In recent years the sales of electric vehicles have been rising exponentially. This has caused various car manufactures to reconsider their vehicle lines from internal combustion to the development of electric vehicles. The development of electric vehicle batteries, motors and motor control technologies can be seen in big manufactures such as BMW, Mercedes and VW. The main player who kicked off the electric vehicle race is Tesla who have expanded into developing their own battery technologies. Furthermore, non-traditional vehicle companies such a Dyson have joined in developing their own electric vehicle. This asks the question why are electric vehicles better? The following points out the main reasons.
1. Air Quality and Emissions
In 2040 the UK government has decided to ban the sale of combustion vehicles. This is in line with the UKs clean air initiatives. The main reasons behind the ban is that combustion vehicles pollute the air around them, especially in dense cities. Air pollution has been proven to be linked to various respiratory issues in people, with higher levels of asthma in cities with air quality problems linked to traffic pollution.
Electric vehicles produce no emissions directly, therefore the immediate environment they function in will remain pollutant free. This will provide health benefits to resident’s whole live near busy streets.
2. Instant Torque
One of the best notable performance characteristics by electric vehicle enthusiasts is that electric vehicles provides instant torque throughout the RPM range meaning that electric vehicles do not require a traditional transmission. This allows electric vehicles to accelerate much faster than combustion cars. See the video demonstrating the level of acceleration the new tesla roadster contains.
3. Regenerative Braking
Electric vehicles can regenerate the energy that is used as kinetic energy when the car is moving. In traditional combustion braking systems, the vehicle is slowed using friction breaking this waste valuable energy as heat. Electric Vehicles can brake using the electric motor and regenerate the energy into the battery pack of the car. This allows a more efficient journey as the braking energy will be used again for driving the car again.
Electric motors are highly efficient at converting electrical energy to rotational kinetic energy at approximately 90% to which internal combustion vehicles have efficiencies around 30%. This means that electric vehicles have lower energy costs and have less energy demands for similar usage. Electric vehicles would have a lower carbon footprint per mile comparison to combustion vehicles.
However! Its not all smooth driving!
Electric vehicles will have some disadvantages comparted to internal combustion. Many of these issues are surrounded around the battery pack contained in the vehicle.
1. How will I Charge My Electric Car?
Typically, people will charge their car on their driveways with their residential electrical supply. The main concern with people is that they will run out of charge, or it takes too long. This is because people are too used to filling up at petrol stations within 15 minutes.
However, this isn’t the case with electric cars, this requires a behavioural change. This could be in a similar manner to which people charge their smartphones, such as charging overnight or plugging in as soon as you get home. If a long journey is needed some planning should be done at which place you should stop and charge the car. Newer electric cars can be charged to 80% within 45mins with a 100KW charger.
The main issue is for electric vehicles owners without a driveway or a local charging point. Considerations of charging availability for each electric vehicles buyer must undertake before purchasing an electric vehicle. It must be noted that thousands of charging points are added each year, increasing availability could make it possible for electric vehicles owners without a driveway.
2. Li-ion Battery packs have a limited number of charge cycles.
Most Smartphone users have felt the health of their batteries decrease. This is a similar case with electric vehicles. The driver will need to monitor the state of health of their battery pack to get an accurate range. At the end of the battery pack life the cells within the pack are no longer good enough for electric vehicles but can be re-used in second life applications such as energy storage.
3. The Electricity Grid.
Currently the electricity grid cannot cope with all the homes in the UK charging their electric vehicle. This problem has been worked on by national grid and current plans say that electricity costs will change depending on when you charge your electric car, peak times will be charged at a higher price. Secondly the environmental benefits that electric cars provide can be removed when the electrical supply is generated in through coal or gas generation. For a smaller carbon footprint, it must be ensured that renewable sources are a large percentage of the energy mix that is used to charge the vehicle. See below for the current energy mix in the UK.
In conclusion the benefits electric vehicles provide are highly beneficial to the environment and the users of the vehicle in comparison to internal combustion. The combustion engine in mainstream vehicle applications will be obsolete. The electric vehicle revolution is near, are you ready?