BUYING AN ELECTRIC CAR
Buying An Electric Car
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Advancements in technology have made buying an electric car a much more interesting consideration. But is it the right time and the right vehicle for you?
We all know the common arguments: lower carbon emissions and less dependence on non-renewable energy sources. The innovations and the potential of electric cars has paved the way for a rising interest in environment-friendly means of transportation.
Unfortunately, electric cars are still strange, new, and unknown to most of us. That in itself is enough to turn many people away from a potentially great decision. So how do you know if buying an electric car is the right decision for you?
Start with learning a bit about them. Here are some electric car basics every car buyer should know before making the leap to electric.
Types of Electric Cars
There’s more than one type? Absolutely. Electric cars are not an all-or-nothing decision. Modern electric cars fall distinctly into the two following categories:
hybrid electric cars
Hybrid electric cars provide a great opportunity for people wanting to make a step into the world of electric vehicles but not quite comfortable making a big leap to a fully electric car. These two categories can be further broken down into vehicles that use a plug-in, battery, or a fuel cell.
How Do All-Electric Cars Work?
All-electric vehicles are known as EVs or battery electric vehicles. In an EV, a typical car’s internal combustion engine is replaced with an electric motor that powers the car. Electric energy then replaces the fuel.
How Does an EV get Energy to Run?
An EV’s energy is provided by a large traction battery that needs regular charging. How do you charge an electric car’s battery? The electric vehicle supply equipment or EVSE is a wall outlet or charging station that supplies electric energy for the traction battery.
What are the Physical Differences of an All-Electric Vehicle?
Because an all-electric car does not use fuel at all, the car components that handle fuel are no longer present. The tailpipe, fuel pump, fuel line, and fuel tank are no longer necessary.
In place of the components that deal with fuel are the components needed for electric energy. The major components of an all-electric car include battery, charge port, DC/DC converter, electric traction motor, onboard charger, power electronics controller, thermal system, traction battery pack, and transmission.
What Do the Different EV Components Do?
The auxiliary battery, just as other batteries work, provides power for all vehicle accessories.
Meanwhile, the charging port is the provision for charging the traction battery pack via an external power supply like the EVSE.
Since electric voltage could vary from the traction battery pack to the vehicle accessories, the DC/DC converter allows seamless transfer of electric power that is necessary to recharge the auxiliary battery.
The onboard charger converts the incoming AC electricity to DC power for the traction battery. Aside from that, it also monitors voltage, current, temperature, and state of charge during charging.
The electric traction motor moves the wheels. It derives its power from the traction battery pack, which is used for electricity storage. Some electric traction motors work with generators to perform driving and generation functions.
An electric generator uses rotating wheels while braking to transfer the electric energy back to the traction battery pack and regenerate power.
For the electric traction motor and traction battery pack to work properly, the power electronics controller manages the electrical flow and controls the speed of the electric traction motor and its torque.
Then, it is the transmission that manages the mechanical power from the electric traction motor to the wheels.
Lastly, the thermal system, usually for cooling, maintains the temperature range that keeps the electric motor, engine, power electronics, and other components properly working.
All these components are unique to an all-electric car, and they replace the components that are meant to process fuel for power and mechanical energy.
If an all-electric car doesn’t sound like the vehicle for you, let’s move on to hybrid electric vehicles.
How Do Hybrid Electric Cars Work?
If an all-electric car is not the right match for you, it doesn’t mean you have to rule out electric vehicles all together. You might be a perfect fit for a hybrid.
The selling point of this type of EV is clear just from the name itself. Hybrids use both electricity and fuel for power generation and efficiency. Both the electric motor and internal combustion engine work to generate and store energy in batteries.
Though all-electric cars promise zero carbon footprint emission, a hybrid electric car manages a compromise between fewer carbon emissions and quality performance.
How Does a Hybrid Electric Vehicle Run?
Instead of plugging into the charging station, it regenerates energy through braking via the electric generator and the internal combustion engine. That is why all hybrid electric cars have an electric generator, while the component is optional for an all-electric car.
What are the Physical Differences of a Hybrid Vehicle?
Since there are two sources of power, it is possible to have a smaller engine as the electric motor generates the deficit. It could also take charge of the power auxiliary loads needed and reduce engine idling which could be a downside with all-electric cars.
A hybrid electric vehicle has an array of different components thanks to its need to have both electric and fuel parts.
From the all-electric vehicle, the hybrid requires the auxiliary battery, DC/DC converter, electric traction motor, power electronics controller, thermal system, transmission, electric generator, and traction battery pack.
From the standard fuel-powered vehicle, hybrids retain the exhaust system, fuel filler, fuel tank for gasoline, and internal combustion engine.
How Do All These Components Work?
In addition to the EV components (read above to learn how they work), hybrid vehicles require multiple components from the gasoline cars we are used to. And they work much the same way.
Hybrids emit exhaust gases through the tailpipe as a by-product of fuel energy generation and therefore need an exhaust system. They use a three-way catalyst design to reduce the typical engine-out emissions in the system which is common to gasoline cars.
As any fuel-using car, a hybrid also requires a fuel tank. To fill up this tank, a hybrid electric car needs a fuel filler, which is a nozzle from the dispenser going into the car’s receptacle.
Most importantly, a hybrid electric car needs an internal combustion engine where fuel is injected and combined with air, then ignited using a spark plug.
If you have doubts about the performance of an all-electric car, or you don’t want to worry about charging equipment availability, a hybrid electric car can help you reduce your carbon emissions while keeping great performance on the road.
It’s starting to become clear now, but let’s not forget the previously mentioned subcategories of EVs. Plug-in and fuel cell vehicles.
How Do Plug-In Hybrid Electric Cars Work?
If you were disappointed the hybrid cars couldn’t be more electric-based, we have good news for you. Plug-in electric hybrid cars offer a different arrangement for the fuel-electricity tandem.
Plug-in is not just an additional fancy word for a longer name. It actually makes a difference when it comes to power generation because of the independence of the function of the batteries from the fuel.
A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle or PHEV uses the batteries for electric motor power, and gasoline for the internal combustion engine or ICE power.
Since the batteries are working separately, there is a need for the charging equipment or regenerative braking to charge the batteries. The ICE only works if the vehicle runs out of electric power.
This way, the use of an eco-friendly power source is prioritized, and the use of fuel might not be necessary at times. This also ensures that your transportation and car performance will not suffer when you choose to use electric energy.
Though the use of PHEV and ICE is not simultaneous, it still needs the components for both electric and fuel power generation.
The plug-in hybrid’s components include the auxiliary battery, charge port, DC/DC converter, electric generator, electric traction motor, exhaust system, fuel filler, fuel tank, internal combustion engine for electric energy, onboard charger, power electronics controller, thermal system, traction battery pack, and transmission.
How Do Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles Work?
The only difference between a fuel cell electric vehicle or FCEV and an all-electric vehicle is the use of a fuel cell that generates power using hydrogen instead of using batteries.
The design could have a plug-in version to charge the battery, but the current technology uses the battery to recapture braking energy. This allows better performance even in short acceleration with the extra power it provides.
The design also provides the option to idle or turn off the fuel cell when not necessary. Thus, stored energy depends on the size of the hydrogen fuel tank, making it different from other hybrid cars wherein power depends on the size of the battery.
Though the components function the same as those that appear in the hybrid cars mentioned above, they cater specifically to fuel cell electric vehicles. The only additional hybrid car component for an FCEV is the fuel cell stack which consists of individual membrane electrodes that generate electricity using hydrogen and oxygen.
Have More Questions about Buying an Electric Car?
If you have more questions about electric vehicles and how they work, our experts at Automotive Service and Repair of Murrieta (formerly American Auto Care) would be happy to answer all your EV-related questions.
Call us at (951) 461-2507 to schedule your appointment today.
Tags: buying an electric car, how electric cars work, how do hybrid electric cars work, how do plug in hybrid electric cars work, how do fuel cell electric cars work, how to choose an electric car, is an electric car right for me