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Who Resurrected the Electric Car?

Updated on March 18, 2010

Who Killed the Electric Car? is a popular documentary giving it's viewers a closer looks at the Saturn EV-1. GM was forced to produce a zero emissions vehicle in California but the documentary implied that GM was committing infanticide when it pulled the plug(pun intended) on the EV-1 project.

After years of circulation and gaining massive popularity over the internet, The finger gets pointed around and GM continues to do damage control over this media fiasco. Whatever happened, that was the past. We can all speculate and GM will never admit fault. Let's talk about the present and the future.

Today, Nissan is pushing to mass produce a 100% all electric car called the "Leaf". There have been many 100% electric cars on the market but when a giant car company like Nissan is willing to take this gamble, we should pay attention.

Looks pretty cool!
Looks pretty cool!

Before I go any further, I'd like to share some of my background on this subject. I am not just an internet expert with a Google degree. Oh, no people. I've had experience. While I've never built an electric car, I have built an electric bike and I am fairly familiar with the technologies involved.

Sorry to disappoint you but the power of electric vehicle are pretty much maxed out. Is this a bad thing? Hell no!


When I say the power is maxed out, I mean efficiency. Electric motors are pretty much maxed out as far as efficiency. That's not necessarily a bad thing. You see, electric motors are 85 - 90% efficient. Some have even topped out in the mid 90s range.

To put it into perspective, the most efficient gas engines are 30-35% efficient. The human body is about 20-25% efficient. Electric motors are very, very efficient.

My lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery is rated at 48 volts, 20 amp hours (AH). This means that at 48 volts, it can draw a current (amps) of 1 amp continuously for 20 hours or the equivalent of 20 amps continuously for 1 hour. Sounds confusion? It is and I can understand.

I am a visual learner. I understand problems better if I can see it. Think of voltage as "pressure" and amps as "current flow". Like a dam, the higher the dam, the more "pressure" or "voltage" it has. The opening at the bottom, depending on size would dictate the definition of "amps" or "current flow". That should clear things up a bit.

So Who Killed it?

Who killed the electric car? Some people say GM, others say California Air and Resource Board (CARB), and some say batteries.

Going by what I know, battery technology did NOT kill the electric car. At the time, the EV1 was using ancient Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries. These batteries are even ancient in comparison because Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) were out at the time.

This is not even an argument today. Lithium battery technology kills that argument.

The Lithium Revolution

Lithium batteries really helped resurrect the Electric Car. The demand for longer lasting cell phone and laptop batteries moved scientists to set a new standard in battery technology. This is where the Lithium revolution started.

Contrary to what some people think, lithium batteries are quite safe today. Lithium batteries have gotten some bad press with explosions and fires. I believe the negative publicity is the product of ignorance and maybe oil company funding.

The performance of a battery is measured in a system called "C rating". C rating is the proportionate to how much energy capacity a battery can charge and discharge.

For example, a 20 AH battery with a C rating of "1" would be able to charge at 20 amps continuously and discharge at 20 amp continuously. That same battery with a C rating of "2" would be able to charge at 40 amps continuously and discharge at 40 amps continuously.

Not all lithium batteries are the same. The leading lithiums on the market today are Lithium Polymers, Lithium Iron Phosphates, Lithium Manganese, and Lithium Nano Phosphates. For the purpose of marketing promotions, all of these chemistries are labelled as "Lithium Ion Batteries" you see advertised on television and stores.

Unbiased Comparison

A Giant Can't Slumber Forever

This giant know as the Electric Car is the key to the shackles the oil companies are enslaving us with. The electric car will stop going to war for oil which is a threat to the military industrial complex. The electric car threatens the status quo people are comfortable with.

A giant can't slumber forever. There is pressure on the global market for an electric car for nearly 2 decades. There are several big companies that are paying close attention.

Toyota spent (and gained) a huge amount of money researching and developing the Toyota Prius. The common person is unaware of the social and marketing experiment but others, including Nissan knew what was going on. The "Hybrid" cars were nothing more than experiments to see if electric cars were marketable. The success of the Prius is proof positive that, indeed, it is!

World's Fastest EV - The Killacycle!

Common Lies You Were Told

  1. Electric cars are slow - Look up the Tesla Roadster and the White Zombie.
  2. Electricity is more wasteful than gas because it needs to be produced at utility companies. - See next paragraph for a detailed explanation.
  3. Electric cars have limited range. - The Leaf can go 100 miles on a charge and it is Nissan's first attempt.

Electricity is NOT more wasteful than gas. Yes electric companies boil water with gas to spin turbine generators, but it is still more cost effective than gasoline at the pump for various reasons. Electricity already has an infrastructure for delivery. It's called powerlines. You see them on every street. There are transformers everywhere. It can transport electricity to your house in an instant. You do not need 18 wheelers to haul tons of gasoline to gas stations(which is wasteful in and of itself).

Think about it this way. If electric motors are 85% efficient and the human body is less than 25% efficient, that means I will waste more money running to work than using an electric vehicle(bike). I have to fuel myself somehow and that fuel comes from the foods I eat. How do you think these foods get into the supermarket? Teleportation? No, they get transported by tractor trailer trucks. Obviously we all need food to survive but for someone to say electric cars are more wasteful than gasoline driven vehicles, that's ignorant. That's a lie.

Let's talk about cost effectiveness. My cheesy, Chinese LiFePO4 battery took me 25-30 miles on a full charge. Doing the math of my local utility costs, it cost me less than half a cent worth of electricity per mile to travel. This is also considering my state has the second highest utility cost in the country!

You can see that I did my homework.

Who Revived It?

There are a few things that helped revive the electric car.

  1. The "Green Revolution"
  2. "Global Warming"
  3. Most importantly, YOU!

You helped revive the Electric Car. You chose to buy energy star product. You wanted better batteries for your cell phones. You wanted cleaner air to breathe. You did not want blood for oil. The answer to my question is not some mythical fairy or unicorn. The world needs electric vehicles and Nissan, as well as other companies, are giving it to you. Is is you, the consumer, who is reviving the Electric Car.

We need to rethink a few things. Infrastructure. Energy. The Electric Car could have saved America. Imagine if we gave Tesla Motors the bailout money instead of GM. Oh well. That's a topic for another hub.

Thank you for reading! Hope you enjoyed it!


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    • profile image

      Mike MontaƱez 6 years ago

      I am doing an essay on fuel alternatives in the transportation industry. Compared to ethanol flex-fuel vehicles, biodiesel, natural gas, propane, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (or hydrogen ICEs), hybrid electrics, and plug-in hybrids, does the 100% EV surpass all other alternatives (besides going back to walking) in terms of the REAL carbon footprint in transportation??

    • Set's All Set profile image

      Set's All Set 6 years ago from New England

      Short answer: YES.

      Long answer. Ethanol flex fuel is a scam designed to delay the full EV revolution. For one, it is government sponsored so they have a stake in ethanol. Notice only the american car makers are using ethanol. Also note that ethanol is extracted from corn.

      The argument for ethanol is that it is a fuel that can be grown from home. Well, think about how corn is grown. Corn needs to be planted in nutrient rich nitrogen soil AND need the sun to grow. When the corn has matured for ethanol production, it must be gathered, picked, and transported by heavy gas transportation trucks. Unlike oil, you cannot transport corn through pipes. This creates more processes and builds more waste.

      Let's skip ALL of that waste and did what the corn did. Get energy from the sun.

      Hydrogen fuel cells are another for of wasteful energy. While it is true that hydrogen (and gas) have a very high energy density, lets look at the mass production of hydrogen. A current of ELECTRICITY is passed through water which separates the hydrogen molecules from the oxygen. They hydrogen is stored and the oxygen is released (or saved). Then you store the hydrogen in tanks/containers and run them through a fuel stack/cell in order to create electricity which powers an electric motor. See the waste? The advantage is increased range but the repetitive waste is still there.

      The EV revolution is all being done in increments. Plug in hybrids brought it to the mainstream and a demand in fuel and energy efficiency will bring more full EV cars like the Nissan Leaf into production. The next step will be building a strong EV infrastructure to replace the in-efficient gasoline infrastructure.

      Biodiesel is excellent in terms of fuel efficiency and cost. However I will not endorse it for the sake of the long term benefits of full EV.

      The value of "carbon footprint" is silly to me. I believe this whole carbon footprint buzz is a global agenda to push a carbon tax but that is subject to another article. I hope this has helped you. Good luck on your essay but in order to help other fully understand, you might have to write a book.

      Thanks for the comment.

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