You’re going to be hearing a lot more about electric vehicles (EVs). But did you know there are all different kinds—and different kinds of electric chargers for them? Here are 10 basic things to know about today—and tomorrow’s—EVs.
Information comes from the EV Project, which through Ecotality North America will deploy nearly 15,000 charging stations in 16 cities located in six states (Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Tennessee and Texas) and the District of Columbia.
Charging infrastructure will be deployed too coincide with the availability of the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt EVs in Phoenix, Tucson, Ariz., San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., Eugene, Ore., Salem, Ore., Corvallis, Ore., Seattle, Nashville, Knoxville, Tenn., Chattanooga, Tenn., Washington D.C., Dallas, Fort Worth, Texas and Houston.
1. The term “EV” is used to denote all grid-connected electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrid (PHEV), range-extended (REEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV).
2. A BEV, or battery electric vehicle, is a vehicle powered by an electric motor. BEVs run on batteries charged by electricity, similar to cell phones or digital cameras. Because BEVs run purely on electric charges, they emit no tailpipe emissions, making them a clean, environmentally friendly driving option. With The EV Project, consumers will be able to charge their vehicles at home and on-the-go with our strategically placed charging stations. The Nissan LEAF is a BEV.
3. A PHEV, or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, has both an electric battery and a gasoline engine. PHEVs run on an electric charge and convert to gasoline when the battery runs down.
4. An HEV, or hybrid electric vehicle, combines the engine of a traditional gasoline vehicle with the battery and electric motor of an electric vehicle. The combined engine allows HEVs to achieve better fuel economy than traditional vehicles. HEVs do not need to be plugged in. The Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and other gas-powered hybrid vehicles are HEVs.
5. An EREV is an extended range electric vehicle. An EREV has an electric motor that powers the car, so the owner plugs in the car at home, which charges a small battery pack. This allows the electric motor to be propelled by electricity for 20 to 60 miles using zero gasoline. Then, an onboard generator such as a gasoline fueled engine, diesel fueled engine, ethanol fueled engine kicks in to power the electric motor further. The GM Chevrolet Volt is an EREV and has an estimated driving range of 230 miles per gallon.
6. Consumers who charge at home will spend between fifty cents to $1.50 per day, depending on utility rates in their area. Fast charge rates will be determined as the infrastructure is deployed.
7. Different classifications of chargers include Level 1, Level 2 and DC Fast Charging (Level3). Level 1 works on a standard 120-volt household outlet, but takes eight to 14 hours to charge a car like the Nissan Leaf. Level 2 chargers use 208 to 240 volts, like some household appliances, and can provide a full charge in about six to eight hours. Many commercial and household chargers will be Level 2 chargers. DC Fast Charging, also know as Level 3 charging or CHAdeMO (for CHArge de MOve), uses 310 volts to provide an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes. We will likely see many of these chargers at rest stops, roadside stores and commercial outlets. However, Nissan has reportedly admitted that the fast-charging the 2011 LEAF from level 3 CHAdeMO chargers will cause premature battery pack aging. We anticipate this wrinkle being worked out, as the demand for fast charging will likely to strong.
8. Range anxiety refers to the fear that an EV will run out of electric power before it reaches its destination. Hence the need for a vast charging station infrastructure.
9. A smart-phone application is in development so users can locate chargers on Ecotality’s Blink Network.
10. Many more EVs are on the way, from the 2012 Ford Focus, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, a 2012 plug-in Prius, a 2012 Honda EV Fit and a plug-in hybrid sedan, and several concept vehicles that may take a little bit longer to get here.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates