The electric car industry is growing. Electric cars are powered by one or more electric motors that use the energy stored in lithium-ion batteries. They are generally quieter and have no emissions compared to cars with internal combustion engines.
Electric cars are showing glimpses of the future. For example, Nissan has launched a new version of its best-selling all battery ‘Leaf’ with the latest technology: a one-pedal driving system and self-parking technology. The Nissan Leaf has direction competition by other electric car models like Volkswagen’s e-Golf, BMW’s i3 and Hyundai’s Ioniq.
Just over 2 million electric vehicles were registered in the world last year in 2016, with Japan selling the most electric vehicles. This figure is rising, as manufacturers are dipping into this relatively small market with countries tightening on pollution. For example, China wants electric-cars and plug-in hybrids to represent at least one-fifth of all vehicles sold by 2025.
Earlier this year, Tesla became the most valuable US electric carmaker over General Motors and Ford. Tesla offers premium electric cars but has now released a cheaper model to appeal to the masses. Tesla have partnered with Panasonic to be able to produce lithium-ion batteries faster, which currently represent the average cost of half an electric car.
Recently, Jaguar Land Rover has stated they will have all all-electric or hybrid version of every car they produce from 2020. This news follows Chinese-owned Volvo who stated all new models will have an electric motor from 2019. The electric revolution appears to be happening in the very near-future.
The pro’s and con’s of electric cars
Electric cars have no emissions meaning they are better for the environment, they have low running costs as electricity is significantly cheaper than diesel and petrol, and without a bulky engine, they have more room. However, electric cars do have some big problems still that need to be addressed. Electric cars are typically more expensive which may price-out the majority of car users. The main issue is that for any significant journey you will need to plan where and how you will charge the car.
With electric cars, you cannot just refuel the car in minutes, which can be very inconvenient with electric charging stations irregular sites up and down the country. This may just be a current teething problem though, with charging stations becoming more common. For example, the energy company Ecotricity have developed an electric highway between London and Edinburgh that has charging stations that give 80% charge in just 20 minutes. And in Scotland, the use of electric charging points has doubled in the last year.
It has been found that drivers prefer to use rapid charge points that can charge electric cars up to 80% in half an hour. Standard charging points, the majority, were used less as they take four to eight hours to get a car to full charge. This shows the desire for fast-charging stations that would increase the amount of electric cars on the road.
The National Grid says there is enough electricity for the masses to have electric cars, but the practicality issues may need to change. Charging time can be cut using larger chargers, however, such chargers are not suitable for public homes. The National Grid has stated that ‘superchargers’ of 350kW could charge the average electric car today in under 5 minutes, however, the current batteries used in today’s cars cannot support this level of charging.
Electric cars may not be perfect yet, but great progress is being made and it is not long before electric cars are a regular sight on the road.
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