Once derided as a relic of a bygone era, the electric vehicle has made a comeback with a vengeance. Within a few years, electric vehicles have gone from museum pieces to playthings of the rich to being the future of the automobile.
Yet how can electric vehicles compete with gasoline vehicles? To understand where the future is going, it is necessary to understand the science and history behind the electric vehicle renaissance.
Gasoline versus Electric Vehicle
Gasoline powered engines are a complex system of pistons, cylinders, gears, and other components required to produce the tiny chemical explosions that are converted into mechanical motion. Electric motors are much simpler.
Inside an electric motor, several sets of electromagnets encircle a rotor, alternately attracting and repelling magnets on the rotor, causing the rotor to turn. The rotor is attached to a shaft, which turns gears, which turns the wheels of the vehicle. Electromagnets attracting magnets — it’s as simple as that!
Electric Car Advantages
Since they run directly from electricity rather than explosive reactions, electric cars are safer, quieter, cheaper to operate, and less polluting. And so, in the early days of the Automobile Age, electric vehicles were serious contenders against gasoline vehicles.
However, gasoline was cheap in those days, while batteries were inefficient and expensive. Thus the gasoline engine prevailed.
Electric Vehicle Batteries
Early electric vehicles used lead-acid batteries to power their motors. Being expensive, dangerous, and heavy, lead-acid batteries contained only enough charge for a few miles of driving and needed hours to recharge.
In recent years, energy storage technology has progressed to lithium-ion batteries. Today’s batteries are compact, provide hundreds of miles of charge, and can recharge within minutes. Improving battery technology has made the electric car practical. Today’s models of electric vehicles have proven to be just as safe as petroleum-based vehicles.
Two types of Electric Vehicles
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles and All-Electric Vehicles
The All-electric vehicles (AEVs) are operated solely on electricity. Most have a range of 80-100 miles and need to be recharged when the battery is depleted. It can take 30 minutes to half a day (with level 1 charging) depending on the battery and the type of charger to recharge the battery.
The Plug in Electric Vehicle (PHEV) runs on electricity for shorter ranges. (6-40 miles), then switches to gas once the battery is depleted.
Electric Vehicle Safety
Worry whether electric cars are safe was an early concern. Today Motorists that choose pure-electric cars no longer have to compromise on safety – the latest models have demonstrated that EVs can be just as safe as petroleum fueled vehicles. Electric vehicles have to pass the same safety requirements as gasoline powered vehicles.
The benchmark for AEVs have recently been set by the Nissan LEAF, which earned the maximum possible score of five stars in European crash testing (Euro NCAP).
For more information on Electric Vehicles contact RVCCC at (541) 621-4853