Interested in learning more about electric cars? Look no further. We’ll give you some history, tell you the difference between not only EVs and fuel-powered cars, but also EVs and hybrids. Plus, we’ll tell you how electric cars work, and how to rent one with SIXT. But before we go there…
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ELECTRIC CARS
- You may think electric cars are a new thing, but the first one was invented long ago. Thomas Parker built the first mass-production electric car in 1884. Electric cars actually became more popular than any other kind of car in the 1890s.
- In the 1920s, the demand for long-distance travel and the lowering of gas prices hurt electric cars. From the ’30s to the ’60s, the popularity of electric cars was fading. The 1973 oil crisis revived the electric car and California instituted the Zero Emissions Vehicle Act in 1990.
- Then the oil industry forced electric cars off the road and California cut its Zero Emissions Act. The 2006 movie “An Inconvenient Truth” exposed the global warming crisis.
- More carmakers entered the EV game as GM returned with the Chevrolet Volt electric car, and Tesla introduced the sexy Tesla Roadster electric.
- Now, you can find electric car models from Porsche, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Drako Motors, Bentley, Byton, MINI Cooper, Lotus, Honda, Audi, Hyundai, Ford and more.
ELECTRIC VS GAS: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Externally, the difference is electric cars don’t have an exhaust pipe. Under the hood, the difference is distinct. The only moving part on an electric car is the motor, while a gas-powered car has hundreds. Fewer parts mean less maintenance and more reliability. The only part on an electric car likely to require occasional replacement is the battery. But, even that’s changing due to new and improved technology that gives them a longer life. Also, electric engines are more efficient than conventional engines, making them cheaper to operate.
HOW IS A HYBRID CAR DIFFERENT FROM AN EV?
- A hybrid car is an electric car with a backup gas engine. They’re cleaner than gas cars, have an extended range through regenerative braking, and can allow you to avoid congestion charges as well as enjoy tax breaks. There are four types of hybrids: full hybrid, mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and extended-range electric vehicle (EREV).
- Hybrids can run just on their electric motors, gas engine, or a mixture of both. The gas engine is responsible for most of the power. It switches on once the battery power maxes out.
- Partial hybrids have an electric motor, but can’t be driven exclusively by it. They can only use their gas engine that is aided by the electric motor.
- A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) can be recharged by plugging it into an external electricity source. These have a larger battery giving them a longer range and more speed than a full hybrid.
- Extended-range electric vehicles are a type of PHEV that use the gas engine purely to recharge the electric motor, rather than to power the car.
HOW DO ELECTRIC CARS WORK?
Let’s follow the power flow: When you plug an EV into a charging point, it takes electricity and stores it in the rechargeable battery. The battery, in turn, powers the electric motor and other components in the car. One plus of driving an electric vehicle is that the acceleration is quicker than a traditional fuel-powered vehicle. Another cool thing happening under the hood is that the electric motor takes the kinetic energy generated by the regenerative braking system and uses it to power the car!
WHAT ABOUT CHARGING?
EV charging can be split into 3 categories: slow, fast, and rapid. Charging times depend on how drained the battery is and what method you use but can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 10 hours. The slow charging via a standard plug would be found most often at home, while the socketed and tethered kinds that are used for fast and rapid charging are more likely to be found at charging stations in parking lots, on the street, or along Interstate highways. Learn more with how to charge electric cars guide.
RENTING AN ELECTRIC CAR WITH SIXT
Now you know some facts about electric cars. But to truly understand electric cars, you have to drive one. Your best bet is to rent one and try it on for size. SIXT currently doesn’t have EVs in its US fleet. But we have a large selection in Spain, the Netherlands (where we also have Tesla), Germany, and France. Additionally, we provide EVs through SIXT share in Germany, where you can drive a Renault Zoe. Among our electric car models are the BMW i3, BMW i8, Jaguar I-Pace, and Audi e-tron.