The automotive industry is buzzing with constant news about new electric vehicles. It appears every major car manufacturer is trying to get into the electric vehicle arena. Some companies have announced electric vehicle campaigns, whereas others are dipping their toe into the water with one or two models to start. Either way, we can’t deny the recent increase in popularity of electric vehicles. Want to hear the best part? You can request your favorite electric vehicle using OneRequest.

What are Electric Vehicles?

Electric vehicles, commonly referred to as EVs, are primarily powered by electricity instead of gasoline. Generally speaking, there are two types of electric vehicles: all-electric vehicles (AEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs). AEVs run solely on electricity and typically have a range of 80 to 100 miles, with some luxury models having closer to 250 miles. Depending on the model and year of a AEV it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to a day to charge the vehicle. PHEVs could be a better choice if range is a concern. Typical PHEVs run on electricity for short range trips (under 40 miles or so) and then convert to running on gasoline when the battery is depleted. PHEVs offer drivers more flexibility by running on electricity whenever available, but also allowing drivers to fuel up with gasoline if needed.  

Within the AEV category, there are two different types of energy cells. As noted above, a BEV is powered by a by an electric battery. BEVs are the most popular version of electric vehicles, and we suspect most people envision BEVs when they bring up EVs. The AEV Category also includes fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV), which generate electricity with oxygen and compressed hydrogen. Anyone else wish they would’ve paid more attention in chemistry? Us too! FCEVs are more environmentally friendly because they only release water vapor and warm air (i.e., zero emissions). However, FCEVs are far less readily available on the market than BEVs or PHEVs.

Common BEVs: Tesla, Audi e-Tron, Hyundai IONIQ

Common FCEVs: 2021 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell and the 2021 Toyota Mirai.

Common PHEVs: Fiat 500e, Chrysler Pacifica, and the Toyota Prius.

Rise in Popularity

Would you believe us if we told you the first electric car was built in 1828? Well, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, it was. Sure, it wasn’t anything more than an electric buggy, but those were all the rage back then (some things disappear for a reason). With the increased access to oil in the 1930s, electric vehicles (buggies) pretty much disappeared until they were reintroduced in the 1970s. However, due to lack of range and limited performance, the 1970s electric vehicle “craze” faded once again…until the 1990s!

The 1990s brought along the first mass produced hybrid vehicle: the Toyota Prius. Slowly but surely, manufacturers started to add electric vehicles to their roster and introduce new hybrid and electric vehicles to their customers. In 2006, a small start-up named Tesla Motors announced that they were going to produce a luxury electric vehicle. In 2010 General Motors released the Chevy Volt, which was the first commercially available plug-in hybrid available for sale. That same year, Nissan released the LEAF, an all-electric, zero emissions vehicle. In 2013, prices for vehicle batteries price drop dramatically due to incentives from the US Department of Energy, which leads to increased production.

Now? Well, drivers have an expansive list of EVs to pick from and everyone has heard of Tesla, one of the most valuable publicly traded companies in the world. This trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Expect to see more electric vehicles brought to market over the next months and years.

Environmentally Friendly

Here’s the real question: Are EV’s actually more environmentally friendly than vehicles that run using gasoline? The answer is…complicated.

Yes, electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly while they are actually moving on the road, because they release less CO2 emissions. This “tipping point” is only reached after the vehicle is driven a certain number of miles. There are other considerations, too. For example, there are, of course, CO2 emissions during the actual building and transportation of the vehicle itself.

The Wall Street Journal recently released a report in collaboration with the University of Toronto outlining CO2 emissions from a Tesla versus a Toyota RAV4. (Side note: The Wall Street Journal article is incredibly fun and interactive, so we recommend you check it out after reading.) At a driving distance of 0 miles, the building of a Tesla versus the building of a RAV4, generated more CO2 emissions. 65% more, in fact. This is due to the Tesla’s lithium-ion battery. It’s not until both vehicles have driven 20,000+ miles, that the Tesla pulls ahead. Or rather, drops behind, as its greenhouse gas emissions drop dramatically. By the time both vehicles drive 200,000 miles, the expected lifetime of most vehicles, the RAV4 has generated 78 tons of greenhouse gases, compared to the Tesla’s 36 tons. Long story short, the electric vehicle is better for the environment, but only when it’s been driven a certain number of miles. Keep in mind these numbers are based on these two vehicles and national averages, but nonetheless the research speaks for itself.

Now that you’re an expert on electric vehicles, you can share all your knowledge with friends and family (while you’re telling them about how awesome OneRequest is). Since electric vehicles are fairly new to the automotive industry, this information is ever changing as new research surfaces and new vehicles are released. OneRequest is here to make car shopping easy, but we are also here to keep you up to date on automotive news.

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