Nothing new under the sun, Dad used to say.
And, as concerns electric cars, he certainly was correct. Electric cars are as old as cars themselves. By 1900 38% of the autos on US roads were electric, compared to about 1% in 2020. The racy-looking car above is actually a Porsche. It dates from 1898. You’ll note the electric motors are part of the front-wheel hubs. Visit the Porsche Newsroom here!
The blue beauty is a 1917 Detroit Electric which resides right here in Kansas City. It was produced during the heyday of electric cars. It features an elegant and cozy interior which was popular with the ladies. Visit the Detroit Electric Club Here!
Are Electrics More Efficient Than ICE-Powered Vehicles?
An interesting question. Let’s start with gasoline. According to the U.S government’s Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC), one gallon of hi-test provides 33.7 kwh of energy. We seldom think about it, but that is an astounding amount of energy. Imagine filling your Cadillac with one gallon of gas. Putt along a lonely country road for an hour on your way to visit grandma, who lives 40 miles away. You’ll be twenty miles from where you started when the Caddy sputters to a halt. Now, for you to equal the energy of that gallon of gas, consider you will have to push the Cadillac the remaining distance to Grammie’s . I imagine pushing a 4,000 lbs Cadillac twenty miles would take me a year!
Okay, so let’s assume we can put that same 33.7 kwh in the 2015 LEAF. We ought to travel 128 miles. So we made it to grandma’s house–and back home, with gobs of energy to spare.
Why do we get so much farther in the LEAF? Well, lots of reasons. Of course, the LEAF is much lighter than the Caddy. Less weight to push down the road means you’ll get more bang for your energy buck. But that is just the tip of the ICEberg. Consider the Cadillac’s radiator, cooling fans, and exhaust systems. These elaborate systems are designed to extract the nuisance heat the engine can’t use. The truth is, no matter how efficient an internal combustion engine you design, it will always be better at heating up the environment than it is at producing horsepower.