Are Electrical Cars for Sri Lanka?

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Published: 09th November 2012
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With the tax deduction in 2010, everyone was paying attention to cars. People forgot about the investments, building or buying houses. Everyone wanted a car. With special tax deduction on hybrid cars, the prices of hybrid cars were reduced to the point where people could afford one just like full gasoline car.

The Toyota Prius and Honda Insight cars became a common site in Colombo city in Sri Lanka. This made most of the Sri Lankans to be interested on hybrid technology and how it can be beneficial. Though itís controversial, most people believe that these dual power trains of electric power and engine power combination are the future. But some disagree. Some people believe all electric cars are the future. Letís look at the aspect of electric cars and these strange cars hold for us.

What is an electric car?
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An electric car is an automobile that is propelled by an electric motor. Normally the electrical energy is stored in batteries. The electric motor replaces the engine of a gasoline engine and removing the engine removes some other components such as gear box, radiator, exhaust system and much more.

So what?
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Yes, whatís the advantage or what makes people go and buy an electric car replacing the old gasoline companion? The major factor is fuel cost. Everyone is concerned about the ever rising fuel cost and the fact that the fossil fuel will not last long. The Nissan Leaf is the best selling electric car in 2012. Nissan claims that its fuel economy is 300+ mpg equivalent. In another term, the electricity cost will be lower than the fuel cost of Indian motor bike.

The environmental concerns have flavoured the electric cars over combustion engines. Although the electric car itself doesnít make any emission (zero emission), this depends on how the electricity is generated. If the electricity is generated by burning fossil fuel, the emission will not be zero. But there are alternatives. With the alternative power sources getting more advanced, we may have a replacement power source for fossil fuel. The solar panels are getting more and more efficient and the world is mastering the technology of harvesting the wind energy. In Sri Lanka there are several wind power plants, but those donít contribute to the national energy need in significant numbers.

Can I replace my car with an electric car?
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Yes, May be not. Letís take a scenario. If you are person living in Colombo and you hardly travel away from city limits, a Nissan leaf can be a good choice. You will have a nice smooth ride which will not cost any significant cost. As there are very less amount of moving parts, the repairs should be simple. Battery is main unit which will need attention after few years. Most of the electric cars give around 100,000 km warranty for the battery. [By November 2012, Nissan Leaf is not available in Sri Lanka.]

If you happen to travel outstation in the weekend, an electric car might not be the best option. Normal electric car will have the maximum range around 150 Km. This value can largely depends on the other factors like driving behaviour, outside temperature, air conditioner usages, etc. Other issue is Sri Lanka is yet to have the first public charging station for electric cars.

Final word
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Electric cars can be very attractive in all aspects and but right now itís not for everyone. With the time the cars will have better driving range in single charge, will take less time to charge, more public charging stations will be available and the price of a cars will come down. Till that time, we probably stick in to our old gasoline companion.

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