Natural Gas Vehicles Are Beating Out Electric Vehicles for Consumers Top Pick

Consumers have been selecting natural gas vehicles over electric vehicles at a rate of two to one. By year end there will be approximately 123,600 natural gas vehicles on our nation’s road as compared to 65,500 electric vehicles. Despite the lack of marketing or fueling infrastructure for natural gas, it is now the first choice among consumers looking to alternative ways to fuel their vehicles.

The drop in natural gas prices has helped fuel the demand; beating out the more heavily marketed and federally funded electric vehicles (EVs). Four years ago President Obama unveiled his vision of 1 million plug-in vehicles on U.S. roads by the 2015 and pumped $5 billion into funding for electric cars. In February the Obama admiration proposed the tax credit for plug-in vehicle be increased from $7,500 to $10,000 and also extend the credit to other alternative vehicles like natural gas.

In response to the higher demand from motorist, Honda began showing it’s Honda Civic GX natural gas vehicle in car showrooms across the country, where previously it had only been marketed as a fleet vehicle. It is currently the only NGV sedan on the market. Honda says the marketing is paying off big for them, and sales of the vehicle are continuing to break new monthly highs. Although the choices are few for compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, it should be pointed out that conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles can be retrofitted for CNG. If natural gas is available at your home you can install a pumping station inside your garage.

CNG is safe or at least safer than gasoline, Although CNG is flammable, it has a narrow flammability range, and if released by accident it quickly disperses making it less likely to ignite than gasoline. CNG is also non-toxic, it dissipates when released and will not leak to contaminate soil and water supplies.

The natural gas used in vehicles is classified into two types compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas(LNG). According to fueleconomy.gov “eighty-seven percent of the natural gas consumed in the U.S.is also produced here; which greatly reduces are dependency on foreign imports. It is 60%-90% less polluting than traditional fuels. With 30%-40% less greenhouse gas emissions and is less expensive than gasoline. At the present time the main disadvantages of CNG vehicles is the lack of facilities available to pump the gas, fewer miles to the tank and few choice available by auto makers.

All gas vehicles depend on fossil fuel. The natural gas obtained from drilling is a fossil fuel and while no fossil fuels are considered to be renewable resources because of the millions of years needed for the earth to produce them; natural gas is primarily methane and methane gas can be produced as a renewable resource. Methane gas is currently being collected from landfills and produced from rotting vegetation and animal manure.

CNG vehicles are cheaper to operate than conventional vehicles and burn cleaner than gasoline vehicles. Electric vehicles running on electricity alone put out “0” emissions at the tail pipe, but the electricity providing that power is generated at power plants running off fossil fuels. The U.S. Department of Energy states that “PHEVs (plugin hybrid electric vehicles) and EVs (electric vehicles) typically have a well-to-wheel emissions advantage over similar conventional vehicles running on gasoline or diesel.

However, in communities that depend heavily on conventional fossil fuels for their electricity generation, PEVs (Plugin Electric Vehicles) may not demonstrate a well-to-wheel emissions benefit.”

The switch from diesel to CNG is the larger trend for cities and municipalities across the country. The U.S Department of Transportation provides grants for upgrading mass transit and many cities are already using those dollars to advance their fleets over to CNG vehicles.

The future for NGV remains uncertain; although the advantages seem clear, reduce dependency on foreign oil, cleaner energy for the environment, lower cost to fuel. The largest drawback is the lack of infrastructure for refueling. As government agencies along with private fleet owned vehicles begin to convert vehicles from gasoline to NGV the private sector will also begin to benefit from their expansion. Improvements in refueling technology and engine performance will also soon follow. It will likely be the consumers, who ultimately decide our next energy of choice.

How Used Auto Parts Can Save Money?

Not long ago, there was a time when no one could have ever thought of buying a used auto or car part to revamp a vehicle except when there was no other option. However, if we look at the present scenario the value of used parts has gained a considerable attention. In fact, today it is one of the few concepts with which everyone wants to be familiar with.

There are times when a used automobile part can be just as good or function as a new one. Besides this, one of the major factors that has let used auto parts gain considerable importance is its ability to give value for your money. Many times a situation comes, when you require or need to purchase large and new parts like motor hummer steel wheels, engine which might cost very high. The price score up on such new parts can be terrible and most probably you may even cannot manage to pay for. Thus in all such cases, used auto parts can be a more beneficial and save your money.

Apart from this, once your vehicle becomes un-functional, it is barely of any use. But, you must understand that due to the intricate way in which an engine functions, many parts on an un-functional automobile engine still remain in excellent working order. Thus the next best thing you can do is to contact auto recyclers. While the automobile part has no value to you any more but an auto recycler has another use in his mind. An auto recycler may easily compensate you in order to obtain it. This can be a yet another way where you as an auto or car owner may receive at least some money for the vehicle, and the auto recycler receives an inventory of car parts. This can help you get true value for your money.

Today there is a huge network of available automotive recyclers out there and are always ready to sell auto parts at low prices. Over the past few years, auto recyclers have been called by various names like auto wreckers, junk yards, salvage yards or wrecking yards. The only term that best describes what they do is auto recycling. They generally mark their auto parts way below the prices of a normal retail auto shop.

Certainly if you decide to go with used or remanufactured vehicle parts on your car; you save up to 50 percent less than original-equipment parts. It’s most excellent option if you shop for used truck or car parts as some parts for popular models of truck or car might not save you that much money. Besides this, nowadays more and more used auto part sellers are making their online presence and providing online shopping facility with big discounts. All you need is to go online and look for for a reliable used auto parts supplier store.

Are Electric Vehicles Ready for Prime Time?

Okay, so you are ready to do your part to reduce fossil fuel usage and you are considering an EV (Electric Vehicle). Several manufactures are marketing EV’s, but which one is right for you? Everyone has different driving styles and needs. How far can you go on a 100% EV? How reliable are they? Are there any savings? Some of these questions will be answered below to help you determine if this technology is ready for you.

There are three types of EV’s available. But, are they ready for prime time? You decide.

  1. Dedicated EV- Electric only
  2. Extended EV Electric with gasoline engine
  3. Plug-in hybrids

Dedicated EV is an electric only vehicle. There are four models available or expected out by 2012.

  1. Nissan Leaf is a four-door five-passenger hatch back pure battery electric vehicle. It has an expected range of 100 miles between charges, which Nissan says is sufficient for 90% of Americans. It takes eight hours or more to fully charge with a 220-volt outlet and longer with a 110-volt outlet. The starting price is estimated at $33,600. The warranty on the battery and related hardware is eight years or 100,000 miles. The estimated cost to replace the battery is $18,000. Expected availability is December 2010.
  2. Mini E Cooper is a two-door two-passenger pure battery electric vehicle. It has an expected range of 156 miles under ideal conditions. Most drivers get about 100 miles between charges. It takes approximately 3 hours to charge with a 240 volt 48 Amp outlet or 4.5 hours with a 32-amp outlet. If using a 110 volt 12 amp outlet it takes approximately 26.5 hours to charge. This is a two-passenger vehicle because the battery takes up the entire back seat. The regenerative braking takes a little getting used to, the system kicks in as soon as the driver lifts his foot off the accelerator pedal. This causes the vehicle to begin slowing before the brake pedal is applied. BMW is leasing these vehicles as part of a special program. They are developing a replacement based on the BMW 1 Series, which is due out in 2011.
  3. Ford Focus EV is a four-door sedan based on the redesigned 2012 Focus. The prototypes have a 23-kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery pack with an estimated range of 100 miles. Charge time is approximately 6 hours on a 220-volt charger.
  4. Tesla Roadster first started selling in 2008. It has a price tag of $111,000, it is a two-seater sports car. It is based on the Lotus Elise with a fiberglass body. This car is a rocket, it can accelerate from zero to 60 in under four seconds. It has a range of 245 miles with a massive 53-kilowatt-hour battery pack. Full charge takes 3.5 hours on a proprietary 240-Volt 70 amp charger. It has a very stiff and jarring ride with a very basic interior. It is awkward climbing into the cockpit because of the tall wide sill. The loud battery-cooling fans emit a constant roar behind you. Tesla is developing a lower cost $50,000+ model S sedan expected to be released in 2012.

Extended EV electric with gasoline engine

The Chevrolet Volt is the only model that falls within this category. It is a four-door four-passenger sedan. The Volt does not have a rear bench seat like most vehicles because of the T shaped battery pack. It has a range of 40 miles on electric power. GM states this is sufficient for 75% of commuters. Once the battery level drops below a certain level, a small gas engine kicks in to provide enough electric power to run the electric motor. The overall range is 300 miles before filling the gas tank or charging the batteries. GM says the Volt can run with never being plugged in. However, it will impact the fuel economy. Charge time for the Volt is four hours on 220 volt or eight to 10 hours on 110-volt outlets. The Volt charges faster than the dedicated electric vehicles because it has a smaller battery. The battery warranty for the Volt is the same as the Nissan leaf. The warranty on the battery and related hardware is eight years or 100,000 miles. The starting price for the Volt is $41,000. The replacement cost of the Lithium-ion battery is approximately $8000, which is $10,000 less than the Leaf. The electric motor produces 149 horse power and 273 pound-feet of torque. Those torque numbers are about the same as a V-6 engine.

Plug-in Hybrids

There are no manufactures producing plug-in Hybrids as of this writing. However, there are some aftermarket companies producing aftermarket add on batteries for the Toyota Prius. The extra cost of these add on batteries is approximately $11,000. This added battery boosts the gas mileage by approximately 50% for the first 35 miles. Once the battery is depleted, the Prius reverts back to its regular hybrid operation at which time the fuel economy drops slightly below that of a standard Prius because of the added battery weight. Toyota is field-testing the plug-in Prius for commercial use. There are no expected models for retail customers until 2012.

Some things to consider before purchasing an EV

What are your driving habits? What are the longest distances you will be traveling? When driving a pure electric vehicle; if the battery runs out completely with no charging stations available you will be stranded. With the long charge times, it will take some time to make the vehicle usable again. This is where the extended range Volt becomes more practical. Filling up the gas tank is faster than waiting for the battery to charge.

Using other electrical features like the Air Conditioning, Heating, Lights, Wind Shield Wipers and playing Music; engineers say this can consume approximately 50% of the battery power which will reduce the vehicles range.

Lithium-ion technology battery life is undetermined, however, the eight year 100,000 mile warranty on the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf do give some piece of mind.

Cost savings

An EV costs about.04 cents per-mile (depending on the electric rates in your area). You can compare that to a Toyota Corolla at 30 mpg paying $2.80 per gallon, the per-mile cost is.09 cents.

Government incentives

The first 200,000 EV buyers from each automaker are eligible for $7,500 federal tax credit. There are also some regional incentives; for instance, California will offer an additional $5000 tax credit for “zero emission” vehicles. Check your area for local incentives.

To conclude, there are four 100% electric vehicles available by 2012. One extended range vehicle, which could be zero emission if your driving range is within the available battery level. And there are the more common Hybrids, like the Prius which runs mostly on regular gas but with great mileage and with the future pilot of the Prius as a plug in, this vehicle will eventually fall within the extended range category.

Is the EV ready for prime time? Your driving habits and needs will tell. How far do you drive daily, can you plugin at work? Are most of your driving needs around town? This is where the greatest benefits will be realized. What part of the country do you live in? Will an EV work in your environment? Parts of the country with extreme heat or cold will require more battery usage to heat or cool the vehicle, which will reduce the range. Will this reduce your cost savings?

With government incentives, the cost of one of these EV’s can be reduced to a more acceptable range, keeping the cost closer to a conventional gas vehicle. There are also reduce maintenance costs with an EV, no oil changes and the electric motors are mostly maintenance free.