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Electric Vehicle Information Flyers

The EAA publishes six information handouts targeted at the general public. These are typically purchased by chapters and handed out at events.

EV Information
EV Information
Auto Emissions
Auto Emissions
EV Conversions
EV Conversions
EV History
EV History
Why Electric Cars?
(tri-fold)
Why Electric Cars?
Fuel Prices
Fuel Prices

EV Introduction

EV Introduction

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EVs (electric vehicles) produce zero tailpipe emissions and up to 99% lower emissions than gasoline and diesel vehicles. EVs help America reduce its dependence on oil.

Thousands of EVs are registered across the country. New battery technology gives full-function EVs ranges of 80-120 miles per charge traveling at highway speeds. An EV fits perfectly into multi-car households; the EV for everyday travel, and a hybrid or conventional car for extended trips. Studies have shown that 80% of commuters travel less than 40 miles per day. How about you? Could 100 mile range and convenient refueling at home meet your daily driving needs?

We know there is a market for EVs. Every EV produced is immediately sold or leased! EVs are high performance vehicles and priced competitively when measured against comparable gasoline-powered vehicles. In addition, fuel and maintenance expenses are significantly lower for EVs. And talk about lasting value, an electric drive motor provides as many as 1,000,000 miles of service. The initial purchase price for EVs will drop as production volume increases. Prices always go down as volume goes up — Henry Ford knew that long ago! In the meantime, EV owners enjoy the financial benefits of significantly lower fuel and maintenance expenses.

EVs are a clean, efficient alternative to conventional vehicles – using technology readily available today!

What will happen in an accident when driving an EV?

As with any car, this depends on how well it was designed and built. If batteries are properly enclosed and contained, they will not "fly around" or crush the passenger compartment.

Battery acid is not the terrible danger many people think. It is a very dilute solution. It does not do harm if washed off reasonably soon after contact. If this acid got in your eyes or mouth it would urn, but so would gasoline. Also, it is contained in many small containers (cells) in the car, with only a little fluid in each one. You would have to cut the pack in half to have an extensive spill. Think about this: most gas cars also have a lead acid battery, sitting right in the front corner, with minimal restraint and no containment. This is the first part of the car to be crushed in an accident. Yet, battery acid is not even mentioned as a problem in gas car crashes.

With proper safety features, such as circuit breakers and fusible links, explosion, fire, and electric shock are also unlikely. Keep in mind that, unlike a gas car's battery, the EV's battery pack does not use the chassis as a ground. This means that, in an accident, sheet metal protruding into the circuit will not suddenly make the chassis "live".

All of these facts have been borne out by actual crashes of EVs on the road and on race tracks, as well as in formal crash test conditions.

EVs, Hybrids, and Fuel Cell Vehicles

There are primarily three electric vehicle technologies in America today: electric vehicles (EV), hybrid gasoline/electric vehicles (Hybrid), and Fuel Cell vehicles.

EVs draw electricity from batteries to power an electric motor to propel the vehicle, generating zero emissions. Hybrid gas/electric vehicles use both a battery-powered electric motor and a conventional gasoline-powered engine for propulsion. Hybrids generate tailpipe emissions, but less than its gasoline counterpart. Fuel cell vehicles use an onboard fuel cell to generate electricity to power an electric motor to propel the vehicle. Fuel Cell vehicles are emissions free, but decades away from a commercial market.

EV technology is at the core of all three. But a big difference between EVs, Hybrids, and Fuel Cell vehicles is the method used to generate the electricity that powers them. The batteries in an EV are charged using standard household electricity and electricity captured by regenerative braking. An EV can be ‘filled-up’ at home. The battery in a Hybrid is charged internally by electricity generated by the gasoline engine and electricity captured by regenerative braking. A Hybrid can be ‘filled-up’ at the neighborhood gas station. The electricity that propels a Fuel Cell Vehicle is generated from the combustion of hydrogen in its onboard fuel cell. There is no infrastructure for dispensing hydrogen into vehicles; therefore, while this vehicle technology is promising, it is not yet practical.

Efficiency of EVs and Fuel Cell Vehicles

Fuel Cell Vehicles: Solution or Shell Game? (by Stephen and James Eaves) summarizes a comparison between BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles) and FCVs (Fuel Cell Vehicles).

A BEV has a much higher efficiency and is much more economic when compared with a FCV.

A comparison between BEV and FCV is important since our nation has made a recent change in policy for widespread adoption of fuel-cell vehicles, while all but abandoning its efforts on battery electric vehicles.

Since the BEV and FCV are the only two zero-emission candidates, elementary risk analysis would require overwhelming evidence indicating that FCV’s are vastly superior to BEVs in order to justify investing in only one of the technologies. We were unable to find such overwhelming evidence in government studies, and our conclusions are confirmed by published data on introductory vehicles.

The results show that in a future economy based on renewable energy, the FCV requires production of between 2.4 and 2.6 times more energy than the BEV. The FCV propulsion system weighs 43% more, consumes three times more space onboard the vehicle for the same power output, and costs approximately 46% more than the BEV system.

Further, the refueling cost of a FCV is nearly three times greater, even if we do not consider the substantial cost of building and maintaining the hydrogen infrastructure on which the FCV would depend.

Finally, when we relax the renewable energy assumption, the BEV is still more efficient, cleaner, and vastly less expensive in terms of refueling and infrastructure investment. As indicated above, at the very least, this indicates that the development effort on battery electric vehicles should continue, particularly if the objective is to maximize the use of renewable energy resources."

Alec Brooks, in testimony to the California Air Resources Board (Dec 2002), expresses a similar conclusion. See Perspectives on Fuel Cell and Battery Electric Vehicles.


Why EVs?

Why EVs?

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US oil production has been declining since 1970 (since 1998 in Alaska) and US imports have risen by 67% since 1970[1]. The Union of Concerned Scientists states the US (4% of the earth’s population) consumes 25% of the world’s total oil production [2]. Our demand grows daily. We must have alternatives!

Why EVs?

EVs offer the best and cheapest alternative to petroleum-based transportation. Driving an EV helps improve the quality of life for all Americans. They are fun to drive. It is patriotic!

Can EVs go fast?

Yes! For real speed, check out the National Electric Drag Racing Association (nedra.com).

EVs just move the pollution, don’t they?

No. Even including the effects of electricity generation, the California Air Resources Board reports that EVs are 90% cleaner than the newest (model year 2005) and cleanest conventional gasoline-powered car vehicles [3] – not including the environmental impact of oil refining! EVs are a proven “clean and green” choice.

Are EVs practical?

Yes. Studies show that 80% of daily commuting is less than 40 miles. Internal combustion vehicles generate the greatest amount of pollution during the first 20 minutes of operation. EVs require no warm-up period and are the perfect transportation option.

Where do you “fill up” an EV?

EVs are primarily charged at home overnight, using surplus (low-cost) electricity. There are also many public charging locations (evchargernews.com).

Are EVs expensive to purchase?

Not when you consider the total lifetime costs[4]. As production volumes increase, EVs will cost no more than conventional cars and trucks in every price range. Many states and the federal government recognize this low-volume pricing issue and offer incentives to reduce the initial cost of buying or leasing an EV. Currently there are no EVs available from the major auto makers. Toyota ’s RAV4-EV stopped production in Nov 2002 when they sold their last one. Used EVs are sometimes available. Keep an eye on companies like Commuter Cars – they’re taking orders today for a Tango.

Are EVs expensive to operate?

No. A Toyota RAV4-EV costs less than 3 cents/mile to operate. EVs are nearly maintenance free (no smog checks, oil changes, or tune-ups). At $2.00 per gallon, a gasoline-powered car must average 67 mpg to match this! And today’s gas prices are higher than $2.00/gal!

Do batteries pollute landfills?

The Battery Council International reports that 93% of all battery lead is recycled. A higher recycling rate than newspapers (55%) or aluminum cans (42%). Typical new lead-acid batteries contain 60-80% recycled lead and plastic [5]. A true recycling success!


EV Conversions

EV Conversions

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(See http://www.evadc.org/build_an_ev.html this excellent web site is the source for much of the EV conversion information included here.)

Today there are limited production electric vehicles (EVs) available, so converting an existing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle to an electric vehicle (EV) might be the best choice available to obtain an EV.

Building your own electric vehicle (EV) can be a rewarding and challenging experience. Not only will you be a pioneer in the EV movement, but you will also be recycling a car that may be headed for the junk yard. Don’t wait for Detroit . Custom build an EV yourself.

A typical EV conversion will achieve a range of 30-60 miles for each charge. Studies have shown that 80% of commuters travel less than 40 miles per day, and 50% of commuters travel 20 miles (or less) per day. An EV conversion can meet those daily driving needs.

EVs are a clean, efficient alternative to conventional vehicles – using technology that is readily available today! EVs produce zero emissions, and when you consider the full fuel cycle to generate electricity, are up to 99% cleaner than gasoline and diesel vehicles. EV owners enjoy the financial benefits of significantly lower fuel and maintenance expenses. Finally, EVs help reduce our dependence on oil.

More EV Conversion Resources and Links

Individual EV Conversion Pages (showing how the conversion was done)

How fast will an EV conversion go?

Typically, an EV will have a top speed of 60-80 mph. A 96-volt conversion of a small car such as a Rabbit will have a top speed of around 65 mph. A 120-volt conversion of a sporty car like the Porsche 914 will have a top speed around 85 mph. A dedicated, purpose-built race car will top 100 mph, and some land speed record EVs have topped 200 mph.

Speed is related to many things. A lightweight, aerodynamic car will go faster than a heavy, boxy van, given equal drive systems. The most important aspect of speed for most conversions is the battery pack voltage. The higher the voltage, the higher the rpm at which the motor spins, the higher the speed. Even a very lightweight car will be slow if it has a low-voltage pack.

For an ordinary conversion of a compact car, 96 volts is the minimum for a freeway-capable car. If you have a heavier vehicle, or hilly terrain, or very fast freeways, a higher voltage system would be needed.

How far will an EV conversion go?

Most EV conversions have about a range of 50 miles using lead-acid batteries, and the new production EVs using NiMH or Li-ion batteries can go up to 180 miles. EVs do less if the air conditioning is run continuously.

Battery capacity or range is usually measured in amp/hours. The more amps you draw as you drive, the less range you have. A higher voltage car will have better range because amp draw decreases as voltage increases. The more volts you have, the less amps you use. Range can be improved dramatically by quality, low-rolling resistance tires with good air pressure, a good alignment, and good driving habits.

How long does an EV conversion take to recharge?

Charging time on 120VAC 20 amp outlet (an ordinary household outlet) is usually 10-12 hours (over night). A 96-volt car charging on a 110-volt outlet will take 10-12 hours if it has been completely discharged.

Most people can drive their cars for their daily needs, and get a full recharge at home overnight. some people also plug their cars in during the day at work to "top off".

There are public EV charging facilities available in certain areas. These offer the AVCON conductive connector which provides access to a 208VAC 40amp electric power source.

Depending on the charger, the same 96-volt car can charge six times faster from a 220-volt outlet (3 hours for a complete charge). Since most people only use a fraction of a car's range in a day, their charging time will be much less.

Using public charging, charging at work, or at a friend's house is called opportunity charging. The EV does not have to be completely recharged each time it is charged. The slow finishing charge (to balance the batteries) does not have to be done until you get home. So, on multiple opportunity charges your recharge without a finishing charge can be reduced to an hour with the appropriate charger and source (14-50 50amp) outlet and a power factor corrected charger.

How many batteries does an EV conversion have?

A roadworthy, freeway-capable conversion will typically use between 16 and 24 batteries. These are 6-volt batteries that are specially designed to power electric vehicles, and they are wired together in series to produce between 96 and 144 volts (reference reading: Battery Report).

Electric race cars (NEDRA) use more higher voltage batteries (12V AGM ie: Optima), because they are looking for exceptional performance for a racing application. Many manufactured EVs a higher battery voltage systems to reduce their IR loss (losses from internal resistance are higher with low voltage, higher current systems), and they use AC motor systems to reduce their vehicle weight and increase drive train efficiency. For example, the EV1 uses a 312-volt system. This is possible with a high-rpm AC motor, and it is necessary for a direct drive vehicle to achieve freeway speeds. Most conversions use more affordable DC systems, and retain the transmission to step up the motor rpm to higher speeds.

How long does EV conversion batteries last?

The lead acid batteries used in EV conversions will last about three years before needing replacement. An entire pack typically costs $1,000-$1,200.

These are deep discharge traction batteries that are designed to power a vehicle. Their internal construction is more robust than a starting battery in a gas car, or a deep cycle or RV battery.

How long the pack lasts depends on how it is treated. Batteries that are left sitting unused for long periods, or left sitting partially discharged, will have a shorter life span. The best thing you can do to your battery pack is to drive it every day and charge it every night.

Maintenance: Lead-Acid wet cell batteries need to have distilled water added monthly. This can be a 15 minute chore if one uses a dedicated plastic garden sprayer with the spray tip removed. A 20 battery pack might need a gallon of water per month. A gallon of distilled water at the grocery store is about $1.

How much does an EV conversion cost?

Conversion cost: $8,000 - $15,000, including batteries, donor car, & components.

On the low end, you can build a car with quality new components if you are willing to do a lot of design and fabrication yourself. This will mean designing and building battery racks and boxes, motor mounts, component mounts, wiring looms/harnesses, etc. In the midrange, you can build our own conversion using a custom kit for about $9,000 - $10,500 and save a lot of time, since everything comes prefabricated.

If you have someone do a conversion for you, the price may run between $15,000- up, depending on the car and kit used. Usually the price of a converter building you an conversion EV is twice the price of a kit and you do the work because converters usually use kits.

Battery Pack Replacement: $1,000 - $1,200 for a 18 wet cell battery pack. The battery replacement price varies depending on the number, and type of batteries used. Battery Report

Electricity: $0.05/mile (depending on the cost of electricity where you live and the efficiency. of the conversion).


Auto Emissions

Auto Emissions

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Components of air pollution include [1]: Carbon Monoxide (CO) – reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, aggravates lung and heart disease, and causes headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. Sulfur Dioxides (SOx) – when combined with water vapor in the air become the major contributor to acid rain. Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) – cause the yellowish-brown haze over dirty cities, and when combined with oxygen becomes a poisonous gas that can damage lung tissue. Hydrocarbons (HC) are a group of pollutants that react to form ozone (O3), some HCs cause cancer and others can irritate mucous membranes. Ozone (O3) is the white haze or smog seen over many cities. Ozone can irritate the respiratory system, decrease lung function, and aggravate chronic lung diseases (such as asthma). Carbon Dioxide (CO2), although naturally occurring, can cause problems. In large quantities it allows more sunlight to enter the atmosphere than can escape – trapping excess heat that can lead to the “greenhouse effect” and cause global warming.

Ozone is a toxic gas, but it’s not emitted directly from tailpipes. Ground-level ozone is formed by a chemical reaction between VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and NOx, released from fuel combustion, in the presence of sunlight. Ground-level ozone concentrations can reach unhealthful levels when the weather is hot and sunny with little or no wind [2]. Gasoline and diesel powered cars, trucks, and buses are the major sources of NOx and VOCs.

According to the American Lung Association [3], ozone is a serious threat to public health. Exposure to high levels of ozone causes significantly higher rates of asthma in children. In pregnant women, it can cause a significantly higher rate of babies with birth defects.

Where do the emissions come from?

Before comparing the emissions associated with vehicles and fuel types, consider the full fuel cycle. Emissions are generated at each step in this cycle—extraction of raw fuel (feedstock), transportation, storage, processing, and distribution to the vehicle itself, or “well-to-tank” emissions; emissions are also generated by the vehicle itself, “tank-to-wheels”. The full cycle is referred to as “well-to-wheels”.

Vehicles are defined by the level of emissions (tank-to-wheels) they produce: low-emissions (LEV), ultra-low emissions (ULEV), super low-emissions (SULEV), partial zero emissions (PZEV), and zero emissions (ZEV). Basically, LEVs, ULEVs, SULEVs, and PZEVs produce lower vehicle emissions than vehicles built prior to 1972, but do little to reduce CO2 emissions. PZEVs go a step further than SULEVs by eliminating emissions from the vaporization of fuel in the gas tank and fuel system. Lower emissions levels are achieved by control systems installed on these vehicles. However, these systems degrade over time, which reduces their effectiveness in controlling emissions. ZEVs, on the other hand, produce no emissions and so have no need for emissions systems!

Electric vehicles (EVs) produce zero emissions from the vehicle itself – and are classified as ZEVs. The only emissions are those released during the generation of electricity (from coal, natural gas, etc.). However, even those emissions can be eliminated if the electricity is generated from renewable sources, such as solar or wind!

The “Greenhouse Gas Emissions” graph compares the overall emissions for vehicles available today. The graph clearly shows that EVs really do reduce emissions. And, switching to renewable sources for electricity generation can reduce all emissions associated with EVs.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Despite decades of air pollution control efforts, at least 92 million Americans still live in areas with chronic smog problems.”[4] “Americans are driving more miles each year, partially offsetting the environmental benefits of individual vehicle emissions reductions.”[5] And the mix of vehicles on the road includes a greater number of higher emissions vehicles (trucks and SUVs), making the problem worse.

According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), even when taking into account power plant emissions, EVs are 90% cleaner than the newest (model year 2005) and cleanest conventional gasoline-powered car vehicles [6] (not including the environmental impact of oil refining). Emissions from central power plants are easier to control than emissions generated by millions of cars on the road. Future power plants will be more efficient and even cleaner. When they utilize renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar energy, the full “well-to-wheels” emissions for EVs will be zero! It is not possible to achieve zero “well-to-wheels” emissions for a vehicle that uses a gasoline or diesel engine.

Many EV drivers have not waited for central power plants to switch to renewable electricity generation. They have installed photovoltaic cells on their homes to generate clean electricity from the sun today! With EVs you actually have an option for fuel sources (for electric generation) – including renewable sources – with gasoline-powered vehicles there are no other options – only gasoline.

What about pollution from generating the electricity?

An electric car is up to 97% cleaner than a comparable gas car, including the pollution generated by the electric power plant. They are still cleaner than gasoline powered vehicles even if the electricity comes from "dirty" power, such as coal-fired plants. The 97% number applies to states like California that use a lot of "clean" power, including hydro, nuclear, wind, and solar. These estimates are also based upon a new, smog-controlled car in perfect condition and state of tune. In real life, most cars on the road are several years old. Their smog control systems become less effective with age. Also, a gas car gets dirtier as it gets old and worn, or if it is out of tune. EVs don't. In fact, as utilities clean up their power plants to meet increasingly strict federal air quality standards, or owners have access to renewable sources of electricity, EVs will actually get cleaner.

These percentages are also skewed because compare all the fuel production pollution for the EV to the tailpipe emissions for the gas car. What about the pollution generated by extracting and refining the oil, and transporting it to the gas stations?

Is there pollution from the spent batteries?

Lead acid batteries are the most recycled product in this country. Ninety-five percent of all used lead acid batteries are recycled. Ninety-nine percent of the material in each battery can be recycled, or rendered harmless. The process of recycling lead is much cleaner than mining new lead, and the end product is cheaper.

When you go in to buy a new pack of batteries for your car, you will be asked to turn in the old "cores". This is required by law. Then these batteries are recycled into new batteries.

More information about emissions

Argonne National Laboratories, a publicly-funded US Research Lab, has developed a public domain spreadsheet model to profile greenhouse gas emissions and net energy usage for various transportation modes. Download an copy.


Gas Prices

Gas Prices

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Gasoline is refined from crude oil and primarily used to fuel automobiles and light trucks [1]. You can avoid the cost and headache of rising gasoline prices by driving an electric vehicle (EV). An EV refuels at home. You simply plug it in, and let it charge while you sleep – using surplus (low-cost) electricity available at night (during non-peak hours).

Why is the Price of Gasoline Rising?

Today’s California gasoline price (the highest in the nation), adjusted for inflation, is still lower than in 1981 – the price peak. Our price is a bargain compared to the price paid in the rest of the world (over $5/gallon in many countries) [4]. It’s estimated that if US government subsidies were removed, the price of gasoline in America would be between $5.60 and $15.14 per gallon [5]. Petroleum is a non-renewable resource. Enormous price increases are inevitable given that the demand for gasoline is rapidly outpacing the world supply.

In contrast, the price for electricity has not drastically changed in the past 14 years. Electricity is generated locally, can be generated using renewable resources (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal), and is conveniently and safely delivered to our homes.

Finite Resources

With 4% of Earth’s population, the US consumes 25% of the world’s total oil production [6]. Oil production has been declining since 1970 while US imports have risen by 67% since 1970[7]. According to “Peak Oil: An Outlook on Crude Oil Depletion”[8]:

  1. oil discovery peaked in the 1960s;
  2. we now find 1 barrel of oil for every 4 we consume;
  3. Middle East share of production is set to rise (short-term);
  4. the rest of world production peaked in 1997, and is therefore in terminal decline.

This decline of global petroleum is not a re-run of the oil shocks of the 1970s. This decline in production is driven by resource constraints, not politics, and is a permanent (not temporary) condition.

How Far Does Your Money Go?

Since most of our oil is imported, your gasoline money goes pretty far – overseas, that is. Electricity is much cheaper than gasoline, and is generated locally. The energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline is 33.53 kWh of electricity (GGE)[9]. However, 1 GGE of electricity in an EV takes you 110 miles. Over 2 times farther than an HEV, and 11 times farther than a full-size SUV. An EV simply takes your money farther. Let’s use a conservative price for gas.

What Can You Do?

Everyday choices make a difference. Drive Less. Use alternative forms of transportation, including public transportation, bike, walk, or telecommute. People are driving more than ever. The total Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) is increasing rapidly [10]. In California , VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) increased 93% from 1980 to 2000, while the population only increased by 37%; and VMT is projected to increase another 70% over the next 25 years.

Drive Different Drive alternative-fuel vehicles, including vehicles powered by electricity, compressed natural gas (CNG), and bio-diesel. Take the Clean Car Pledge that your next car will be the highest mileage and “greenest” possible.