Q: What is a plug-in electric vehicle?
A: There are two types of plug in electric vehicles; plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles. Plug-in hybrids, such as the converted Toyota Priuses in the City’s fleet, are powered through a combination of gasoline and electricity. The Chevy Volt is another example of a plug-in hybrid that was introduced in the fall of 2010. The Volt uses an electric motor to power its drive-train, but also has a separate gasoline engine to provide power to the electric motor when the batteries are discharged to a certain point. Battery electric vehicles have no gasoline engine and run exclusively on the energy stored in the on-board batteries. The Tesla Roadster, Nissan LEAF and Wheego LiFe are highway-capable, battery electric cars.
Q: When will plug-in electric vehicles arrive in Atlanta?
A: Small numbers of plug-in electric vehicles – scooters, bicycles, low speed cars (neighborhood electric vehicles) and Tesla Roadster are already on the streets in Atlanta. More than 300 metro Atlanta residents that pre-ordered the Nissan LEAF will begin to have their orders filled by Nissan by the end of 2011. At this time, all of the Nissan LEAFs available for release in 2011 have been reserved, but consumers can work with Nissan dealerships in Atlanta to coordinate future purchases . Atlanta is also one of 20 cities in the U.S. selected by Ford Motors slated to receive the all-new Focus Electric, which will debut in late 2011 .
Atlanta auto dealer Jim Ellis will be selling the 2011 Wheego LiFe from local start up Wheego Electric Cars in March 2011. Atlanta residents interested in purchasing the highway ready Wheego can visit www.jimelliswheego.com to place an order for delivery. The Zing!, an ultra-efficient plug-in hybrid, is available from another local startup, Gaia Transport Corporation. It is in limited production in 2011, with expanded production is 2012.
Q: How many miles can plug-in electric vehicles travel before needing to plug-in?
A: Vehicle range can vary depending on: vehicle manufacturer, battery capacity, ambient temperature and driver habits. Nissan has conducted extensive research on battery electric vehicles, like the Nissan LEAF, which will have a range of 100 miles (62 to 138 miles depending on temperature, speed and the use of heat or air conditioning, Wheego is about the same at 100 miles, and plug-in hybrids, like the Chevrolet Volt, will have an anticipated range of 40 miles of all electric operation. For more details on the expected range of the LEAF, please visit: www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/index#/leaf-electric-car/range-disclaimer/index.
Q: How much will all-electric passenger vehicles cost to operate?
A: An electric vehicle’s fuel economy is substantially better than a conventional gasoline powered car. For example, residential electricity rates in Atlanta average around 10 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh) . A Nissan Leaf has a 24 kilowatt battery, meaning it will cost around $2.40 to fully charge the vehicle. With a Department of Energy estimated range of 73 miles , the Leaf will cost a little less $0.033 cents per mile. In comparison, driving the same distance in a car that gets 25 miles per gallon (the 2008 national average MPG) would cost $8.76 or $0.120 per mile.
Electric vehicle owners also may be able eligible for additional savings on electricity costs associated with their car. Owners should inquire with their utility company to find out more information. Georgia Power offers a rate specifically for Plug-in electric vehicle owners. It provides customers with a lower cost option for electric vehicle charging resulting in an opportunity to save money over standard rates if the vehicle is charged overnight. For more information, visit Georgia Power’s website.
In addition to lower operation costs, the U.S. Department of Energy reports that all-electric vehicles will have lower maintenance costs because electric vehicle have far fewer moving parts compared to the hundreds of moving parts of the internal combustion engine.
Q: What will I need to operate a plug-in electric car?
A: You will need a way to charge the vehicle in your home or at another charging facility. Although some vehicles will be provided with a charging system that can be used from a standard household outlet, it is recommended that prior to purchasing an all-electric vehicle a potential owner investigates the purchase and installation of a charging station for home use.
A level II charger which requires a 208-240V / 25-40A circuit, enables a user to charge their cars in approximately 3-8 hours depending on the vehicle. Several options ranging from $700-$3,000 are available. One must also factor in the cost to install a home charging system which can vary significantly depending on the home’s existing electrical systems. Most vehicle manufacturers of electric vehicles will provide you with their suggested retailer and installer of home charging equipment (although all level II charging equipment with J1772 connections will be compatible). Nissan has partnered with AeroVironment while Ford has announced it will sell its chargers through Best Buy. Consider obtaining more than one estimate for both the purchase price of the charger and its installation.
There are a variety of equipment suppliers available for both residential and commercial charging. You can contact some of the following manufacturers and distributors of vehicle charging equipment for more information: AeroVironment, ClipperCreek, Coulomb Technologies, Eaton, ECOtality, General Electric, Go Smart Technologies, Leviton, PEP Stations and Shorepower Technologies.
Electrical contractors that are licensed with the City of Atlanta and / or The State of Georgia are capable of installing electric vehicle charging equipment, but you can also ask your salesperson for their recommended installer. The City of Atlanta’s Bureau of Buildings will inspect contractors work to ensure installations standards outlined in 2008 NEC Section 625 are met.
Q: How do electric vehicles help Atlanta meet its climate protections goals?
A: To shrink our transportation carbon footprint, the City of Atlanta is pursuing a two-part strategy. The first part focuses on increasing investment in transportation choices so that residents and businesses can walk, bike, or take MARTA. The second part focuses on improving vehicle efficiency so that cars and trucks have a smaller greenhouse impact. Plug-in electric vehicle represent a big step forward.
Q: What is the climate impact of the electricity that will power the electric automobiles?
A: Both all electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids have the ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, one of the major greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide (CO2). One gallon of gasoline contains about 20 pounds of CO2 . Even when emissions from electric power generation are included, an all electric vehicle reduces CO2 by over 50% compared to a conventional gasoline vehicle. Concerned citizens can further improve these statistics by purchasing green energy. When an electric vehicle owner uses solar or wind power to charge their vehicle, there are no greenhouse emissions from their vehicle. Contact your local utility provider to inquire about purchasing clean energy.
Q: Does Atlanta’s electric power producers have enough electricity to power electric vehicles?
A: Electric vehicles are different from traditional gasoline powered vehicles, not only in how we will fuel them, but when we will fuel them. Traditionally, one would stop at the nearest or least expensive gas station when their car was nearing empty. In an electric vehicle, most will simply plug in their vehicle at night, and the car will be charged when they are ready to leave in the morning. This pattern of charging will put less strain on the electric generation system because late-night and early-morning hours are typically when there is the least demand from residential and commercial electricity customers.
Q: What is the City of Atlanta doing to prepare for plug-in electric vehicles?
A: In March 2010, the City of Atlanta created the Metro Atlanta Plug-in Electric Vehicle Readiness Task Force. Furthermore, with the assistance of Clean Cities-Atlanta, the City has focused on identifying and removing potential barriers to electric vehicle ownership. To date, Atlanta has streamlined the permitting process for electric vehicle charging stations and is actively working to expand education outreach efforts. Atlanta’s Division of Sustainability is currently working in conjunction with the Mayor’s Senior Policy Advisor to develop Atlanta’s EV Strategy.
For more information about Electric Drive Vehicles visit: http://www.goelectricdrive.com/