Green Cars of the Future: 2014 Electric Cars

i3

There are many reasons to go green when choosing a new vehicle. Rising gas prices caused by the scarcity of the resource, pollution gradually poisoning the environment that our children are going to have to live in long after we have passed, and the knowledge that we are doing a small part to help the environment are just a few of the perks of going green. In the coming year four new green cars will be added to the market for Eco-conscious individuals.

2014 BMW i3

The BMW i3 is a car for the most conscious of environmental conservation. The BMW i3 is run by electricity with a state of the art, high voltage lithium-ion battery. Charging the battery to 80% of its capacity takes 30 minutes.

Drivers who use the vehicle casually to get to and from work should not need to charge the BMW i3 more than once every 2 or 3 days. A fully charged battery should take drivers 80 to 100 miles. The BMW i3 recharges slightly while the car is driving. Traditionally when the car’s tires and brakes make sudden movements, accelerating and braking, kinetic energy is produced. In normal vehicles the kinetic energy is wasted. The car designers have managed to convert the kinetic energy to electric energy that can be used by the vehicle.

Even with the marvelously long range, we occasionally want to take family road trips. The BMW i3 has the capability of being a long distance car.

  • The more eco-friendly option is to research where the charging stations are located on your route. Drivers can make a pit stop to charge their cars before the power runs out.
  • The second option is to buy the BMW i3 hybrid. The BMW i3 hybrid comes with an optional petrol engine that is connected to a generator. The entire system is designed to increase the range of the car by 80 miles.

2014 Chevrolet Volt

voltThe Chevrolet Volt is a hybrid electric/gas vehicle that comes with both a lithium-ion battery and a gas generator that powers the electric motor after the lithium ion battery has been drained. Eco conscious individuals are looking at 25-55 miles of gas free driving before the gas powered generator kicks in providing the driver with an additional 325-355 miles.

For an extremely eco-conscious individual, the 25-55 miles of gas free driving can seem distressingly small. The amount of time that the electric motor runs may be small, but it should be enough to get you around town. Failure to live up to expectations could be due to inefficient driving. Aggressive driving, high speeds, electronics in use, and the A/C and heater deplete the electric battery. In order to allow the driver to get the most out of their electric engine, the Volt’s efficiency gauge will begin analyzing the efficiency of every drive the moment the car is turned on, so that drivers will know how eco-friendly their driving is.

The Volt can be plugged into any 120 volt outlet, so it can be plugged into most outlets attached to your home in 10-16 hours. Special 240 volt charging stations can be purchased and installed to decrease the charge time to around 4 hours.

Cost: $31,645

2014 Outlander Phev (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle)

Outlander PhevThe Outlander Phev like the volt is a hybrid that is run by both an electric battery powered engine and a gas powered generator. The Outlander Phev has a 30 minute electric drive range. The battery can be charged to 80% in 30 minutes or to full power in 4 hours.

To make the vehicle more fuel efficient the Outlander Phev is designed to switch between 3 automatic modes and 3 driver chosen modes.

Automatic Modes

  • Electric Driving Mode: An electric only driving mode that allows for a top speed of 75 mph and an estimated distance of 30 miles.
  • Series Hybrid Mode: A gasoline powered mode that is started when the battery levels fall below a certain level or sudden acceleration is needed. This mode will charge the lithium-ion battery and provide power to the electric motors.
  • Parallel Hybrid Mode: The car is most often utilized on the highway. This mode saves power by driving only the front tires. The gasoline generator slowly charges the lithium-ion battery when there is excess electricity.

Driver Chosen Modes:

  • Eco Mode: The driver can choose to drive their vehicle in Eco-mode to save fuel and electricity. Part of this mode includes only powering the 2 front wheels when the back ones are unnecessary.
  • Battery Save Mode: This mode can only be used once the battery is below 90%. This mode will turn on the generator, allowing the driver to make the best use out of the battery. Drivers might want to turn on this mode when they are stuck in city traffic.
  • Battery Charge Mode: Battery charge mode can be utilized when the Outlander Phev is stationary or moving. This mode forces the vehicle into Series Hybrid Mode allowing the battery to recharge to 80% in 40 minutes.

Cost: $40,000-$50,000

It is never too late to go green. Green cars may be a tad expensive, but the expense is not unmanageable. Much like a house the monetary and environmental rewards are long term. For people who feel that they are unable to afford a green car, the government currently offers a $7,500 tax credit if you purchase plug-in electric vehicles.  So get out there and go green. You won’t regret it!