Big brother at the wheel

One of the neat things about Electric Vehicles, is the amount of data and knowledge they provide to drivers, policy makers and the public. For the last 3 years The EV Project has deployed robust charging infrastructure in 9 states and the District of Columbia. Through the data collected all of us can gain insight to what the lives of driving an EV look like. The following highlights are based on the most recent EV Project quarterly report that can be downloaded here.

Going the distance

To date, 4,998 cars have drove over 33 million miles, saving over 1.7 million gallons of gas. This means that during a typical day. an electric car driver will travel an average of 30 miles a day. When segregating the data into the car models, we can see that in general Chevrolet Volt owners travel on average 5 miles further, using their extra gas tank as a backup. (35 miles is within range of the Volt’s electric motor)

Miles traveled per day, Volt/ LEAF. (click to enlarge)

Where do they charge?

At the end of the day, most drivers still prefer to do most of their charging at home. Overall, 89% of charging events occur at home, even though the percentage of public charging events has risen as more charging stations become active. As for charge times, majority of drivers draw power for 1-4 hours during the week and 0-3 hours during the weekend.

According to the data, Volt owners tend to charge their cars more often during the course of the day, which leads us to the conclusion that drivers are doing their utmost to stay off gasoline.

We look forward to see if in the next report drivers gain more confidence in their car’s range, as well as the impact public charging network has on distance.

Old cars meet new at National Plug in Day

To understand automotive evolution, it’s enough to park a model T besides a new BMW electric ActivE. While both of them have wheels, their inner workings are almost completely different.

This past Sunday car lovers new and old flocked to the Boston Commons, to  reminisce over the old, and get behind the wheel of the future. In case you missed it, here are some pictures for you enjoy.
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Where does the energy go?

This week the departments of  Transportation and  Environmental Protection announced a new goal of a combined fleet efficiency of 54.5 MPG by 2025. To attain this goal,  automakers will have to develop lighter, smaller, and more efficient cars. In order to see the inefficiencies of today’s internal combustion car, it would make sense to step back and see how energy is lost from the second we switch on our cars, to the moment they propel forward.

In a recent Nature article published in Nature magazine Secretary of Energy Steven Chu discusses the challenges for creating more sustainable transportation. According to the Department of Energy, out of each gallon of gas combusted in our cars only 21% is used to move the car. Assuming each gallon costs $3.77 (national average) a meager 79 cents is actually powering the wheels. Boradly, 33% of energy is lost through the exhaust, 29% is used for cooling, and the other 38% is lost due to mechanical power inefficiencies  The image below shows the leading sources of inefficiencies.

Where does the energy go? (click to enlarge)

Presently, electric motors are already showing higher conversion rates of stored energy into kinetic energy. Moreover, they allow engineers to experiment with lighter materials, and technologies such as regenerative breaking  that can later be used for all modes of transportation.

 

What’s a Watt? Class 2: charging

One of the recurring questions we usually receive at the many events we attend is “How will I charge this car at home?” So for all of you out there, here’s a detailed answer.

There are presently 2 major ways in which you can charge your cars at home, these are usually referred to as level 1 and level 2 charging. The third option,  Level 3, is usually limited to public charging.

Level 1 (120v): This is the most basic form of charging. Using the cars supplied charger,  you insert the charging nozzle (also known as the J1772 plug) into your cars charging port, and the other end into your wall outlet. Since outlets supply 120v of power, charging batteries on this port is slower. For instance, charing an all electric Nissan Leaf will take you around 14- 15 hours, while charging a Plug in Hybrid Chevrolet Volt would fully charge in around 8 hours.

Level 1 charger; Charge time 7-14 hours

Level 2 (240v): To speed up charging, most electric vehicle owners usually install a designated electric vehicle outlet. This outlet which in many homes is used to power the AC or other energy intensive appliances cuts the charging time in half, enabling you to charge a Nissan Leaf from 0%-100% in 7 hours and a Chevrolet Volt in just under 4. While in some cases auto manufacturers will include this unit in the price of the car, this charger can also be purchased separately.

Level 2 charger; Charge time 4-8 hours

Level 3 (480v): Level 3 charging or “Fast Charging” as it is sometimes referred to is becoming readily available in many parts of the country. These public charging stations require extensive infrastructure work, and for this reason have limited availability. This new charging technology enables drivers to fill 80% of the battery in about half an hour making it a great option for long trips. One of the places were this technology has been deployed is the I-5 Electric Highway a 1,300 mile stretch running from the California border to Canada via Oregon and Washington. Along this route fast chargers have been placed at 60 mile intervals to allow drivers a pit stop for themselves and their cars.

Level 3; Charge time 30-45 min.

For a complete list of chargers see Plug In America

Come meet us at Greenfest

This weekend city hall plaza is going green and invites you to come and learn about the different ways in which you can live a more sustainable life. The annual  Greenfest opens Friday hosting tens of exhibitors and various panels.

For those of you interested in transportation policy we’ll be there alongside our partners from the Boston Department of Transportation, to talk about ways in which we can get more miles for less pollution. The session will take place at 11:00am and will include local leaders, advocates, and policymakers.

If you’re more about getting behind the wheel, Saturday is the day for you. Both Chevrolet and  Ford are bringing their latest electric models and look forward to answering your toughest questions.

We look forward to meeting you!

Greenfest

 

 

What’s a watt? Class 1: Plug in Hybrid Vs. All Electric

When listening to electric car owners speaking, it almost seems that they have a secret language of their own. To clarify some of the lingo underlying the EV (electric vehicle) discourse, we’ve decided to launch our EV academy- a beginners guide to acronyms.

Battery electric: Mitsubishi MiEV

The first decision potential EV drivers ask themselves is what type of car should I get? Presently there are two broad categories: All electric vehicles and Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. The difference between the two is that while all electric vehicles are powered solely by a battery, plug in hybrid electric (PHEV) also have a small backup gasoline engine that serves as an electricity generator when the battery levels go low. To see a gallery of the types of cars available check out Plug in America 

Plug in hybrid electric: Ford C max Energi

It was great meeting you all at Circle the CIty

Thank you all for visting us yesterday at Circle the City. we had a great time answering your questions and getting you behind the wheel of our Chevrolet Volt.

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Many of you asked us about public charging locations in Boston (for the garage less). In response, the city of Boston has put together this map which has all available public access spots: (click to enlarge)

As we mentioned, we see electric cars as a component in a sustainable transportation network that relies on strong public transportation, biking, blading, and walking. EVs help compliment this picture by further reducing pollution and Green House Gas emissions making our cities greener and healthier.

For many of you this was one of the first time that you’ve seen or sat in electric car and we hope that it was an enjoyable experience. We’re looking forward to meeting you at future events, stay tuned.

Come meet us this Sun. at Circle the City

This coming Sunday we’re heading out to the Rose Kennedy Greenwayto join our friends at Circle the City. To promote green and healthy living, the Greenway will be closed to cars from State St. to Oliver from 10am onwards. We’ll be there with the Voltrek Chevrolet Volt to discuss green transportation.

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We believe that the future of sustainable cities lies in cultivating a green transportation network in which electric vehicles are just one component, and that’s one of many reasons we’re excited to take part in this event.

So give your sneakers a polish, get your skates and bikes ready, and come say hello.

Going electric to help the disabled

When people talk about electric cars, they usually mention Green jobs and American ingenuity. Here’s a company that we think embodies them both.

Based out of Texas, Community Cars is building the future of electric transportation for the disabled. Till now most disabled people relied on retrofitting cars, using caretakers or public transportation to get by. With Kenguru, people in wheelchairs can roll right up to the driver’s seat and take control of their mobility.

With a top speed of 30 mph and a max. range of 75 miles, Kenguru empowers the disabled to drive to the office, a friend’s house, or run any other errand. The result isn’t just a form of transportation, but a new way to gain independence.

 

Watch it in action on this AOL video

Turn your electric car into a generator

Recent storms have left  millions of American homes without electricity for days. For electric car owners this lack of electricity was even worse as they lost both home power and their source of transportation. But new technology coming out of Nissan in Japan  is now offering electric car owners two way chargers that can stream the electrical current from the grid to your car, or from your car back into the house.

This two way function turns the car’s battery into a backup generator in case of emergency. According to the developers, this is the first step in developing a smart grid, which can store energy overnight in the car and release it back to the house when demand is high .

ABC has more on this story.