Charge your electric car at Walmart

Electric vehicle charging stationDrivers of electric cars can charge their car for free at the Easton Walmart. The store recently opened the first public charging station in partnership with American Electric Power. More charging stations are popping up around Ohio as electric cars like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf become more popular. American company, ECOtality (pretty cool stuff there!) provided the charging stations. –Columbus Dispatch

Walmart is also trying to innovate its shipping fleet with hybrids, biodiesel, etc. They estimate they could save $300 million.

UA Earth Day Wrap Up

The University of Akron’s Earth Day “Do it now for the enviROOment” was last Wednesday. It was really a fantastic event, and generated a lot of student interest by showing practical renewable energy solutions. There was a wind turbine, 4 cars, a VegiTerranean food demo, bicycles, the Akron Metro RTA, a rain barrel, and so much more. The outside stage was powered by solar panels – Renewable energy in action!

Cars

IMG_9561It was so great to see the students checking out the electric cars. The Myers Motors NmG was featured, along with the Zenn electric car, and a self-converted Honda DelSol. Dr. Ross brought his biodiesel VW Beetle. It’s simply a diesel beetle which he runs on used vegetable oil from VegiTerranean.

I love the NmG from Myers Motors. It’s a one-person car, which is so practical. We all drive 5 person cars, but we only have 1 person in it for a majority of the time. Why not drive a 1 person car? And then have another car for family trips. Technology usually innovates to match our lifestyles, but continuing to make 5 person (or more) cars is one area where innovation has fallen away. It would make sense for each family to have a 1 person car, and a family car. Myers is currently working on new battery technology to make it run longer. They would also like to make a 2 person car.

I’ve never seen the Zenn electric car before. North Central Zenn brought their electric car. It was awesome! At $17,000, it’s the same price is a regular new car. The one displayed had a cloth roll-top. It seats 2 (very practical), and is designed for city driving. (The Zenn is pictured)

IMG_9619I loved the biodiesel VW Beetle. By using vegetable oil, he can operate his car cost-free. He simply separates particles from the oil and pours the pure oil into his car. Diesel engines were meant to run on vegetable oil, so this solution is so efficient. It’s a pure reuse. Instead of using ethanol, which comes from harvested plants, biodiesel reuses oil that normally would have to be processed.

Part 2 tomorrow…

Turn your car into a hybrid

A friend of mine is looking to buy a new car, and in his search, he test-drove a Toyota Prius. He was surprised that it “drove like a normal car.” But, he’s turned off by the sticker price of a new hybrid – at least $26,000. You can’t blame him there! (I got mine used for $10,000 and it drives the same as a new one, and is still covered by the warranty.) Anyway after owning a hybrid, here’s my suggestion:

Get a small car with good gas mileage. (The Honda Fit is awesome, as are any of the old favorites – Corolla, Civic, etc.) Then, turn it off when you’re stopped in traffic for more than 30 seconds! That will basically achieve the benefits of a hybrid without the high sticker price and the mandatory automatic transmission of hybrids. The only real benefit I’ve seen to my car is that it turns off when I stop. You can do that yourself in any car and save $10,000 for the hybrid technology. (Source: Consumer Energy Center)

So, pick a car you like with responsible mileage and turn it off when you’re at a stoplight. You’ll save a ton of money and gas!

I have 3 other suggestions: 1) drive your car until it dies – you still have to fix new cars, plus having a monthly payment. 2) buy a used car. 3) wait for the VW Diesel-Hybrid and run it on vegetable oil from your favorite fast food joint – that’s free fuel! Read Biodiesel Myths Dispelled

One more… get the Smart Car!! I saw one driving in Akron on Saturday night.

Trev, the renewable energy car

trev-green-carStudents at the University of South Australia have created a two-seater renewable energy car. The lithium ion polymer battery lasts over 150 km between charges, making it the longest-lasting electric car. When charged at home, the Trev costs”$1 AUD per 100km to run, using what is said to be 1/5th of the energy of conventional car.” (that’s $.88 per 62 miles)

The Trev carries two people and two large bags. If people use solar or wind energy for their power, it is truly a renewable energy car.

Treehugger

It makes petrol look silly. -UniSA

Solar Carport

carportMy favorite type of car is electric. An electric car is very practical for someone like me with a very short daily commute. In fact, most Americans drive less than 40 miles per day, making electric cars very sensible. It would be great to have an electric car (powered with clean energy), and a hybrid or some other lower emission car for longer distances.

Unfortunately, electric cars are not ideal when we’re tied to a coal-based power grid. The best option is to use renewable electricity. Currently, that’s hard to come by, but now you can charge your car or your home with the LifePort Solar Carport. LifePort has built a carport with a solar roof that provides enough power to charge your car, for free! (that sounds like a commercial, but I think it’s pretty cool) You can even hook the carport up to your home, and power your home during the day while your car is with you at work.

Here are some specs on the LifePort Solar Carport, taken from their website. Someone could even insulate the carport and turn it into an office or rec room. The price is high to start, but the return on investment based on increased property values is outstanding. Not to mention the environmental benefits… never having to buy gas again… lower electric bills… the list of benefits goes on and on with renewable energy.

DO-IT-YOURSELF PRICE:
LifePortTM Structure with 4.8 kW DC System: $45,199

ESTIMATED INCREASE IN PROPERTY VALUE: $50,020 – $74,762

ESTIMATED CO2 DISPLACED:
(over 25 year life term of system)
142 tons, equivalent to 284,000 automobile miles

Build your own electric car

An Alaskan teenager has converted his 1971 VW Super Beetle to an electric car. As part of shop class, Bart learned about electric cars, and decided to try it out with his VW Beetle. He is posting his progress on Austin EV. Here is everything you need to know to build your own electric car! You can actually use golf cart batteries, and the cost of conversion is generally around $4,000-6,000.

If you would rather buy one, here are the top ten electric cars you can buy now (kind of).

Electric cars cost about $.50 a day to drive. That’s less than $15 a month. Anyone pay $15 a month for gas? Also, maintenance is a breeze. All that’s required is to fill the batteries with water, and keep everything clean. No oil changes, no spark plugs, no heater core, no exhaust system, no catalytic converter… need I go on?

electricI’ve driven an electric car, the 1980 Renault Lectric Leopard – originally called LeCar (photo). It was honestly one of the most beautiful cars I have ever seen. I considered buying it, but it had a few quirks. The brakes on the car I drove were really tough. I’m not sure if that’s usual. They generally don’t have heat, because heat is generated by the combustion engine, which electric cars don’t have. There are a few ways to solve this – you could buy a heater that plugs into the cigarette lighter, or heat the interior before you drive. Anyway, it wasn’t a practical decision for me at this time, so I settled for a Hybrid. I believe in electric cars, and I love to see more people converting to electric. (Ideally, you would have a renewable source of energy for your home, and plug your car into that.)