Frequently Asked Questions About My EVs

Last updated 2003.04.13


Things People Ask and Say About My Electric Car

1. Is that really an ELECTRIC car?
2. How far does it go?
3. How fast does it go?
4. Why do you drive an electric car?
5. An electric car wouldn't work for me!
6. They don't go far enough on a charge to meet my needs.
7. Why don't you hook up a generator on the wheels to extend the range?
8. Why don't you put a wind generator on the roof and recharge the batteries while you're driving?
9. Why don't you cover the car in solar cells and run it on sunlight?
10. What kind of car is that?
11. It doesn't look like an electric car.
12. Don't electric cars just move the pollution?
13. What about the pollution from all those batteries going to landfill?
14. What kind of batteries does it use?
15. How much does it cost to operate?
16. You must get government grants and tax breaks for using an electric car.
17. But you don't pay the taxes in the price of gasoline that pay for road maintenance.
18. Gasoline-powered cars don't really affect the environment that much.
19. You drive it in the winter?
20. What's it like to own/drive an electric car?
21. Where can I get one?
22. Why not wait for the big automakers?
23. You want to race?
24. Where can I learn more about EVs?
25. Could an EV work for me?
26. Is there a less expensive way to get involved in electric vehicles?
Top Ten Reasons to Not Drive an Electric Car

1. Is that really an ELECTRIC car?
Yes. It is powered solely by an electric motor driving the conventional manual transmission, drawing power from batteries mounted inside the car.
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2. How far does it go?
My car goes about 60 km on a full charge in optimal driving conditions, a bit less in cold weather. My average trip is about 20 km (to work or back), so this is plenty for most of my driving needs. In addition, I have arranged to charge my car while it is parked near where I work. I have another vehicle (a twelve-seater van) which is used for carrying lots of people in a single vehicle, for long trips and towing a trailer. Thanks to my electric car, that van is not doing the urban commuting, thus reducing pollution, and protecting the van from the punishing stop-and-go driving that shortens the life of the gasoline-powered engine.
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3. How fast does it go?
I have had this vehicle (converted Renault 12) up to 66 mph (~105 km/h) as measured on the car's speedometer. It travels on a 100 km/h highway most days. That is fast enough for my needs. EVs can go faster if they are designed to do so - mine is not. The world land speed record for an electric car is 215 mph (~344 km/h) as of October 16, 1997, set at the Bonneville Salt Flats and sanctioned by FIA (Féderation Internationale d'Automobile). That record was broken in September, 1999, with a speed over 220 mph (I don't have the citation on that yet.)
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4. Why do you drive an electric car?
It meets a lot of my needs. Those needs include:
- outdoor air I can breathe without damaging my health;
- water that is not toxic to humans;
- soil capable of growing non-toxic fruits and vegetables;
- stable weather patterns not disrupted by thermal pollution and global climate change caused by "greenhouse effect" gases;
- transporting up to 4 people on the majority of my trips (actually 2 is more common);
- carrying a week's worth of groceries or similar volumes of cargo;
- the majority of my one-way trips seldom exceed 50 km (30 miles); and,
- economic, practical transportation.
Driving my electric car for short trips allows me to reserve my gasoline-powered vehicle for the jobs it does best (transporting large loads over long distances without many stops and starts). Most of the trips performed in my electric car would not even allow the gasoline-engine vehicle to get properly warmed up by the time it reached the destination, which is the worst operating mode for the engine from an efficiency, life expectancy and pollution point of view.
Automobiles using internal combustion engines burning fossil fuels are the single largest contributor to air pollution on our planet. The use of petroleum products (including processing, storage, transport and disposal) is the single largest source of water and groundwater pollution in the world. The disposable parts consumed by the internal combustion engine (ICE), such as oil filters, air filters, spark plugs, exhaust systems, belts, hoses, distributor caps, etc., are a significant contributor to our landfills. Waste heat from ICEs is a significant source of thermal pollution. Otto cycle and diesel engines are major sources of noise pollution. All of these negative effects are magnified in our urban centres where automobile use is concentrated.

However, electric cars are not for everyone. It takes a sense of commitment to be a pioneer in any area, including pollution-free transportation. For example, while required maintenance for EV's is normally minimal, finding competent and willing service on short notice can be a challenge. But let me ask you, if you want clean air, drinkable water, non-toxic foods and to reduce your contribution to the greenhouse gases and global climate change - why aren't you driving a pollution-free vehicle?
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5. An electric car wouldn't work for me!
That is quite possible. Your needs are probably not the same as mine (described above). I am not trying to sell you an electric car, merely to demonstrate that they do work in the real world today, and provide any information on the subject that I can to people who want to know more.
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6. They don't go far enough on a charge to meet my needs.
State of the art electrics are travelling well over 100 km on a charge using lead-acid batteries, and over 400 kilometres on a charge using (expensive) advanced battery technologies. Just like with fossil fuels, your mileage may vary with driving conditions.

An electric car (a converted Saturn, not a purpose-built electric car) using lead-acid batteries was driven 1,632 km (1,020 miles) in a single 24-hour period in December 1996, using a team of drivers and fast-charge facilities. (Recharge time was approximately 10 minutes between 43 mile excursions. The 24th excursion was in progress at the end of the 24 hour period.) Mid-speed and high-speed charging stations are being installed in parts of the United States now.
In October, 1997, a Solectria Sunrise drove from Boston MA to New York NY at highway speeds on a single charge. The car used nickel-metal-hydride batteries (NiMH) for energy storage, and had power remaining after travelling over 220 miles. Solectria has cars available for sale to the public today.

In May and June 1998, an EV-1 lessee drove his EV-1 from California to Detroit. You can read his story on the Web site that was set up about Kris Trexler's trip.

Do you really drive over 100 km without stopping very often? Do you really drive more than 1,600 km in a single day? You do?! Then, you should consider an electric hybrid vehicle. The series hybrid uses an on-board or towed generator set powered by propane, natural gas, ethanol, gasoline or diesel fuel to charge the batteries while the car is running. Chrysler prototypes of a mid-size, five-passenger hybrid boasted fuel economy of about 80 miles per (U.S.) gallon, charging the batteries only from the generator set. The hybrid has the advantages of reduced fuel consumption (and pollution) as the engine can be run at a fixed, optimal speed, which permits the use of a smaller engine when used on long trips, and it can be run as a pure electric for short trips, recharging from conventional outlets and producing no pollution. Toyota has been selling the Prius hybrid, both in Japan and North America. Honda has been selling the Insight hybrid in North America, and is about to introduce the hybrid Civic. These are hybrid electric cars (Prius and Insight) which uses the electric drive to increase fuel economy. It's reduction in pollutants is minimal, as this is an electric car you cannot plug in.

In my opinion, the natural use for an electric car today is to act as a commuter vehicle for urban households with more than one motor vehicle. Normally, such multi-car households have one vehicle which is used primarily for commuting. In many cases, an electric car could fill this need quite well. I call this mix of an EV with an ICE in the household fleet the "hybrid household".
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7. Why don't you hook up a generator on the wheels to extend the range?
With every form of energy conversion, there is a loss. The energy to drive the generator comes from the on-board batteries, going through the controller to the drive motor, through the drivetrain to the wheels to the road. The additional generator, either on one of the existing wheels or an additional wheel, converts mechanical energy from the road or wheel into electrical energy. Each of those conversion steps is lost energy. Thus, it takes more energy from the batteries to drive such a generator, than the generator can give back.

Have you ever driven a bicycle with a generator on one of the wheels to power a headlight? Do you remember how much harder it was to pedal with the generator engaged than it was without? It is this extra workload that the electric car would see to power an extra generator, only about a 1,000 times more energy would be involved. In addition, the extra generator would also be extra weight. In short, there is no free lunch, and no perpetual motion. It has also been suggested that I put larger wheels on the back of the car than the front, that way the car is always going downhill, and using less power. If you have an idea to extend the range of an electric car based on free energy, I can only suggest that you build it, prove that it works, and get very, very rich.

Still, the idea of using a generator has some potential. This is the basis of series hybrids (some kind of generator set keeps the batteries charged), and of regenerative braking. There is a point where extra drag can be beneficial, when you are trying to stop the vehicle. Some electric cars are designed so that the main drive motor can act as a generator when the brakes are applied, putting some energy back into the batteries. A less common approach is to attach a separate generator to the motor shaft, and engage it only when braking. The latter setup may be a bit more efficient, but it adds weight to the vehicle. This results in a small increase in range, because the efficiency of this setup is usually in the order of 50 to 60%, and because the amount of available energy is low. It is some fraction of the energy that is converted to heat by your conventional brakes. Seen another way, it is some fraction of the energy used during your acceleration stage. The energy you use while traveling at a constant speed cannot be recouped; it is used to overcome the drag on the vehicle from tires, drivetrain, air, etc. Braking is the opposite of acceleration from a stop; and it is this acceleration energy that is available to be extracted in regenerative braking. Those who have implemented regenerative braking report range extension in the order of 5 to 7% in real-world driving conditions.

If regenerative braking is a way to get power back into the batteries from a generator mounted on the drivetrain, then think of having a full-time generator as driving with the brakes on all the time. It takes more power to overcome the braking, and ends up as a net loss of energy.

I do not use regenerative braking on my vehicles, as I do not believe the range increase justifies the cost. Most people can improve their fuel economy by more than 5% by simply improving their driving habits. I try to drive so that I minimize the use of my brakes, by timing traffic lights, observing speed limits, gentle accelerations, etc. My wife used to have a (gasoline-powered) car with a fuel economy computer on it. Using my driving habits, I could routinely cover the same urban route she did using 20% less fuel. The time we spent covering the route would vary by a matter of seconds. The key difference was the amount of time she would spend stopped at red lights, when I would be coasting up to the same light, and spending less time stopped at it.
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8. Why don't you put a wind generator on the roof and recharge the batteries while you're driving?"
Because having a permanently mounted wind generator on the car would increase the drag on the car by more than the power the wind generator could produce. A fold-down wind generator might produce a positive amount of power, erected and operating only when the vehicle is parked. However, it is unlikely to be effective given the cost of the hardware required to make it easy and quick to raise and lower. In addition, wind generators are less effective close to the ground, which is why most are mounted on towers at least 15 metres (50 feet) high.

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9. Why don't you cover the car in solar cells and run it on sunlight?
During the day, I park downtown, either in a parking garage, or in the shadow of tall buildings. Therefore, I don't get enough sun to make solar cells on my car worthwhile. However, even if I could park in the sun, I still would not put solar cells on my car because they would not produce enough power to make a difference. Solar panels can produce about 50 watts peak power in full sun per square metre. On my car, I could install about 6 square metres of solar cells, at a cost of about CDN$3,500, and have up to 300 watts of peak power available. Assuming I could get the equivalent of 5 hours of full sun each day, this would provide me with a maximum of 1,500 Watt-hours of electricity (assuming no cloud and perfect efficiency). 1,000 Watt-hours would be a more realistic figure. In order to travel my regular daily mission (25 to 30 miles), I need about 10,000 Watt-hours of electricity. The solar panels would provide a maximum of 10% of my daily requirements, if I could park in full sun, and there is no cloud cover. For that same CDN$3,500, I can buy 35,000,000 Watt-hours of electricity from the utility, enough to power my car, completely, for over 10 years. For the foreseeable future, I (and the local utility) will be better off if I mount my solar panels in a good location on my house and power some appliances at peak load times with that power, and recharge my car at night from the grid, when power demand is low.

A solar car page.

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10. What kind of car is that?
Originally, this was built as a 1975 Renault 12. It was provided to Electric Vehicle Associates in Cleveland, Ohio as a "glider", that is, without the gasoline engine, exhaust system, gasoline tank, radiator, etc. EVA converted it to electric power. The car is now 24 years old and has never been powered by fossil fuels. It does not represent the state of the art in electric vehicles any more than a Ford Model T represents the state of the art in vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.
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11. It doesn't look like an electric car.
Electric cars do not have to look unusual, some do in order to reduce their power consumption through better aerodynamics, and others used low-cost materials and construction techniques to keep costs down.
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12. Don't electric cars just move the pollution?
No. Electric cars reduce pollution. I live in Ontario, Canada. The largest producer of electricity here is Ontario Hydro. Ontario Hydro uses a mix of hydro-electric, Candu nuclear and fossil-fuel generation, but use virtually no fossil fuels in their base-load generation (low demand periods such as overnight when my car is charging). There are smaller producers in the province who use solely hydro-electric generation. So in my case, as in many places, my car is charged without the use of fossil fuels, and uses none in operation.
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13. What about the pollution from all those batteries going to landfill?
Lead-acid batteries almost never go to landfill. They are the most recycled consumer product in the world. The Battery Council International reported in 1996 that 98% of the lead-acid batteries sold are recycled, and over 98% (by weight)of the material from 'dead' lead-acid batteries is recovered and re-used in the production of new batteries, including the polypropylene cases, the electrolyte (dilute acid) and the metals. Lead-acid batteries allow virtually no lead to escape from the battery during its normal life - if they did, the batteries would get lighter with age, and this is not the case.

Actually, used engine oil causes more lead pollution than lead-acid batteries. In 1996, according to the US EPA, over 40 percent of the lead entering the atmosphere comes from the burning of used motor oil, about 263,000 tons per year. That is after leaded fuels were banned in the U.S. Based on other U.S. EPA estimates, the recycling of lead-acid batteries that would be used by 30,000,000 electric vehicles would only produce about 54 tons of lead entering the atmosphere each year.
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14. What kind of batteries does it use?
This car has 16 golf-cart type 6-volt lead-acid batteries, and 1 conventional 12-volt marine/RV battery to power the accessories.
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15. How much does it cost to operate?
About 2 cents (Canadian) per km (about 3 cents per mile) for electricity at full residential rates (it costs less for companies and municipalities that can buy power at bulk rates or generate their own). Battery depreciation is more than that, estimated at about 5 cents per km (or about 8 cents per mile) - total 7 cents/km. If gasoline is 70 cents/litre, and you travel 10 km/litre, then your fuel cost is 7 cents/km, pretty much the same as the electricity plus battery depreciation costs of my EV. However, other maintenance costs are lower for the EV, as there is no need for tune-ups, oil changes, or replacement of fuel system, exhaust system or engine cooling system parts. Maintenance of brakes and suspension items are similar for EV's and gasoline powered vehicles.
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16. You must get government grants and tax breaks for using an electric car.
Canadian federal government programs to subsidize conversions of vehicles from gasoline or diesel to alternate fuels (e.g. compressed natural gas - CNG, propane, methane, methanol) specifically exclude electric vehicles. They support conversion to every alternate fuel available, except the one that is zero-emissions. It's government, who can expect it to make sense?

In Ontario, the only incentive I am aware of is that you may qualify for a refund of the 8% provincial sales tax (or a portion of it) when you purchase an electric vehicle, or the parts to convert an existing gasoline or diesel powered vehicle to any alternate fuel, including electric power. The same tax incentive applies to propane, compressed natural gas, methane etc., the incentive is not targeted at electric vehicles.

So far, everywhere I have been able to park and plug-in on a regular basis, I have paid extra to cover the costs of the electricity I use for recharging, including at the parking lot run by the municipal government which subsidizes the use of diesel buses as a pollution-reduction (specifically carbon-dioxide reduction) measure.

In the U.S., there are federal tax incentives to buy or lease an electric car, as there are in many American states, as well as pending legislation requiring that a small percentage of the vehicles sold there be zero-emissions at some date in the future (those dates keep moving into the future as well). No such incentives here.
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17. But you don't pay the taxes in the price of gasoline that pay for road maintenance.
It is true I do not pay the taxes in the price of gasoline to run my EV, as my EV does not consume gasoline. However, road maintenance is not paid for directly by gasoline taxes. In Ontario, only the federal and provincial governments collect taxes on gasoline. The majority of road construction and maintenance is done by municipal governments, which are funded out of property taxes, not taxes on gasoline. Gasoline taxes collected go to general revenue, which also pays for health service costs. The health costs and environmental cleanup costs associated with the pollution caused by burning gasoline probably come to more than the money collected from gasoline taxes. In some jurisdictions, a portion of gasoline taxes is actually called an environmental impact tax. As EV's have a far smaller negative impact on the environment than gasoline-powered cars, they should be exempt from such taxes. Other writers have suggested that the social cost of using a barrel of oil is between US$65 and US$100 to cover health and environmental costs - somewhere between 4 and 7 times its current price. Thus, in reality, we are all subsidizing the use of fossil fuels, without even considering the direct government grants and tax breaks received by the oil industry.
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18. Gasoline-powered cars don't really affect the environment that much.
- An Automobile Manufacturers Association (North American big 3 automakers) spokesman agrees. They said:
"The effects of ozone are not that serious. I hate to say that. But what we're talking about is a temporary loss of lung function of 20 to 30 percent. That's not really a health effect."
Of course, that's only the ozone effect, it does not include the effects of other pollutants.
On the other hand:
- The average, well-tuned, gasoline-powered car produces about a pound of toxic pollutants per mile driven. If you drive 20,000 km (12,000 miles) in a year, that's 5.5 tonnes (6 tons) of pollutants produced - about twice the weight of the car.
- The Ontario Medical Association says that air pollution (to which gasoline-powered cars are a major contributor) is killing up to 1,800 Ontarians a year. See their
press release or the study for more detail.
- Prague, Czechoslovakia has had to close the center of the city to all but vital gasoline-powered vehicles on some days in 1996 because of a pollution emergency caused by smog. Only delivery trucks, inner-city residents, emergency vehicles and officially sanctioned cars were allowed to drive into central districts. This has continued in 1997, 1998 and 1999. In September, 1999, over 150 European cities banned internal combustion engined vehicles from their city cores for one or more days due to smog concerns.
- In Mexico City, street vendors sell oxygen to pedestrians because the air quality is so bad as a result of air pollution.
- Also from Mexico City, this news item:
Mexico City Smog Reaches Danger Levels
10/18/96, Mexico City - Mexico City smog officials ordered 40 percent of the city's vehicles from the roads earlier this week when ozone levels rose 2.5 times above international health limits, report news sources. Schools were told to keep children inside, and drivers may now drive only three out of five work days. Large industries must cut production by 40 percent; high-polluting factories and a number of city gas stations have been closed. A study reports 70 percent of the city's smog comes from the city's 3.5 million motor vehicles, half of which still operate on leaded gasoline.

- This item is from Paris, France
03/12/97 - France to Limit Cars in Paris on High-Smog Days
The French government has announced plans for severe restrictions on driving cars in Paris during times of high air-pollution levels, reports Reuters. The system would ban half of all vehicles from driving in Paris and suburbs served by the Metro underground railway when pollution hits dangerous levels. Under the system, vehicles with license plates that begin with even numbers would be allowed to drive one day, and those beginning with odd numbers the next. Apart from emergency vehicles, only buses, taxis, electric vehicles and cars used for driving pools would be exempt from the restrictions. Recent studies have suggested that between 260 and 350 people die from air pollution in Paris and Lyon each year."

On October 1, 1997, Paris had to implement this plan.
A noxious brownish haze blanketed the region for a second day and pollution remained at health-threatening levels due to a build-up of car exhaust and industrial fumes in hot, still air after days without rain.
Parisians hacked and wheezed after the AirParif monitoring agency said nitrogen dioxide, largely a product of car exhausts, had raised pollution on Tuesday to "level three," the highest on its scale and reached only three times since 1992.
Children were advised not to run and outdoor recreation periods at schools were cancelled.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin was driven in an electric car to attend appointments during the course of the day.
Similar pollution-emergency plans have been implemented in Rome and Athens.
- Check out the CALSTART News Notes for more stories like those above, or this one:
1997.10.27 - EPA Report Shows Substantial Benefits of Clean Air
Washington D.C. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a report showing that from 1970-1990 the public health protection and environmental benefits of the Clean Air Act exceeded the costs of its programs by a wide margin, reports Environmental News Network. The EPA found if the Clean Air Act hadn't been enacted 205,000 Americans would have died prematurely and millions more would have suffered heart and respiratory illnesses during those two decades. The EPA estimates total monetary benefits of Clean Air Act programs ranged from about $6 trillion to approximately $50 trillion, averaging $22 trillion. The estimates represent the value of avoiding dire air-quality conditions and the resultant dramatic increases in illness and premature deaths that would have prevailed without the Act. By contrast, actual costs of achieving the pollution reductions over the same 20-year period were $523 billion, which represents a better than 40-to-1 return on investment.
Still want to argue that spending to improve our environment isn't worth it? These figures come from the U.S., which still has reasonably clean air and water relative to many parts of the world.
- Check out the State of California Bureau of Automotive Repair Smog Check Website to learn more about smog's health effects, such as this statement:
"Smog is a serious health problem in California. It affects millions and leads to the deaths of tens of thousands every year. In fact, the number of deaths attributed to smog-related illnesses is higher than breast cancer, car accidents, and AIDS combined."
- Still think gasoline-powered cars are not a problem? Would you sit in a running gasoline-powered car in an enclosed space? No, because the carbon monoxide alone would kill you in a matter of minutes. Well, our atmosphere is also an enclosed space, just a larger one.
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19. You drive it in the winter?
You bet! Ottawa winters are reasonably severe - outdoor temperatures do not rise above the freezing point for weeks, even months on end. Minimum temperatures near -40 degrees (Celcius or Fahrenheit - they are the same at -40) are to be expected. My car is normally parked outdoors, where wind-chill can drop the effective temperature even lower. Over 200 cm (almost 7 feet) of snow in a season is normal. And there is the occasional ice storm for variety. It's no picnic for a car or people. Some modifications are required to keep an electric car running satisfactorily in this climate, just as gasoline-powered cars use block heaters and battery warmers to allow them to operate in this climate. The lead-acid batteries are insulated to keep them warm. Charging and discharging both warm the batteries. When the car is sitting idle, and plugged in to charge, low-power electric battery warmers can be used to maintain the temperature, but usually are not required. The electric motor, wiring and power electronics work better cool. Electric heaters and blowers keep the windshield clear and provide cabin heating. Most cold mornings I use a pre-heater in the car for about 30 minutes to warm up the cabin before starting out. So far I have driven this car at temperatures as low as minus 37 degrees Celsius (about -35 F). The lubricants took about 5 km (3 miles) of driving to loosen up, but other than that the car performed satisfactorily. Those whose gasoline engines would not start or with frozen gas-lines could not say the same that day.
EVs and Cold Weather Operation
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20. What's it like to own/drive an electric car?
Quiet. Without the engine noise, the loudest part of the car is the tire tread on the road at lower speeds, and the wind noise at higher speeds. There is a satisfaction in knowing that driving this vehicle is not damaging our environment the way burning fossil fuels for transportation does. It does take some getting used to, thinking out trips in advance to minimize the distance to be travelled, and considering where there is a friendly plug on those rare days that the distance to be travelled exceeds the one-charge range. There is no stopping at gas stations, so that saves about 15 minutes a week. Routine maintenance is pretty much limited to checking tire pressures and battery water levels (about once a month) and checking the motor brushes for wear (about twice a year).
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21. Where can I get one?
So far, you cannot just head down to your local Big Three automaker dealership, arrange financing and drive away. It takes a bit more effort than that. You can
build or convert an EV yourself, or purchase an EV that is ready to go.

There are also second-hand electric cars that come available for sale. If you are really interested in pursuing the purchase of an electric car, send me an e-mail stating you are interested in buying an electric car, and I will see if I can get you started. (I do not sell electric cars.) E-mail to Webmaster Or, join EVCO or one of the other EV enthusiasts organizations and find out about sources of electric cars or how to convert one yourself.
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22. Why not wait for the big automakers?
I don't expect to live that long. I've been waiting more than 30 years now since GM unveiled the ElectroVair II to see a mass-produced electric car available to consumers on an equal standing with the big automakers' gasoline and diesel powered vehicles. It has not happened yet, and without a lot of prodding, I don't believe it is something the big North American automakers will do on their own. They just have too much capital invested in gasoline engine plants and the support infrastructure for that type of drive train. Note that in 2003, GM started bringing the less than 1,000 EV1s they had allowed out on lease to send them to the crusher. None are being made available for resale. Presumably keeping EVs off the road, even in small numbers, is of more value to GM than the millions of dollars they could make by selling their existing inventory of EV1s. Perhaps the major automakers will get serious about electric vehicles some day - until then I am doing something positive and showing it is possible. Even with government prodding, the seven major automakers will have slightly more than 1,000 on-road electric vehicles in North America by the end of the millennium (Dec. 31, 2000). Sebring-Vanguard produced more than that many Citicars in the 1970's - there might even still be 1,000 of those around. Individuals have more conversions and home-built electric cars on the road today than the automakers will have on the road in the foreseeable future. We just don't have the PR departments to get our message out - you don't have to wait for Detroit or Tokyo, you can make a difference now without them.
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23. You want to race?
Sure. However, there are a few rules to ensure the race is fair.
1. You are limited to the same amount of on-board energy as my vehicle, as energy efficiency is a key to improving our economy and environment. My 16 lead-acid batteries are rated at a total of 12 kwh (kilowatt-hours). A British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the equivalent of 0.293 watt-hours. So my vehicle has a capacity of 40,956 BTU's when fully charged. A BTU is the amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water from 59.5 to 60.5 degrees Fahrenheit at a constant pressure of 1 atmosphere. It is equivalent to 1054.5 joules. Gasoline has 45,650 BTU's per kg. So, you may carry 0.9 kg of gasoline for the equivalent energy capacity - about 1.2 litres. (If you are driving a well-tuned, conventional mid-size North American automobile and drive it like the average North American driver, this should get you about 11 km (about 7 miles), if you don't spend too much time idling.) I would like our contest to cover at least 16 km (10 miles), preferably of in-city driving during rush-hour, as this represents a typical driving mission for most vehicles. (You may push your car to the finish line if you run out of fuel).
2. Your vehicle must be configured for zero emissions (to me, zero emissions is the whole point of using an electric car). Plugging the exhaust system will be sufficient. (This modification will probably prevent your car from starting, let alone running.)
OK, now we're ready. Gentlemen (and women), Start Your Engines!
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24. Where can I learn more about EVs?
Start at
the InfoEV FAQs page.
Check out these other Web sites maintained by other EV enthusiasts.
Alex's Electric Car Page
Chip Gribben's Home Page
Bruce Parmenter's Home Page
Roger Louis Sinasohn's List of Electric Vehicle Web Pages
Instructions on how to use the EV Discussion List
Mike Chancey's EV Discussion List Photo Album
KDO's List of Electric Car Links
Hawkman's List of Alternate Fuel Vehicles links
Paul Thompson's list of (mostly UK) EV links
Most of these will point you to even more information sources related to electric vehicles.

There are also mailing lists for specific types of vehicles that you can join.

To subscribe to the Elec-Trak (electric tractors) list, send an e-mail to elec-trak-request@cosmos5.phy.tufts.edu and in the body of the message put "subscribe". To unsubscribe send to the same address and say "unsubscribe". Elec-Trak was the name of the line made by General Electric in the 1970's, but similar vehicles made by Wheel Horse, John Deere, New Idea and others are also covered.

To subscribe to the Jet Electravan 600 Owners list, send an e-mail to listserv@listserv.tcu.edu and in the body of the message put "subscribe EV600-L". To unsubscribe send to the same address and say "unsubscribe EV600-L". The Electravans were a series of vehicles converted to electric power by Jet Industries in Texas in the late 1970's and early 1980's in Texas. The Electravan 600 was based on a small Subaru van.

To subscribe to lists for the General Motors EV-1, the Honda EV+ or (electric) power assisted bicycles, follow the instructions posted there.

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25. Could an EV work for me?

26. Is there a less expensive way to get involved in electric vehicles?
If you like the idea of reducing your pollution contribution, but the sticker price of an electric car or truck makes that impractical for now, then how about starting with something smaller? Perhaps an
electric boat or outboard motor, an electric bike, scooter or motorcycle, or electric lawn, garden and home maintenance equipment? They all exist. The amount of air pollution created by small gasoline engines is simply unbelievable. Replacing a few noxious small gasoline engines will make a far bigger difference than you might think. If you really want to get into the nuts and bolts of building an electric vehicle, but want to keep the costs down while learning a lot, get involved in Electrathon racing (such as the EVCO Electrathon) or something similar. Other possibilities include electric go-karting or electric-powered radio-control model cars, boats or aircraft.

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Top Ten Reasons to Not Drive an Electric Car

(With apologies to David Letterman)

1. Flooded lead-acid batteries release dihydrogen monoxide (hydric acid).
2. The smog makes prettier sunsets.
3. I like pumping gasoline and checking the oil.
4. Exploding Pinto gas tanks make a spectacular visual effect.
5. I have a right to breathe smog - it's my health.
6. Electric cars look funny.
7. I am personally committed to funding Al-Qaeda.
8. Electrical utilities don't wash the windows on my car.
9. I own shares in the big oil companies.
10. Massive imports of petroleum keep the value of the dollar down.

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