By Kathy Yang - Associated Renewable, Inc.
In with the New… Electric Vehicles
Yesterday, Wednesday August 22nd, lawmakers in New York City introduced three bills to promote the use of electric vehicles (EVs). In recent years, legislators are starting to recognize the environmental and economic benefits of EVs and are making greater efforts to promote future utilization of non-polluting vehicles. The three proposals outlined by New York City Council members would allow EVs to join the City’s taxi fleet, enable building owners to install charging stations for them, and additionally exempt them from anti-idling laws. With these proposals being made by lawmakers globally and with the advancements of EV technologies, it is only a matter of time before the automotive industry is dominated by these environmentally friendly vehicles.
The benefits of electric vehicles are abundant and significant. Considerably, the most attractive attribute of EVs is that their net carbon dioxide (CO2) production is typically less than half of that from a comparable combustion vehicle. Unlike the latter, EVs also release almost no air pollutants at their operational setting. In the current global scenario of extreme climate change and mounting carbon emissions, the environmental benefits from EVs will be substantial.
EVs Accelerate the Competition for Fuel Cars
The motors of EVs are mechanically more efficient and simple than internal combustion motors. Electrically-powered vehicles are overall energy-efficient and energy-resilient. EV manufacturers boast that operating their vehicles will reap monetary benefits as well, but the reality is that the price of EVs is currently volatile and dependent on several factors (such as the location of the owner). Therefore, in this manner, the costs of EVs oscillate between being advantageous and disadvantageous. It is commonly agreed upon, however, that the overall advantages of EVs override the disadvantages. So why have these vehicles not fully caught onto the market yet?
One of the primary issues EVs face in today’s market is competing with petrol-powered vehicles in range. The range of an EV is the distance it goes before its battery will need to be recharged. Companies around the world are working nonstop to develop the technologies required to achieve absolute competitiveness of EVs.
Make Way for CODA & QBEAK
As of now, the CODA vehicle from CODA Automotive, Inc. is the only all-electric vehicle on the market. The lithium ion iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery-powered sedan rolled off the assembly line to retail customers beginning in March 2012. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Coda’s range to be 88 miles, which is the longest in its class. CODA Automotive, however, estimates that under favorable conditions, its commercialized EV can achieve a range of up to 125 miles.
The CODA marks the beginning of an era of commercialized electric vehicles. Recently, ECOmove, a Danish EV maker, has designed an innovative bio-methanol powered EV dubbed ‘QBEAK’. By utilizing the latest fuel cell technologies, the Danish QBEAK strives to go 500 miles without refueling. This significant increase in range will improve the competitiveness of EVs. The incorporation of bio-methanol into the novel battery design of QBEAK harbors the potential to revolutionize the EV industry. Dutch bio-methanol manufacturer, BioMCN, reports that compared to gasoline, bio-methanol production cuts CO2 emissions by more than 70%. ECOmove has announced that a battery/fuel cell demonstration model is expected to arrive in 2013.
EVs Powering the Future
The future of electric vehicles such as ECOmove’s QBEAK is driven by government incentives and funding. The Danish project was recently rewarded funding from its government’s Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program. In the U.S., President Barack Obama has made announcements that $2.4 billion will be injected into the field of EV; $1.5 billion will go to grants for U.S. based manufacturers to produce energy-efficient batteries, $500 million will go towards grants for them to produce other EV-related components, and $400 million will go towards demonstrations and evaluations of energy infrastructure concepts and training for technicians (green collar jobs). Qualifying EVs are eligible for a one-time federal tax credit that equals 10% of the cost of the vehicle up to $4,000.
An increasing number of people are turning towards electric vehicles to be the primary automotive of the future. With their existing benefits, ongoing technological advancements, and increasing support from legislators, EVs will one day dominate the market. That being said, the growth of EVs still depends on our actions. The Bills introduced yesterday by New York City Council members should serve as an example for other city legislators to take initiative. Lawmakers and governments will continuously need to push for proposals and offer incentives. Electric vehicles are the future, and there are here to stay.
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