The Electric Vehicle Revolution
The appeal of electric vehicles is gaining momentum. Almost every day I see an article regarding new models coming to market or see a shipment of EVs on I-29 heading to a future owner’s driveway. Many people have the misconception that electric vehicles were invented by Tesla and Elon Musk. However, just like Henry Ford didn’t create the internal combustion engine, Elon Musk didn’t create the electric vehicle. Both men simply found a way to make them available to the general public. But before getting too far into this transportation evolution and why it matters to your Electric Cooperative, a quick history lesson about EVs is in order.
The first known electric car was developed in 1837 in Aberdeen, Scotland. Early models were powered by galvanic cells rather than rechargeable batteries. The lead-acid battery was invented in France in 1859 with further French development leading to manufacturing of these batteries on an industrial scale in the early 1880s. This allowed a rechargeable battery to be installed on the vehicle. Soon manufacturers were selling a wide array of EVs ranging from trolleys to cars, and even locomotives. Interest in electric cars blossomed in the late 1890s and early 1900s. As roads improved and became more extensive, demand for greater range emerged. A variety of solutions were put forth including the first battery exchanges by an electric utility in Connecticut in 1910 and the first hybrid automobile in 1911.
But the rapid expansion of the country and the limitation of electricity to major cities and towns spelled the end of the electric car. The world wanted to be mobile and EVs simply did not have the range required. Enter Henry Ford and the mass-produced, affordable internal combustion engine, and the EV's fate was sealed for the next 100 years.
Fast forward to 2022 and EVs are dominating the automotive news once again. Thanks to the electric cooperative movement, electricity is available everywhere in the U.S. While many drawbacks of EVs are gone, there is still a major concern limiting EV growth dubbed "range anxiety”. This stems from the persistent limited range of all EVs. While several EVs models provide ranges over 300 miles per charge, that pales in comparison to most internal combustion cars. Also, the lack of a rapid charging infrastructure is an ongoing impediment. However, with more charging stations going up across the country and advancements in battery technology, “range anxiety” is becoming less of a concern.
Prices are dropping, more models are becoming available, and range is expanding so owners can confidently drive nearly everywhere with a little bit of planning. Today, there at least 44 different models and trims or electric vehicle available in the Midwest, with ranges between 100 miles per charge to 405 miles per charge. In our region of the country, most of us want a truck or SUV. The good news is that the Ford F150 Lightning and Rivian RT1 are starting to hit people’s driveways now. If you really want to turn some heads, the much anticipated and futuristic looking Tesla Cybertruck is scheduled for delivery later this year. Chevy and GMC each have electric trucks coming to market in the next 18 months.
On top of this, the cars are just plain cool. Tesla’s are known for having a minimalist interior with all the necessary controls and information presented on a large touchscreen in the center of the console. While vehicles like the Ford Mustang Mach-E have a combination of a traditional instrument cluster and a large center touchscreen. All of these vehicles are loaded with technology that enhances the driving experience and provides a safe commute.
Further, if you've never driven an electric vehicle, you are in for a treat. While an internal combustion engine must rev up to speed, an EV has full power at its disposal instantly. They are quiet, well-appointed inside and allow you to forever bypass the lines at the gas station - unless you are in need of some snacks and a slushy. Each morning you can wake up with a “full tank”.
Finally, if you do purchase an EV, be sure to let your electric cooperative know. The service to your home is sized to meet the demands of your house as they existed when service was connected. Adding the EV charger creates a risk of overloading the wires and transformers powering your home. Overloaded services can fail and leave you in the dark with an uncharged EV.
Until next month, stay safe and God bless.
Quote of the Month:
“When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars, people said, ‘Nah, what’s wrong with a horse?’ That was a huge bet he made, and it worked” – Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla