Monday, February 21, 2011

Chicago Auto Show- Electric

As the nation's largest, the Chicago Auto Show was the perfect opportunity for companies to show off their efficient automobiles. Hybrids, electric, and diesels were on display from companies like Lexus, Volkswagen, Chevrolet, Ford, BMW, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and more.

Electric cars are becoming very popular. As an automobile that finally doesn't burn fossil fuels and give off a large quantity of tail pipe emissions, more and more are interested in finding out more about these vehicles. Hybridcars.com provides this comparison:

Gas and Electric Diagram
Up to now, electric cars have not been widely adopted because of their limitations. The range that electric cars can drive before needing to be recharged for a long period of time is shorter compared to the distances you can get with gasoline. Battery technologies are now improving with increased energy storage and reduced costs. Automakers, in turn, are also committing more marketing and resources into producing these cars to have all the creature comforts of gasoline powered cars.

The two anticipated electric cars were the 2011 Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt.
The Leaf is the first pure-electric car offered to the US public. Each Leaf is powered by a 107-horsepower electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. It's maximum driving range is 100 miles. To charge the battery, it takes about 20 hours on a 110-volt port and 8 on a 220-volt port. With the SL model, the battery can be "quick-charged" to 80% capacity in 3o minutes. Available safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, front-side airbags, and curtain-side airbags. A navigation system is standard on all. SL models have a rearview camera and small roof-mounted solar panel, which provides a trickle charge to the 12-volt battery that powers accessory items, such as the climate system.

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt is GM's "extended-range electric vehicle," because it has two drivetrains: an electric battery and motor that range for 40 miles, and a gas-powered hybrid system that automatically takes over after that to give about another 300 miles of range. The battery can be fully recharged in about 10 hours on a 120-volt household port, or 4 hours with a 240-volt charging station. Safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, curtain-side airbags, front-side airbags, and driver and passenger knee airbags. Among the available features are a remote-charging and vehicle-control program that owners can download and run from Blackberry and Apple iPhone cell phones. Among other things, it allows the owner to pre-heat or pre-cool the vehicle before getting in. A navigation system and hard drive for storing digital-music files are standard. Leather upholstery, heated front seats, front- and rear-obstacle detection, and a rearview camera are optional.

It looks as thought the Volt would be better suited for city drivers and short distances to avoid the use of the back-up gasoline system. At the end of the auto show, it was announced to 350Green, an electric vehicles charging solutions provider, that is will become the preferred supplier of electric charging stations for Chicago. As an effort for Chicago to become the first city and the largest to offer charging stations, the state of Illinois and the city are haivng 350Green install 280 EV charging stations in the region. With this implementation, the city hopes Chicago will become a center for EV motoring. Mariana Gerzanych, 350Green CEO, says "Now, EV ownership becomes a possibility for anyone in Chicago, regardless of whether or not they have access to charging in a personal garage."

350Green will install 3 DC Fast and 207 Level 2 charging stations and a nationwide customer support center. Costing $8.8 million, only $1.9 million is going to be provided by the city and state. Chicago's electrification will create around 50 new green jobs.

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