The Electric Car

A Brief History and What’s Next? 

The Beginning

At the end of the 19th century, any vehicle not pulled by a horse or mule was considered an alternative power vehicle, powered by steam, electricity or gasoline. But oil was discovered in Texas in 1901 and by 1920, gasoline fueled internal-combustion engine vehicles dominated the marketplace. Electricity and steam powered vehicles became distant also-rans. Oil was cheap, effective, readily available and easily transportable. It was also dirty, noisy and smelly but these characteristics were minor in comparison with its cost and availability.

Electric cars were introduced in the first half of the 19th century. At the end of the 20th century, electric vehicles held most world speed and distance records. They were cleaner, quieter, easier to operate and easier to maintain than steam or gasoline fueled cars but had a fatal weakness: battery technology limited the driving range of electric cars to between 40 and 50 miles before needing a 6 to 8 hour charge. Electric vehicles continued to be manufactured in the U.S. through 1939.

The ZEV Mandate

No electric cars were produced in the U.S. between 1939 and 1996. That changed when General Motors produced the EV1 in response to California’s 1991 zero emission vehicle mandate which required 2% of all new cars sold by major auto manufacturers in California in 1998 to meet ‘zero emission’ standards. The first EV1 autos used lead-acid batteries. Second generation GM EV1 cars had a range of 160 miles using nickel metal hydride batteries. A total of 4-5,000 electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. under the ZEV mandate.

In 2001 GM and Daimler Chrysler sued California for regulating fuel economy in violation of U.S. law, after which California relaxed the zero emission vehicle mandate. In late 2003, GM cancelled the EV1 program and other manufacturers soon followed suit. The film “Who Killed the Electric Car?” suggested that GM’s EV1 program was canceled once California relaxed its zero emission vehicle mandate because 1) production was no longer essential; 2) electric cars impacted the oil industry; and 3) sale of electric cars adversely affected GM’s replacement parts after-market. Virtually all EV1 cars, leased to the public, were recalled and destroyed by GM who estimated that they invested $1 billion in development of the EV-1. General Motors recently announced that the electric Chevy Volt (hybrid electric vehicle) will be available for sale in the U.S. in 2010.

Enter the 21st Century

According to the US Department of Energy, more than 60,000 electric cars are in use in the US with more than 15,000 operational in California. More than 800 vehicles (mainly Toyota RAV4 EVs), produced during California’s zero emission mandate have survived with several logging more than 110,000 miles, proving durability and maintainability.

What’s next?

Although there is no zero emission mandates in place, the marketplace has spoken. The combination of high gasoline prices, global warming and the absurdity of U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern sources of oil has inspired development and manufacture of electric vehicles.

o Five low-speed (neighborhood) model electric vehicles and six expressway capable electric vehicles are currently in production.

o In addition to Chrysler, Ford, GM, Toyota, Nissan, VW and Renault, a dozen or more new auto firms have introduced or plan to introduce electric cars by 2010.

o The industry is rapidly moving towards new battery technology. Tesla Motors and Miles Electric Vehicles amongst others are now using Lithium-ion battery technology.

Europe and Japan

Since the first oil embargo in 1973 Europe has shown a continuous interest in electric vehicles. Today, electric cars are being built across Europe from Norway to Italy. Not to be left out, Mitsubishi and Subaru announced that they would be manufacturing lithium ion-powered cars before 2010. Toyota and Honda and Nissan will also have production models available in the U.S.

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles

43 states and Washington D.C. allow operation of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) that can travel on streets which have a maximum 35 mph speed limit. Local jurisdictions have the right to ban their use or may require licensing and liability insurance. NEVs must have seatbelts, four wheels, windshield safety glass, windshield wipers, headlights, taillights, and turn signals but airbags aren’t required. NEVs cannot legally travel faster than 25 mph. They’re usually equipped with lead acid batteries offering a range of about 30 miles. Prices range from around $6000 to more than $14,000.

Freeway Electric Vehicles

Aside from Toyota RAV4 EVs, most electric vehicles operating in the U.S. in 2008 are NEVs. Freeway capable vehicles are expected to be readily available by 2010. In addition to Tesla, Chevy (Volt), Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda (hydrogen fuel cell technology) and Toyota, we can look for electric vehicles from Think (Norway), Smart EV (Mercedes) and Zenn (Toronto).

Electric Vehicle Benefits

o Pure electric vehicles are true zero emissions vehicles. No greenhouse gases are emitted during vehicle operation.

o Gasoline is eliminated, replaced by grid sourced electricity generated from traditional and increasingly renewable sources. Many electric vehicles have factory installed or aftermarket solar panels installed on roofs.

o Fuel cost (electricity) per mile is 20-25% of gasoline or flex-fuel cost.

o 95% of the energy used to recharge EVs comes from domestic sources. Dependence on foreign oil is reduced.

o Very low vehicle operation and maintenance costs.

o Self energy generation through regenerative braking.

o Simple battery recharging through standard household 110V outlets and recharging stations.

o Electric vehicles are in production and available today at prices in a similar range to that of traditional gasoline and hybrid cars. A few models are also available in the luxury price range.

Limitations

o 250-300 mileage range using Lithium-ion batteries

o Battery cost, weight, disposal

o Few commercial battery recharging stations

o At-home battery charging is not practical for apartment dwellers and those who cannot park near their home

Overcoming limitations

o EV mileage range will increase as battery technology improves.

o Battery footprint, cost and weight will be reduced through new technology.

o Battery recharging stations will spread as EV production increases

Implications and Consequences

o Physical vehicle characteristics and conveniences will change. Vehicles will take on non-traditional appearances

o Vehicle reliability and durability will increase

o Vehicle operating costs will decline as fuel costs, repair costs and replacement parts costs will all decline

o Reduced congestion due to smaller vehicle footprint

o More consumer choices

o Reduced dependence on fossil fuels, imported oil

Stan Gassman, BSC Sustainability Services, Copyright 2008-2009



Source by Stan Gassman

The Basics Of Taking Your Car To The Auto Repair Shop

If you have to take your car to the auto repair shop, you might be feeling stressed and anxious. Perhaps you have never had anything to go wrong with your car or have never been the mechanic's by yourself before. Maybe you are have experienced a serious problem and the scope of the job is causing you anxiety. No matter the reason, getting your car repaired can be stressful. However, if you know the basics, a visit to the auto repair shop does not have to be scary.

Before you make an appointment at the auto repair shop, you should do some research about where possible options. Ask family and friends where they take their cars to be fixed and read online reviews to see what other customers are saying about the places that you are considering. Because people love to share their experiences, both positive and negative, reading online reviews can help you figure out what your trip might be like. If you have the time, checking with the Better Business Bureau to make sure no complaints have been filed against the shops you are considering maybe also be a good idea.

When you get to the auto repair shop, you should be sure to give the mechanics as much information as possible about what went wrong with your car. Even if the problem might be your fault and you're feeling embarrassed, you should not be shy or nervous about sharing this information with the person repairing your vehicle. Providing accurate and detailed information about the state of your vehicle will ensure that the mechanics have a complete picture of the situation. This way, they will be able to do the best job possible fixing your car. If you leave out or omit information, the mechanics may incorrectly diagnose the problem or not fix it completely, which may result in you having to make a return trip to get your car fixed again.

When the mechanic has finished fixing your car, do not be afraid to ask questions about the procedures used or the way your car works. If you have a question about something, it is better to ask it than to stay silent and risk missing out on important information. If you are worried that your question might be stupid, do not be nervous. Mechanics see all sorts of car problems and hear all sorts of questions. They understand that not everyone knows a lot about cars and will not judge you for trying to become informed.

Additionally, you should know your rights regarding the repair and maintenance work done on your car. Customers have the right to ask the mechanic for an itemized bill that details the work done on the car and the parts that were used. Auto repair shops are required by law to provide itemized bills. Therefore, if you do not receive one, you should ask for it. You deserve to know exactly what has been done to your vehicle, and any respectable business will be more than happy to provide that information.



Source by Anders Abadie

Car Camping Checklist

A lot of us appreciate camping outings without needing to transport full backpacks and cross tiring tracks by foot and that that exactly why the desired alternative is car camping. Contrary to hiking, car camping enables you to carry more more divers gear in a safer and less challenging style. Immediately, just as with backpacking, planning a detailed car camping checklist earlier is a requirement.

Quite a few of the items that you would normally take along on any kind of camping trip are also to be found on your car camping checklist, as they characterize the fundamentals: sleeping and sheltering objects, first aid kit, foodstuff, beverages, objects for food preparation and eating, for hygiene and personal safety, for leisure and so on. When creating our car camping checklist, it is particularly significant to bear in mind that owning a dependable GPS can be essential for drivers, mainly when exploring unknown regions. Getting a running cell phone is also beneficial and, as such, it is most effective to camp out in locations having cell phone coverage. It truly is also important that the car utilized is in excellent shape and appropriate for off-roading, which means that the checklist will need to have at least one additional tire, a toolkit and good rope.

You can find also lots of nonessential objects that you can easily afford to have along with your backcountry ventures by car, for example lawn chairs and pliable tables, tablecloth, a greater assortment of cooking and warming products, fuel, food for all meals in storage containers, blankets, cooler and ice, additional clothing items and almost any items that you may possibly desire to bring around and which would not overload the vehicle. Consequently, it might appear that car camping is a better solution not just to elder folks and families with young children, but almost anyone who prefers to enjoy the outdoor without having any of the issues of having to arrive at some remote destination by foot.



Source by Christopher L. Rodriguez

Cheap Backpacker Insurance Is Now Available

The economy unfortunately has not been that good that travel agencies have started to offer travel plans at affordable rates. While these travel costs are experiencing some slash to the prices, insurance is also trying to go with the flow so to speak. At the moment, a traveler can choose the best insurance at reasonable prices and a traveler can still go away with getting the best value for money cheap backpacker insurance.

Although locating the right company that provides cheap insurance can become a lengthy process, still a traveler should never disregard the importance of purchasing such insurance because nobody can tell when accidents or emergency situations will arise especially during travels. Moreover, travelers just have to find these companies or ask his insurance company wherever they have available cheap packages that cover backpacking.

Adventures should be about fun and excitation, but unforeseeable accidents, injuries, medical emergencies or even illnesses can happen while on a trip to another country. Therefore, a traveler should always make sure that he gets insurance. However, cheap backpacker insurance can sometimes cut off certain inclusions in its policy. This is the reason why a traveler should make sure that when purchasing a cheap insurance, minimum insurance plan must include coverage for medical emergencies, accidents, injuries, and illnesses so that even at the bare minimum the traveler's cheap backpacker insurance will still give peace of mind.

In addition, cheap insurance should also provide for reparation inclusions to its policy in cases of emergency situations that a traveler has no control of. Of course, there are other companies that offer travelers with a plan that includes coverage for holiday cancellations, lost or stolen baggage, flight delays and personal liability claims. The traveler only has to inquire into these inclusions and the insurance company providing cheap insurance can assist the traveler in choosing the best option at a reasonable rate.



Source by Michael Harrah

The King Of Card Games – Spider Solitaire

Popular games are those which tend to become a hit among the players. Among all the card games Spider solitaire would make your brain work faster and yet keep up with the thrill. This game would freak you out with anticipation while you expose your cards. It is so challenging that most of the times even a frequent player might not be able to complete it successfully. Nonetheless, as you start winning it, you are sooner to get addicted to it.

The Basics

The Spider Solitaire game is a simple one. It combines 50 cards in the stack along with 44 cards more behind the front row. In those rows there are ten tableau or say 10 columns where you need to place your cards in an order. The player has to select a card from the stack just one at a time, which further needs to be organized on those tableau. Now, the rule is that the card should be organized sequentially on that tableau ie from Ace to King. If you encounter a King, it will move only below a two or on an empty tableau. The quickness has to be maintained while you expose the cards and also while arranging them in an order. This promptness would lead to higher chances of winning.

Aim and Key

The aim is to remove the cards from the stack and arrange them in all the columns in a sequence. The Key to win the game is attention, concentration and patience you devote while trying it. One should spare time to know the rules and once you absorb the proper rules of the game you will not miss winning it.

Levels of the Game

The Spider Solitaire becomes challenging and more interesting with degree of levels. The Beginner level allows you to play with only one colored suit that is apt for those who want to know how to play it along with the rules. The intermediate level or medium level is more intrepid in which everything stays the same, but you have to play with two colored suits ie Red and Black. The Expert level is the hardest level and requires most of your attention and concentration. Even a single inattentive move can dissolve the whole game and would freeze you right there.

Spider Solitaire will allow you to create your own strategies and methods to beat Spiders or even Kings making you their Master. This game is a spoonful of fun with a pinch of passion added to it. You will experience an incomparable ecstasy after winning it.



Source by Rajesh B Sanghvi