Everything is changing around us. Thanks to technological advancements, the way we travel is undergoing a considerable transformation. Another factor is the talks around sustainability and climate change. These call for smarter and cleaner vehicles, such as electric cars.
In recent times, automotive magnates such as Jaguar, Volvo and Lotus have revealed plans to sell only electric cars from 2025, 2030 and 2028, respectively. With that said, the E-days are not far!
Electric vehicles or EVs are powered by electricity. This is usually in the form of electric motors that operate through batteries or fuel cells. By definition, the first thing that comes to mind is electric cars. But, electric vehicles also include other modes of transportation such as trucks, bikes and buses. The gamut also extends to planes and boats.
Not only does the phenomenon extend to different modes of transport, but there are several types of electric vehicles that fall under the gamut. These are:
All-electric vehicles: In these vehicles, the only source of power is the battery.
Hybrid vehicles: The term itself is a giveaway! These vehicles use some combination of a combustion engine and an electric motor. In these, the latter recharges whilst the automobile is in motion.
Plug-in hybrids: These two use a combination of combustion engines and rechargeable batteries. The difference is that the batteries here are rechargeable directly by plugging.
Fuel-cell vehicles: The vehicles generate their own electricity from onboard fuels, typically hydrogen. You need not plug the car into an electrical outlet to recharge its batteries.
For simplicity, the focus is on fully electric cars.
Electric cars use electric motors for powering up the wheels. At this point, one might ponder whether these motors get the energy to operate the vehicles. The energy source for these vehicles is a battery that is placed lower down in the car. Note that there is also an additional battery that helps power up the electrics, lights and other crucial functional elements.
These batteries are rechargeable and are done so through electricity grids. With that said, you would require either a wall-mounted or fast charger (such as those at service stations).
Although motors draw the power from the batteries, there needs to be some control regarding the amount. This is where control units come to the rescue. These units use the accelerator that helps determine the amount of power that is needed. This process mimics the feel of combustion engines.
There are a few variables at play. First up is the type of battery. Most people today use Lithium-ion (Li-on). But even within this category, there are capacity differences. Next is the charging type, such as the 7kW point and 150kW.
Once again, multiple variables merit consideration. The notable ones are the cost of electricity in units (kWh) and the battery size. In the UK, for example, the average cost of charging a battery ranges between 10 to 14 pence per kWh.
Much depends on the electric car range and the lifespan of the EV batteries. The first aspect lets you know the distance that the vehicle can travel on a full charge. Well, this varies across vehicles and battery types. Nonetheless, the average is around 200 miles. In terms of lifespan, note that batteries become less efficient over time. That is, they will hold less amount of charge over the years. According to industry statistics, electric car batteries can last anywhere between 10 to 20 years before replacement.
The number one source of climate pollution is transportation. Experts posit that the world shall see a doomsday if we do not change how we use energy. Plus, the deadline has been reduced to a decade. This means that we need to act NOW! Air pollutants emitted from gasoline- and diesel-operated cars cause respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and cancer.
During the initial stages, electric vehicles will produce more global warming emissions than the average gasoline vehicle. The reason is that lithium-ion batteries will require a lot of materials and energy to build. The breakeven point, however, is just 18 months.
In eighteen months of driving, the battery-powered vehicles will outperform gasoline cars until the end of their lives.
Another advantage is flexibility in charging. Along with energy-saving, the solution will also save considerable time. As a range of electric vehicles hit the streets, there will be more recharging solutions. The possible solutions entail adding public charging locations in prominent areas. These include shopping centres, business hubs, and parking garages, among others. With this, you no longer need to fend for a home with a garage. The idea of workplace charging also helps to democratize access to electric cars.
Soon, commuters shall find a seat on a quiet, zipping electric transit bus. The coming years will see electric sanitation trucks going from neighbourhood to neighbourhood for picking up garbage and trash. As more and more of these sweep the streets, they shall soon deliver packages from warehouses to homes, for example.
What’s more, the European Union has put forth a “Fit for 55” program as a benchmark. The program intends to bring down greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 55 per cent by 2030. In light of this, the Biden administration has introduced a 50 per cent EV target for 2030.