I’ve been watching these TV ads with T. Boone Pickens extolling the virtues of running cars on natural gas with some bemusement. I absolutely share his enthusiasm for energy independence, and I see his point about natural gas. We have lots of it here (it’s our second largest natural resource), it’s safe, it’s cheap (the current national average price is just 58% that of gasoline on an energy-equivalent basis), it burns clean producing less critical greenhouse gasses than gasoline or diesel, and ordinary engines can be comparatively easily fitted to run on natural gas. The Pickens Plan (pickensplan.com) envisions constructing a network of wind farms located right up the middle of the country (his site describes the Midwest as “the Saudi Arabia of wind”) to replace the 22% of our electric power currently supplied by natural gas, so that the gas can be diverted to transportation uses. By his accounting, this could trim our foreign oil demand by … [Read more...] about Natural Gas Cars: Electrics with Exhaust
Electrical snafus are among the most annoying problems with older cars. Unlike tires or bodywork, there’s something about electrical systems that seems to baffle many car crafters. We could blame it on 12-volt voodoo or the curse of mummy wiring, but the best way to get past all those superstitions is with some good old-fashioned electrical knowledge. Most direct-current conundrums can be solved with basic diagnostic work that will point to a simple repair. Dig out that test light and multimeter because we’ll use them as the tip of our wiring attack spear to root out all those nasty electrical gremlins. Voltage Drop Testing A voltage drop test uses small voltage readings measured within a circuit as an indication of resistance. Most high-current flow, low-resistance circuits-like a simple length of battery cable-should generate a 0.10- to 0.20-volt drop during a dynamic test. Dynamic testing means this voltage drop can only be measured when a load is applied to the … [Read more...] about Muscle Car Electrical Tech Tips – Diagnose Those Musclecar – Electrical Gremlins
When something goes wrong with a car’s electrical system, it can be so frustrating and infuriating to diagnose that we sometimes just throw up our hands and blame the gremlins lurking in those mysterious wire bundles. But really, automotive electricity is a very simple concept that follows the laws of physics and electricity. With a little knowledge (and a good service manual wiring diagram), you should be able to figure out and fix most common wiring and electrical problems. The tips and tech presented here will touch on some of the more common issues enthusiasts encounter and what to do about them. But first, an electrical system primer: Automotive electricity begins with a storage battery, typically a lead-acid affair with a positive (+) and negative (-) post. We will get arguments on this one, but for simplicity’s sake we’re going on the theory that current flows from positive to negative. Current begins at the positive post of the battery leading into your muscle … [Read more...] about Tips & Tech You Need for Fixing Common Muscle Car Electrical System Problems
SUNDAY AM - Can driving be brilliant and terrible at once? It certainly can, and here’s an example. Headed off to Prescott to run an electric Renault Zoe in the annual hillclimb for French marques, La Vie en Bleu. Plan was to compete on my own for a bit of fun, but some club type decided I should drive with Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams, one of the country’s most versatile and experienced racing drivers. If ever there were a recipe for humiliation, this was it. Renault found a set of super-sticky Yokos, and the car felt instantly quick off the line, especially for something with a 12.3sec 0-60mph time. Most importantly, it gripped, steered and turned really well, even during a late-morning downpour. Whizzo was fast, of course, finding time to make ‘hush’ signs to the marshals as he noiselessly sped by. He soon turned 60.29sec, easily beating his previous electric record (in a Zoe). I soldiered on, eventually managing 61.88sec … [Read more...] about Cropley on cars – Electric racing in a Renault Zoe, GM’s new boss
Electric cars will account for up to 15 per cent of the market by 2020, according to the boss of leading lithium ion battery maker Ener1. But the bulk of the electric vehicle market will initially be taken up by small urban delivery vans, Ener1 CEO Charles Gassenheimer told Autocar. Read the Autocar review of the Volvo C30 BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) ‘We’re anticipating the market early adopters to be municipal government fleets, particularly in Asia and Europe’ he said, revealing that his company was involved in supplying technology to the Japanese postal service for its delivery vans. However Gassenheimer also sees a future for electric cars such as the new battery powered Volvo C30, also one of his company’s projects. But, he argues that there’s no long term viability without a mass infrastructure of charging points being put in place. ‘We need the cars, the battery technology and the charging points and all three need to be there for … [Read more...] about Sixth of cars ‘electric by 2020’
While GM, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi are readying their electric vehicles, a new contender has emerged and is aiming to beat them all to the punch. Tata motors, in conjunction with Norway’s THINK!, plans to launch an electric car themselves. Reuters reports that the car will be based on the Tata Indica and be launched in Norway within one year. S. Ravishankar, senior general manager at Tata Motors’ engineering research centre, says that the car can run for 175 km (110 miles) to 200 km when fully charged with a “two-pack” battery, but mileage could vary according to the battery used. (Ya think?) There’s little doubt that, if successful, Tata will use the Jaguar/Land Rover global dealer network to sell these cars. “Could I interest sir in a Jaguar XJ? A Supercharged Range Rover sport? A Tata Nano? or an Electric Tata Indica?” Uh, maybe not. … [Read more...] about Are Tata Cars Electric?
When you live in a place like the San Francisco Bay Area, owning or leasing an electric vehicle is fairly simple to justify. The state allows you to use HOV lanes with only one person aboard. Some cities allow you to park in metered parking spots for free. Charging your electric vehicle at the mall can be free. Some businesses might offer electric vehicle charging. There are additional rebates on top of the $7,500 federal tax credit for buying an electric car. Electric companies provide discounted power rates for electric car owners for charging in off-peak hours. Some counties offer rebates for installing 240V home charging systems for electric vehicles.But sometimes, an electric vehicle may not be for you. Range anxiety is a big issue. Another large issue depends on where you live, either if you live in an apartment complex in Berkeley or a ranch in Killeen. It also depends on what you do for a living, whether you’re a high-tech worker in Silicon Valley or a homemaker in Kansas … [Read more...] about A Few Reasons an Electric Car Might Not Be For You
An interesting combination of reports, compiled by the New York Times, shows that Americans saved money at the pumps from cheaper gas is mostly going to more gas and more expensive gas.The average American should have saved roughly $41 from cheaper gas prices, according to a report by JPMorgan. Instead of taking home those savings, most people only took home $22. A separate study by Brown University and University of Chicago researchers indicated that most people were buying more expensive gas when gas prices dipped.The phenomenon, which is called “mental accounting,” roughly translates to people spending a target amount of money — regardless of price.According to the report, people spent a disproportionate amount on gas compared to the price per gallon. The JPMorgan study compares gas spending between December 2013 and February 2014, when prices averaged $3.31 a gallon, with gas spending by the same people in the same period one year later, when … [Read more...] about When We’re All Driving Electric Cars, What Will We Be Spending Gas Money On?
Ford Motor Company recently announced that it will be investing more than $4.5 billion over the next five years into its electric vehicle program and that it will have 13 electric vehicles on sale by 2020. The announcement follows the Ford company’s original investment in EV technology and the first Ford electric cars by 102 years.Hopefully, the current spending will yield more fruitful results than did Henry Ford’s original look into EVs more than a century ago.Henry Ford and Thomas Edison became good friends later in life, but before Ford became famous as an automaker, he was an employee of Edison’s. When Ford made his first automobile, the Quadricycle, in 1896, he was then employed as chief operating engineer of Detroit’s Edison Illuminating Company. That same year Ford attended a company banquet in New York City honoring Edison, where it was documented that the two men discussed Ford’s experiments with gasoline powered transportation, … [Read more...] about Ford Motor Co. Invests $4.5B in EVs, a Century After Henry Ford Gave Up On Electric Cars
In an op-ed in USA Today, headlined “Electric car benefits? Just myths“, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, Bjørn Lomborg, calls for people to “stop our green worship of the electric car,” arguing that EVs end up costing society a lot of money while doing little to cut emissions of carbon dioxide. Even more provocatively, Lomborg claims that because EVs are, for the most part, ultimately powered by coal fired electrical generating plants, the pollution associated with cars that run on electrons will end up killing almost twice as many people as that created by gasoline powered vehicles.He says, for example, that the total life cycle CO2 emissions of the Tesla Model S will be about 44 tons, compared to an Audi A7 Quattro’s ~49 tons. At the current trading rate of $9/ton on Europe’s carbon emissions market, that works out to what Lomborg describes as just $45 in climate benefits for the $7,500 tax credit by which … [Read more...] about Skeptical Environmentalist Bjørn Lomborg Says Electric Cars Kill More Than ICEs