We hear about electric cars more and more. Apple showed a Nissan Leaf iAd in their latest keynote. Australian agencies a looking forward to electric cars (CIO article).
There’s also talk about charging stations and distance one can travel on a 100% electric car. I am all for an electric car that drives quietly and without emissions.
However, as I think about it I realize that with electric cars we will need to take many more things into consideration while driving.
With petrol-powered cars electricity was free - it was generated as a by-product of the engine spinning the wheels. You can have as much electricity as you can consume (or as your generator can produce). Nobody ever hits the limit of available electricity when the engine is on. Nobody says “Oh, I can’t play my iPod because there’s not enough electricity”.
Heat production is a given, too. Radiator was invented to get rid of heat. When it’s cold outside and you want to heat your car, you just let the heat from the engine in.
On a hot day we turn on air conditioning. Cold air, unlike hot, does not exist anywhere inside a car for free and needs to be generated. Many of us understand that aircon eats up petrol and affects the distance we can travel.
What about heat and energy in an electric car?
It’s pretty simple, really. You will have to take everything into account. I mean everything. Kilometers or Miles per gallon will not make sense anymore. Kilometers per dollar will not make much sense either.
All of the things described above will consume electricity.
How far can you drive on a dollar? That depends on whether you want to listen to the radio, have a GPS plugged in, keep the air conditioner or heater running. I hope you get the idea - everything needs to be taken into account. The louder your stereo is on, the smaller is your travel distance. If you are driving at night, you will need more energy to get places. If you think you need your high beams on, you’ll need even more energy. What if it rains? Turning on the wipers is costly too. Freezing outside? Time to turn up that heater. And you know how that affects your home electricity bill.
In the end, it will depend on the size of your battery. And the size of your battery, just like the size of your petrol tank will determine how far you can go and what lifestyle choices you will make while driving.
Even with all these considerations I am all for the Electric Car. Can’t wait to be part of the future.
Last photo is taken from The Motor Report article which says Nissan Leaf is coming to Australia in 2012.