The Automotive Industry Goes ‘Green’ — EVs 101
Nearly 200 years after the first electric car was developed in Scotland, electric vehicles are set to become the future of transportation. And Tennessee is poised to become a leader in the production of electric vehicles — EVs.
The Nissan plant in Smyrna rolled its first EV, the Leaf, off the assembly line in 2013. Since then, more than 162,000 electric cars have been produced in Tennessee. These numbers, however, will soon be increasing.
In addition to Nissan’s production, GM has plans to produce all-electric vehicles, including the Cadillac Lyriq, at its plant in Spring Hill, and Volkswagen plans to add an EV, EV cells and battery packs to its line at the Chattanooga site. The output of these manufacturers alone make Tennessee the No. 1 overall auto producer in the Southeastern U.S. However, Ford Motor Company’s announcement of its Blue Oval City project in West Tennessee near Memphis will take Tennessee to the top in the Southeast in terms of EV manufacturing.
Blue Oval City is a $5.6 billion investment and the largest project in Tennessee’s history. The plant — which will build only electric vehicles, including the all-electric F-series trucks — will bring 6,000 new jobs to rural Haywood County and the surrounding area. In addition to the Ford plant, the project will bring many support businesses and manufacturers to supply the plant. These businesses could create as many as 27,000 well-paying jobs to help build a brighter Tennessee. To ensure the availability of well-trained employees, a new Tennessee College of Applied Technology is being developed on site at the Memphis Regional Megasite that will house Blue Oval City.
More EVs are being produced in Tennessee, at other sites in the U.S. and around the world, and a greater emphasis is being placed on reducing emissions to improve air quality and lessen the impact of transportation on the environment. So more electric vehicles are hitting the roads in Tennessee and across the nation. With these ever-growing numbers comes the need for more electric charging stations along the highways and a greater understanding of EVs, how they work and how their use will affect the electric grid.
Here are some basic facts concerning EVs and their use:
What is an EV?
- An EV is a vehicle powered by an electric motor instead of a gas-powered combustion engine. Depending upon the type of EV you choose, an EV’s battery can be charged at home, at an EV charging station or by a gasoline engine.
- Better driving experience: They are quiet — no engine noise. Faster acceleration and deceleration due to instant torque, smooth acceleration and deceleration, and improved handling due to their low center of gravity are also perks of driving an EV.
- Lower maintenance costs: EVs do not have an engine that needs maintenance or oil changes. With all-electric vehicles, brake use is minimal due to the regenerative braking that automatically slows the car when you let your foot off the accelerator.
- Energy-efficient: Gasoline engines waste most of the energy they produce while 80 percent of an EV battery’s energy goes to powering the vehicle.
- Smaller environmental impact: EVs do not emit pollutants from tailpipes and, depending upon the type of EV, require less gasoline or no gasoline. You can “fi ll-up” your car overnight by plugging it into your home’s electrical system and have a “full tank” in the morning when you head out — no more time-consuming stops at the gas station. And as power generation becomes “cleaner,” the power you use for your EV has a smaller carbon footprint.
- Costs: Even though the cost is steadily decreasing and there have been some tax credits, EVs are still more expensive to buy than a gasoline-powered vehicle. However, $1 of electricity will give you about as much mileage as a gallon of gasoline — currently over $4 a gallon.
- Range: Average range on one full charge is 250 miles, depending on the vehicle. The good news is that the average daily commute for most people is 40-45 miles round trip, well within the average range of an EV.
- Charging: Charging an EV takes much longer than fueling up a car. It can typically take at least 30 minutes to get 80 percent charged at the fastest charging stations the road. Charging at home can take up to 11.5 hours and could potentially cause a sharp increase in your electric bill. There are also concerns about the availability of charging stations during long road trips. However, state and federal funds are being allocated to increase the number of stations along the most traveled roads, and Tesla is installing its own chargers along major highways. However, EV owners can plan their charging stops before hitting the road with the use of a number of mobile apps or software built into their cars.