I have to say, the thing that really got me interested in electric powered cars was the Tesla Roadster. I really love cars and when I saw that it accelerates HOW FAST? (0-60mph in less than 4 seconds.) – it definitely caught my eye. Ever since that I’ve been looking for the perfect electric transport for my family and learning an awful lot on the way. I have to say at the start I found myself EXTREMELY CONFUSED, EXTREMELY FAST when I tried to figure out about electric cars! Electric bicycles and electric scooters are all great…. but for me and most other people…. there is no beating the cars!
But when I started to look closer there seemed to be all sorts of things going against electric cars. Like…there are lots of great looking sports cars… but they’re so unbelievably expensive for what they give – and you’ll have to queue up! OR… you could get another one that’s PLUG UGLY – but hopefully you’ll feel better knowing your saving the environment! OR… oh wait! Here’s a car that can give you everything you need… do you want one? Sorry, they’re not out for another 12 years when we get around to making it!AND… this one is REALLY CHEAP… but it won’t do anything fancy like.. GO UP A HILL and you’ll usually need to recharge it about 10 times a day laadpaal! So where are the facts in all this science fiction and promises? Well this is some of the “Truth” I found out about electric powered cars after all my research. What really is an Electric Car? There are a few different types of Electric cars:
– Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles
(NEVs) or Low Speed Electric Vehicles (LSVs) are electric cars with a relatively small range (about 40 miles) and a limited speed (legally 25mph in the USA). These kind of cars would be used in towns or cities where you wouldn’t be travelling far like in London where cars like the Reva G-wiz has flourished. Or it is used in resorts and neighbourhoods where they usually look like a done up golf cart like the GEM e-series electric cars. There are electric cars like the Tesla Roadster or the Tango electric car which are designed to be able to keep up with a normal petrol/diesel car. These cars can go on motorways and can usually travel fairly long distances (100-200 miles). There are also plug-in hybrids out there which aren’t fully electric but come close enough. They can be charged from a plug as well as by the engine and can travel solely on electricity until their (usually small) battery range runs out.
– What promises do Electric Cars make?Well first of all – a greener, petrol-free tomorrow! They can be run on clean electricity (not from a coal fired plant) and can run emission free if you want. Sounds pretty good to me!
So what promises can’t they make at the moment? Unfortunately there is quite a few right now:
– Cheap and reliable batteries
– A goodinfrastructure of recharging spots and a quick recharge time.
– Lots of different makes of cars available now.
– Lots of good value cars that could travel long distances (they can mostly still only get 50-100 miles range).
– That the company making or selling them won’t disappear at any time as they’re mostly distributed by smaller companies.
– A competitive price – they’re always much more costly than normal cars. The good thing though is that all these things are constantly improving and there is set to be big changes in the coming few years.
– So how do they work? Well the all-electric cars both work in a similar way. The petrol/diesel tank is replaced by lots of batteries which provide the electric “fuel”. There are three types of batteries lead-acid, nimh and li-ion, with li-ion batteries storing the most energy in the least amount of space.
A regulator then makes sure the energy coming from the batteries is nice and steady. The engine is then replaced by a motor which is usually put as close as possible to the wheels, and in some cases in the wheels themselves. There are a few types of motors available but I won’t go into that right now. A potentiometer then measures how much you’re pressing down on the accelerator and tells the motor. This happens smoothly and gives a huge amount of torque instantly. Most electric cars have unbelievable acceleration!
– How are Electric Cars designed? Well there are a few things that come first in all electric car designs. Air Resistance and weight are two huge issues. Because the batteries add so much weight to the car it needs to be designed as light as possible, which is why a lot of the cars are so small. The batteries also are usually put at the bottom of the car to keep the weight low and stop it from toppling. All that weight at the bottom means even if the biggest SUV side swipes you, you’re not going anywhere! Lower air resistance also helps with the range as the car won’t have to use energy trying to fight the air.
– How about the future of electric cars? The future is looking pretty good for the electric car. Most major manufacturers have an electric car planned for around 2010 or 2011 which shows how mainstream it’s becoming and there are even some great cars on the way from some of the smaller companies.Future technology also looks bright as there are plenty of breakthroughs coming regularly nowadays.
– Are there Solar Electric Cars out there?There certainly are! They are a long way from becoming mainstream though as they don’t come cheap and range and speed are an issue but they are on their way. There are plenty of big races all over the world for solar electric cars that attract a lot of attention from colleges and big companies and all that attention can only be good for their development. There are even options of putting solar panels on many electric cars to help with charging too so the technology is definitely creeping in.