When it comes to renting a car, many are now considering one of the new electric vehicles rather than a traditional gas-burner. It’s an eco-friendly choice and makes those pesky escalating gas prices irrelevant, but it can also be scary. The vast majority of drivers have never even seen an all-electric vehicle, let alone driven one. Here are some facts to help you take the plunge.
Electric cars don’t have the range of conventional gas cars. While you can expect to go hundreds of miles on a single tank of gas depending on make and model, the average electric car can only travel about 120 miles before needing a recharge. You’ll then need to wait a few hours to “fill up”.
This is the single biggest disadvantage to electric vehicles, but with some planning, it need not be a major problem. You’ll need an electric socket to plug into. Good news is on the horizon, however: newer electric vehicles have double the range, though it comes at a steep price. And the newest models have a considerably faster recharge time of as little as three hours (if you have access to a 240 volt outlet).
Fuel cost is where electric cars really shine. It costs only $2-4 on your electric bill to charge a depleted battery, as opposed to a breathtaking $50 or more to fill a typical gas tank today. That’s a huge incentive for people renting cars for jaunts around most cities. And if you are returning the car the same day, you don’t have to concern yourself about the logistics of recharging at all.
If the problem of auto exhaust emissions is a consideration for you in your rental car decision-making process, electric cars certainly win the contest. They produce zero carbon dioxide—they don’t even have tailpipes. Compare that to the CO2 and other noxious gases and particulates produced by even the best gas-electric hybrid, and the choice is obvious. If you want to do the planet (and everyone with a set of lungs) a big favor, pick a squeaky clean electric car.
Lots of people worry that electric vehicles are so different from “normal” cars that they will be hard to drive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Electric cars look virtually the same as their gas-powered counterparts from the driver’s viewpoint. The Honda Fit EV, for example, has driving mode selection buttons that include normal, sport, and economy; the latter is the best setting for stretching your mileage. Sport gives you a little more “oomph”, but it will reduce mileage somewhat. The gear selector offers drive, reverse, and braking options; braking increases recharging as brakes are applied when going downhill, for instance.
You’ll need to consider maintenance issues when making your rental decision if you want a long-term lease rather than a short-term rental. Electric cars don’t need as much engine maintenance as gas vehicles do because there aren’t any moving parts in the engine. You never have to worry about oil changes, spark plugs, or those pesky trips to the emissions testing station. Overall maintenance costs for electric cars are much less than their gas counterparts.
So when it comes time to rent or lease a car, you know everything you need to know to make a wise and environmentally-friendly choice. Happy driving!
This article was written by John Davis, an avid traveler who loves writing about his journeys on the web and giving advice. He writes this on behalf of Protect Your Bubble, your number one choice when looking for rental car coverage in the United States. Check out their website today and see how they can help you get the best rate!
In the 1960s, reporter Charles Kuralt enchanted the public with his weekly television news segment on CBS. Kuralt told about his travels through the country in his motorhome. People were enthralled and the segment was an incredible ratings success. People are still fascinated with the idea of exploring beautiful and historically significant routes in the United States. Here are five suggestions.
U.S. Route 50
Highway 50 goes from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean through 13 states. It starts in San Francisco and ends in Ocean City, Maryland. It goes through Washington, D.C. and winds through historic nature trails in West Virginia. It climbs the Rocky Mountains and follows the route of the historic Pony Express. Every spring, for an entire weekend all across Route 50, local citizens in participating state and counties put out wares for sale in what is referred to as the “Great U.S. 50 Yard Sale.”
Pacific Coast Highway
The Pacific Coast Highway is the same as California State Route 1. The National Geographic considers this one of the nation’s most scenic highways. Route 1 encompasses almost the entire length of California, but the scenic route most commonly referred to begins in historic Monterey in central California. It hugs the coast as travelers go south. The route goes through Big Sur and crosses the famous Bixby Bridge. Hearst Castle is on the route that continues through beautiful coastal towns and eventually ends in San Diego County near the border of Mexico.
The 137-mile Overseas Highway is an engineering marvel that takes travelers over 42 bridges. The highway connects the many islands of the Florida Keys. This stretch of highway goes from Miami on the mainland to Key West, the southernmost island in the Keys. This is also the southernmost point in all of the 48 contiguous United States. The Overseas Highway was the only Florida highway named an All-American Road by the National Scenic Byways program. Sunrises and sunsets viewed from this route are dramatic and spectacular.
This incredible 50-mile road goes east to west across Glacier National Park in Montana. Breathtaking scenery through the interior of the park leaves travelers with an unforgettable experience. View wildlife, including Bighorn Sheep. Gaze in awe at glaciers. This is not a trip for the faint-hearted. Parts of the trip find the vehicle hugging the side of a mountain with a sheer drop off on the other side.
Although portions of the road are open all year, some portions are closed in the winter due to snow. Over the next five years, there may be some construction delays due to upgrades being made to the 75-year-old road. You can check for real-time updates for road closures to plan your trip.
Whether a list of scenic routes includes five roads or 50, Route 66 will be on the list. Referred to as the “Main Street of America,” this is the original 2,400-mile cross-country highway that reaches from Los Angeles to Chicago. Even though the original Route 66 markers have been replaced with new numbers, the National Historic Route 66 Federation has preserved the old road and the historic landmarks along the way.
The trip winds through ghost towns and passes a Missouri Stonehenge. Route 66 diners are abundant and motels still offer a night’s lodging for a reasonable price.
This article was contributed by John Davis, an avid traveler who loves sharing his tips and stories with everyone on the web willing to lend him an ear. He writes this on behalf of Stevens Transport, your number one choice when looking for truck driving jobs in the US. If you’re interested in a life on the road, make sure to check them out!
The observant European tourist has no doubt taken notice of the comically small Smart cars zipping about the continent. Originally introduced to Europe in 1998, the Smart car has been busily migrating westward. The Smart fortwo model hit American markets in January of 2008, with a heretofore unheard of fuel efficiency of 33 city / 41 highway miles to the gallon, and an MSRP of under $12,000. Why, then, have American sales of the sprightly little vehicles remained lackluster? With gas prices shooting skyward, a cost effective and fuel efficient alternative seems like it would be an excellent choice. Is American culture at fault, or is the American version of the Smart car simply not as intelligent as its Old World cousin?
Reception in Europe
Praised by city drivers and environmental enthusiasts alike, the Smart car received a welcome reception in Europe, with sales in its first year of availability exceeding expectations and demanding immediate acclaim. In a continent of tiny roads where gas prices ranged from about $6 to $10 (or two to three times as much as in America), an equally tiny car with an excellent fuel economy was a welcome addition to the vehicle lineup (4).
Reception in the United States
Unlike its predecessor, the American Smart car never took off with the same ferocity. Initial excitement at the novelty of the vehicle drove sales for a short time, but the fervor was unsustainable in a market suddenly inundated with small cars with comparable fuel economy, like the Chevy Aveo or the Honda Fit. Penske Automotive Group (PAG), the original American distributor of the Smart brand, lost $16 million in its SmartUSA division in 2010. After such a profound loss, PAG gave the rights to sell Smart brand cars back to Smart’s parent company, Daimler AG, ensuring that now only Mercedes-Benz dealers distribute the vehicles in the US (5). The popularity of large cars in America may also be to blame for the stunted sales; not only does American culture tend to praise bigger as better, but the implication of an accident between a giant SUV and a tiny Smart car presents a frightening image, regardless of whether the car meets American safety standards.
The American Difference
Due to underwhelming sales, there are fewer models of Smart car now available in the United States. European versions include the Smart fortwo pulse, passion, and BRABUS, all in both a coupé and cabrio models. In America, choices are limited to the Smart fortwo pure coupe, passion coupe, and passion cabriolet. These models must meet American emissions standards, and the design changes necessary to accomodate these standards may be responsible for the significantly reduced fuel efficiency. A European Smart car will get between 20% and 30% better mileage (2). Overall, the Smart car’s lack of popularity in the United States stems from a variety of conditions, but the most likely culprits are: its less efficient emissions-standard redesign; its vast array of recently designed non-hybrid small car competitors; the American perception of the possible safety concerns of driving such a small car in a sea of SUVs; and the less dire state of gas prices in the states as compared to Europe. Perhaps the Smart car will take off as American environmental consciousness grows, but more likely it will remain a distinctly European phenomenon.
If you have been involved in an auto accident, whether in a Smart car or not, and have been seriously injured, be sure to seek the assistance of an experienced auto accident attorney.
If you are interested in installing a home charging station for your electric vehicles, there are several companies you can contact who will sell you a charging unit, install your station, or both.
Average costs for installation for a 240-volt unit are averaging around $2,200, but can be much higher depending on the model you choose and the modifications necessary to your present electrical system.
If you must hire an electrician to modify your electrical wiring, it is possible this alone can cost you several hundred dollars.
Here are some examples of companies well-known for both producing charging units and their installation services.
1.) ECOtality. ECOtality North America, formerly known as eTec, developed the Minit Charger system to deal with quick charges of electric industrial vehicles such as forklifts.
This company is now producing both commercial and residential charging equipment and offers installation as well. ECOquality is the manager of the nationwide project known as the EV Project, which is dedicated to installing public charging stations in targeted areas.
2.) Clipper Creek. This company is really aimed at commercial vehicle charging, but do offer home stations with varying voltage and amperage.
Clipper Creek makes the charging stations for the Tesla Roadster and offers adaptations for a variety of needs.
3.) AeroVironment. This company has the exclusive contract to supply charging stations for the Nissan LEAF, the only completely electrical vehicle to be mass marketed to date.
AeroVironment has been making chargers for many years and has evolved through the changes in EV technology.
4.) Coulomb. This company is responsible for the majority of widespread public charging stations and are developing Level 2 chargers for home use.
While not widely available, predictions are that Coulomb will enjoy as much success with individual stations as with its public chargers.
5.) GE. The WattStation is GE’s entry into the EV charger market, and while the company released only commercial or fleet chargers at first, a home model is anticipated soon.
GE has the company infrastructure and brand name recognition to break into the home charging market with large numbers of sales, assuming that its home charging stations are reliable and reasonably priced.
6.) PEP stations. PEP is working the Ford Motor Company to develop durable and easy-to-use home charging systems for new models Ford will eventually produce in the EV market.
Right now only commercial-grade chargers are available, but PEP will likely move into the personal use market at some point when Ford is able to manufacture mass-produced electric vehicles.
7.) Better Place. Produced in Israel and Denmark, these chargers will, in the future, likely break into the personal charger market, although currently they are only produced for commercial vehicles.
8.) Leviton. The new line of Evr-green charging stations offer both Level 1 and Level 2 charging capabilities and will work with the ChargePoint network by Coulomb.
Leviton is also one of the few companies that offers a pre-wire installation which is much cheaper than a full installation, and allows consumers to do some of the work themselves to save money.
It also allows consumers to upgrade from a Level 1 to a Level 2 system with no professional installation necessary.
The prewire systems start as low as $200 and greatly reduce installation times as well as allowing flexibility for future installation options.
With the continued fluctuations in the price of fuel, Americans are turning to more efficient vehicles. Backed by thousands of dollars in government subsidies, many automakers are producing and selling alternative fuel, hybrid, and all-electric vehicles to cope with the price at the pump. In the 2013 model year, innovation is taking a front-seat perspective as automakers continue to improve on past designs and create new ones that outperform the old.
2013 Toyota RAV4 EV
Based off the Toyota RAV4 SUV, this all-electric machine packs an-154 horsepower electric motor capable of accelerating from 0-60 in 7 seconds. Combined with its revolutionary aerodynamic design, the RAV4 EV has a range of approximately 100 miles, and, with its charging time of less than 6 hours on 240V power, the RAV4 can be back on the road in no time. The RAV4 is identical to its gas-powered cousin in interior space and comfort, but it never needs to make a trip to the fuel station.
2013 Ford C-Max Energi Plug-In Hybrid
Although the Ford C-Max is not an all-electric vehicle, it deserves mention in the same vein. With it plug-in feature, the C-Max can function just like an electric car, and when the battery power runs low, the C-Max can be switched to gas. In reality, the driver controls whether the C-Max is a gasoline-powered car, a hybrid, or an all-electric car. On top of all its features, the C-Max has the ability to recharge in 7 hours on traditional 120 Volt power.
2013 Honda Fit EV
For years the Honda Fit has been in the same realm as the Toyota Prius and other ecologically sensitive models. With the advent of the 2013 Fit EV, this vehicle takes the plunge into the electric car world. The Fit EV is identical to the gas-powered Fit; however, this new vehicle is completely emission-free. With a charging time of less than 15 hours and a range of 82 miles, the Fit EV is right in the market with the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi Miev. In actuality, the Fit EV has over 70 more foot-pounds of torque than its gas-powered Honda Fit cousin.
Competition with Gas-Powered Vehicles
To truly compete with gas-powered vehicles, electric cars must have significant range, low charging times, a reasonable price, and adequate comfort. These features are a part of all the three models mentioned above. All three have a range over 80 miles, and all three pack a host of options, features, and accessories to make them as comfortable as any hybrid or gas powered car.
The most important consideration when looking at the growing field of electric cars is price. Although an electric vehicle does not use gasoline, thus eliminating fuel costs, the dealership MSRP and the cost of charging the vehicle daily can play a key role in customer decisions. The Ford C-Max Energi starts at $32,950 while neither the Toyota RAV4 EV or Honda Fit EV have a stated MSRP as of yet.
Electric vehicles are the only tried-and-true alternative to gas-powered cars. Unlike natural gas vehicles, hybrids, and flex-fuel machines, electric vehicles have a history as long as the internal combustion engine powered car. With continued improvements in technology and performance, these efficient rides will not be disappearing any time soon.
This guest post was written by Stephanie Ng, a freelance writer who blogs about technological innovations. For Canadians purchasing a 2013 electric vehicle, be sure to review the service offerings from Kanetix in Canada.