Welcome to Ecodrive SA

SA’s Definitive Alternative Energy Motoring Resource - proudly presented by Ecolive Sustainable Lifestyle & Online Store.

Ecodrive is all about Alternative Energy Motoring - Electric, Solar & Battery Vehicles and EV news from around the world. The aim is to inform, specifically South Africans, about the technology & economy, performance & efficiency, range & recharging, trends & developments in the industry. 

Featuring aggregated articles & content from reputable sources, including the manufacturers & associated partners - Ecodrive provides factual, objective & informative articles, photographs & videos. 

Apart from cleaner, greener motoring & transportation, we also cover alternative energy motorsport series on two & four wheels - such as Formula E and MotoE, plus hybrid/electric adoption in Formula 1, WEC, WRC and WRX. 

The internal combustion engine cannot be the source of automotive power indefinitely. Change is inevitable. Fossil fuel supply is diminishing rapidly and the diesel emissions scandal was the biggest fraud in motoring history. Electrified motoring & transportation, however, is still in its infancy and not necessarily any more environmentally friendly for our planet.

The fuel giants of the world are not going to fold easily, or quickly - but we can embrace the transformation and drive the change. We can be part of the solution for the reduction in pollution.

By publishing & sharing informed articles, objective journalism & factual content, we can aid in spreading the truth and eliminating misconceptions about this fascinating technology - starting with the various categories of electric vehicles already in production & distribution.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES (EVs)

1. Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) or Conventional Hybrids combine both a petrol engine with an electric motor. While these vehicles have an electric motor and battery, they can’t be plugged in and recharged. Instead their batteries are charged from capturing energy when braking, using regenerative braking that converts kinetic energy into electricity. This energy is normally wasted in conventional vehicles. Depending on the type of hybrid, the electric motor will work with the petrol-powered engine to reduce fuel use or even allow the petrol engine to turn off altogether. Hybrid fuel-saving technologies can dramatically improve fuel economy. Some manufacturers are dipping their toes into the EV market with what’s referred to as ‘Mild’ Hybrids (mHEVs).

2. Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) are similar to conventional hybrids in that they have both an electric motor and internal combustion engine, except PHEV batteries can be charged by plugging into an outlet. So why opt for a PHEV instead of a conventional hybrid? Well, unlike conventional hybrids, PHEVs can substitute electricity from the grid for petrol. Current PHEVs can go between 35 and 60 km only using electricity, before the petrol motor kicks in. Although this doesn’t sound like a long way, many people drive less than this distance each day. In a recent survey, 54% of respondents reported driving less than 65 km a day. Moreover, using electricity instead of petrol is cheaper and cleaner for most people. 

3. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) run exclusively on electricity via on-board batteries that are charged by plugging into an outlet or charging station. These vehicles have no petrol engine, longer electric driving ranges compared to PHEVs - and never produce tailpipe emissions (though there are emissions associated with charging these vehicles). The BEVs on the market today generally go around 100 to 130 km per charge, though a Tesla can travel over 300 km on a single charge, while the Jaguar I-Pace is said to have a range of 470 km. A recent survey found that a BEV range of 100 km would fit the weekday driving needs of 69% of drivers. As battery technology continues to improve, BEV ranges will extend even further, offering an even larger number of drivers the option of driving exclusively on electricity.

4. Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) use an electric-only motor like a BEV, but stores energy quite a bit differently. Instead of recharging a battery, FCEVs store hydrogen gas in a tank. The fuel cell in FCEVs combines hydrogen with oxygen from the air to produce electricity. The electricity from the fuel cell then powers an electric motor, which powers the vehicle just like a BEV. And, like BEVs, there is no smog-forming or climate-changing pollution from FCEVs tailpipe - the only byproduct is water. Unlike BEVs or PHEVs, however, there is no need to plug-in FCEVs, since their fuel cells are recharged by refilling with hydrogen, which can take as little as 5 minutes at a filling station. But just as producing electricity to charge a plug-in vehicle creates emissions, producing hydrogen also generates emissions. Hydrogen made today from natural gas produces about the same total emissions per kilometre as charging a plug-in vehicle with electricity generated from natural gas. But when made from renewable sources like biomass or solar power, hydrogen can be nearly emission free. However, hydrogen fuelling infrastructure, like public electric vehicle charging stations, still needs ramping up. 

Thank you for visiting.

Andrew Walker
andrew@walker.co.za

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