There has been quite a buzz around the country over electric vehicles for the past few years. It appears that the market for electric cars is growing, due a variety of incentives these vehicles provide. People may decide to buy an electric vehicle because they consume less energy, have fewer emissions, save money, or, in some states, permit them to use HOV lanes with only one occupant. These are different types of electric cars, including hybrids, plug in hybrids, and plug in electric vehicles. These terms have important differences including whether the cars can use gasoline, if they can accept a charge by plugging them in, and variations in the ranges of these vehicles when fully fueled and/or charged.
To start we should take a look at how conventional gas or diesel cars operate. These types of cars are the typical non-hybrid cars we see driving around. They use gas or diesel to power their engines and have no battery on board that provide acceleration. The average gas powered vehicle is responsible for emitting approximately thirteen thousand pounds of carbon dioxide each year. Gas powered vehicles have the most emissions, when compared to hybrids, plug in hybrids and plug in electric cars.
Hybrid cars use less fuel and have fewer emissions than non-hybrid gas powered vehicles. Hybrids run on gasoline and generate electricity by collecting heat energy during braking, which is then stored in a battery. This process is called regenerative braking. The energy that is stored in the battery is automatically used when driving at a low speed or in stop and go traffic, which wastes the most gas. The gas engine shuts off when the car is idling or driving at low speeds, and switches back on when the driver accelerates quickly or breaks the maximum speed for driving using only the energy stored in the battery. It is not difficult to find hybrid cars that achieve over forty miles per gallon. Depending on which part of the country a person lives in, and whether their electricity is generated using fossil fuels, natural gas, nuclear power or renewable resources, hybrid cars may emit the least amount of emissions, with about eighty five hundred pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
Plug in hybrids are very similar to conventional hybrids, in the sense that plug in hybrids do everything a regular hybrid can do and more. Plug in hybrids can be powered using gasoline or electricity from an outlet. They may run on electricity only until the battery is depleted, and can be recharged, or filled up with gasoline and function like a conventional hybrid. According to national averages, plug in hybrids tend to have three hundred more pounds of carbon dioxide emissions than non plug in hybrids. If you live in an area that depends heavily on coal or oil to generate electricity, driving a plug-in vehicle will actually be dirtier than driving a conventional hybrid. For example, in Blacksburg, Virginia, 70% of electricity is generated by burning coal. In this case, the driver of a plug in hybrid would emit ten thousand pounds of carbon dioxide, as opposed to eighty five hundred from a regular hybrid. Residents who live in places that rely heavily on coal for power generation should be advised not to purchase a plug in vehicle, as it will raise their carbon footprint. However, if someone happens to live in New York City, which generates 55% of its electricity using natural gas and 40% using nuclear power, a plug in hybrid would emit only fiftyfive hundred pounds of carbon dioxide.
Finally, we arrive upon plug in electric vehicles. These vehicles get all of their power from external electrical sources and regenerative braking. They have no gas tank and are capable of driving anywhere between sixty five and two hundred sixty five miles before needing to be recharged, depending on the make and model. There have been developments in the last few years that have allowed for rapid charging of electric vehicles, filling most batteries at least half way in less than an hour. The drawback of these cars is obvious: the limited range. Today it would be nearly impossible to take a road trip using a plug in electric car. However, to account for this, some plug in electric car producers, including Tesla, give vehicle owners a certain number of days per year in which the company will loan a gas powered car that isn’t limited by battery range at no additional charge. This provides an incentive for prospective buyers who fear that the battery’s range will not allow them to drive long distances when they need to.
Now that you know the difference between traditional gas powered cars, hybrids, plug in hybrids and plug in electric vehicles, check to see which option has the lowest carbon footprint where you live. Please consider buying a hybrid or plug in car because they can certainly save you money on gas and help reduce carbon emissions. Also, some states permit vehicles with low emissions to drive in HOV lanes, regardless of how many people are in the car. Take a look at energy efficient cars to see which ones you might be interested in!