Living with an EV

Living with an EV

Episode 3947 , Episode 3953
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Lots of people like the idea of having an electric vehicle as their daily driver --  at least in theory. Many still have qualms about range anxiety and how owning an EV will affect their daily routines. We’ve been talking to EV owners about these issues and have found plenty of compelling reasons to flip the EV switch!

When asked why they considered buying an electric vehicle, most EV owners point to the environmental benefits - that driving electric means emitting zero tailpipe emissions.

But once people dive into the EV lifestyle, they quickly point out other reasons for not missing their internal combustion cars.

RICHARD HARTNETT: The biggest benefit I think is the extremely low cost of ownership, and of course, the side benefit that it’s extremely healthy to the environment. Because it’s not a gasoline powered vehicle, it’s not spewing any carbon emissions out into the air, which is good for all of us.

JOYCE BREINER: Part of it was, reducing our emissions. We were on a track trying to reduce our household, our family emissions, and the other part was actually a little bit of a surprise, was they are so much fun.

ALEXANDER YANEY: So, what I love about this car, is the acceleration. Zero to sixty in 4.2 seconds, which is better than any car I’ve had…

We’ve got to give some credit to Tesla and their Ludicrous Mode for popularizing the notion that electric vehicles can be kick-ass performance cars, and other EV makers are following suit, but even the most basic EV can be fun to drive thanks to their electric motor’s instant-on torque curve.

Sergeant Richard Hartnett of the Hyattsville Maryland Police liked his own Chevy Bolt so much, he lobbied to drive one at work too.

RICHARD HARTNETT: One of the big advantages of the Bolt as a Police car, is that because there’s no transmission per se in an electric vehicle, when you step on the accelerator, the car just sorta takes right off..and that’s a little different than the gasoline-powered police cars, which have a little bit of sluggishness when they first take off. So, it’s very quick off the line, it’s had no problem keeping up with local chases, the few that we’ve had with it, and it’s very very quiet, so if i have to sorta sneak up on something that’s going on, the bad guys don’t know that I’m there.

Currently, plug-in vehicle sales in the U.S. account for a very small percentage of all vehicles sold, but we’re starting to see a new generation of drivers for whom nothing else will do!

I started driving on electric vehicles about 8 years ago. I took my driving test in a Nissan Leaf.

And don’t forget, EV’s are not limited to four wheelers..

VANESSA THOMAS: I rode motorcycles for a very long time, I grew up on motorcycles because my parents both ride. When I heard there was electric motorcycles out there, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more.. So I actually rode up to the closest place that had an electric motorcycle for sale, which was in New Jersey, which was a couple hundred miles from where I live, and rode one, and had a grin on my face from ear to ear all day long after that, and just knew i wanted one, so I’ve been riding electric ever since.

Of course, the other big benefit of electric vehicles is lower cost of ownership and maintenance.

VANESSA THOMAS: I really haven’t had much to fix on it so its been very low cost, very low maintenance.

JOYCE BREINER: In a nutshell, EVs are so much less expensive to own or operate.

It’s about 4 cents a mile to run an EV, and the maintenance is like non-existent you’re not worrying about going to, going to the shop for oil changes or anything like that. And they’ve pretty been maintenance free for us for the most part.

The number of publicly accessible charging stations reached about 26,000 in 2020, offering over 83,500 outlets.

But most owners we talked to say that bypassing the gas station and “fueling” at home is the greatest benefit of owning an EV. Plug in to a 110-volt outlet and virtually any electric vehicle can be fully charged overnight for a fraction of what a tank of gasoline or diesel would cost.

VANESSA THOMAS: It costs a little over a dollar to charge up from zero to  full, so I can get you know 150 miles on a dollar.

For those who’ve made the electric switch, it seems there’s no going back!

JOYCE BREINER: EVs are fun, fun, fun to drive, and they’re easy, they’re safe, too. And I wouldn’t really want to be in anything else.

Super Truckin'

Super Truckin’

Episode 4309
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Heavy duty trucks transport about 70% of our goods and materials around the country and account for 10% of all miles driven on US highways. The bad news is, most big rigs travel about 6 miles per gallon of fuel, so the need to improve truck efficiency is more crucial than ever. Well, the US Department of Energy has come up with a way to find those answers.

Kicking off in 2010 and now entering its third iteration, SuperTruck is a Department of Energy-funded research program aimed at helping truck makers achieve ambitious gains in freight efficiency, or ton-miles per gallon, for the next generation of big rigs.

SuperTruck 2, which is now wrapping up, focused on diesel engines, which still, and will, power most trucks for the near future. Several teams were able to incorporate 48-volt mild hybrid systems to enable idle reduction, power the hotel loads, or driver comfort systems, and convert belt-driven accessories, like steering, to electric power, eliminating drag on the engine for more efficient operation. SuperTruck 3 will explore electric and fuel cell power trains over the next few years.

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DEREK ROTZ: “As we move forward into research, we’re looking into zero emissions, and the benefits of working with the Department of Energy is not only getting a– a 50/50 cost share to allow us to share the resources on these high risk/high reward technologies, but it also opens us up to the possibility to work with the national lab systems, the university systems, and those folks that have been looking at those cutting edge– edge technologies for years.”

The result has been a super-charged R&D effort that is already paying huge dividends. One SuperTruck 2 team has achieved 16 miles per gallon, 10 more than the current on-road average, and all are on track to surpass the 100% freight efficiency goal, some reaching as much as 170% improvement.

DAREK VILLENEUVE: “We’ve looked at all aspects with an eye towards production. We don’t want to develop things off in a science box that had no means, we really want to look at things that did have a good chance for production.”

Looking at all of these futuristic designs, it’s obvious that lightweighting and aerodynamics play a big part. Technology like rearview cameras and extensive wind tunnel testing has found ways to make the big box less boxy, minimize body gaps, and improve airflow.

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KEITH BRANDIS: “When you look at aero, it takes a number of factors that we have to stretch, if you will, and that was the whole purpose, was to see how far we could go with extreme aero, and you’ll see all the skirting along the side of the vehicle, but also to lower the vehicle and use low profile tires, to eliminate the amount of air that builds up around the front air dam.”

Both Peterbilt and Kenworth’s extreme aero designs build around a center seating position to allow a narrow nose. While Navistar’s sleek rig includes a curved trailer roof to maximize clean airflow across the full length. With aerodynamic gains now almost exceeding the realm of what’s possible, looking forward the R&D focus will shift back to the power train, and the target of zero emissions.

DEREK ROTZ: “So… So, decarbonizing commercial vehicles is no easy task. Uh, we’ve been at diesel for over a century now, we’ve kind of perfected it. Going into these zero emissions technologies is a whole new field, so–so it’s learning about new technologies, new technical fields such as electro-chemistry, um, things like that are new to this industry, and those are some of the barriers we need to be able to overcome.”

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Here is where collaboration and innovation come into play. All of these manufacturers are up for the challenge and optimistic that zero-emission trucks will be viable not too far down the road.

MAARTEN MEIJER: “Solutions that we see as opportunities are the fuel cell electric vehicles, the hydrogen combustion engine vehicles, and the hybrid powertrains using the more traditional diesel engine concept, but switching to an e-fuel approach.”

So, what’s the bottom line of all this effort? Supertruck-developed technologies can save nearly 6 billion barrels of oil by 2050. To the average truck owner, that could ring up $35,000 a year in fuel savings! And that adds up to environmental and financial savings that benefit all of us in the long haul!