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The Hot and Cold of Electric Vehicles (EV) in AZ

There was a futuristic movie that came out not too long ago starring Bruce Willis and featuring airborne automobilesenergy efficient vehicle license plates that flew and hovered around a major American city. That certainly could be a technology for the future, although a probable nightmare for air traffic controllers. The Electric vehicle, (and soon the driverless car) are not dreams of the future, but realities now. Many have wished for transportation that did not involve “pain at the pump”, and environmentalists envision a world free of harmfull emmissions into the atmosphere. The electric car seems to have addressed both problems, but are there drawbacks to the technology?

There are the issues of cold and hot weather and how weather (temperature) affect the electric vehicle. As we all know, Arizona has a wide range of temperatures, from the triple digit temperatures of Phoenix in the summer, and the snowbound temps of northern Arizona.  The first concern of electric vehicle owners was that the auto would run out of charge before reaching their destination. Research done by AAA found that cold weather significantly reduces the driving range of EVs by 60 percent; and in hot weather by 33 percent. AAA managing director, John Nielson, states: “EV drivers need to carefully monitor driving range in both hot and cold weather.”

Electric vehicles have 12-volt batteries which do fail in cold weather. Batteries conduct a chemical reaction that slows down when its cold. Some possible solutions are: park the car in a garage if possible to keep it warmer and keep charging until you are ready to leave; turn off cabin heat while driving and bundle up against the cold (doesn’t sound like too much fun); or, buy an extended range battery pack (possibly $10,000 or more).

Range Anxiety

Limited range is probably the biggest worry for EV owners. They call it “Range Anxiety.” Having to drive in cold weather increases this worry. Another question is how does hot weather effect electric vehicles? The main problem of driving EVs in extreme heat is the use of the air conditioner. In their studies, The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), found that the use of air conditioning can cause driving range to decrease. Nissan USA reported that the “effect of climate control and driving patterns together will reduce the range of the Leaf from 138 miles under ideal conditions to 68 miles in warmer weather.” This effect may also cause drivers to abandon comfort in order to increase driving range.

95% of All Driving Could be Done in Electric Vehicles

But, according to Green Car Reports, 95% off all driving could be done in electric vehicles.  “Using dataDrivers License FooteWork Prescott Arizona obtained from the Department of Transport’s 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), Garrett Fitzgerald and Rob van Haaren analyzed the travel data of survey participants, concluding that 95 percent of the 748,918 recorded single-trip journeys by car were under 30 miles.

More astonishingly, around 98 percent of all single-trip journeys were under 50 miles in length, with trips over 70 miles in length accounting for just one percent of all single-trip journeys.

The average single-trip distance? Just 5.95 miles. And while rural respondents naturally traveled further on average than their urban counterparts, 95 percent of all rural-based trips were still under 50 miles. – Green Car Reports

EV’s continue to improve and are no doubt a great option for many of us since most of our daily driving is under 50 miles round-trip.  Do your homework, test drive a few, and go online to read the reviews.

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