Granite State Clean Cities Electric Vehicles Presentation

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SRPC Staff Member Sarah McGraw in a Tesla at the Clean Cities Electric Vehicles Presentation

Granite State Clean Cities Meeting June 11, 2015

From the humble Nissan Leaf to the sporty Tesla Model S, electric vehicles come in all shapes and sizes with more vehicle manufacturers throwing their hats in the ring every day. How do you know which electric vehicle is right for you? A Nissan Leaf may be the perfect fit for your shorter commute, while a plug in hybrid, like the Chevy Volt, offers the security of a supplemental gasoline motor for longer trips. Those in attendance at the June 11th Granite State Clean Cities Stakeholder (GSCC) meeting heard from several electric vehicle owners regarding the pros and cons of their vehicle choices.

Electric vehicles can be broken down into two categories: pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). BEVs run entirely off battery power with an electric motor propelling either one or both axles. Plug in hybrids include both a gasoline motor and an electric motor. They can run entirely off the electric motor until it is out of charge, at which time the gasoline motor kicks in as a supplement. Electric vehicles and hybrids also offer the ability to recharge while braking through a process known as regenerative braking. Regenerative braking systems allow the vehicle to reuse the energy typically lost when braking, by reversing the motor to slow the vehicle rather than immediately activating the brake calipers. This reverse action in the motor generates a current that can charge the batteries, while also saving brake pads.

Presenters included Nissan Leaf owner Larry Cook, Chevy Volt owner Gary Lemay, and Tesla owner Daniel Einspanjer. Vehicle owners discussed their daily commutes, charging options, and their overall satisfaction with their chosen vehicles. Charging options range from the level one charger (120v), to the level two charger (240v), and all the way up to the DC fast charge (480v) and the Tesla Supercharge station.  The DC fast charge and Tesla Supercharge stations can charge a vehicle in a matter of minutes rather than hours. Many owners opt to go with the level two charger which uses the same outlet style as an electric dryer and can charge a vehicle overnight. While none of the electric vehicle drivers seem to miss their visits to the gas pump, finding a place to charge can be an issue. Longer commutes may require some planning ahead to locate public charging locations, unless a driver is lucky enough to work somewhere with charging stations. There are, however, a number of resources available to help electric vehicle owners find a place to recharge including the PlugShare app and the U.S. Department of Energy’s alternative fueling station locator.

Following the meeting, stakeholders journeyed to the parking lot to see these vehicles up close. Electric vehicle owners opened their doors and hoods to allow people to sit inside and marvel at the technology. Strafford Regional Planning’s own Sarah McGraw had the chance to sit behind the wheel of the Tesla Model S. Other vehicles on display included the BMW i3 and an older Solectria Force, an electric vehicle based on the Geo Metro platform that had been converted from a lead acid to a lithium ion battery setup. Overall the electric vehicle owners were satisfied with their purchases and would buy electric again. Electric vehicle options are available from most well-known vehicle manufacturers, with more in the works. Electric options aren’t limited to just commuter vehicles either. Electric motors can now be found in a number of motorcycles, vans, buses and even medium duty trucks.

For more information contact Thomas Brown, Planning Technician, at tbrown@strafford.org. 

References

Plug Share –http://www.plugshare.com/

U.S.  DOE Alternative Fuels Data Center- http://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/

Plug in America- http://www.pluginamerica.org/

Granite State Clean Cities- http://www.granitestatecleancities.nh.gov/