Electric Odyssey Tour to encourage EV use worldwide

Just as I discussed yesterday in my charging station post about the growing number of stations and the ease of finding one to get you along your way, French engineers
Xavier Degon and Antonin Guy are helping to prove it. With a tagline of, “If a standard electric car can make a world tour, every single person is able to use it to go shopping,” the pair are on the North American leg of their 8-month, 17 country tour dubbed the Electric Odyssey.

The C-Zero Citroen (Europe’s version of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV) is expected to get them through their 15,000 mile journey on just over $300 in electricity consumption in about 250 recharges. The every 70-mile charges will allow them to stop and chat with the locals in each area as they power back up.

While there are plenty of charging stations in many of the major metropolitan areas, some of the more desolate areas along this adventure have proven challenging for the pair; language barriers and even an explanation of Amish culture are among the entertaining encounters. Check out this YouTube video to see how these guys are getting around. Hopefully in the near future, even less populated areas will have access to charging stations to avoid some of the challenges they are experiencing along the way. In the meantime, the average person’s use as an every day car is as easy as plugging it into the wall to get to work and back!

Have you spotted the Odyssey Citroen vehicle in your town or city? Wish these guys luck in their quest to get the EV word out to the world and follow them on twitter @ElecOdyssey to cheer them on!

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Charging stations are rapidly going up across many states

If you have considered buying an electric vehicle, but are leery about whether there will be places to charge your vehicle as you travel, take a look at this country-wide charging station map provided by the U.S. Department of Energy. California has over 500, and Washington state, Texas, and Florida each have 200-300 stations to charge back up. Oregon, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Maryland, and Washington D.C. each have 100-200 stations, and many other states are building their grid of stations as well.

Looking at the map, you can click on your particular state and see exact locations and addresses of the stations in your area. You can even search a map route from your location to navigate your way to the nearest electric or other alternative fuel station, and can even specify your level of charge needed.

Even in the relatively small city of Reno, NV there are three stations; two are at the NV Energy locations in town, and the third is at Einstein Bagels at 5050 Kietzke Lane. (which also subsequently gets great reviews on Yelp!). Walgreens is also a prominent charging location in many other states.

The distance you travel per day, or even when taking trips, should not be prohibitive of driving an EV in a majority of the listed states. Depending on your vehicle of choice, from the tiny Fortwo to the larger Volt, your nightly charge will likely be enough and these handy resources will help you quickly locate a station if you need a quick recharge in between.

Have you had success traveling from city to city in an electric car? Want to plug a supportive company that has charging stations in your area? Leave a comment below!

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3 Reasons to give up your gas-guzzler

Even as gas approaches $5 a gallon, people on the street recently questioned by media answered that prices would need to be higher than that to really offset their standard of living in any way. If people can afford the expensive SUVs and sports cars that only get 10-14 MPG and choose to buy them, why should they be restricted to only fuel-efficient models as options?

Well, in the name of all things logical, here’s a little food for thought on the matter. While there is no way to calculate precisely how many hundreds of years will remain of the current quantity of oil supply consider these issues.

1. Global Warming. Burning it at current rates over that amount of time is certainly not a bright idea unless we want to live in a bubble-world to avoid the heat of the planet like in the movie Total Recall.

2. World Population and Development. As the world population increases and developing nations have more access to vehicles, the supply will go faster, and air quality and climate issues will worsen at a more rapid rate.

3. Fight the Power. Non-OPEC member nations will indefinitely be at the mercy of whatever gas prices are imposed and we just advertised that $5 a gallon couldn’t hurt us!

We have the technology to fight (at least partially) the political battle of the gas issue, so why are the people that can afford to make the switch to more efficient cars sticking to their SUVs? And why aren’t people in every price range that are shopping for cars not immediately looking at hybrids in that category? I guess when gas prices hit $6, $7, or even $10 a gallon, it’ll be the motivation they need. Until then, OPEC will keep on getting richer and thanking Americans in the process.

What do you think will make a mass transition to hybrids/high fuel-economy vehicles? There is a breaking point; will it be in ours or our children’s lifetimes? Share your thoughts below.

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Will 2012 college grads be driving more green vehicles?

Crazy current prices and the promise of further increases may  be a driving factor in more fuel-efficient car choices for new grads. Considering that the first post-college job (especially in a rough economic time) is probably not going to be the most high paying, it seems like a logical jump that the young educated population might be in the market for a little Prius c or a great lease deal on other fuel-efficient models. Who wants to spend $60-$80 every time they fill their gas tank? Unless your job is within a 5 mile radius of your home or you are making six figures, not many people want to spend their cushion and fun money every month on gas.

As for myself, I am planning to relocate across the country, so I will have to return my 2010 leased Prius to the local dealer and will be back in the market for something new. I am likely going to lease another hybrid, but if the price is right I’m excited about trying an EV. Just from my rental experiences while on vacation I know that I am too used to paying half to three-fourths of what it costs to fill a regular vehicle and I’d get angry every time I had to fill one up (which of course was twice the number of times I did in my Prius at the higher price). I’m pretty much a lifer regarding fuel-efficient cars; they’ve got me.

Do you think the economy and high fuel prices will encourage the next generation of college grads to buy or lease hybrids and EVs? What are your plans if you’re graduating? Share your thoughts below!

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The Prius family has something for everyone

When you think of the term hybrid, most likely the first name that comes to mind is the Toyota Prius. The reason for that is because the Prius has long been the most fuel efficient hybrid in its class, and the design and interior far surpass its competition. I know because I shopped the market for hybrids two years ago and the best thing out there was a Prius. As gas prices continue to go up, you may want to consider giving the newer models a look as well.

In 2012, not only is the Prius still going strong as a brand of choice, but Toyota has expanded on its target market to offer a variety of sizes and options in the line ranging from the newest and smallest member of the family, the $18,950 Prius c, to the $32,000 all-electric Prius Plug-In. The variables that differentiate each of the four choices of Prius and which might meet your needs is that of price range, MPG (or MPGe), amount of cargo space, vehicle size, power source, and horsepower. Each model seats 5 people.

Since most people are looking at these models for fuel effiency, here’s a quick overview from least to most expensive and the best fuel economy if you’re curious:

Prius c (Hybrid) Hatchback – Starts at $18,950, gets 50 MPG, 428 miles per tank of gas

Prius (Liftback) – Starts at $24,760, gets 50 MPG, 536 miles per tank (larger) of gas

Prius v (Wagon) – Starts at $27,160, gets 42 MPG,  450 miles per tank of gas

Prius Plug-In (Wagon) – Starts at $32,760, gets 50 MPG/95MPGe (average miles per tank not yet available)

Of all the models, the recently released Prius c is likely going to be the most popular as it is the most affordable. Sales beat out the monthly sales for the all-electric Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt in a matter of days.

What do you think about the new Prius line up? Share your thoughts below!

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Is history just repeating itself or will EVs finally have their day?

There have been several points in history since the 1800s that electric vehicles have been rolled out onto the market. Looking at the timeline of electric vehicles shows just how many times the infatuation with EVs has fluctuated. Electric carriages in 1832 followed by electric locomotives in 1835, and finally the first mainstream electric automobile by 1891.

1891 Electric Vehicle

By 1897 a fleet of electric taxis began transporting New Yorkers around the city. Seeing this success, even Thomas Edison saw electric vehicles as the way of the future and began working on ways to innovate and better battery technology to increase the range on EVs in 1899.

Early electric vehicles , much as they are currently today, were rather expensive and out of the average American’s budget. They were viewed as a luxury for the rich; not only because of the vehicle cost, but because even having electricity in homes was not common, other than in wealthier households. This lack of access to electricity was a large issue at the time, and unless you lived in a city where longer range trips were not necessary, the use of early EVs was impractical. This range issue is still a large proponent against the use of EVs now, even though it is far easier to plug in and charge one at home for most people, and there are an increasing number of plug-in stations to recharge going up around the world.

1909 Ford Model T

This economic divide is what made Henry Ford’s Model T so popular by 1908. The mass produced and affordable gas-powered vehicle met Ford’s goal of simplicity and access for the average American worker. It also had the long-range travel most people needed. Along with range, lack of affordability for the average person to purchase EVs is still the primary issue regarding them today. The annoyance of the loud noise and smell from emissions in the gas vehicle did not take away from the fact that people with smaller budgets could finally drive an automobile in their price range. By 1912 an electric starter eliminated the need for hand-crank starting and made the gas-powered vehicles even more appealing to the masses. By 1920 EVs were essentially phased out.

Taken during 1973 Oil Crisis

After almost 60 years of pollution through gas-powered vehicle emissions, Congress pushed for the use of EVs to help improve air quality in 1966. The skyrocketing price of oil during the Oil Crisis of 1973 and an increasing environmental awareness gained a large consumer interest in EVs as well. In 1976 Congress passed the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act to encourage invention and innovation in these desired technologies to address these growing concerns, despite President Gerald Ford’s veto of the Act.

1996 GM EV1 Billboard

Two decades later the first Toyota Prius hybrid was released, as well as many EV models from several makers; although those only as lease options. The EVs were all pulled from the market by the early 2000s at the end of the lease agreements and all of the GM models were destroyed. The 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” investigated how the oil industry, the U.S. Government, and consumers all impacted the acceptance of (or lack of) EV technology, and what led to the subsequent non-availability of EVs at that time.

With current anti-EV political rhetoric discouraging use of the electric Chevy Volt, high vehicle prices, and slow consumer acceptance in spite of high gas prices, are we just repeating the same cycle all over again? High interest, then lost interest in EVs? Or will innovations like Envia’s long-range battery and increased environmental awareness finally make EVs a lasting technology?

Share your thoughts below.

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4 Fuel-Efficient Options Below $15K

With the continued talk of higher and higher fuel prices, those considering their options may be looking at buying or leasing a more fuel efficient vehicle. Although hybrid and electric vehicles have the highest fuel efficiencies, many people are looking for something in a more affordable price range than what is currently offered in those vehicle types. If  this sounds like you, there are several options out there.

If you want a level of fuel efficiency above 30 MPG, but do not want to spend more than$15,000 for a 4-door, 5-seater vehicle, here are a few to look at:

2012 Toyota Yaris

1. 2012 Toyota Yaris – Low of $14,115 and gets 30-38 MPG

2. 2012 Kia Rio – Low of $13,400 and gets 30-40 MPG

3. 2012 Hyundai Accent – Low of $12,545 and gets 30-40 MPG

4. 2012 Ford Fiesta FWD – Low of $13,200 and gets 29-39 MPG

2012 Kia Rio

The low vehicle cost combined with the impressive MPG may be just the right mix for many people, and the stylish compact designs are just are desirable as the price tags. Car makers are quickly adapting to the demand for higher fuel-efficient vehicles of all types as a priority feature that people want.

To see more details about these vehicles or search for other fuel efficient cars both http://www.fueleconomy.gov/ and Kelly Blue Book are great tools to use.

Are there any other traditional vehicles that get great gas mileage that you have had a good experience with? Do you own any of the models listed? Share your story below!

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