An Introduction and Brief Economic Analysis
Since its invention in the late 1800s, the car has been a major part of our nation’s history and development. As the car matured, it started to become the primary source of transportation for both people and goods. As their technology continues to advance, the demand for more fuel efficient and cleaner emitting cars began to rise, and thus, the green car was born. But what makes a car “green”?
What is a Green Car?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates vehicles “greenness” based on several specific factors. If vehicles score in the upper tier of their class, they are given “Smart Way” certification. These scoring ...view middle of the document...
(Axsen & Kurani, 2013)
The first HEV dates back to the early 1900s, when an engineer by the name of Ferdinand Porsche developed a car that ran on both gas and electricity. The “Lohner-Porsche Mixte” featured a gasoline powered engine that supplied power to an electric motor that drove the cars’ wheels. The design was a decent success and over 300 were produced. Newer cars based on Porsche’s technology continued to be produced for the next two decades, but interest and demand for the Mixte hybrids steadily declined, as they were more expensive and had less power compared to their gasoline powered counterparts. They soon faded into the past and didn’t resurface again until the 1960s when Congress passed legislation that stimulated the development of electric vehicles to help reduce air pollution. This coupled with the rising oil prices created a scramble to develop cars that reduced oil dependency. A limited number of all electric vehicles were introduced in the 1990s, including the General Motors EV1 and the Toyota RAV-4 EV, but they failed to attract consumer interest. Hybrids never regained a footing in America until the introduction of the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius in 1999 and 2000. Since then the Prius has become the most popular hybrid ever created. (Cars Direct, 2013)
HEVs and PHEVs differ slightly in their technology. HEVs are typically powered by a gasoline engine and boast large electric batteries to improve their cruising efficiency and run the cars electronics. Newer models recapture some of the energy from braking and many even shut off the gasoline motor while the car is stopped, all to improve fuel economy. (Axsen & Kurani, 2013) Leading the way in hybrid popularity and sales is still Toyota’s Prius. As the technology ages and develops, however, an increasing number of car companies are creating HEVs, including Ford, Honda, Chrysler and General Motors.
PHEVs are very similar to HEVs, but differ in their ability to be hooked to a power grid. This allows them to rely more heavily on electric power compared to HEVs, which in turn produces better gas mileage. Many have both electric and gasoline powered motors inside, allowing them to go some distance solely on the electric power in their batteries before the gasoline engine kicks in. (Axsen & Kurani, 2013) General Motors Volt was the first widely popular plug in hybrid car in America, but the 2014 model year is already splashed with numerous different plug-ins being introduced. Even luxury brands like Porsche, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have hybrid and plug-in hybrid models set to be released in the near future. (Motor Trend, 2013)
The hybrid is the most popular of the new green vehicles, but it still has its drawbacks. The largest and most obvious problem is the batteries. If they are to run the car, they have to be fairly large. Along with the bulky size, the batteries also come with a hefty weight and price tag, which arouses the question: is it really more efficient to drive...