What was the world's first electric car? If you are thinking Honda or Toyota, look elsewhere. You have to go back to 1899, the year La Jamais contente (the "never satisfied") was built. The inventor? Belgian Camille Jenatzy.
On April 29, 1899, the 1.5-ton car reached the incredible (for the time) top speed of 105.88 km/h.
Eventually, the petrol-powered car edged the electric car out. Yet today, this "old" technology is "in" once again. Is the electric car going to have its revenge? Maybe. Petrol stocks are alarmingly low.
The advantage when you drive an electric car is that you don't need gasoline, or very little if you are at the wheel of a hybrid. Giving the rising fuel prices, it's a big advantage. So why is it that the LEAF, Nissan's 100% electric car, burns two litres of fuel per 100 kilometres?
The answer is simple.
Does 21.1 kWh/100km sound any more familiar? Probably not.
Which is why carmakers, together with government authorities, have elaborated a new standard unit of measurement, called litre equivalent (Le). It gives consumers a way to compare consumption figures of various electric cars.
According to Natural Resources Canada, a litre of gasoline has the same energy potential as 8.9 kWh. So for an electric car using 19.6 kWh every 100 km, the equivalent in litres of fuel is 19.6 kWh/100 km x 1/8,9 kWh = 2.2 Le/100 km.
"Fuel consumption" for electric cars is as following:
For more details on these models, visit www.nrcan.gc.ca
It can therefore be said that for every 100 km, your petrol-powered car will cost you an average of $11.50 (at an average of 10L/100km); an electric car with extended range will cost $2.76 and a fully electric car, $1.24.
Furthermore, the province of Québec is the only in Canada to offer, since January 1st 2012, financial aid to install a home charging station. A little something to consider.
The biggest downside to electric cars remains their short range which, around town, can become a problem. Perhaps it's not the perfect vehicle for suburban residents, but progress in that area is constant. Maybe in a few years, electric cars' average range will have improved, making battery-powered cars a very interesting alternative.