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Digital Special Effects

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The Electric Vehicle

The technology of electric vehicles has been around since the turn of the nineteenth century but faded as the gasoline powered engine took the spotlight. Now the future of electric vehicles is very bright. Their impacts are very significant ranging from economic, to new technology that can be applied elsewhere, to most importantly, the environment. Ford and GM, through its Saturn plant, have already begun production on their own version of the electric vehicle and have made them available to the public. In 1998 California plans to have one percent of its major auto makers sell electric vehicles and other states have looked into the same possibility, mainly Massachusetts and New York. Imagine driving a quieter, cleaner car with the windows down letting the clean pollution free air flow throughout the car, sound appealing? Production of the ever advancing technological electric vehicle can make it happen!

Statement of Problem

The problem of this study was to research the development and impacts of the electric vehicle. At the turn of the 19th Century when automobiles were new, electric vehicles outnumbered gasoline-powered vehicles. The problem for the electric car was that electric battery technology did not improve nearly as fast as gasoline technology and by 1910 the interest in the development of the electric vehicle had all but ceased (Sedgwick 1996). Electric vehicles made a surge back onto the national scene because of the oil crisis of the late seventies and the early eighties, but nterest soon dropped however, because the crisis was soon solved. Today the current surge of interest in electric vehicles replacing the internal combustion engine, or ICE, is due strictly to one concern, air quality. The world's population is booming and cars are polluting the world's cities, dumping large amounts of carbon dioxide and other climate-altering greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and cons!

uming vast quantities of petroleum (Sperling 1995). Now is the time for the solution, the electric car.

Development of the Technology

California single handedly pushed the automotive industry into developing the electric vehicle to its fullest capacity by instituting, in 1990, the zero-emission vehicle mandate, or ZEV. It requires that a specified manufacturer's sales consist of ZEV's. The ZEV mandate may be the single most important event in the history of transportation since Henry Ford began mass-producing cars eighty years ago (Sperling 1995). The mandate is set to take effect in 1998 in California and as many as five other states have considered adopting the ZEV mandate for themselves, with New York already mandating the policy. Several auto makers have filed suit against the ZEV mandate, but the latest rulings have gone against the auto makers.

In 1989, Los Angeles City Council member Marvin Braude issued a worldwide bid for 10,000 electric vehicles to be delivered to southern California in the mid-1990's (Sperling 1995). The bid was met with major skepticism from major automotive companies about the market for the electric vehicles, and the bid was granted to Clean Air Transport, an Anglo-Swedish company with a small number of employees. The company spent millions to build a hybrid electric-gasoline car but could not get any funding to begin manufacturing. As a result, the company simply disappeared in the early nineties, but it did not matter because by this time the major auto makers had taken interest.

Elsewhere in the world, many other countries were also experimenting with electric vehicles. British manufacturers never stopped producing these vehicles and had turned out several thousand electric milk delivery trucks a year. By 1990 it was estimated that 33,000 of these were on England's roads. In Japan, major auto makers had indulged themselves in the development of the electric vehicle during the 1970's, but backed off their efforts in the 1980's only after they had built a small number of small electric vehicles. In the early 1990's the Japanese were skeptical about the electric market, for the same reasons as the American companies were, and decided to hold out on further development.

The next key event occurred on January 3, 1990, when Roger Smith, CEO of General Motors, held a press conference to unveil the sporty battery-operated Impact (Sperling 1995). General Motors fell under the California ZEV mandate requiring major auto makers (those selling over 35,000 vehicles a year in California) and thus was the first to announce its plans to produce and electric vehicle. Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, Honda, Nissan and Mazada all met the numerical qualification of a major dealer and are thus subject to the ZEV mandate taking effect in 1998. Six of the seven auto makers have unveiled their own version of the electric vehicle, with a few still in the prototype phase. GM, through Saturn, has also joined the race and unveiled its EM V-1 electric vehicle (which was the Impact) while Ford and Chrysler plan to begin full production of their electric Ecostar and TEVan respectively. Honda finally unveiled its electric version of the new RAV 4 at the end of 1996, succ!

essfully entering them in the EV market These companies are expected to produce electric subcompact cars, minivans and light pickups as the deadline nears.

Not all electric vehicles produced for 1998 will come from these seven auto makers. Smaller auto makers like Mercedes and Volvo are expected to produce electric vehicles of their own to compete with the other seven (Yamaguchi 1996). A small American company, Solectria, has already started production on a full sized sedan, a pickup truck and a roadster.

Impacts on Humans

I. New Technology

A. Range

The electronic vehicle, or EV, is driven by a battery that runs exclusively on electric. The batteries that exist today have a limited range between fifty and seventy-five miles per full charge. Newer prototype batteries have a rather large increase in their range, but they are still prototypes. The longest range documented by an EV in one charge is 230 miles (Moore 1996). It used a new prototype battery from Electrosource in Texas that is near production and at a reasonable cost. The limited range of the EV in use today really is not a problem considering the fact that Californians, the main users of the EV, drive on an average of forty miles a day (Moore 1996). This means that the owner will have to plug the battery into a 110v. ac power source and let it charge for eight to ten hours, the current time it takes to fully charge the present batteries. Fast charging



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