guess who's going to be at the @ChiAutoShow? The all-new Shelby® GT350! #Ford #Mustang #FordCAS http://t.co/xe0dpl4nQe

8/28/2015 5:46:36 PM

@NewCarPromos what car show do you like @NAIASDetroit @ChiAutoShow @LAAutoShow

8/28/2015 5:45:21 PM

RT @ChiAutoShow: Do you remember your first car? Share a pic of it w/ #MyFirstCar & you'll be entered to win VIP "Pit… https://t.co/kRfXkC2