Written by Prognog Staff   

Although they are often lumped into the same category, hybrid and electric cars differ substantially. While both types of designs offer some advantages over internal combustion designs, choosing the right option for you and your family will require substantial research. Here are some of the similarities and differences between these two types of cars.

How Do Electric Cars Work?

Electric cars are relatively simple. A set of batteries is charged, and this energy is used to drive simple electric motors. When the car is not being used, it is plugged in to ensure that the batteries are capable of functioning when they are needed. Electric cars have been around for decades, but battery technology has limited their usefulness. Modern electric cars often have a range of only 40 or 50 miles. For daily commutes, this is often more than enough; for road trips, however, more mileage is necessary.

How Do Hybrid Cars Work?

Hybrid cars are essentially standard cars with a small set of batteries and a small electric motor. Cars generate a tremendous amount of heat during standard operation; brakes, for example, convert forward momentum into heat to slow vehicles. By harnessing energy that would otherwise be turned into heat, hybrid cars are able to charge their batteries. Hybrid cars have a relatively low range when operating on their electrical motors, but they have comparable ranges to standard cars thanks to their gasoline engines. Because of this, hybrid cars are considered more practical than electric cars.

Will Electric Cars Save Money?

Energy rates vary throughout the country. For example, Bounce Energy rates vary based on which state you live in. However, electricity prices are always cheaper than gasoline and diesel. While electric cars cost more up front, they will allow drivers to save money that would be spent on fuel. Current battery technology, however, is still relatively limited, and some believe that the batteries used in electric cars will need to be replaced sooner than manufacturers' claim. If this is the case, the total cost of ownership for an electric car may be significantly higher than that of a standard vehicle.

Will Hybrid Cars Save Money?

Hybrid cars get better mileage than comparable non-hybrid cars. In addition, their smaller batteries are often able to last much longer than the large battery sets used in electric cars. As a result, most hybrid car owners will save a significant amount of money over time. In addition, hybrid technology is improving, and it is expected to become more popular in the future. This will help lower the initial cost of hybrid cars and allow drivers to avoid the premiums currently incurred when buying modern hybrid vehicles.

It is difficult to predict whether electric cars will become standard in the future. If batteries improved dramatically, however, the advantages of electric cars will make them the smart choice for most drivers. Batteries that can charge quickly can help make the difference, but many experts still believe that the future of driving lies in hydrogen.

Written by R.E. Lord   

Electric Vehicle Survey OverviewElectric vehicles (EV) are in the news on a daily basis, globally as well as locally--featured in articles in local, nightly news reports as well as national glossy magazines. Everyday you can find that another company is set to release an electric car this year or a young startup has discovered some groundbreaking technology that will suddenly change the industry.

It's becoming more and more difficult to understand if this is simply electric vehicle hype or if we are witnessing an EV Revolution that is a clear and distinct paradigm shift, marking move away from gasoline powered vehicles to those powered by electricity.

It's helpful at this point to perform an electric car survey of the various car companies--both new and old--to see what is perhaps going to be released in the next year or so.  The mix essentially contains established, larger auto manufacturers like Toyota, Nissan and GM with a large development budget and plenty of resources and those smaller upstarts like Tesla, Fisker and Aptera who are struggling to find a legitimate place at the table.  All parties are ultimately fighting for what is currently a rather limited, but seemingly growing, electric vehicle market.

Electric Vehicles from Large Automakers

Read more: Electric Vehicle Survey - Surviving the EV Deluge
Written by R.E. Lord   

As gas prices continue to rise, interest in alternatives to gasoline powered vehicles, notably electric cars, draws more and more attention.  Does this strong interest, however, translate into an increased interest in demand for electric vehicles?

It's obviously the case that high prices at the pump draw more attention to alternative fuel choices, as well as other options such as bicycling and public transportation. Suddenly, there is a feeling of urgency in the air, as if car manufacturers can't get their fuel efficient cars out quickly enough and everyone needs to trade in their SUV for a hybrid.  It remains to be seen, however, just how high prices have to go until we actually see large numbers of alternatives on the road.

Highlighted below are a series of articles that speculate on this phenomenon and question how high fuel prices will change the demand for electric cars and the purchasing decisions of their potential buyers:

Read more: Will High Gas Prices Affect the Demand for Electric Cars?
Written by R.E. Lord   

Model S Alpha Hits the Road from Tesla Motors on Vimeo.

Tesla Motors Model S has begun testing the Alpha model a few months ago and is set to continue refining this model before producing and testing the text Beta models later this year or next. Final production and delivery of the car is still scheduled for mid 2012 in North America.

The first release of the Model S, stated to be around 1,000 cars, will be the unique Model S Signature Series.  This first run should feature a 300-mile all-electric driving range and a host of luxury upgrades and treatments.  The price for this 300-mile range car with the bigger battery pack is now figured to run around the $80,000 mark after the $7,500 Federal tax-credit is figured in.  The next run of the car, coming out by the end of 2012, should allow for a choice between the long range car as well as a 160 and 230 mile range battery priced at about $50,000 and $60,000 (after credit) respectively.

Written by R.E. Lord   

Nissan Leaf Interior

Edmunds Inside Line - 2011 Nissan Leaf Long-Term Road Test - "On paper, the 2011 Nissan Leaf seems to be hitting all of its marks in terms of usability and affordability. How will it do when it comes to range and operating costs? We'll be working to answer those over the next six months." [March 8, 2011]

The beginning of a long-term test, now covering the basics...

Cars.com Blog - Our Nissan Leaf's First Week - "One week ago, our long-term Nissan Leaf arrived, and my overwhelming impression is how utterly mundane it's been driving this car." [March 3, 2011]

Impressions from driving the car for a week, notably in some pretty cold, rainy/icy weather.

NY Times - Nissan Leaf, The People’s Electric, Ready to Claim Power - "If anything, the Leaf demonstrates how much the widespread acceptance of vehicles that produce zero tailpipe emissions will depend on external factors like a charging infrastructure." [January 21, 2011]

An in-depth overview of the car, including background on Nissan's long-term strategy.

Plugincars.com - First Full Range Test of Nissan LEAF Yields 116.1 Miles - "After today, I can tell you with unwavering certainty that the LEAF can obtain at least 100 miles of range in the real world." [Oct. 21, 2010]

Not a review per se, but a good first-hand article on testing the range of the Leaf.

Crunchgear - Test Drive: Nissan Leaf - "The Leaf is a car I’d recommend to anyone who’s already game, but it’s not going to change anyone’s mind who isn’t already interested in getting a plug-in." [Aug. 4, 2010]

A lengthy, well-written review with lots of photos and a short, 4.5 minute video.

Read more: Nissan Leaf Test Drive Overview
Written by R.E. Lord   

Nissan LeafDoes the Nissan LEAF live up to its claim of 100 miles per charge (MPC)?

We've been hearing for over a year now that the new, all-electric Nissan LEAF will be capable of attaining a range of 100 miles for every full charge of its battery back. The skeptics claimed this range was unlikely or only obtainable with strict, hypermiling while driving.

Now that the car is set to be unleashed to the public and several "real" folks have had a chance to drive the car for an extended period of time, it seems that the claims of 100 MPC are actually quite realistic.

Read more: The Nissan LEAF and Driving Range

Written by R.E. Lord   

Image Nissan Motor Company recently announced the forthcoming release of its new electric vehicle sedan that will likely go about 100 miles on a single charge.

 The company suggested the car would be officially unveiled on August 2 in Japan and would hit US and Japanese salesrooms in 2010.  The car would be equipped with a computer system, labelled the EV-IT, that would provide key data to the driver such as a navigation map with the driving radius within its current range as well as the ability to calculate if the vehicle is within range of a pre-set destination.

The driver will also be able to monitor the cars data online or via cell phone, checking things like the state of the battery charge as well allowing the owner to remotely switch the charging function on/off or set the air conditioner timer.

Nissan has been one of the leading car manufacturers in developing an electric car these last few years and this move might just push it to the lead if they can come up with a viable product.  However, note that this industry has historically been long on promises and short on a product when it comes to electric vehicles.  

More information should be forthcoming in August on Nissan's EV Website, www.nissan-zeroemission.com.



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