- June 21, 2020
Electric cars are automobiles, which are propelled through the useof electric motors. The vehicles use electric energy, preserved inbatteries or different devices for storing energy that can berecharged. Electric cars differ from ordinary vehicles, which use anengine powered with diesel or gasoline. The invention of thesevehicles started as early as the 1880s. However, they did not gainpopularity until the 2000s, following resurgence in the production ofelectric vehicles. Also, the inconsistent oil prices andenvironmental concerns have driven the need to create cars that aremore environmental friendly as compared to conventional vehicles.
In the following discussion, the paper evaluates the developments ofelectric cars, types of electric vehicles and how they operate,testing, economics and advantages as well as disadvantages.
The first electric car was produced in 1834 (Chan 207). It wascreated by Thomas Davenport, who came up with a “miniature electricrailcar running in a circle on a tabletop” (Handy 2). Unfortunatelythe car was not stable enough to hold its battery. At the same time,the invention did not appeal to investors. Thus, the concept ofelectric cars was ignored. After 1834, there were efforts to developelectric vehicles, though insignificant. But in 1895, the firstelectric tricycle was created by A. L. Ryker, resulting in a newinterest in electric cars. Later, William Morrison produced apassenger wagon that was electric charged. Several innovationsfollowed giving rise to an increased interest in electric cars in the1890s and 1900s (Chan 207).
Tricycle by A. L. Ryker.Accessed from:https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digital-collections/artifact/274188#slide=gs-214384
In fact, electric vehicles were used as taxis in 1897, when the“Pope Manufacturing Company of Connecticut” engaged in thelarge-scale production of such vehicles. The taxis were common in NewYork town and their use picked up in other cities. They were thepreferred mode of transport because during the 19th as well as early20th century, electric cars were more comfortable as compared togasoline vehicles manufactured in the same period.
As Chan (209) explains, “electric vehicles had many advantages overtheir competitors in the early 1900s. They did not have thevibration, smell and noise associated with gasoline cars”. Inaddition, it was challenging to change gears used in gasoline cars,while electronic ones did not require gear changing. At the time,roads were not properly developed. As a result, travelling was mainlylocal, which was perfectly achieved by use of electric cars (Chan209).
Despite the advantages linked to the use of electric cars, they wereexpensive to afford due to an absence of power infrastructure.However, by 1912 many households were connected to electricity, whichenhanced the use of the vehicles (Chan 209). Thousands of electriccars were registered in America, making the nations the most popularin the acceptance of such automobiles. But towards the 1920s,advances were made in the production of gasoline cars. For instance,it was easier to refuel a gasoline car as compared to the chargingtime required for electric cars. Gas stations were constructed acrosscities in America, starting with the first station in Seattleconstructed by the “Standard Oil of California” (Chan 210).Hence, the use of gas became easier resulting in the disappearance ofelectric cars by 1935 (Chan 211).
In the 1970s, the interest in electric vehicles rekindled owing tohigh gasoline prices. The “United States Department of Energyprovided funds to try to make a cost effective electric car” (Handy4). This resulted in the creation of the first hybrid vehicle in1982, which was controlled by use of computers (Energy.gov 1).Seven years later, Audi manufactured the Duo, which failed to receivemainstream production. However, all through the 1990s, major carmanufacturers concentrated their efforts towards the manufacturing ofhybrid electric cars. These companies included Toyota, Audi andNissan (Handy 4). Major achievement in the development of electricvehicles can be attributed to California’s Tesla Motors, whichdelivered the Tesla Roadster to clients in 2008 (Handy 4). It was thefirst authorized serial manufacture of all electric vehicles thatused lithium ion battery. It also marked the production of the firstelectric cars to travel for more than 320 kilometers for everycharge.
Types of and how they Operate
Electric vehicles are classified according to the level ofelectricity employed as an energy source. The cars are either fullyelectric, meaning that they are solely run on electricity. There arestandard hybrids, which employ both an electric engine as well asconventional engine that use petrol or diesel. Last are therechargeable hybrids, which are electric cars that have batteriesthat are recharged through the use of a common power socket.
It is a type of electric car that operates on electricity solely.This means that the battery must be recharged for hours. Once thevehicle is in use, it relies on the energy stored in the battery, andmost fully electric cars are capable of covering a distance of 100 to150 kilometers, provided the vehicle is fully charged. The advantagewith fully electric cars is that they do not release any emissions.Hence, the cars are most appropriate for use when covering shortdistances (Energuide 1).
This is the most common type of electric vehicle. It has been inexistence for close to 20 years. The car is made up of two engines.One of the engines is electric, while the other is conventional. Inregard to the level of hybridization between both engines, the carmay be regarded to as full, micro or mild hybrids. In the fullhybrid, the vehicle is powered through the use of an electric motorwhen starting the vehicle. The motor “can power the car on its ownat low speed, such as when driving in a city (Hunter 12)”. Theconventional engine is employed when travelling at high speeds. Bothengines are able to coordinate. For instance, while the electricengine starts the car, after a few kilometers, the conventionalengine takes over.
Micro hybrids rarely use the electric motor. It is used when the carstops, for instance at traffic light signs, the conventional engineswitches itself off, in the process triggering the electric motor tooperate. When moving the car after short stops, the motor ensuresthat the vehicle is able to move instantly, which assists in savingon fuel used to start the vehicle through the combustion engine(Hunter 13). The electric motor in the mild hybrids is used as asource of extra power. It cannot be utilized in powering the carwithout the combustion engine. The main objective of the electricmotor is to assist in the reduction of the level of gasoline, whichis used by the vehicle (Hunter 13).
The level of sophistication of the standard hybrid influences thelevel of performance achieved when using the vehicle. The hybridworks by capturing as well as reusing energy that is lost whileapplying brakes, it shuts the engine off when it is not in use, andensures that the engine operates at reduced speeds. It also replacesless effective oil pumps with those that are electric and effectivewhen need arises (German 2).
The electric cars are also referred to as plug-in vehicles. The haveelectric batteries as well as combustion engines. The vehicle worksin the similar way as the standard hybrid. The disparity arises fromthe fact that it is possible to recharge the car batteries fastthrough the use of common electric sockets (Hamschmidt, Michael andMarina 296). This enhances the electric mode of the vehicle making itpossible to cover more kilometers than the standard hybrid.
The vehicles are normally tested to determine how they perform inregard to “acceleration, braking, handling and noise tests”(Edmunds 1). Acceleration refers to the speed covered by the electricvehicle as compared to using a car that uses a combustion engine.Tests are conducted on the cars to ensure that they can coverspecific distances and at the same time maintain their speed. Brakingis the use of the brake system in a vehicle. It is very important totest the brakes to guarantee that the electric vehicle can be stoppedwhen need arises, or in the case of an emergency. Handling is theease at which one is able to use the electric vehicle. Edmunds (1)explains that cars that have an electric engine differ to those usingthe combustion engine because one is only required to charge thevehicle, from the comfort of their house, all through the night andit is ready to use the following day. This eliminates the need tomake weekly stops at fuel stations, especially when fuel costs areexpensive.
Another factor that is tested in electric cars is range (Edmunds 1).It is possible to estimate the range of vehicles powered usinggasoline. This is because, fuel is readily available, and refuelingdoes not take a lot of time. Such estimations cannot be applied onelectric vehicles. Hence, it is necessary to test the range of thecars to ensure that they meet the real-world conditions. The tests onrange focus on ensuring that the electric vehicles are able to travelall the way from the starting point and back.
The comparison between electric cars and vehicles that use combustionengines reveals that the electric ones are expensive to create, useand develop (Themsche 183). The production process followed increating electric cars is expensive. In addition, the vehicles use alithium-ion battery, which is very expensive. It is anticipated thatwith the continuous production of electric cars, the battery costsare likely to reduce. At the same time, gasoline cars are becomingcheaper due to the affordable fuel prices. Cheap fuel pricesdiscourage individuals from using electric cars, which requireexpensive batteries. Thus, in regard to price, electric vehicles arenot economical.
Electric vehicles use rechargeable batteries that ought to bereplaced as soon as they become defective (Themsche 183). Thebatteries continue to deteriorate after every recharge. But, it isimportant to note that the batteries have a prolonged lifetime.Provided that they are properly maintained and recharged as required,they can be used for many years. While gasoline vehicles needfrequent maintenance, due to their many parts that have to bereplaced often, electric cars are low maintenance vehicles.
Advantages and Disadvantages
As electric cars continue to gain popularity, it is important toevaluate their advantages as well as disadvantages.
Fast and Quiet
The vehicles are fast in addition to being quiet when in use. Theelectric motor used in the cars makes it possible to drive at highspeeds (Graham-Rowe 143). As soon as the user steps on theaccelerator, power is transmitted to the wheels, which speeds updriving (Boxwell 8). Despite moving at high speeds, electric motorsare less noisy than combustion engines. The combustion engineproduces noise when delivering power to the vehicle’s wheels.Electric cars are quiet because the electric motor used does notproduce noise when the car is in drive mode. Even when noise isproduced, it is difficult to hear as is the case with regularvehicles.
Electric cars can be described as convenient. This is especially thecase for the fully electric vehicles. The user does not need to visita gas station often in order to refuel the car (Wenkart 24). Instead,he or she is able to recharge the battery at the convenience of theirhome. This does away with the need to line up at gas stations. Attimes, fuel may run out at a time when gas stations are not withinreach. This could inconvenience the car user, especially whentravelling in an unfamiliar place. Such inconveniences are eliminatedwhen using electric cars, because all that is needed is recharging ofthe car.
Vehicles that use gasoline release harmful gases to the environment.The gases have been linked to damaging of the ozone layer, inaddition to air pollution (Heathcote 438 Helmers and Patrick 2).Conversely, electric cars are very environmental friendly. They usean electric motor, which does not release poisonous gases, sinceelectricity is a source of clean energy (Miller and Spoolman 352). Inspecific, full electric cars guarantee zero pollution to theenvironment.
Because electric vehicles rely on electric engines, frequentmaintenance that is required with the combustion engines isunnecessary. The latter should be frequently lubricated, as well asensuring that engine work is done, to enhance performance. Frequentservicing can be avoided with electric cars. Provided the battery isproperly recharged, the vehicle can be used for long beforeconsidering servicing.
Despite the fact that newer models of electric vehicles have animproved range, the cars are limited in the distance they can coverwithout requiring to be recharged. Also, gas stations are easy toaccess and refueling does not take a lot of time. But with electriccars, since the vehicle is slowly gaining popularity, there are fewstations where individuals using the vehicles can stop to recharge(Hunter 41). This limits the amount of distance that can be coveredwhen using the car.
The batteries in the electric motor must be replaced after someyears. The battery’s effectiveness appears to decline with everyrecharge, yet the battery is expensive to purchase (Newton andCantarello 201).
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