Plug-in Car: Start waving goodbye to the gas station


There are two types of cars that get powered up from the electric grid: The Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) and the Plug-in Electric or Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV). What's the big deal with plug-ins you ask?  Well, they're bringing us one step closer to getting off gasoline (and middle-eastern oil) once and for all, and in some cases they already have!

Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)

A Plug-in Hybrid works just like a regular Hybrid, except that it can be "plugged in" to further charge the batteries.  In normal hybrids, like the Toyota Prius, the batteries are just charged through regenerative braking, but in a plug-in the batteries also are charged through an electrical outlet.  This means that more batteries are on-board to store more of this electrical power coming from the grid.

The more batteries you have, the farther you can go on electric power without having to rely on gasoline.  When the juice in the batteries is all used up, the gas engine is relied on and the batteries get some power by regenerative braking.  The advantage of a PHEV is that more batteries are added so the car relies less on the fossil fuel engine than do regular Hybrids.

Advantages over a Battery Electric Vehicle:

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)

A BEV doesn't have a gas engine on-board and is totally reliant on the batteries.  Since BEV's don't have a gasoline engine, it means they have more room for batteries, so their battery-only range is much higher than a PHEV.

Advantages over PHEV:

  • No oil money to regimes that want to see the downfall of America

All Plug-Ins

A plug-in doesn't necessarily mean you are becoming less reliant on fossil fuel.  If your power grid is heavily reliant on fossil fuel generation (coal/natural gas/oil) you are still powering part of your car with fossil fuel.

Advantages of all cars that get some portion of their power from the electric grid:

  • As the power grid cleans up, so does your car's power source
  • less oil from countries that wish America didn't exist!
  • the potential exists for you to install solar/wind at your home and power your car with that!

The biggest challenges designing cars that use batteries are the cost/weight/power density of the batteries.  Luckily battery technology is increasing rapidly.  One company that makes batteries for cars, A123 systems recently had an IPO.

Further hurdles facing plug-in vehicles are remote battery charging stations so plug-in owners can charge up away from home (something EV battery charging station builder and service provider Better Place is working on) and regulatory hurdles involved in letting consumers of electric vehicles  install vehicle charging stations in their garages.  Consumers testing out the BMW Mini-E experienced this first-hand in the Mini-E electric vehicle trials in New Jersey. Plug-ins charge much faster when they are connected to 240 V service , which requires certification to install.  Since states will have their own rules on certifying these charging stations, regulations will need to be simplified.

Thankfully there are some organizations working on making electric cars an American mainstay.  The Electrification Coalition (whose members make up a "who's who" of clean energy technology leaders) states on their website:

As its first official act, the Coalition today released the Electrification Roadmap¸ a sweeping report detailing the dangers of oil dependence, explaining the benefits of electrification, describing the challenges facing electric cars, and providing specific policy proposals to overcome those challenges.

Plug-in America is a great resource for information regarding Electric Vehicles, but they only seem to be focused on totally EV, not PHEV. I utilized one of their lists to help refine my list of available plug-in electric cars for 2010.  And what Plug-in America is doing for BEV, the California Cars Initiative is doing for PHEV. And the Electric Auto Association has a ton of useful information regarding cars that get power from batteries.

Whether it is a PHEV or a BEV, plug-ins make us less reliant on oil from the middle east, and this can only be a good thing.  Learn more about plug-ins, encourage their development, and look forward to buying one in the next few years!

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Now if you put Solar Energy Panels (PV) on your Home roof and car port you can drive 50 to 80 miles each day FREE. Energy From the Sun. Many are doing so all over the Earth. Electric Cars and Hybrids Cars that run on Electric and some other fuel will soon out sell all others. With the Help of Solar Energy and People around the Planet getting more knowledge every day of it on the news and seeing it on more roofs everywhere. Those that have the intelligence to see the good in Solar Energy are growing every day. Solar Energy in the next year will out pass most all other forms of energy. Right today November 22, 2011 under Solar Energy there is 19,000,000 websites and under Images 1,520,000 for Solar Power plants. For Coal power plants 1,290,000 under images. For Hydro Power Plants 3,690,000 websites and 1,5000,000 under images. Most in the World are re tooling to make Electric Hybrid Cars. Iran is a Little slow do to its export of crude oil, oil is number one in that country right behind that is their gas guzzler cars. Now Israeli is making a Electric Hybrid that you will be able to drive anywhere in Europe and in one tenth the time it would take to put gas in your car you can drive up and away with a recharged Battery Pack. Like a cordless drill or Cordless Tool it would take out the old and put in a recharged one back in in less then a minute in seconds just like the Cordless Tool. You would pay for only the electric used the battery packs are owned by the car manufacturer. No more oil change stations or gas it will be a Battery exchange station. For those that are driving cross country the rest will be able to recharge at home or at work. Free from the Sun Energy Solar Energy (PV). This kind of car is going to but and end for the need of OIL for most world wide very soon. The Lord's Little Helper Paul Felix Schott
Your headline is misleading. Gas stations will not decline for the next 20+ years. Battery-powered vehicles do not deliver range or efficiency anywhere near gas-powered cars. If gov't subsidies didn't artificially subsidize costs there wouldn't exist.
Step one to making this a feasible solution to owning an electric car...Have all companies agree to a universal electrical plug in so that cities could actually start having power stations somewhere besides your garage. Let's get that figured out then go from there.
Behold ! The next generation of car power! Well, I'm so glad because this revolution came up, I mean, this innovation could solve our dependence to fossil fuel which is unfortunately, near depletion. Solar cells + these cars equates to great investment, great savings and eco-friendliness.. now that's more results on the right side of the equation. Thanks for the post. Kudos !
ckmapawatt's picture
Jim, Plug-in hybrids do use gas, just not near as much. Battery technology is only going to keep getting better and better. True, government subsidies help electric cars, but please explain who you think subsidizes the U.S. military to protect our oil interests in the middle east? All big industries receive subsidies. We have to make sure we are giving subsidies to industries that will make America stronger (clean energy); not weaker.

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