Plugging In: Electric Vehicles

In This Chapter

^ Looking at electric cars of the past ^ Understanding how an electric car works ^ Checking out types of batteries ^ Getting the facts on owning an electric car

mong all the alternative vehicles being developed these days, none attracts more attention than the electric vehicle. People seem to believe that all-electric cars can solve our fossil fuel problems, and many people are emotionally attached to the idea. Electric cars are much simpler than vehicles equipped with conventional, internal-combustion engines (ICE). Electric cars don’t need an elaborate transmission, gears, rubber hoses, pumps, and all the other stuff that crowds a modern vehicle’s hood, which makes the idea of electric cars very attractive.

But electric cars aren’t without problems, the main one being batteries. Simply put, there is currently no viable battery technology that will allow electric vehicles to replace conventional transportation. Whether this will change or not is still up in the air. Batteries have come a long way, to be sure, but they still have a long way to go before all-electric vehicles will be able to provide the performance and range of fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

Nevertheless, all-electric vehicles are being developed at a fast pace. There is a definite market niche right now. In this chapter, I address the technology of electric transportation, the problems associated with batteries, and how and when the current crop of electric cars are best employed.