Does the EV save the earth ?
The EV is not perfectly free from emission problem and that is still has a number of environmental issues to be resolved, such as disposal of used batteries. The EV is not a panacea for the problems of pollution. In fact, we should admit that all energy consumption as a result of human activities has caused environmental pollution and disruption on the earth since our ancestors started to make fire. In other words, we ourselves are the ringleader of pollution. Nevertheless, I would like to insist that we are able to analyse the problems and that we can solve the problem step by step using new technology. I believe that the EV has a great potentiality as a means of achieving better environment than the present one.
The most distinctive but, at the same time, the most controversial feature of the EV is the use of batteries which is unavoidable. Energy density (energy storage per unit of volume) of a typical lead-acid battery is only 1/300 of the petrol. My 2EV is equipped with 3.4kWh batteries, on the other hand, 25 litre petrol in the 2CV's fuel tank reserves 245kWh of energy. Although the 2CV loads energy of 1/72 of that the 2CV does, the 2EV's range is 20 to 30km in urban mode, Surprisingly, it is 1/10 to 1/20 of the distance which the 2CV can run without topping up petrol. It proves that energy is used extremely efficiently in the EV. Dr. Shimizu of Keio University in Tokyo has researched what proportion of energy contained in a litre of crude oil can be transmitted and actually used as a power source in both a petrol powered car and an EV which was converted into from the same model. He called this proportion "total energy efficiency". According to his study, the EV's efficiency is 20% in the constant speed mode while that of the conventional car is 16%. In the acceleration mode, the EV 's efficiency, 15%, is also higher than the petrol powered car's 9%. To make his theory on simple way, this comparison is based on an assumption that electricity is generated by thermal power plants of which energy source is crude oil. The EV 's high figure is due to the extremely high efficiency of the electric motor (over 60% !). Furthermore, fuel consumption of the most advanced EV is about 50km/litre, based on Mr. Shimizu 's assumption . It is much better than that of so called "3 litre car" which is under development by several car makers to achieve 33km/litre ("3 litre car " means the car which runs 100km consuming only 3 litre petrol or diesel oil). To sum up, the use of the EV can reduce emission of carbon dioxide and risk of greenhouse effect, even if all the necessary electric is generated by thermal power plants.
The most advantageous merit of electricity, as a power source, is that it can be produced by a variety of methods: if we want to refuse thermal or nuclear power plants, we can have alternative, more environmentally friendly, methods such as solar panels, wind generators, and even man powered bicycles! On the other hands, crude oil is limited natural resources as we all know. It surely makes sense to use electricity as s power source for transportation like cars because it is more efficient and consumes less natural resources as a result, than using petrol. Electric energy is inevitably transformed into other forms of energy when it is used. The reason that the EV has not been practical is due to the limited space for loading batteries inside of the car. It is not because electricity is not suitable as a power source.
The Converted EVs which are delivered from many car manufacturer are not a sophisticated EV by today's technological standard. Therefore, it is easy to sneer at it. However, we should respect their stance as a car manufacturer which is making efforts to materialize environmentally friendly future cars.
Historically, the first car which broke the speed record of 100km/h was a EV ("La Jamais Contente" by Camille Jenatzy ,1899) . In 1900, Ferdinand Porche invented the world first front wheel drive vehicle which had electric motor in each front wheel hub. In addition, he built the all-wheel drive using the same technology, this is still the most advanced propulsion system for EV even by today's standard ! At the initial stage of the motor industry, the compactness of the electric motor, which of course did not require a radiator, enabled engineers to design automobiles with fine performance and advanced layout. However, in the beginning of this century, the engineers including Ferdinand Porche, encountered the problem of the batteries, which we have not yet completely resolved. They had to give up and turn around to the petrol engine car. Meanwhile, the other engineers believed potentiality of the petrol engine, which had been noisy, difficult to be serviced, and notorious for bad performance. They had devoted their continuous efforts to it, In short, modern car industry owes to them what it is.
Recently we have celebrated a centenary of the petrol engine car, but, at the same time, we are at the turning point in the car history. We know beyond doubt that we cannot rely much on petrol anymore which is made from limited natural resources and that the car is certainly one of the most serious causes of pollution. As enthusiastic motorists, we have to be responsible for future of automobiles as well as future of our own hobby. In Germany, classic cars are facing the risk of extinction because of their poor adaptability to modern emission regulations.
The problems inherent in the EV have not changed since one hundred years ago. The EV has just come back to the starting point again in the car history. The car industry was born by the hands of entrepreneurs who converted carriages into automobiles in their backyard garages. As an amateur engineer, I myself have converted the 2CV, into the 2EV in my garage, in belief that the EV has potentiality in the near future as the motor pioneers had once dreamt.
The reason that I want the EV
I will tell the reason I want the EV. Every morning, I walk to the station. Some buses passes beside me. Bus is very convenient and I sometimes use it. However, The noise ,bad smell ,hot air from it's diesel engine. If all buses arrived at the station are changed to EV, I will agree with the increasing bus fare .
EV is unconvenient to use. Because it has short range, needs long time for charging etc. Ordinary cars has enough specification to use. However, we want more power and convenience, turbo-charger, air conditioning, automatic transmition etc. It can get in excange for the sacrifice of environment and a waste of natural resources.
I will accept the unconvenience of EV. In the limited situetion, such as urban mode, EV has enough convenience.
Car needs energy
Ordinary car's power consumption is 5.5ps/hour(=4kWh). How much electricity does your family use? In my house, consumption of electricity is limitted up to 40A by breaker. In Japan, voltage of electricity is 100V, The maximal power I can use in my house is 4kW. Car always uses the energy which is equal to my house's maximal power consumption.
In the acceleration mode, my EV's ammeter indicates 100-200A. It's unbelievable. My EV has the small moter that generates 15kW continuous. But 15kW is more than four times of my house's maximal power consumption.
Even the my small EV uses huge energy to drive. If the car has more power, it's terrible.
We cannot realize the power consumption of petrol engine car. The voltage of the batteries installed on EV is similar to the electricity supplied to our houses. It's easy to compare the power consumption. If the car uses any fuel, the car which has same weight and performance uses same energy. The EV is not a panacea for the problems of pollution. We have to consider the state of the car.
Copyright (C) 1997 Japan Electric Vehicle Club Matsumoto