Electric Cars

An electric car is an automobile that uses an electric motor as a driving force to move the car, as oppose to traditional internal combustion engines (ICE) that use fossil fuels. Electric cars are usually powered by on-board battery packs such as lithium ion batteries,  instead of a fuel tank.

Canada's Electric Vehicle Technology Road Map (link: http://www.evtrm.gc.ca/index_e.html), prepared for the Federal government, calls for support to have 500,000 electric vehicles (including hybrids) on Canadian roads by 2018.

The Electrification Roadmap in the United States has a vision of 75 per cent of road miles travelled in electric vehicles by 2040.

On the technology side, hybrid powertrains are rapidly evolving into either purely electric vehicles, or hybrids where the ICE is much smaller and only charges the batteries. Fuel for electric vehicles will soon be obtained from the owner's home electrical supply instead of gasoline filling stations. Energy cost will be substantially lower. Exhaust emissions will be negligible or non-existent.

Electric vehicles are simpler than ICE-powered vehicles, and should cost less to maintain. There is no cooling system, exhaust system, or gearbox. The brakes and steering are electrically controlled instead of using hydraulics. The body can be designed differently because of the absence of so much equipment. But electric vehicles are not without challenges.

The biggest of these is having enough energy to travel a reasonable distance between 'refills.' Nickel metal-hydride batteries used in hybrids today are lighter and store more energy than lead-acid batteries, but only enough for 60 to 100 kilometers of driving at a time. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter and pack even more energy.

Cost also appears to be a result of ensuring a supply of the batteries. Lithium itself is not an expensive commodity as it is a fairly common element. Although Bolivia is currently the largest source of lithium, Canada itself has a large deposit near Val-Cartier, Quebec. Lithium refining is another potential bottleneck as it takes time to set up a processing plant.

All of the established lithium-ion battery makers are currently based in Japan, South Korea and China, including the manufacturer of batteries for the Volt. In North America, there is only one plant manufacturing lithium-ion batteries, EnerDel Inc., although there are four or five companies either established or starting up.

Companies that have integrated electric vehicles into their product offerings include GM, Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Ford. In 2011, the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf will be available for sale to the general public.

In Canada, there is no nationally available incentive, but British Columbia, Manitoba, , Quebec and Prince Edward Island all offer tax rebates or credits ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 on the purchase of a hybrid vehicle. In addition, Ontario plans to offer an incentive ranging from $3,000 to $8,500 for plug-in electric vehicles as they become available.

Source: www.fleetbusiness.com

Related Links:

Canada's Electric Vehicle Technology Road Map - http://www.evtrm.gc.ca/index_e.html

Electric Mobility Canada - http://www.emc-mec.ca

City of Hamilton, Green Fleet Implementation Plan, Phase 2 2009-2011 -

http://www.hamilton.ca/CityDepartments/PublicWorks/CentralFleet/Green+Fleet+Plan.htm

Plug n Drive Ontario -http://www.plugndriveontario.ca/

CAA EV Charger Station Locator Map - http://www.caa.ca/evstations/

Electric Vehicle Explorer Tool - http://gis.its.ucdavis.edu/evexplorer/



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