Fossil Fuels on the Decline, Electricity on the Horizon

We live in a world that is very dependent on fossil fuels. These fuels being coal, natural gas, and oil are often related to two issues we see being talked about all the time; global warming and their inevitable depletion. This is problematic to many industries throughout the globe and in particular cars. Millions of people rely on fossil fuels to power their cars and in turn we are aiding global warming by necessity. The supplies of fuel we currently use for cars is estimated to run out in  about 100 years. When we use so much of this resource to power not only our cars, but many different infrastructures in our society it seems important to find a new mainstream source of power to replace it. One type of power source has been on the rising in use over the past decade. Electric power is something we are starting to see expand more in the auto industry.

AV Fast Charger
An Electric Car charging station. Courtesy of plugincars.com

Electric powered cars can be a solution to the depleting energy sources we use today. They run on a cleaner energy source than their gasoline brethren. This is because they are simply more efficient. A common misconception is that gas cars are inherently bad. This is only due to their inefficiency to convert all of the fuel into energy. A better way to put it is taking food into the equation. We are not perfect biological machines, in fact its pretty hard to even build something that has perfect efficiency. Whenever we eat food we do not convert all the energy that it may contain. Both gas and electricity are the same way except electricity converts more of the energy. What is left is the gases that comes out of the exhaust. If we could process fossil fuels more efficiently perhaps electricity would not be needed as a replacement.

Despite these benefits, electric and hybrid cars tend to have stigmas associated with them. Some of these criticisms being that they are not sporty enough, aren’t as practical, or that the technology to widespread use isn’t around. These claims, while in the past were more justified, have been addressed as the technology has progressed.

Video courtesy of “crazyradicall

To illustrate where the modern electric vehicle is currently we can look at the BMW i8, a Toyota Prius, and a Telsa Model S. Another complaint about electric cars is that they are expensive, which is why these three vehicles have been selected. Each represent a different pricing point with the i8 at $140,700, the Prius at $24,200, and the Model S at $69,000. There are many more brands but the point is that these cars also exist in different pricing brackets for different types of consumers just as their gasoline counterparts do. This also means that luxury is something that is not forgone in their design. Electric cars have moved past being cheap and turned into something more.

Interior shot of a BMW i8, courtesy of bmwblog.com

 

Prius’ are known to be rather slow creating the image that electric cars are not very sporty in the past however, the Model S will reach 60 mph in as fast as 3.6 seconds and the i8 as fast as 4.2 seconds. Both are in what is considered to be “super car” territory. Their electric motors grant them the ability to use torque instantaneously rather than gradually as gasoline powered cars do. To break it down, cars have horsepower and torque and you will often see horsepower as being the statistic advertised more. Horsepower is how much power the engine is capable of producing. The higher the number the more powerful it is. However ever torque is rotational force that is applied. For example if you have an open bottle of soda and you twist the cap back on you are applying torque to the cap. It’s a similar principle to wheels. A car with more torque can move its wheels easier than one with less. Gasoline cars typically have linear torque gains even if they have a lot of power as they can only apply it at certain rpms or rotations per minute. Electric cars bypass this by having a flat curve. As long as the engine is designed for it, they can more easily access all of the torque and move. The design of more recent electric motors helps to show how far the technology is advancing.

This is a torque curve to help illustrate how electric cars work. Courtesy of Explainthatstuff.com

Regardless of the critics against electric vehicles, their approach may be inevitable as many car manufacturers have at least one vehicle that is a hybrid or electric variant; indicating that car manufacturers are moving forward and experimenting. Chevy, Ford, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Porsche, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Cadillac, Fiat, McLaren, and even more have at least one of these vehicles in their current lineups. Considering that emission regulations are getting tighter and tighter it makes sense that manufacturers are trying to get into the electric market. The profit is there and companies are seeing it, with some even claiming to have all electric or hybrid cars by a certain year.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Fossil Fuels on the Decline, Electricity on the Horizon

  1. That was a very interesting and informative blog post. It was structured well and had good use of images. I might suggest using a different background and font color though. The current colors strain my eyes.
    You did a great job on the content though. I agree, electric cars, at least in the past, had a negative connotation associated with them. People think Prius when they hear electric car instead of Tesla or BMW which is a shame. I would never drive a Prius, but the Tesla Model S is my dream car.
    I understand that electric cars are much greener than their fuel based alternatives, but I’m concerned about their batteries. I remember reading about the Prius when they started to become popular, and people were saying that even though they conserve gas, the production of their batteries lead to a high carbon footprint. Is this still an issue with electric cars? And what is the lifetime of electric car batteries? Electric cars are absolutely the future, I’m just curious how ‘green’ they really are.
    Thanks again for the blog post, it was very informative.

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  2. I really enjoyed reading more about electric cars, your blog gave a lot of solid information. My dad’s company works with Toyota so we all drive hybrids and I liked learning more about them. I also think the white font on black background was a bit much on the eyes, but the images are great and the clip from Horrible Bosses was good move. The set up of your blog is great as well, I liked how you started with something we can all relate to and worked your way into the topic of electric cars. You provided a lot of useful information that could make people think twice about buying a car that is not electric powered.

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  3. I enjoyed reading your post about the rise of electric cars. It is a growing phenomenon that we have seen a lot of growth in the past decade. This is an important topic due to the fact that car emissions are to blame for a majority of our carbon emissions. I like how you open up your post with introduction and the negative impacts of fossil fuel driven cars. The video from horrible bosses made me laugh and fit perfectly into the context of stigmas associated to electric cars. Next you explained different electric car options. You provided one picture of the interior of the i8, but it might have been helpful to show pictures of other electric cars: Prius, Tesla, volt, etc. I like how you explained how the Prius gave electric cars a bad name, but they are now starting to change that by creating different models. I think that was an important point to show that electric cars are one the rise. Maybe in the future when people mention electric cars people will think of the i8 instead of the boring looking Prius. The explanation of the torque curve was also a good touch. The explanation was helpful to understanding the benefits of electric cars, especially at lower RPMs. Towards the end, it seems to wrap up quickly. It would have been nice to hear about the future of electric cars and technologies they are developing to make them more affordable and also more attractive to the general public. Overall, I enjoyed reading your post and learned a lot about electric vehicles. Good work!

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