Riding the Grid

Riding the Grid

busy road

The freeway is slowly becoming the electric super highway.

Imagine a world where only about 15% of the cars ran on gasoline. Half ran on an alternative fuel source instead, and almost 35% were electric. It sounds like a very green future, doesn’t it? Would it surprise you, then, to learn that this was the case in the past? Those were the cars and their fuels in New York, Boston, and Chicago in the year 1900.

 

Unfortunately, one of the major electric car companies suffered from a bad case of shady dealing, and pulled the rest of the electrical auto industry into its death, and gas-powered cars became the way things were. However, lately, the climate of the economy has changed, and people are once again looking to electric cars. These are newer cars, better cars, cars that take all the design improvements of the industry and use them and all the flaws and try to mitigate them. The new industry of cars is plugged in and ready to go.

 

You may have heard of some of the car manufacturers making these electric cars. We’ll start with a few familiar names in this post. Tomorrow we’ll talk about new electric car companies.

 

Chevy Volt

 

You’ve probably heard the name before. The new electric Chevy Volt has name brand recognition going for it and it’s doing well. The Volt is designed to be a fully electric car with a gas-powered generator on board to refresh the battery if you need it. On a full charge, the Volt will get 38 miles of purely electric driving without using a drop of gasoline. On a full tank of gas and a full charge, you can go without re-filling either for about 380 miles. If you don’t use the gas and worry about ruining your car, don’t. It’s programmed to remind you if the engine hasn’t been run in 6 weeks to keep that lubricated, and to tell you if you haven’t used your gas in a year. In the tank, gas keeps for about 365 days. But as Chevy says, “…If you’ve got that problem, it means you’ve managed to stay gas-free and tailpipe-emissions-free for one heck of a long time. Good job!”

 

Nissan Leaf

 

The Nissan Leaf is fully electric, and gets the equivalent of 106 MPG for its fuel. It can travel approximately 73 miles under normal driving conditions, or 138 miles in ideal conditions (flat road, no wind, moderate temperature). The Leaf is designed to milk the most out of its electricity and to be efficient and environmentally friendly. The headlights have LEDs, which use 50% of the electricity of halogen bulbs, and an optional spoiler-mounted solar panel helps charge the lights, ventilation, and entertainment systems. It’s a 5-door, 5-seater, featuring fold-down rear seating and recycled materials in the seat covers. A charging system is mounted in your house, and a 240-volt charger will fill it from empty in 7 hours. Nissan has a range of recharging stations across the nation, particularly on the coasts, to refuel your vehicle on the go.

 

Ford Focus Electric

 

electricity

A new type of fuel

Much like the Nissan Leaf, the Ford Focus Electric wants to focus on not just saving gas, but saving energy and the environment in other ways. One feature it shares with the Leaf is regenerative braking—converting energy that would normally be wasted in braking back into electricity and sending it to the battery. The car also has seats made of recycled materials, and the seat foam is made from natural plant oils. The Focus claims MPGe of 105 combined highway and city, and gives about 76 miles per charge. With seats for five, color-changing lighting, and a high-tech entertainment system, the Focus is quite comfortable inside. The Focus and Leaf both come with Smartphone apps to communicate with your car on charge, nearby charging stations, and other conditions.

 

Pricing

 

These three cars are competitive in price. The Volt and Focus cost about $32,000, while the Leaf goes for $27,700. Both of these numbers factor in tax benefits from buying an electric car. There may be additional costs to consider; for instance, with the Leaf, you do have to factor in the docking station installation, which costs an additional $2,000 or so. However, with both cars, the big savings come with leaving the gas station behind.

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