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This is what happens when you hit the gas - Shannon Odell


5,410 Questions Answered

Earth School

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In 2015, two men drove a Volkswagen across the US on just over 100 gallons of fuel. Their 81-mile-per-gallon performance doubled the car’s estimated fuel rating, and set the record for the lowest fuel consumption ride of a diesel car. The duo were experts in techniques that maximize fuel efficiency. So, how did their strategy save fuel? Shannon Odell explores what’s going on beneath a car’s hood.

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Efficiency: EVs vs. ICEs

Internal combustion engines (ICEs) are less efficient than electric vehicles (EVs) primarily due to the fundamental differences in their energy conversion processes. In an ICE, the combustion of fossil fuels generates mechanical energy, but a significant portion of this energy is lost as heat and friction. In contrast, EVs rely on electric motors powered by batteries, which are inherently more efficient at converting electricity into motion. EVs have the advantage of regenerative braking, which recovers energy during deceleration, further improving their efficiency. Additionally, the centralized power generation and distribution of electricity for EVs can be more efficient and cleaner than the decentralized and often inefficient process of extracting, refining, and transporting fossil fuels for ICEs. These factors collectively make electric vehicles a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly transportation option. The use of fossil fuels has well-documented and hidden costs to humans, animals, and the planet.

Converting an ICE into an EV

Converting a gas-powered car into an electric vehicle involves the removal of the internal combustion engine, replacing it with an electric motor, installing a battery system, motor controller, and charging system, modifying the electrical system for compatibility, ensuring safety features are maintained, and testing all components rigorously. It also requires compliance with legal regulations and documentation of the conversion process, but it's a complex, costly, and specialized endeavor typically done by experts or dedicated enthusiasts.

Not just good for the planet
Most people know that EVs are better for the environment overall. But there are ton of ways that EVs beat out their ICE competitors.

- Lower Operating Costs: EVs are more energy-efficient than internal combustion engine vehicles, and electricity is often cheaper than gasoline or diesel fuel. This results in lower operating costs over the lifetime of the vehicle.

- Reduced Maintenance: EVs have fewer moving parts than traditional vehicles, which means less wear and tear. They typically require less maintenance, resulting in lower servicing costs and longer-lasting components.

- Quiet and Smooth Operation: Electric motors are quieter and offer smoother acceleration than internal combustion engines. This contributes to a more comfortable and peaceful driving experience.

- Instant Torque: Electric motors deliver power instantly, providing quick acceleration and responsive performance, even at low speeds. This can make EVs feel sportier and more fun to drive.

- Regenerative Braking: EVs often incorporate regenerative braking systems that recover energy during deceleration and braking. This improves energy efficiency and can extend the vehicle's range.

- Energy Security: EVs can be charged using various energy sources, including renewable energy such as solar or wind power, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and enhancing energy security.

- Reduced Noise Pollution: The quiet operation of EVs helps reduce noise pollution in urban areas, contributing to a more peaceful environment.

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About Earth School

We can save the world. Speed and Scale shows us how to unlock a cleaner, healthier and safer future by laying out a roadmap that will get us to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. How’s it going to work? We need to electrify transportation, decarbonize the grid, fix food, protect nature, clean up industry and remove carbon. To learn how we’re going to do all that - and to learn how you can take action now - explore this page.

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