Although we’ve been covering electric and fuel-efficient green vehicles here at Green Car Reports for a long time now, a lot of first-time readers are completely new to the idea of buying an electric car.
Exploring electric cars for the first time, these readers are looking for a simple primer to the world of plug-in vehicles before they visit our more in-depth Ultimate Guides to various models, including the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, Ford Focus Electric, Mitsubishi i, and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.
So we’ve been on the lookout for a way of helping explain the basics in a simple way. And now we’ve just found the video that we think will help.
GOOD Transparency: Electric Vehicles is a short film sponsored by IBM and produced by GOOD--a global association of individuals, business and nonprofits--and covers some of the basics of electric cars.
While the video is great, we have a few side notes to accompany it--so make sure you read our commentary as you watch this 3-minute short.
- Time to charge
We’d like to point out that while cars like the 2011 Nissan Leaf can recharge from a domestic 110-volt power socket, doing so can take 18 hours or more. In order to charge most electric cars in 8 hours or so you'll need to have an electrician install a dedicated 240-Volt charging station in your garage. Known as a Level 2 fast charging station, these can charge cars like the 2011 Nissan Leaf in 8 hours and use around 3,500 watts per hour.
- Cost to charge
When comparing an electric car to a gasoline car on fuel costs, there’s an assumption of an average gas car with a fuel consumption of 25 miles per gallon and a gas price of $2.50 per gallon. Many areas in the U.S. now have gas prices around $3.50 per gallon, so the cost comparison is probably nearer $14 per 100 miles for a 25-mpg car.
- Nighttime charging
While it's normally cheaper to charge at night, you’ll need to remember that you may not yet have time-of-use metering in your home. Contact your local utility company to find out if they have specific electric-car tariffs, or a cheaper night-time rate.
- Availability of cars
Yes, electric cars are available now--but the car shown in the sketch where the narrator says "available" appears to be a 2012 Tesla Model S. That won’t launch until later this year.
And the availability of plug-in cars is dramatically affected by where you live, with most variety being available to those who live in areas where the highest electric car incentives exist.
- Grid capacity, billing
At the moment, the electrical grid can more than cope with the demands of the relatively small number of plug-in vehicles on the road today, and most studies suggest that with night-time charging, it will be able to cope for many years to come.
It’s also worth noting that many charging stations don’t presently charge for electricity use -- although they may require you to pay an annual membership fee. Given that a full charge is so cheap, we can’t think of many friends who would begrudge you the occasional few hours of power in exchange for a coffee or a chat.
We’ve outlined the points that need to be made alongside this video, but do you have some you’d like to share?
Give us your thoughts in the Comments below.