Electric Cars in Chicago

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The Benefits of Electric Cars: Economic and Environmental Factors
1. Lower Cost: Even though the initial purchase price may be somewhat higher than combustion-powered vehicles, electric cars are generally cheaper to operate and maintain and reduce or eliminate the cost of fuel.

2. Durability: Because electric motors have fewer moving parts and don’t require fluids such as engine oil, antifreeze or transmission fluid, they require very little maintenance and are far less likely to leak.

3. Less Noise Pollution: Often overlooked, health issues caused by noise pollution include stress related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, sleep disruption, and lost productivity according to the EPA. This simple, environmentally friendly decision will exponentially scale down the levels of noise pollution throughout the city.

4. No Pollutant Emissions: One of the most important environmental benefits to using an electric car is the lack of pollutant emissions from the tailpipe. This is not only cleaner for the environment, but also better for everyone’s respiratory health.

5. Reduced Oil: Putting aside combustion powered vehicles and moving forward with electric motors allows us to reduce the unloading of engine oils into the environment as well as reduce the United State’s reliance on foreign oil.

The need for a transition to alternative fuels from dependence on fossil fuels is a major issue here in the early 21st century. Where this issue was once solely the cry of the environmentalist, finding new ways to get about town in major cities and suburbs is becoming a mainstream consumer issue as well. And it seems that automobile manufacturers are listening.

Theresa Boruta is a content developer for Magellan Development , a real estate company in Chicago focused on building environmentally sensitive living communities. One of their buildings, Aqua, housed the first charging station for electric cars in Chicago.  With the recent push for more charging stations in the city, Theresa talks about how electric vehicles and the infrastructure to support them are changing the way people think about buying, owning, and using their cars in a major U.S city.

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Life in a big city is certainly glamorous and exciting, not to mention convenient, but it doesn’t always offer opportunities for sustainable living. Imagine all the benefits of living downtown with quieter streets and cleaner air. It sounds like a utopian dream, but it may not be as unattainable as once thought. If you are interested in Chicago condos for sale, you may also want to invest in a cleaner, greener environment with electric cars.

Chicago’s Push for Sustainable Automobiles

With assistance from Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago has welcomed the Midwest’s first electric vehicle charging station open to the public located in the garage of the 87-story Magellan Development structure, Aqua.

The six-charger station at Aqua accommodates up to 24 plug-in vehicles, be it two or four wheels, hybrids that run on both gas and electricity, extended-range electric vehicles and pure electric vehicles” – Scott Emalfarb, President of Marketing and Branding for Carbon Day Automotives

Since their customers are expressing a shift in thinking, major automobile manufacturers planning hybrid releases are preparing for a shift to the mainstream market. The economy is shifting, the environment is changing and the world is ready to start moving with it. Virtually every auto manufacturer has recently announced plans to produce plug-in vehicles in the next one to three years in response to distress over high gas prices, oil independence and the impact of environmentally destructive climate change.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid on display at 2011 Geneva Motor Show. (photo:Toyota UK)

Frequently Asked Questions About Electric Vehicles

What is the cost of an electric car?

As with gasoline-powered cars, electric cars will come in all different varieties in order to accommodate a wide range of people and their budgets. example, the Nissan LEAF can be purchased starting at $32,780 or $349 per month and the Mitsubishi I will be potentially priced at $29,900. On the other end of the spectrum, Fisker Karma’s luxury sports plug-in hybrids will be priced starting around $90,000.

How long will it take to charge my electric car?

The simple answer to this question is: overnight. Essentially, the best method is to plug the vehicle in overnight in order to maintain a full charge. However, more specifically, it depends on the type of batteries in the car and the type of outlet you’re using the charge it up.

How many miles will I get per charge?

The answer to this question is also dependent on the type of battery the car uses, as well as the weight and type of vehicle and the performance demands of the driver. Going back to our previous examples, the Nissan LEAF has a 100-mile range per charge while the Mitsubishi I will have a range of 50 to 80 miles with a 16kWH lithium battery.

What can I expect in terms of maintenance?

Generally, the maintenance on an electric vehicle can be attributed to the repairs and replacement of the battery pack, especially because the engine has so few moving parts compared to the hundreds of parts that make up the internal combustion engine used in gasoline cars. For example, the standard Prius Panasonic batteries now have replacement costs under $3,000, which are steadily decreasing; these batteries are warranteed for 100,000-150,000 miles in different states.

(photo: iStock)

Electric car infrastructure and options in Chicago

I-GO Car Sharing, another environmentally sound way to reduce oil and pollution, has also been working with the city government to bring these electric vehicles to its Chicago market. I-GO will have 36 electric charging stations dedicated to its car sharing vehicles; furthermore, they have announced plans to install solar canopies at 15 stations so the ‘electric fleet’ will run on clean solar power.

If Chicagoans fully embrace the optimistic environmental promise of electric cars at an unexpected rate, there have been plans to get ahead on the potential impact on the electric system. Partially funded by the federal government, electric car infrastructures have been developed as part of a smart grid demonstration project. Exelon and the city have announced 280 charging stations to merge across Chicagoland by the year’s end, two of which will be solar powered.

ComEd is preparing now for what may be a large influx of PHEVs in the market and managing its impact on the grid…And they are putting in place the charging infrastructure to demonstrate that Chicago is plug-in ready.” – Kerry Kelly-Guiliano, Exelon spokesperson

What is the U.S. Electric Car Forecast?

By 2015, there will be an expected 1.5 million electric vehicles in the United States and over 10 million electric vehicles are possible by 2020. These forecasts are directly correlated with the current state of our economy and environment, especially if oil price continue to rise as subsequent battery prices fall. With renewable energy investment required of utilities in 30 states, these utilities are most interested in night time charging of electric vehicles with wind, geothermal and hydropower.

By 2011 year-end, competition will be powerful for electric car leadership. The battle for control will most certainly be a struggle for some manufacturers due to the time and cost of safety and other regulatory approvals, delays in funding, and general, unpleasant mechanical surprises brought on by a new market with unexplored products.

The environmental revolution starts with one small step, and Chicago is officially prepared to take the leap. As a city that already embraces public transportation with its incredible CTA rail system, the understanding and awareness of how much damage and pollution automobiles are causing the environment should entice Chicagoans to promote further change.

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Thanks, Thersa!

Cheers,

Rob.

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.