Keeping your electric car well maintained

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Image via Flickr creative commons from motorblog

If you’re a keen motorist then you’ll probably be well aware that electric cars have really gained rapidly in popularity over the last decade or so. There have been experiments with electric cars for well over a century – in fact, at one point they were the most popular cars on the market until petrol-powered vehicles took over – and after some ill-fated attempts, electric cars have started to gain mainstream popularity more recently. Electric cars have fallen in price in recent years – but if you’re still a bit strapped for cash, you may be interested to learn that you may be able to buy used electric vehicles with second-hand car finance from ACF Car Finance.

However, there are a number of questions which deter many people from opting to buy electric cars. One thing that puts some drivers off is maintenance – what sort of maintenance electric cars need, how much this is likely to cost and so on. An article from eHow.com offers some pointers when it comes to electric car maintenance. It notes that, in fact, electric cars are mechanically considerably simpler than vehicles with internal combustion engines. However, while electric cars generally require fewer parts than their petrol or diesel-powered counterparts, it is still important to maintain them properly so that you get as much mileage as you can out of them.

Obviously, both electric and petrol/diesel-powered cars have certain maintenance tasks in common – so it’s important not to neglect these if you do opt for an electric-powered vehicle. Make sure you check your tyre pressure regularly, have your brakes serviced at regular intervals and ensure your shock absorbers, struts and other parts are given the once-over every so often. This might sound like an obvious point to make, but nonetheless you should bear it in mind.

Also, electric cars are powered by lithium-ion batteries. It should stand to reason that the more regularly you use your electric car, the quicker its battery will expire. Batteries only have a limited cycle life, so after they’ve been charged and discharged a certain number of times, they’ll no longer work and will need to be replaced. If you start to notice that your electric car’s battery needs charging more frequently, it may be worth taking it to the mechanic so a professional can take a closer look at it. Nevertheless, you will need to replace your car’s battery every few years – this is, as things stand, unavoidable.

You may also be wondering just how much it’ll cost you to maintain your electric car. An article from HowStuffWorks.com provides us with some insight in this regard. It points out that new battery packs can costs thousands of pounds, although manufacturers are looking to develop cheaper and longer-lasting batteries. It also observes that so long as their battery continues to function normally, electric cars should require less maintenance than petrol or diesel-powered cars. This is something you should look very carefully into before you make the decision as to whether you’re going to buy an electric or fossil fuel-powered vehicle.

 

The evolution of the electric car

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Image via Flickr creative commons from exfordy

One of the most striking automotive technological developments of the last few years has been the electric car. At a time when the need to take decisive steps to tackle the growing problem of climate change is becoming ever more apparent, there are those who hope that the electric car will eventually come to supersede petrol and diesel-powered cars. However, it has to be said that electric cars are yet to make the break into the mainstream and so remain relatively niche. However, it is interesting to look at just how the electric car has evolved over the years. Contrary to being a brand new innovation, its history does in fact back well over a century.

According to an article from About.com, it is still disputed as to just who invented the first-ever electric car, but Hungarian Anyos Jedlik did invent a small-scale vehicle powered by an electric motor he designed himself as far back as 1828. Another electric-powered carriage was invented by Scotsman Robert Anderson as some point between 1832 and 1839, while a Professor Stratingh of Holland and his assistant Christopher Becker designed a small-scale electric car of their own in 1835. In that same year, another small electric car was created by American blacksmith Thomas Davenport.

Around 1842, both Davenport and Anderson devised improved electric-powered road vehicles, powered by non-rechargeable electric batteries. Frenchman Gaston Plante developed a more effective battery in 1865, while his compatriot Camille Faure improved on Plante’s battery in 1881. Because the newer generations of batteries provided more effective storage and were longer-lasting, they therefore enabled electric cars of the era to become more practical. Of course, it would prove to be some time before the electric car truly made an impact on the mainstream consciousness. Nevertheless, there have been experiments with electric vehicles for many years.

By the turn of the century, electric, steam and petrol-powered cars were available in the US. As we now know, it was the latter which went on to be comfortably the biggest seller and remains so to this day. However, electric vehicles did still have selling points over and above their gasoline-fuelled counterparts in the early 20th century. They were free of the not-inconsiderable noise, grime and pollution associated with petrol-powered vehicles, for one thing. However, by the 1920s, the need for longer-range journeys lent the gasoline car a crucial advantage over its electric and steam-powered rivals. Charles Kettering’s invention of the electric starter in 1912 also eliminated the need for the hand crank. By the mid-1930s, electric cars had almost disappeared entirely.

As an article from the Guardian points out, it wasn’t for another three decades that the electric car would resurface. The oil price spike of the late 1960s into the 1970s would prompt a global economic crisis which took more than a decade to play out. While Ford, GM and AMC all started to carry out tentative experiments with new electric cars, the eventual decline in oil prices brought this phase to an end. It wasn’t until the 1990s that electric cars once again started to attract the attention of the dominant car manufacturers.

GM’s EV1 attracted a great deal of media attention, but was eventually widely derided as a failure – and within a decade of its appearance, more or less every EV1 had been recalled or destroyed. At around the turn of the millennium, however, manufacturers such as Nissan and Mitsubishi had more success with their own electric cars and in 2011, it was predicted that electric cars would account for 20 per cent of all vehicle sales come 2016. If you’re thinking of buying a used car – and there is used car finance available from ACF Car Finance, incidentally – then you’ll find there are a lot of models to choose from. But don’t overlook the electric car right away, because you could be surprised at what you find.