Reducing dependence on oil by driving a fully electric car is an ideal way to help the environment. Car companies are researching, developing, and beginning to market electric cars. For a family of five with books, bags, toys, sports gear, camping equipment and pets, a small electric car, such as the newly unveiled Nissan Leaf, will not suffice in size. An electric SUV would fit a family well, but is it possible?
First, the specifics of an electric car. An electric carís power is derived from batteries as opposed to gas. The batteries need to be charged by simply plugging them in. Batteries vary from nickel cadmium to lithium ion. Most of these batteries can be plugged into a 120v outlet to be charged for anywhere from one to eight hours depending on the type of battery and the amount of charge needed. The life of the battery varies from 800 cycles, cycles meaning round trip charges, to 2000 cycles, again depending on the type of battery.
The electric cars available on the market now can drive a distance of forty to one hundred miles before needing a charge. This means that for the average commuter and/or parent this car would need a charge every one to two days. In the end, the drive is quieter, the maintenance is easier, and it is a greener choice for a car.
For the electric SUV, the basic technology stays the same, it just becomes a little bit more of a challenge in development because it is a larger car to propel on this type of energy. Currently, the Chevy Equinox is set to be on the market in 2012 as a fully electric SUV. It is planned that it will drive 150 miles per charge, and the charge will need to be with a 220v outlet for 4 hours. A 220v outlet draws up energy twice as fast as a 120v outlet. The higher voltage does not add higher cost to your electric bill unless you use it longer than you would a 120v outlet. For example, if you were to use a 120v outlet for an hour and a 220v outlet for an hour, both would cost the same on your electric bill. Since you need to charge the SUV longer than a smaller car that will add a cost to your electric bill. Initial calculations and estimates conclude that the electric charges will still be less than the cost of gas. Right now though, these are estimates.
The cost of the electric SUVs proposed to hit the market starting in 2012 range from $45,000 to $220,000. The cost of non-electric SUVs range from $25,000 to $125,000. It is currently argued that the higher up-front cost for an electric SUV will even out and then be less over time due to the decrease in cost for electric charging and less maintenance on the car. Again, these are estimates.
There is time before the electric SUV is an option. Until then, keeping up with new and current information and estimates about the battery technology will provide us with a more educated choice for our large families and their varied needs.