Electric Vehicle Basics
What is an electric car? What does it mean to be “electric”? What does kWh mean? What are the benefits of an electric vehicle? Which electric car models are available in HK? Our chapter “Electric Vehicle Basics” will give you all the answers to those questions and explain much more.
I. Definitions And Types Of Electric Cars
The answer to all these questions are very simple, the powertrain makes the difference. The way the power is generated to drive an electric vehicle is completely different to a car with an internal combustion engine. An electric car shows the following main components of a powertrain:
An electric motor is powered by the electricity, which is simply stored in a rechargeable battery or in some cases, in a fuel cell. Electric cars are known to be very quiet and able to provide instant torque for a strong and smooth acceleration, while being a lot more energy efficient than gasoline cars. Not all electric cars work in the same way.
What is ‘EV’? Plug-ins? Hybrids? Range extenders? Fuel cells?
The different classifications you may hear when someone is talking about electric cars can be very confusing! That is why below we will clarify all you need to know about the different terms and definitions of every type of electric car.
In general electric cars are often called “EV`s”, which stands for electric vehicles. Using this terminology is not necessarily wrong, but at the same time not very accurate, as electric vehicles can also refer to any other vehicle using an electric motor for propulsion e.g. trains, trams, or buses. The term “Plug-in”refers to the fact that the car is able to recharge the power of its onboard battery by plugging into an external power source – Simply put, the car has a plug. The term “Hybrid”means that there are two different sources of power available. For example, an electric engine and a combustion engine. There are several classifications for different levels of Hybrids depending on which power source plays a bigger role.
Overall there are several types of electric cars (EV`s), all which have different configurations for the electrification of the powertrain, but there are only three which are important to know:
PHEV – “Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle”
These electric vehicles have powertrains, which are a mix (hybrid) between a combustion engine and an electrical motor. The car can be driven using any of the two, although for most of the models the combustion engine serves as the main source of power, whereas the electrical motor is only for short trips, mainly in city traffic. It is called a “Plug-in” because compared to a normal Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) there is a battery on board which can be recharged externally. There are Plug-in Hybrids that are called PHEV`s with Range Extender. For those cars, the electrical powertrain is the main source of power and they have a small gasoline engine which is able to generate power if the battery is running low. For example, the BMW i3 offers an option like this.
BEV – “Battery Electric Vehicle”
These vehicles are driven solely by electric propulsion, there is no gasoline engine or tank at all. The power is supplied by a battery that can be recharged by plugging it into an electricity grid. The electric motor converts the energy provided by the battery to generate a torque, which is used to spin the wheels and get the car moving. Battery Electric Vehicles don’t produce any tailpipe emissions while driving. Still, there is an ongoing debate whether electric cars are truly eco-friendly. Some argue that if the energy source used to charge is not being produced in a sustainable manner, it may not be as environmentally friendly as we might believe.
FCV – “Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle”
These vehicles are also only driven by electric propulsion, only the energy source is a different one. The energy input is provided by refilling a hydrogen tank, which is necessary to generate the electricity in a fuel-cell. Although this type of vehicle is not very well known by the public, there is quite a lot of research ongoing by different automotive companies to develop efficient Fuel Cell Vehicles as a part of a future mobility strategy.
II. A brief history of Electric Cars
The electric car is a reflection of a futuristic mode of transportation. For most people, it is believed to be a recent invention, but in fact during the late 19th century electric cars outnumbered gasoline cars by 10 to 1. During this time the electric car held several automobile records. For example, it became the first ever car to break a speed barrier of 100 km/h (62 mph). It is only over the past few years that the electric car has gained more and more wide spread attention.
In the beginning of the 20th century, the progress in automating the assembly of cars helped gasoline engines to become a cheaper and more viable option for the industry. Additionally, the biggest problem electric cars faced was the inefficient battery technology of the era. The amount of energy which could be stored was just enough to provide a very limited range of motion. On top of that, the time required to recharge was just impractical. For a very long time electric cars were doomed to be forgotten. There has been some progress in the 60’s, when several car manufacturers started EV development programs, but the breakthroughs were not significant enough to satisfy potential buyers.
It took till the end of the 20th century to reignite the interest in electric cars. There are several factors and trends that influence a new mindset for an evolving group of people. Namely those who desire a life of sustainable energy, environmentally friendly transportation and new concepts of mobility within growing cities. Even though the history of electric cars goes back more than a hundred of years, the real revolution is just budding.
III. Specifications of an Electric Car
What is kW – kWh – hp – torque – Range? For those new to the world of EV`s, a lot of new terms and specification can be quite confusing. Below is a guide of definitions and explanations covering the basics you may need to know.
kW Kilo-Watt – How much power does your electric car have? A watt is a unit of power. One kilowatt equals to 1000 watt. It is usually used to express the output power of different types of engines. It can be converted into horsepower (1 kW = ca. 1.34 hp), which is very common for electric cars, as horsepower is better known and a well-established measurement. Kilowatts is also used as a specification for the charging rate of an electric car. How fast can you charge your electric car? You may find that different on-board chargers have different specifications, which influence how fast you can recharge your battery. The higher the number, the more kW per hour can be stored.
hp Horsepower – Many car owners are familiar with this specification since it is a common unit of measurement of the power of gasoline cars. The power output from an electric car can be measured in horsepower as well as in kilowatts (1 kW = ca. 1.34 hp). Though, when comparing the horsepower from a gasoline car to an electric car, we have to differentiate it a little bit. A big difference is that an electric engine is able to deliver immediate power and torque as soon as you hit the throttle, whereas a gasoline engine needs some time to provide peak torque. In simple words, that means even if both cars have the same horsepower specs, the electric car will always win the first sprint.
kWh Kilo-Watt hour– How much energy can your battery store? Kilowatt-hour is a measure of energy. It tells you how much work can be done or how far can your car drive. For electric cars this specification is a crucial one, since it describes how much energy your battery pack can store, which is the very foundation for how far you can drive with a full battery. The bigger the number, the more energy can be stored, and therefore the higher the range of the car will be. For example, you know that a Tesla P85 (85 kWh) has a higher range than a Nissan Leaf (24kWh). The range will likely vary like with any other car, depending on a variety of external factors.
Nm Newton-meter unit for torque – How fast can your electric car accelerate? Whilst horsepower tells you how much power your car can provide at peak, torque tells you how fast your car can actually accelerate and deliver this power. As described before, an electric powertrain is extremely efficient in delivering power to the wheels immediately. Simply said, the higher the torque, the faster the acceleration of the vehicle.
Range How far can you drive your EV without recharging? This is a measure of how far the car can theoretically take you when on a full battery. Similar to a gasoline powered car the range can vary drastically depending on different factors like temperature or driving style.
EPA EPA rated range – The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States is rating electric cars based on different categories. One of them is an estimation of the average range of each vehicle. They use a single full depletion test to determine range and AC energy consumption for multiple drive cycle types.
MpGe Miles per Gallon (electric) – A term usually used for gasoline cars, it illustrates how many miles you can drive with one gallon of gas. Based on the energy content of gasoline, this term can be calculated for electric cars as well. Since an electric powertrain is much more efficient compared to gasoline cars, we can pretty much neglect this specification. The focus should always be on the driving range, which is mostly determined by how much energy can be stored in the EV`s battery pack (kWh).
IV. Benefits Of An Electric Car
Are Electric Cars Environmentally Friendly?
Electric cars are often advertised as zero emission vehicles. There is an ongoing discussion about the fact that this claim may not be exactly true, as electric cars simply shift the pollution away from the place where they are driving to where the power is produced. This means there is no actual tailpipe emission, so for places like Hong Kong this is already a huge advantage and a great way to avoid contributing to air pollution.
Another point to consider is that an EV is the only vehicle that gets more environmentally friendly over the time, as the worldwide energy production shifts more and more towards sustainable energy sources like solar and wind. Another reason why an electric car is more sustainable than a car with a combustion engine is the fact that it has a much higher energy efficiency. If you look at the energy consumption from the tank to the wheels, a gasoline car covers less than 20% of the fuel`s actual energy into usable power for the car! In contrast, an electric car converts more than 75% of the input energy into power used by the vehicle. That means an electric car is at least more than 3 times more efficient in terms of converting available energy to actual power than a car with a combustion engine. Even if you take into consideration how that energy is generated and transported to the car, (well to tank view) overall an electric car will always be more efficient in making good use of the provided energy.
How Much Are The Costs Of Ownership For An EV?
In Hong Kong there are plenty of opportunities to recharge your electric car for free, but even if you have to pay for the electricity you use, your cost per mile will always be significantly cheaper than for a car with an internal combustion engine (ICE). For more information on cost of charging and charging in general, please refer to the category “Charging your EV (Electric Vehicle) In HK”.
Another huge advantage is that an electric powertrain has a much simpler structure, with far fewer moving parts, which results in much less maintenance. Generally speaking, the less complex a technology is, the less parts can break. Therefore, the less you will have to pay for check-ups or repair orders. In terms of durability and lasting quality this is a huge advantage for any electric car owner.
Worldwide the average costs of buying an electric car are relatively high. Luckily in Hong Kong’s case the price for a new Electric car is quite low compared to the price of a new gasoline powered car because of governmental incentives. That as well has a positive effect on the market price for used electric cars. We can also assume the prices for electric cars in general will drop drastically in the future due to further development in battery technology and production.
What Is The Driving Experience Of An EV?
It is said that people who are driving an electric car for the first time in their life immediately understand the increase of ride quality compared to the vehicles they have been driving before. The experience is so quiet and smooth that it brings on a whole new sense of comfort. Additionally, a lot of people are surprised about the high torque, which immediately delivers full power to the wheels and therefore ensures an exhilarating and fun driving experience. Take a look at this video to further understand what we are talking about.
To add to the excitement, most of the available EV models in the market today offer a ‘state of the art’ human interface technology onboard and provide many new driving and safety features, which support a driver in various situations. This is by far the most exciting era of automotive engineering, building towards a previously unthinkable way of travel.
V. Available Electric Cars in Hong Kong
Following you can see a list of electric cars (BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle), which are available to buy in Hong Kong and have been type-approved by the Transport Department:
- Tesla Model S, Tesla Roadster
- BMW i3, BMW i8
- Renault Fluence Z.E.
- Renault ZOE
- BYD e6
- Tazzari Zero EM1
- Smart Fortwo electric
- Volkswagen eGOLF
- Nissan Leaf
- Nissan e-NV200
- Mitsubishi iMiEV
- EuAuto MyCar
- Smith Edison Panel Van
- Micro-Vett Electric Doblo
VI. Governmental Benefits
Below we have included an excerpt from the HK Government website on how the use of electric cars gets promoted in Hong Kong:
- First Registration Tax for EV`s is waived till end March 2017. Furthermore, enterprises which procure EV`s are allowed 100% profits tax deduction for the capital expenditure on EV`s in the first year of procurement.
- A HK$300 million Pilot Green Transport Fund has been put in place since March 2011 for application by transport operators and non-profit-making organizations providing services to their clients and goods vehicle owners, encouraging them to try out innovative green and low carbon transport technologies (including EV`s).
- The ultimate policy objective of the Government is to have zero emission buses running across the territory. To this end, the Government allocated $180 million for franchised bus companies to purchase 36 single-deck electric buses for trial runs to assess their operational efficiency and performance under the local conditions. The first batch of five battery-electric buses has commenced operation by end 2015, and the remaining electric buses are expected to be put into service progressively in 2016.
VII. What does this Website offer?
www.ElectricCars.hk – where demand meets supply!
Browse the biggest marketplace for electric cars in Hong Kong and get in touch with the people who want to sell their cars privately. Our “customer-to-customer platform” exclusively targets the market for used EV. ElectricCars.hk provides you with the opportunity to choose from a wide selection of available EV`s in Hong Kong. It allows you to compare each and every electric car, to contact the seller and to be a proud owner within days. At the same time, the website creates a source of accessible information, which aims to educate customer on all they need to know when it comes to owning an electric car in Hong Kong. Through various social media channels, a blog and a newsletter, this website makes it easy for anyone interested in electric mobility to stay up to date and be informed.
Why buy your car from a private person?
- Convenient and easy access to the biggest online marketplace for electric cars in Hong Kong
- Possibility to compare what the market has to offer without any extra effort
- Profit from previous owner experiences
- Find the most suitable electric car for you with the best price the market has to offer
- Easy and fast way to get in touch with the seller
Why sell your car privately?
Sell your electric car at a great return on Hong Kong’s No.1 marketplace specifically designed for electric cars. Our free service aims to provide a “customer-to-customer platform” for people to sell and buy a used EV in Hong Kong. At the same time, the website creates a source of accessible information, which aims to educate customers on all they need to know when it comes to owning an electric car in Hong Kong.
- Free and convenient opportunity to reach the perfect target customer group
- No need to spend a lot of time and effort to drive to different dealers to see who wants to buy and who offers the most
- Let the customer come to you
- Get the highest price the market actually offers, not just the price your dealer is willing to pay
- Very fast upload and big impact
Upload your electric car in just three easy steps:
- Provide the necessary information about your electric car
- Upload some pictures and write a compelling description
- Upload your electric car for free or boost advert with one of our special packages
VIII. Checklist For Buying A Used Electric Car In Hong Kong
Here are some questions you need to think about when buying a used electric car in Hong Kong:
- What is the number of previous owners?
- What are the important features of this car?
- What is the condition of the car?
- Interior – Quality of the interior materials. Are there any stains? Did the previous owner smoke in the car?
- Exterior – Are there any scratches or dents? Has the car been parked under a roof or outside?
- Has this car ever been involved in an accident?
- How much warranty remains, especially for the battery?
- Service – Did the previous owner do all the services which are required by the manufacturer? When was the last service, when is the next?
- How and where will I charge the electric car that I am about to buy?
- Does the owner want to sell his/her EVSE charging equipment as well?
IX. Taking An Eye Catching Picture Of Your Electric Car
Great pictures, detailed descriptions and reaching the right target customer are the key cornerstones to an effective advertisement of your car. Invest a little bit of time in creating a compelling and convincing advert and you will heavily increase your chances of selling your car faster and for a higher price. For a potential customer, it is crucial to get as many details on a car as possible. The better the potential buyer can judge your advertisement, the more likely it is that he will get in touch with you. Our website allows you to upload up to 6 images. The more pictures you upload, the better. You should make sure to take a variety of images in different angles. Lighting and background are crucial for any good picture. Pictures taken in a dark and small car park are not ideal, we suggest the images be taken in open areas with plenty of natural light. In the following paragraph we show some examples of what the buyer actually wants to see:
- Cover Picture: Full Body shot (Front/Side): The cover picture is the most important one, as it will be shown in the list of available vehicles. We would suggest taking a full body shot where the buyer is able to see the whole car from the front and the side.
- Full Body Shot (Back/Side)Extra Tip: If you take this picture turn your wheels to the right so that your rims are more visible (See example).
- Inside Shot (Cockpit + Seats)
- Inside Shot Cockpit (from Backseats)
- 2 detailed images: It is also very important to highlight anything that is unique and special about your electric car. Do you have special rims? Show them in a big format! Do you have a big sunroof? Show it! Do you have unique leather seats? Show them!
X. Writing An Intriguing Description About Your Electric Car
The more details and features you share in your advert, the better!
Invest a little bit of time in creating a compelling and convincing description and you will heavily increase your chances of selling your car faster and for a higher price. For a potential customer, it is crucial to get as many details on a car as possible. The better the potential buyer can judge your advertisement, the more likely it is that he will get in touch with you. Our website is already designed to give as much detail as possible about your car in a click. However, the description field allows you to elaborate further and share the cars history. What does a potential buyer really want to know?
- Has the car had any accidents?
- When and where did you buy the car?
- Number of previous owners
- Overall condition of exterior and interior
- Has the car been parked outside or in a car park?
- Was the car serviced regularly?
- How many miles can the car still go with a full charge?
- What is the remaining warranty plan for the car?