You Know About Electric Vehicles

At Argonne’s Advanced Powertrain Research Facility, researchers conduct vehicle benchmarking and testing activities that provide data critical to the development and commercialization of next-generation vehicles.| Photo courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory

Currently there are 13 electric vehicle models on the market, and the number continues to rise. For model years 2013 and 2014, manufacturers are expected to debut at least 18 new plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles, including the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV and 2014 Fiat 500e — both of which were unveiled this week at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Electric vehicles are a highly efficient mode of transportation. Up to 80 percent of the energy in the battery is transferred directly to power the car, compared with only 14-26 percent of the energy from gasoline-powered vehicles.

The battery technologies in almost all of the electric vehicles on the road today were created with support from the Energy Department, which also played a key role in the development of today’s lithium-ion batteries. Argonne National Laboratory developed breakthrough battery technology — a combination of lithium-rich and manganese-rich mixed-metal oxides that offers at least 50 percent more energy storage capacity — that is licensed by several companies including Envia, Toda, BASF and Compact Power/LG Chem. The Department continues to support the advancement of the next generation of battery storage technologies that will lower cost and improve range as part of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research.

The battery is one of the most expensive parts of an electric vehicle, but technological advances are making batteries less costly. Before 2009, a 100-mile range electric battery cost $33,000. Today it costs about $17,000, and it is projected to drop to $10,000 by the end of 2015.

In the United States, electricity costs between 3 and 25 cents per kilowatt-hour while this week’s national average for a gallon of gasoline is $3.42. It costs only $1 for today’s all-electric vehicles to travel the same distance as a similar-sized gasoline car would on a gallon of fuel. This adds up to a savings of more than $2 a gallon or $1,000 a year in refueling costs, and the next generation of electric vehicles will bring even bigger savings.

A majority of the electric vehicle owners charge their cars overnight at home when the electricity costs are lower. But with more than 5,000 public charging stations across the country, refueling your electric vehicle while away from home is even easier. Check out the Alternative Fueling Station Locator to find one near you.

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