Green Driving America advocates for beneficial green driving behaviors such as "slow down", "accelerate and brake smoothly", "avoid unnecessary idling", etc. But as important as adopting these behaviors are, we advocate for more. Green driving also means WHAT you drive. For the evolving technology of transportation today and into the future, TRUE green driving also means cleaner and clean vehicles.
Traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, which have dominated transportation for around 120 years, are finite. The industry is slowly evolving as technology advances toward alternative fuel vehicles due to financial and environmental advantages. Vehicle electrification is recognized as the clear leader in the goal to eventually eliminate gas vehicles from our roads.
Vehicle electrification is an evolving technology that began in mass production form with hybridization at the end of the last century. On the way to pure forms of electrification, these transitional steps have included milder, lower-cost stop-start systems and more robust plug-in hybrids (PHEV). A much smaller segment of the alternative fuel market includes hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
While electrification of the vehicle fleet will eventually include all types and classes of vehicles by the mid 21st century, for now most offerings are passenger cars. Municipal and school buses are making inroads to electrification. Lagging behind and still in the developmental stage are trucks, ranging from light-duty pickups to heavy-duty semis.
As of 2021, the U.S. Biden administration's pledge to return to stricter fuel economy standards will enhance the continued growth of electric vehicles, along with the deployment of many thousands of new public charging stations.
EVs: ARE THEY FOR EVERYONE?
Electric passenger vehicles, while offering an increasing number of models for 2020-2021, are still not for everyone, but are suiting the needs of more and more drivers, no matter their income. Limitations are mainly due to drivers' commuting distance. The miles an EV can travel between recharging (range) is increasing every year. But currently a range of 200 miles or more is offered only on more expensive models. But the cost of a new EV to purchase or lease can be surprisingly affordable for middle-income drivers.
The website Electric for All is an excellent guide on PHEVs and EVs.
Just plug in your zipcode for a:
• complete comparison of makes and models, and their cost and range
• listing of incentives/rebates ranging from the EV federal tax credit to state governmental incentives and utility company incentives, plus various other incentives, discounts and perks
• listing of all dealers in the area selling EVs
• listing of EV charging and hydrogen fueling stations
EV PERFORMANCE: EVs ride and handle quite similarly to their ICE counterparts. But when it comes to acceleration, EVs are no slouches due to their built-in torque and one-speed gearing that offers quick off the line performance.
USED EVs: these vehicles are usually low to mid mileage vehicles from model years 2011 and newer. While they typically only offer a range of 75-100 miles, they are very reasonably priced due to significant depreciation, ranging from as little as $4,000 for a 2011-2012 model to $7,000-$12,000 for a 2014-2016 model. Used EVs have typically one-third to one-half of the cost and maintenance (no gas, no oil changes, longer lasting brakes, etc.) associated with gas vehicles. Most auto manufacturers warrant the electric vehicle battery (aka traction battery) for eight years/100,000 miles. These batteries typically last much longer.
INSTEAD OF DRIVING AN EV, CONSIDER RIDING AN EV
Green Driving America encourages the idea of driving less or not at all. For some people with short commutes or that work from home, public transit and ride sharing are options. So is walking, bike riding or riding an electric bike. Like standard bikes, e-bikes are available in a range of configurations: mountain bikes, cruiser bikes, road/commuter bikes, fat tire bikes and even folding bikes. E-bikes offer a wide range of pricing from budget models ($300-500), mid range ($1,000-2,500), and premium ($5,000-10,000). E-BIKE GUIDE
And of course, electric motorcycles offer emissions-free performance and virtually none of the noise.
EMPLOYING GREEN DRIVING BEHAVIORS: FOR EVs TOO?
While EV driving is much closer to guilt-free than ICE vehicles in emissions and air quality impact, nonetheless, virtually every tip on the Green Driving America homepage is indeed applicable to driving an EV! Tips ranging from watching speed, accelerating and braking smoothly, A/C setting, tire wear, etc., equate to the cost savings of extending the range of an EV such as by using less kilowatt-hours (kWh) and maximizing regenerative braking. And of course being a safer driver.
In addition to the Electric for All guide...
• Plug In America has a complete national listing of EV Clubs by location and by vehicle model.
• Electric Car Association: A Network of Vehicle Enthusiasts
• InsideEVs: from their About page: "...standing as the largest Internet property comprehensively covering electric vehicle news, as well as being the flagship property in the EV Network group of websites that are dedicated to the mass adoption of electric vehicles."
• California Air Resources Board - DriveClean: Electric Car Charging Overview
• California Air Resources Board: Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Cars
• EVs in cold weather: 1. 8 tips for driving EVs in cold climates 2. Winter Range Test Reveals Best EVs For Cold Weather
• Green Biz: 8 electric truck and van companies to watch in 2020
• U.S. DOE Alternative Fuels Data Center: Electric Vehicle Research and Development
• Union of Concerned Scientists: Are Electric Vehicles Really Better for the Climate? Yes. Here’s Why
• Argonne National Laboratory (div. of U.S. DOE): (EV) Lithium-Ion Battery Second Life
• Green Tech Media (GTM): Carmakers and Storage Startups Get Serious About Reusing Batteries
• MachineDesign: A New Frontier for EVs: Cobalt-Free Car Batteries. The environmental and health benefits of EVs far outweigh ICE vehicles, yet they have their own negative: the unsustainable process of mining of cobalt for lithium-ion batteries. This practice is also exploitative and environmentally harmful. However, there are a number of promising alternative EV battery technologies being developed, including lithium-manganese spinel, lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide, and lithium-iron phosphate. These use significantly less cobalt. But the most promising potential alternative is in the creation of the solid-state lithium battery. These may require no cobalt at all and would work perfectly in cars and other electric vehicles. However, the actual production process and potential costs behind these are unproven.
OTHER EV INFORMATION SOURCES