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Electric Car Essay, Research Paper

In 1888 the first electric car was built and since then car manufacturers have been improving and refining the technology used inside electric cars. We are now in a time were all the major car manufactures have produced some form of electric car, which are being driven all around the world. This paper will look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of these electric cars and investigate some of the technology that drives them (Encarta 98) .

Car companies have been forced to invest billions of dollars into research and development of cars that run on fuel systems other than fossil fuels. The fact that fossil fuels are now at an all time low and it is only a matter of time before they run out is one of the main reasons behind car companies investing this much money in an alternative transport system. The environmental destruction that is caused by cars that run on fossil fuels is an ever-growing problem that has lead to ozone depletion and global warming. Car companies and governments alike know this problem must be combated and this has lead to the development of an electric car that is being used by families all around the world (Encarta 98, Britannica Encyclopedia) .Although almost every car manufacturer in the world has produced prototypes of electric cars only Ford, Honda and General motors have produced a car that is on sale to the public in the United States. All of the electric vehicles on the market today have a maximum range of eighty to one hundred miles this means that they are useless for long drives. Current statistics show that half of the population never drive further than forty miles per day so this means that these cars could eliminate half the cars in the world.

The standard 1.6L Ford Laser under normal city driving consumes about eight liters of unleaded fuel per one hundred kilometers, this would work out to be about four dollars and eighty cents per one hundred kilometers. The latest Honda EV+ if recharged at off-peak times would only cost about ninety-four cents per one hundred kilometers. New electric cars are more expensive initially to buy but because of the ever-rising prices of petrol and oil it will soon become more economic to buy and drive an electric car (www.ford.com.au, www.hondaev.org). New electric vehicles have regenerative braking systems that replenishes battery power when the car is slowing down or rolling down hill. Under normal driving circumstances when a driver takes their foot off the accelerator there is no electricity going to the motor from the battery and the motor turns into a type of generator. The motor turns the kinetic energy of the cars rolling into electrical energy that is sent back to the battery (www.hondaev.org). The range of an electric car is totally dependent on the type of battery used. New batteries are being developed every day but the four main batteries being researched today are the: lead acid, metal hydrides, zinc-air and the lithium-ion/polymer. All of these batteries have been designed for use in electric cars but some are better than others. The zinc-air battery is one of the best on the market today for standard city driving it holds 0.21 KWh per kilogram. This means that in the Honda EV+ which is designed to hold 374 kilograms of batteries if it was filled with metal hydrides batteries it would have a range of about one hundred miles, but if it was filled with zinc-air batteries it would have maximum range of three hundred and sixty miles and both battery systems take about the same time to charge (www.hondaev.org) .

Specialized batteries have been developed to reach high speed or to extend range. These batteries are not good for normal driving conditions as they often can only be recharged ten to fifteen times (www.hondaev.org) .Another minor drain on battery range is on board electronics such as air-conditioning, audio systems, power windows and power steering. Systems such as air conditioning can take up to ten miles of the battery range this is the most power consuming device on the car. (www.hondaev.org) Charging times on most new electric cars is six to eight hours using the on board chargers connected to a two hundred and forty volt supply. This lengthy amount of time makes it near impossible to use the car for long continuous drives. It is recommended that the car be charged at night because off-peak rates apply and in most places it is more economical to charge the car at night. (www.hondaev.org)

Scientists have realized that the present electric car technology is not advanced enough for the general public to replace their existing car with electric cars, so they have come up with the hybrid system. The hybrid car runs on both electricity and petrol they are also designed for drivers who do a lot of city driving but also need their car for long drives. During normal city driving the car will run on the electric batteries. This is ideal for stop-start traffic the motor is stopped when the car is stopped. When the car reaches a speed of about twenty-five miles per hour the electric motor is switched off and the petrol engine is started and continues to power the car. This car gives the driver the best of both worlds they get the environmentally electric motor for city driving and the petrol engine that gives them their car for long drives. (www.evworld.com)

It is obvious that electric cars have come along way since the 1888 s, new batteries, motors and bodies have made it possible for them to drive faster and for longer. These improvements will make it easier, cleaner and more economic to drive electric vehicles in the future. With more electric vehicles on the road we will help the environment and ourselves and promote clean-air campaigns to get ride of all dangerous emissions and pollutants from cars with internal-combustion engines.

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