Electric Cars – A Guide to Terminology


Are you confused about the types of electric cars that are on the market today? We will briefly examine the three major types and give you a clear cut understanding of the differences between the models. When you finish you will know the difference between a “Hybrid”, an “EV” and a “Plug-in.”

Hybrid Cars

The “Hybrid” part of Hybrid cars comes from the fact that they use both gas engines and electric motors for power. Most of the major car makers offer a Hybrid model and Hybrids have been on the market over a decade now. The Toyota Prius was the first popular Hybrid and is often referred to as typical of the breed.

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Chrysler’s Airflow – One of the First Green Cars

In the 1930s, Chrysler Corporation developed and sold the first streamlined automobile. It was technically advanced and was the “slipperiest” automotive design made at the time. Unfortunately, it almost put Chrysler out of business. Here’s the story behind the ill-fated Chrysler Airflow.

According to legend, one of Chrysler’s big three executives, Carl Breer, saw some military aircraft on local maneuvers and wondered why Chrysler’s cars weren’t so streamlined. A streamlined car would slip through the air easier than the standard boxy designs of the day, he assumed, and thus would be more efficient to operate. He soon communicated these thoughts with Walter Chrysler and with Chrysler’s blessing, a design team was formed to research the concept.

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More alarming news on rising sea levels

iceberg and ocean

When you read this study claiming that sea levels in the US Northeast rose almost 3.9 inches between 2009 and 2010, you start to wonder just how bad all of this can get. The oceans are getting warmer, the ice caps are melting, and the ocean currents are also being disrupted.

Yes, similar changes have happened in the Earth’s history, but not with millions of people living along the coastlines.

New generation of batteries for electric cars

WE might be on the verge of a breakthrough in battery technology according to this latest article in Fortune:

Imagine an electric car that could travel more than 300 miles on a single charge. A pipe dream? Yes, for now. But a Michigan startup called Sakti3 just might make it a reality. In August the company announced that it was close to achieving the holy grail of power storage: a battery with about double the energy density of today’s lithium-ion technology at one-fifth the cost. Such a battery could give us the first $25,000 mass-market electric car, with a driving range that would please most customers.

You can watch the TED talk above as well by company CEO Dr. Ann Marie Sastry.

Range anxiety is a huge issue for electric cars, so new battery technology that extends the range for electric vehicles can be a game changer in the electric car consumer market. The innovation here is a solid-state lithium-ion battery. They expect the technology to be commercialized within a year or two. Let’s see if they achieve that goal.

Is China finally waking up to its pollution crisis?

Expect the global warming issue to blow up again as the Obama Administration gears up to issue new EPA regulations. Conservatives have argued for years now that anything the US does is moot given China’s massive pollution problem. But as Jonathan Cohen points out, China is finally starting to move on these issues, as even hard-core dictators can be affected by choking pollution:

In recent years, the Chinese have imposed fuel mileage and appliance efficiency standards, similar in many respects to those in the U.S. Just this week, officials in Beijing announced that the government would be taking another 5 million aging cars off the nation’s road. China has also set up pilot versions of tradable pollution permits—in other words, “cap-and-trade” schemes—for various industries. Officials say they hope to make these nationwide soon. And one reason the Chinese government was so eager to sign that massive new deal with Russia, allowing the import of natural gas, was because it’s desperate to find alternatives to coal. “For a long time, opponents [of new regulations] said we’ll get hoodwinked, because China won’t do anything,” says David Doniger, director of the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “That’s just not true.”

This is a positive development, and hopefully it continues. If China gets more serious about this, then it can give political cover to those around the world trying to put a lid on carbon emissions.

Cohen points out that any new EPA regulations can put further pressure on China to act.

Expect to hear plenty of noise about this over the coming months.