Electric vehicle owners pay $1.14 for the equivalent of a gallon of gas

$1.14 a gallon gas? That’s the equivalent cost for electric vehicles:

A new statistic — the eGallon — will now be calculated monthly by the Department of Energy to gauge the price paid by electric vehicle drivers to go the same distance that a driver of a conventional car will travel, on average, using a gallon of gas.

People who own electric vehicles may already know what they’re paying to fill up, but the agency introduced the new “eGallon” metric to help consumers who are thinking about buying electric vehicles.

Based on the 2012 model year, the department’s analysis concluded that consumers are paying $1.14 a gallon nationally to drive 28.2 miles, the average distance traveled by comparable 2012 non-electric small and medium-size cars.

That $1.14 per eGallon compares with $3.65, the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.

With leases on electric cars approaching those of gasoline-powered vehicles, electric vehicles are coming ever closer to being the practical option for most drivers. The case is even stronger when you look at the the energy density of next-generation batteries – when electric cars can drive 1000 miles in one go, no one will complain about charging times,

New batteries put lithium-ion to shame, make electric cars far more practical

Nanomaterial Introduces Zinc-Air Batteries to the EV Party:

It seems both the commercial markets and the research community are coming to terms with the idea that the energy density (the amount of energy stored per unit volume) of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries will keep them from ever becoming a completely satisfactory solution to powering all-electric vehicles (EVs).

[…]

The hybrid nanomaterial was so good at this that in demonstrations the Stanford researchers were able to achieve an energy density of >700 Wh/kg with a prototype battery. To give you a sense of what that means, some have concluded that the Li-ion batteries—even with all the latest nanotech improvements—will be maxed out at around 400Wh/kg.

Zinc is also more plentiful than lithium in the earth’s crust (meaning zinc-air batteries should be cheaper) and unlike Li-ion, zinc-air cells doesn’t sometimes catch fire or explode.

Another win for electric vehicles.

3D printing is revolutionizing how we build and repair cars

3D Printing Helps Ford Cut Production Time on Some Parts by 25%:

Ford uses the technology to print cylinder heads, brake rotors and rear axels for test vehicles. Thanks to 3D printing, production time for one type of cylinder head, used in its fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines, is cut down from four to five months to three, shaving 25% to 40% off production time. Earlier casting methods required that the mold be cut from sand; 3D printing allows Ford to skip the cutting process and pour the metal directly into the molds.

[…]

In the future, Ford believes its customers will be able to print replacement parts for their vehicles at a local 3D printer in a matter of hours or even minutes. 

Jay Leno has been using this technology in his legendary garage for years. Here’s a Popular Mechanics article from 2009 detailing how and why he uses it:

So, rather than have a machinist try to copy the heater and then build it, we decided to redesign the original using our NextEngine 3D scanner and Dimension 3D printer. These incredible devices allow you to make the form you need to create almost any part. The scanner can measure about 50,000 points per second at a density of 160,000 dots per inch (dpi) to create a highly detailed digital model. The 3D printer makes an exact copy of a part in plastic, which we then send out to create a mold. Some machines can even make a replacement part in cobalt-chrome with the direct laser sintering process. Just feed a plastic wire–for a steel part you use metal wire–into the appropriate laser cutter.

[…]

People say, “Why not just give the part to your machinist to make?” Well, if the machinist makes it wrong, you still have to pay for it. The scanner allows you to make an exact copy in plastic, fit it and see that it’s correct. Even when you take plans to a machinist, it can be tricky. Say the part must be 3 mm thick here and 5 mm there. You get it back and then, “Oh no, it doesn’t fit; it’s too thick,” or “It’s too thin.” My setup lets you create the perfect part. And you could press the button again and again–and keep making the part–twice the size, half-size, whatever you need. If you have a part that’s worn away, or has lost a big chunk of metal, you can fill in that missing link on the computer. Then you make the part in plastic and have a machinist make a copy based on that example. Or you can do what we do–input that program into a Fadal CNC machine; it reads the dimensions and replicates an exact metal copy.

Electric cars becoming cheaper than gas-powered competition

Electric cars are getting as cheap as gasoline rivals :

Forced by state regulators to sell more zero-emission vehicles, automakers are tripping over each other to offer consumers rock-bottom lease deals. For the first time, electric vehicles are penciling out cheaper than their gas-powered counterparts.

Honda joined the price war this week by dropping the lease on its Fit EV from $389 to $259 a month. It threw in collision and vehicle theft coverage, maintenance, roadside assistance — even a charging station at your house. Factoring in a state rebate, a customer can drive off the lot with an all-in, three-year commitment of less than $7,000. That may make the Fit EV the cheapest $37,000 car in history.

Still, the Honda will have to compete with recently announced $199-a-month leases on the Nissan Leaf, the Fiat 500e and the Chevrolet Spark. Ford is offering its Focus EV for $284 a month.

$200-300 per month and charging costs almost nothing compared to filling up a traditional car at the pump?

Sign me up.

The Case for a Higher Gasoline Tax

The Case for a Higher Gasoline Tax – NYTimes.com:

THE average price of gasoline in the United States, $3.78 on Thursday, has been steadily climbing for more than a month and is approaching the three previous post-recession peaks, in May 2011 and in April and September of last year.

But if our goal is to get Americans to drive less and use more fuel-efficient vehicles, and to reduce air pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases, gas prices need to be even higher. The current federal gasoline tax, 18.4 cents a gallon, has been essentially stable since 1993; in inflation-adjusted terms, it’s fallen by 40 percent since then.

While I do think that the gasoline tax should go up over time, I also agree with Obama’s decision to focus on improving mileage standards was a smart one. Think about the millions of people living in small towns or rural areas where even a bus route just isn’t feasible. You’re increasing their burden without them getting any of the benefits. You could say that everyone benefits from slowing climate change, but people have a hard time putting a monetary value on something that abstract and that far into the future. 

2014 Chevrolet SS: Four-doors, rear-wheel drive and V8 power

2014 Chevrolet SS: Four-doors, rear-wheel drive and V8 power:

Behind that grille resides the same 6.2L LS3 V8 that powered the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette. Chevrolet has yet to lock down the SS’ official performance figures, but says the LS3 should be good for 415 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque.

That power is sent to the SS’ rear-wheels via a six-speed transmission with a final drive ratio of 3.27. No manual transmission will be offered, but the SS does come standard with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Chevrolet says the SS will be capable of accelerating from 0-60 in about 5 seconds.

I like fast cars with room for four. While I’m not a fan of that front end, I do think that this is a good first step.

China and Beijing to offer $19,000 subsidy to buy electric cars

Chinese firm approved to buy U.S. electric car battery company | Marketplace.org:

“The central government gives electric car buyers a check worth $9,500. Last week, amidst a public outcry over hazardous air pollution, the city of Beijing matched that sum resulting in a whopping $19,000 subsidy for people who buy electric cars.”

That is a huge subsidy. Here in the United States, the government will give you a $7,500 tax subsidy for buying an electric car. Pollution in Beijing must be terrible.

Mercedes-Benz CLA Super Bowl ad

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPNr0_6MnDo]

Willem Dafoe was a perfect choice for this ad. Forbes has an article with some of the specs, for the car nerds out there:

I’ll be very interested in driving the turbocharged 2.o-liter in-line four cylinder engine mated to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission and monitoring the transparency of the ECO stop/start function. The engine has 208 horses and 258 foot-pounds of torque to move the estimated 3,264 pounds of curb weight. Top speed is 149 MPH.

Not quite as impressive as my favorite sports sedan, the BMW 335i. But I won’t hold it against Mercedes for $15,000 in savings.