Battery Electric cars: MPG Obsolete

Hybrid and battery electric cars are gaining popularity.  Factors such as the rising price of gasoline and diesel, as well as growing concerns over the availability and environmental impact of carbon-based fuels, are causing more people to look toward greener options like hybrid and electric vehicles.  With already stellar fuel economy numbers for these green automobiles getting even better by the day, it is no wonder that commuters are accepting this new technology with open arms.

In the past, someone conscious of fuel economy who was shopping for a new vehicle had a relatively easy task of discerning the difference in projected fuel cost between them.  Since miles per gallon was the universal metric by which one could compare the fuel economy of one vehicle to another, it was rather easy to assess the cost of operating the car.  Thirty miles per gallon was twice as good as fifteen miles per gallon--easy!


Today, with the advent of battery electric cars, such as hybrids and electric autos, assessing the cost of operating them becomes somewhat fuzzier.  Given the fact that electricity can't be metered out in gallons, comparing the fuel-efficiency of an electric vehicle to one that burns gas is difficult.  How does one compare apples to oranges?  The answer is: we must invent a new fruit.  Some have proposed using a new metric called miles per gallon equivalent, or MPGe for short, but it may be difficult to accurately convert electricity usage into miles per gallon and could lead to further confusion among consumers.


Electricity usage is typically measured in kilowatt-hours.  Most people have pretty good grasp of this measurement, since they see it on a monthly basis every time they open their power bill.  And with the trend toward newer vehicles using more electricity and less gas, it seems to make more sense to use this method of measuring fuel-economy.  As more battery electric cars come on the market, the connection between the cost of operating your automobile and the amount of your electric bill becomes even more apparent.  For this reason alone, it makes much more sense to convert miles per gallon to kilowatt-hours than vice-versa.


As we go down the road, the horizon will be filled with more green vehicles.  Although these green cars and trucks will still be available in a variety of colors, the common thread will be electricity.  Each day battery technology moves forward, bringing us smaller, lighter, more high-tech and more efficient methods of storing electric power.  These technological advances will undoubtedly bring us more electric vehicles, which will all need window stickers displaying their fuel-efficiency.  The question is: what will that efficiency be measured in?  One thing is for sure: it won't be MPG.

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