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Life with an Electric Car

Life with an Electric Car

5.0 1
by Noel Perrin

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Sierra Club Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.47(w) x 8.27(h) x 0.67(d)

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Life with an Electric Car 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book from the public library shelves in 1993 on my way home from high school. Fourteen years later, I find myself making the final preparations to building my own electric vehicle. In an era of $3.30 a gallon for gasoline, electric vehicles have finally become cost effective as commuter vehicles. If you have ever been curious about EV¿s and how they behave in the real world, Solo is a book for you. My review of this book is not a traditional epinions review, I have made an effort to offer some counter points and give you the reader a 2007 perspective on the building and use of electric vehicles (EV¿s). The book is about Noel¿s efforts to acquire and use an electric vehicle in the early 90¿s, years before the big three automakers even thought of mass producing their own. Since Noel could not buy a commercially manufactured EV he had to purchase a conversion. Conversions come in extensive varieties, from pure solar vehicles to hybrids (combination of a gasoline engine and an electric motor).1 While, I feel Noel¿s obsession with the environmental impact of EV¿s a tad obsessive, he does make several other good points towards the ownership of such a vehicle. The story weaves around the attempt to drive the car, Solo, from California to his home in Vermont. Sprinkled throughout, Noel discusses his own efforts to charge the car using solar energy and provides a brief history of these vehicles in the process. As you read the book you will discover that Noel was an accomplished chatter box. He managed to hitch several rides from strangers who were interested in his car. His social gift also helped him convince business owners to let him charge his EV. The charging of the car required several kilowatts of electricity. Even though he was prepared to pay, the novelty of the car and Noel¿s charm seemed to give him several free charges. Predictably, gas station owners gave him the most trouble. He had to pay outrageous rates for the electricity to charge his car and once he was expelled from a gas station by the owner! Noel, by the end of his journey across America, was carrying 100ft of power cord so that he could charge his EV. He found himself throwing cord from second floor hotel rooms, plugging into bedside lamps and even using a nail to suspend his power cord on the side of a wooden building! In Louisiana, we have hot weather all the time, up north Solo and Noel did not. Solo ran into range problems in colder weather. Noel describes his hassles with working around cold weather EV driving like a seasoned veteran. I have yet to read another candid discussion about EV¿s in cold climates. Future Vermont EV owners, should take notice and read the book! The book does a great job of discussing the weakest point of electric vehicles today, hills and mountains. Noel¿s original intention was driving the car from California back to Vermont, but this dream was cut short when he tried to drive the car over Donner Pass, California. The main reason is the 1,000lbs, or more, of batteries the vehicles must carry to provide a suitable range for city driving. Another simple reason is the amount of current required for uphill climbs, 300Amps, compared to 100Amps for driving on flat roads. Lead based batteries tend to lose their rated capacity faster when discharged under high amperage load. As a result, while your ammeter says you are discharging 300Amps climbing a hill, the battery is losing 325Amps. The excess capacity is discharged as thermal energy and through a chemical process called sulfication. The foothills of Donner Pass made Solo travel approximately 25 miles, compared to the estimated 62 mile range the car got in the city. While my explanation is plain, a government report on the testing of the electric S-10 is a great resource to see how hills and battery heating affect the range of EV travel.2. The most interesting political feature of the book is the support Noel received from the American automotive in