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10 Electric Car Facts - WMNews Ep. 16

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Angela Fafard A recent hiring spree of people with expertise in car systems is fuelling speculation that Apple is secretly working on an electric car prototype and has people taking seriously a once marginalized industry. Welcome to WatchMojo News, the weekly series from WatchMojo.com that breaks down news stories that might be on your radar. In this instalment, we’re counting down 10 crucial facts you should know about electric cars.
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Transcript
Script written by Angela Fafard

Top 10 Electric Car Facts


#10: When Was the First Electric Car Created?
The History


Believe it or not, during the late 19th century, electric cars competed with gas-powered ones for popularity. And, electric cars were briefly favored as they were clean, quiet, and more reliable when compared to those powered by internal combustion engines, which could be dangerous to operate. Advances in internal combustion technology soon diminished these advantages, and the quicker refueling time, greater driving range and increased power made gas powered cars the preferred choice. Manufacturing of electric cars wasn’t seriously considered again until 1990, when the California Air Resources Board passed a zero emissions vehicle mandate stating that all major automobile suppliers had to offer electric vehicles in order to continue selling their gasoline models in the state. This led automakers like Ford and GM to build and sell over 5,000 electric vehicles. Unfortunately, due to petroleum industry lobbying pressure, scare tactic marketing and the involvement of the Federal government, the mandate was reversed, and all electric cars were removed from the roads.

#9: What Is the Electric Car?
The Technology


There are currently four types of manufactured electric cars: battery electric vehicles (BEV), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) and the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle. The first is entirely powered by a battery and an electric drive train; no internal combustion engine is used. Hybrids run on a combination of batteries and gasoline, meaning that when the battery is low the internal combustion engine will take over. The difference between plug-ins and conventional hybrids is that the latter is not powered by plugging into an electricity grid but rather by converting the friction created from braking into electrical energy that can be stored. The fourth model is the fuel cell vehicle, which uses hydrogen to generate electricity while the car is running. Essentially a fuel cell is a battery that charges itself in real time. This last model is only commercially available in the Toyota Mirai (mee-rye). And with a limited release, scarce hydrogen refueling stations and a hefty price tag it will be a while before it’s made available to the general population.

#8: What Is the Impact of Electric Cars on the Environment?
The Carbon Footprint


When considering the entire process involved in fueling both types of vehicles, the electric car has a smaller carbon footprint than a gasoline-powered car. Electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions while on the road, but they do no have a zero or even a low carbon footprint. One must also take into account the carbon footprint of producing the electricity that powers the vehicle. Emissions are typically produced at electrical power plants through the burning of fossil fuels and so electric vehicles do produce carbon emissions when considering their full life cycle. However, if electricity can be produced from renewable energy sources such as wind power then the carbon footprint of electric vehicles becomes quite low.

#7: How Expensive & Convenient are Electric Cars?
The Cost


Electric cars have the reputation of being expensive vehicles favored by the environmentally conscious, as the upfront price tag can be rather hefty - although their cost is often offset in Western countries by federal tax rebates. One must also consider the fluctuating price of gas as opposed to the fairly stable cost of electricity. Depending on whether you are driving in the city or on the highway, the cost to drive a gas-powered car is between double and triple the cost to drive an electric car. Yet the current price of the average electric vehicle versus a comparable gas-powered model means it would take between 5 and 6 years of driving before the overall cost of owning an electric car would become cheaper. Another factor to consider is the availability of an electric vehicle-charging network in your location. Some models such as the Tesla Model S can go up to 270 miles before recharging, while theothers clock in at just 70 miles. The lack of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure compared to gasoline fueling infrastructure is one of the main factors holding back the mass adoption of these vehicles.

#6: Is it a Profitable Sector?
The Sales


The electric car industry continues to grow as consumers take notice of variable gas prices, as concern grows regarding climate change and the benefits of federal tax rebates. The sale of the electric car is dispersed around developed nations, with the United States contributing to around 40% of global sales. Despite critics naysaying the profitably of the industry, battery electric cars currently account for $16 billion of car sales worldwide with experts expecting it to grow to $70 billion by 2021.

#5: Is There Another Environmentally Friendly Option?
The Hybrid


When considering purchasing an electric vehicle, one will certainly come across the popular hybrid model (HEV) which uses an electric battery that requires charging as well as a gasoline engine. The biggest advantage of the hybrid is that you get electric car efficiency while benefiting from traditional car range for longer trips. Despite a slowdown in hybrid sales, there are several models that have seen sales soar in recent times such as Nissan’s Leaf, which experienced a sales growth of 34% in 2014. For those with no budget, one can also experience hybrid supercars, a car with staggering performance and electric efficiency. Models like the Porsche 918 Spyder, the McLaren P1 and the Ferrari LaFerrari are all priced in the million-dollar range.

#4: Is the Current Car Industry Attractive?
The Bailouts


Despite recent industry failings, the current global car industry accounts for over $2.2 trillion in annual sales. These numbers represent an industry that’s in the process of recovering from the automotive industry crises of 2008-10, which saw distress hit car manufacturers worldwide as well as U.S. giants like Chrysler and General Motors. In fact, those American companies received government rescue packages in order to forego bankruptcy and subsequent liquidation. In terms of the electric car industry, the falling price of oil has led established automakers to reduce the price of their hybrid and electric cars in order to combat the decline.

#3: Who Is Getting Into the Electric Car Industry?
The Big Players


It seems as though every established automaker - especially luxury automakers such as Mercedes and BMW - are vigorously delving into the United States electric car industry with new releases. For those entering the market, there are strong barriers of entry, such as startup costs in terms of manufacturing and governmental regulatory systems that can prove rigorous. Tesla, a new American automaker based in Palo Alto, California entered the market in 2006, with the launch of the Tesla Roadster, the first ever fully electric sports car. In 2013, it reported profits for the first time in its history. Tesla is one company driving the future of electric car use in the United States. Tesla’s supercharger network – which can only be used by Tesla cars – has been set up to allow transcontinental trips and can recharge their vehicles in a fairly short timeframe. While it still takes around an hour to recharge a Tesla Car, the automaker has plans to produce a battery that would have a 500 mile driving range before needing to be recharged – about as far someone would want to drive in a day – meaning that even on long trips you would only need to recharge at night while you and your car are resting.

#2: Will Apple Be Making an Electric Car?
The Mystery


Coined Project Titan, the tech industry is abuzz with the news that Apple is potentially creating a fully electric car. In fact, there is an ongoing employee poaching war brewing between Apple and Tesla. Tesla has hired 150 former Apple employees and now Apple is returning the favor, offering Tesla employees quarter million dollar signing bonuses and 60 percent salary increases. With over $178 billion in cash and reserves, the company has more than enough capital to build an infrastructure from scratch. Furthermore, with this purchasing power, it’s built a team of hundreds, spearheaded by Steve Zadesky, a former Ford engineer. News has since surfaced that the electric car battery maker A1-2-3 Systems has filed a lawsuit against Apple, accusing the company of poaching its employees. The emergence of a new automaker with the drive of Apple and a reputation for high quality products will certainly further the development in this industry.

#1: Will the Electric Car Replace the Traditional Car?
The Future


The current electric car only accounts for less than 1% of world car sales, and with limited knowledge of the benefits of the electric car, falling oil prices and sparse electric battery charging stations, pushing that number past 1%, especially in developing nations, will be a tall order. Car companies like Tesla are working to provide an affordable electric car option, and with a launch date for 2017, their Model III - priced at $35,000 before tax incentives - seems to fit the bill. As the electric car industry pushes to grow in the face of falling oil prices, new potential automakers may reap the rewards of an emerging market, and few competitors.

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