Electric vs. Gas Cars?

Which is economically and environmentally better electric or gas cars?

1. Is it more efficient to charge a car battery through electricity or run a car off gas?

2. With the extra production of electricity is that less pollution than what a gas cars make?

3. Do we even have the capacity to produce enough electricity to operate a nation of electric cars?

17 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Most electric vehicles used for personal transportation travel fewer than 40 miles in a day. These vehicles' batteries can be charged at night "off-peak" when generating stations are working below their capacity, so there is no significant impact on the generating capacity of the grid.

    As for efficiency, in the worst case, a coal-fired power plant is about 1.75 times as efficient as an internal combustion engine in extracting the energy from its fuel. It is estimated that around 6% of the power they generate is lost to such things as voltage drop. An electric car such as the Tesla is around 90% efficient in transforming that electrical energy into forward motion.

    So even with the Lord Voldemort of electrical generators, an electric car has a huge advantage (about 50% better) over a typical internal combustion engine, which struggles to squeeze out 20% of the energy from a gallon of fuel, blowing the rest out the exhaust as noise.

    If the energy comes from a renewable resource (say solar powered recharging stations for exchangeable batteries), the advantage just multiplies.

    The issue for electrics is that most people can't get out of the habit of thinking that they need one car to do everything. So while a battery-powered electric is a viable solution for a commuter car, it can't get them from LA to San Francisco on a single "tank" of electrons.

    A Tesla (a car that goes from 0-60 in under 4 seconds and leaves a $400,000 Lamborghini sucking air in a high gear roll-on) can make a round trip from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara on a charge, but that's about the limit. If they could get recharge times into the range it takes to fill a gas tank, they'd have it solved.

    Unless there are battery exchange stations as common as gas stations, the problem will be amps.

    Recharge times have been improved to as little as 10 minutes for lithium iron phosphate laptop batteries through a process discovered at MIT.

    When that technology reaches commercial application the limitation will be the electrical feed (typically less than 200 amps in your home). To get a Tesla's 53 kWh battery charged from flat to max in seven and a half minutes, a reasonable match for a gas fillup, you'd need 1,600 amps!

    The test fleet of Mini-Es BMW has in the hands of a few intrepid consumers is thrilling the drivers - when they can get them charged. The problem is that Underwriters' Laboratories took forever to approve all the individual components of the charging system, and without their blessing, no electrical inspector is going to approve an installation. And the utilities aren't upgrading people's main feed for free.

    As usual, the regulators and the utilities are behind the technology curve.

    Source(s): Professional Automotive Consultant and Buyers' Advocate these last 21 years, author of "Car-ma; Why Bad Cars Happen to Good People," and publisher of the related e-mail periodical commentary, "CAR-MA."
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  • gjokaj
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Gas Cars Vs Electric Cars

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  • vdubz
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Well, electric cars are more efficient than gas cars, but they have a lot of downfalls. (which is why we don't all just drive electric cars and not gas)

    Electric cars generally get shorter ranges. You can travel maybe 30 miles with an electric car (not saying all, but giving an example) and several hundred on a tank of gas. Electric cars are generally much less powerful. Many are too slow to keep up on say, a highway. It might work if u only have to make very short trips. Also, electric cars have to recharge. This can take many hours, as opposed to a couple minutes to fill a tank of gas. The other thing is price. Sure some electric cars coming out today have/will have more batteries or better batteries, and be able to travel farther, but look at the price tag. Electric is more efficient, but has its downfalls. (which is why we don't only drive electric cars)

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Electric cars are much cleaner for several reasons. Here's why coal doesn't matter: * Electricity is NOT made mostly from coal, no matter how many times you might read this. Only about a third of electricity is still made from coal in the US (see sources below.) The proportion has been steadily decreasing for years. The rest of the electrical capacity comes from natural gas, hydro, wind, solar, nuclear etc (oil isn't used anymore to make electricity, it's too expensive.) All of these other sources are much, much cleaner than petroleum. * Coal power is "baseload". Coal electricity plants can't adjust quickly enough to track changing loads, so they are designed to run at 100% output all the time. As electric demand changes throughout the day, other types of plants start and stop - the coal electricity stays steady. So plugging in electric cars doesn't change the amount of coal pollution - because you can't run a plant harder than 100%. * Gasoline needs electricity, too. Huge amounts of electricity, and other fossil fuel, is used during the very energy-intensive refining process that turns oil into gasoline. It takes more energy just to MAKE gasoline, mile for mile, than electric cars use. Electric cars just need electricity - gas cars need BOTH electricity and petroleum.

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  • 1 decade ago

    1&2: It's much more efficient to charge it off electricity.. that way, electricity can be "mass produced," and could even be done in "green" ways (like solar and wind power)

    3: I'm not so sure of that one, but it could be improved, and I feel like most of the charging would be done at night, when people are already using less power.

    The technology for electric cars is improving quickly. Some students at school built a prototype electric car that recharges in 10 minutes, goes 200 miles, goes 0-60 in 9 seconds, and has a top speed of 100mph.


    The price is still an issue, but the technology is there.

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  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    i like the way electric vehicles feel, they are different and sound different. So i stuck to them. BTW its been proven that electric vehicles have greater mileage than gas already, so that argument is done. An electric suv type car released (can't remember the name) can do up to 400 miles. A german engineer broke the record by putting a motor on each cylindrical wheel (600 miles), however that is kind of like cheating. On top of that the ev market has not even touched recharging battery technology while driving eg pulsating currents or secondary recharger batteries.

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  • John W
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    With electric cars: electric motors are very efficient but storing energy chemically in batteries is very inefficient

    Wait gasoline cars: gasoline engines are inefficient but storing energy chemically as gasoline is very efficient.

    Currently gasoline has a slight edge because gasoline engines are not quite as inefficient as batteries are but there are many situations where vast amounts of energy need not be stored such as short commutes and if recharges/refills are frequently available. Electric cars don't have the range but they may not need the range if they can be charged whenever parked. The same is true with CNG, they don't have the range of gasoline though much more than electric cars and they can be refilled at home hence you can top off the tank every night so you don't need the range of a gasoline car.

    Electricity, gasoline, diesel, hydrogen are all mediums of energy not energy sources in themselves. Energy sources are solar, nuclear, and solar system kinetic energy. Solar is not only the 174 PW that falls on Earth of which 90 PW gets to the surface but biomass through photosynthesis, fossil through stored biomass, winds through thermal gradients and hydro through the evaporation precipitation cycle. Nuclear is the conversion of some mass to energy in fission or fusion (hopefully we can add antimatter to this category in the future). Solar system kinetic energy is the energy in the rotation of the Earth and the orbit of the moon tapped by tidal forces acting on our oceans. There's also geothermal which is the energy in the heat of Earth's molten core. Electricity is actually the easiest medium of energy to make from any of these sources. Gasoline and diesel can also be made from any of these sources as Sandia Lab demonstrated when they synthesized liquid hydrocarbons from sunlight, CO2 and H2O but so far we get our gasoline and diesel from refinement of fossil energy sources. Fossil energy has the added downfall of releasing carbon stored for millions of years into the atmosphere which would not be true of gasoline and diesel synthesized from other energy sources.

    Our global energy use is a the rate of 15 TW much less than the 90 PW available from solar power so technically we can easily produce more than enough electricity or even gasoline and diesel from solar power alone. However, the capital investment needed would be enourmous.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Electric cars are more environmentally friendly than traditional gasoline powered automobiles. Especially as they start to make the transition to Li-ion batteries as they are much less toxic.

    The United States energy market is 29,000 terawatt hours per year. Energy consumption per capita is 7.8 tons of oil equivalent per year, compared to Germany's 4.2 tons and Canada's 8.3 tons. In 2005, 40% of this energy came from petroleum, 23% from coal, and 22% from natural gas. The remainder was supplied by nuclear power and renewable energy sources The United States is the world's largest consumer of petroleum. For decades, nuclear power has played a limited role relative to many other developed countries. In 2007, several applications for new nuclear plants were filed.

    As our energy production gradually shifts away from coal/oil burning plants our energy production will become increasingly "green", but it is the efficiency of power generating plants vs cars that makes them a greener source of energy. Coal is still the red headed step child of our energy production, and is still quite dirty, but it is slowly getting better.

    Right now if every car on the road magically morphed into an electric, we would have problems with production/distribution, however it will be a gradual process, and we will easily be able to adapt our grid/power production to match it.

    Vehicle to Grid technology is also making very nice gains. With "V2G" the plugged in hybrid/electric vehicles serve as a backup source of power for the electric grid for times when the grid is severely stressed (yes, you would get paid for power used). If 1/4 of the nations fleet was plugged in, it would be the equivalent of approximately 750 gigawats, which actually surpasses the capacity of today's electric grid.

    Obviously, we will not have 1/4 of our cars as plug in electrics/hybrids for some time. But I think there is light at the end of this tunnel.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Most of the electricity generated in the US comes from fuel burning plants which is a very inefficient process. Battery Technology is still relatively primitive, batteries are very heavy, they don't hold much energy and they take a long time to charge; these are the main reasons that electric cars have never been popular. The only way that electric cars will become useful is if there are significant improvements in battery or fuel cell technology.

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  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    Electric cars are much better option for the environment, also saves fuel money, a lot of electric vehicles have started to show up these days, in many countries just because of their savings, like in India and bangladesh

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