What Types of Vehicles?

Beginner
Toyota Echo converted to All-Electric drive.
With lots of elbow grease and EV know-how, Randy Brooks transformed his Toyota Echo into a pollution-free family car.
Toyota Prius Hybrid Vehicle
Biodiesel Fuel Pump
Personal Electric Vehicle
Current Motor Company's Deluxe personal electric vehicle.
Toyota Echo converted to All-Electric drive.
Toyota Prius Hybrid Vehicle
Biodiesel Fuel Pump
Personal Electric Vehicle

What Types of Vehicles?

Home Power started covering alternative vehicles many years ago to recognize what an important piece of the energy puzzle that vehicles are. We cover electric cars, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, and other alternative-propelled vehicles like electric motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, and even skateboards. We cover DIY projects as well as commercially available vehicles. And we cover vehicle efficiency—the eking out of more miles per gallon. We include articles on the fuels they use, like electricity, veggie oil, biodiesel, and hydrogen.

Electric-only vehicles require batteries, except for the high-tech, super-lightweight solar-powered cars that have their bodies covered with PV cells. For practical road and off-road use, there is no way to put a large enough PV array on a vehicle to avoid storing energy in the vehicle, which means using batteries or some other means. Hydrogen is one energy storage method that is seen mostly on experimental electric vehicles, but hydrogen takes a lot of energy to make, and the conversion back to electricity is not very efficient, making the technology currently impractical.

Batteries can only store so much energy, making vehicle range too short to satisfy most travel-hungry drivers. Hybrid vehicles still use fuel, but they do so much more efficiently—often getting twice the mileage that similar non-hybrid vehicles get. They do this by striking a balance between running the car on stored electricity and running on a conventionally-fueled engine—both electric- and engine-powered propulsion.

Hybrid vehicles use a combination of a gasoline engine, and electric motor and batteries. Plug-in hybrid vehicles are a combination of fueled and electric vehicles. They have the engine, but they also have a battery with more capacity than a hybrid’s battery, allowing short trips around town without running the conventionally fueled engine. These vehicles can be plugged into the grid or your solar-electric system to recharge the batteries for the next day’s trip to work and back. Since plug-in hybrids also have an engine, they are suitable for longer trips without having to recharge the batteries.

Comments (2)

Jim and Elaine Stack's picture

Yes the Smart-ED is very low cost and super efficient because it's so light weight. Zero down can be the best so you know exactly what it costs you per month.

Fred Golden's picture

I recently saw a Smart vehicle lease for $139 per month! It is for 10,000 miles a month, 3 years, and requires $3,000 down, making the real cost about $225 per month. This is less than what I am paying each month in gas for my car, and I can recharge with the electric charger free at my work. Got me thinking!

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