Wheels were invented thousands of years ago. They became the foundation of transportation. Ever since then, transportation has come a long way. It went from bicycles to cars, from ships to planes. Even these modes of transport keep on evolving. Their improvement, more often than not, happens in terms of their speed. However, cars have evolved to such an extent that there are now two parallel versions of car. The latest ones are electric cars. As is expected, it has its own advantages and disadvantages.
WHAT IS AN ELECTRIC CAR?
As the name suggests, it is a car that runs on electricity. This is in contrast to cars that are used commonly. They run on fossil fuels, such as diesel or petrol. An electric car is a vehicle that is propelled by one or more electric motors. These motors are the direct equivalent of an internal combustion engine in a conventional car. Rechargeable batteries supply electric motors with energy.
A controller regulates the amount of power that goes from the batteries to the motors. This is based on the driver’s use of an accelerator pedal.
WHAT ARE THEIR TYPES?
There are mainly 3 types of electric cars. They are:
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)
Their name is quite self-explanatory. “Hybrid” implies that they are a combination of two or more things. In this context, hybrid means that these cars are powered both by petrol and by electricity. They use a process called ‘regenerative braking’ to power the electric motor. The electric motor helps to slow the vehicle and uses some of the energy normally converted to heat by the brakes.
An internal computer controls both the motors. The electric motors start off the vehicle. When the load or speed rises, the petrol engine cuts in. It ensures the best economic use of both the motors.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)
They also run on both electricity and petrol.
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PHEVs can recharge their electric battery by regenerative braking as well as from a charging port. This is the difference between PHEVs and HEVS.
They are also known as Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs). This is because the petrol engine recharges the battery as it gets low, thus extending the range of the car.
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
These are fully electric cars. This means that they run exclusively on electricity. Hence, they do not have a petrol engine, fuel tank or exhaust pipe.
BEVs use an external charging outlet to power up the electric battery. Hence, they are also known as ‘plug-in’ EVs.
However, some BEVs can still recharge their batteries via regenerative braking.
WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF AN ELECTRIC CAR?
There are various types of electric cars. A car that runs exclusively on electricity has the following key components:
Traction battery pack – It stores energy until it is required by the traction motor.
Electric traction motor – It drives the wheels by using energy from the traction battery.
Charge port – It allows the vehicle to connect to an external power supply in order to charge the traction battery pack.
On-board charger – It converts energy coming from charging port from AC to DC so the traction battery can be charged. This component also monitors battery characteristics while charging. These include voltage, current, temperature, and state of charge.
DC/DC converter – It converts DC power from the traction battery pack from higher-voltage to the lower-voltage. This is needed to run vehicle accessories and recharge the auxiliary battery.
Battery – The auxiliary battery provides electricity to vehicle accessories.
Transmission – This is used to transfer mechanical power from the electric traction motor to drive the wheels.
Power electronics controller – The controller manages the speed of the electric traction motor and the torque it produces. This is done by regulating the flow of energy from the traction battery to the motor.
Thermal system – This system maintains a proper operating temperature range of the engine, electric motor, power electronics, and other components.
Advantages of Electric Cars
Quiet and Efficient
As compared to conventional cars, electric cars run a lot smoother. Electric cars also provide high torque. Torque refers to the force that tends to cause rotation. In a car, this means that when the accelerator is pressed, power is delivered immediately to the wheels. Electric cars are also a lot quieter than conventional cars. Petrol or diesel engines tend to make a lot of noise. On the other hand, electric motors make almost no noise.
Moreover, they are also more efficient than conventional cars. Efficiency here means the amount of energy from the fuel source that is converted into actual energy for powering the wheels of a vehicle. Electric cars convert about 60% energy into power that results in vehicle movement. However, gas-powered vehicles convert just 20%.
Thus, electric cars produce more vehicle-moving power while charging than a gas pumping.
No matter what kind of electric car is in questions, they are a lot better for the environment than conventional cars. There can be 2 situations here. The car can either be purely electric or hybrid.
If it is purely electric, that means that it does not have any carbon emissions. This is because the car in this situation is like any other electrical device. Thus, it does not have any environmental impact. Electric cars can also run on other sources of power, such as solar energy. Even in that case, they do not have emissions.
Now the second case, where the electric car is a hybrid. In this situation also the car is less harmful to the environment than a conventional car. This is because the car’s dependency on fossil fuels, i.e. fuels that lead to carbon emissions is low. Hence, the amount of emissions is also low. Thus, the environmental impact is also low.
It is also easier to manage an electric vehicle than it is to manage a gas-powered one. Firstly, EVs can be powered up at home, so going to a gas pump is not required. All that is required is a port and a charger. Secondly, it takes a small amount of time to gather enough energy to travel extremely long distances. In some electric cars, just 6-7 hours of charging are enough to power the vehicle for nearly 200 miles.
Disadvantages of Electric Cars
EVs usually have a lower range than conventional cars. This means that the amount of distance that can be travelled after one full charge is shorter than what can be travelled with a full fuel tank. Popular electric cars can travel nearly 125 miles after a full charge. On the other hand, gas-powered cars can travel 300 miles on a full fuel tank, on an average. However, some luxury models of electric cars can go up to 300 miles as well.
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Long Charging Time
Electric cars take a long time to charge. At home, they can take up to 8 hours to charge. Even at charging stations that charge vehicles, it takes at least 30 minutes to get to 80%. There is a lot of planning that needs to be done when travelling with electric vehicles because running out of power is a much bigger concern. With gas-powered cars, one can find gas stations nearby or have fuel delivered in cans. This is not possible with electric vehicles.
All-electric vehicles are more expensive than gas-powered cars. They can cost anywhere between $35,000 and $45,000. Moreover, battery packs used in them need to be replaced regularly and are extremely expensive.
Pros and Cons of Electric Cars
|Quiet and efficient||
|Long charging time|