Monday, May 19, 2008

MythBuster: Why Electric Vehicles Beat Gas in 5 Extreme Tests

I'm really big on electric vehicles because the total amount of fuel consumption involved is much less than what gas vehicles consume thanks to the efficiencies involved in a power generating plant. But there's a lot of talk out there that electric vehicles just don't perform as well as their gas counterparts—and, because we want to keep the planet intact, it sounded like a good myth to bust. So we decided to put gas and electric models of compact cars, ATVs, motorcycles and go-karts head-to-head on the track and the road to figure out if electric could hold its own.
Besides almost zero emissions, electric vehicles also have some very distinct advantages: An electric ATV is quiet, healthier to have around crops, and you don’t need it to go 300 miles on a charge. Barefoot’s prototype is running 2.5 hours of average use on a charge and is back to 80 percent charge over a lunch break, which is more than adequate run time on a farm or vineyard. Our highways and neighborhoods will be quieter and cleaner with electric cars and motorcycles on them.

Building an electric go-kart or ATV is not any more difficult than making a radio-control electric car. Sure, we’re using welders instead of pre-made plastic parts, but you’ve got an electric motor, a bank of batteries and a speed controller. Look at your racing RC toys—it’s the same thing. The home-built electric car we tested had serious limitations, but I think I could build one that doesn’t have those problems. I fully intend to make a full-size electric car; I figure it’d take about $28,000 worth of components for a plus-300-mile range. It should take me about a week or two to build—tops.

Read from Popular Mechanics.

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