Electric Vehicle

The electric vehicle (EV) uses one or more electric motors to move. There are three different types of EVs. One that is powered externally by a power station, one that uses stored energy received from an external power source and one that uses an on board power source (hybrid electric vehicle).

Different types of EVs include, plug-in electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, hydrogen vehicles, electric trains, electric trolleys, electric boats, electric two-wheeled vehicles, and electric spacecrafts. Some submarines are diesel / electric hybrids.

The first electric powered vehicles were developed in the mid-1800s, but for the last 100 years the internal combustion engine has been the vehicle of choice. However, the electric vehicle has remained in use in trains and smaller vehicles.

In 1835, Thomas Davenport designed and built a small drifter that used a small electric motor to move. The first electric locomotive was built in 1838 by Robert Davidson from Scotland. An electric carriage was invented in the mid-1830s by Robert Anderson that used non-rechargeable cells.

By the early 1900s rail transport and electric cars were common with commercial electric automobiles being the majority. As years went by commercial electric vehicles were reduced mainly to platform trucks, forklifts, ambulances, tow tractors and urban delivery vehicles with the UK being the largest user of electric road vehicles.

The number of electric cars declined due to large reserves of petroleum making gasoline powered vehicles cheaper and easier to operate. In 1913, Henry Ford started mass producing vehicles which reduced the cost of gas-powered cars to cost considerably less than the electric cars.

In the Late 1990s and early 2000s, GM, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Nissan and Toyota all produced a limited amount of EV vehicles.

The first mass-produced hybrid is the Toyota Prius, released in 2001 worldwide. Over 3 million Prius cars have been sold and it’s the world’s best selling hybrid.

Hybrid and full electric vehicles have been on the increase since the mid-2000s with higher gas and oil prices and emission regulations now in place. Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nisan, Renault, Ford, Tesla, Honda, Chevrolet, Fiat, McLaren and Volkswagen all have one or more electric or hybrid vehicles currently in production.

Most electric vehicles use Lithium ion batteries or a battery pack for its longer life and higher power density then traditional batteries. These batteries are charged and power the electric motor. The motor is measured in kilowatts (KW). Every 100 KW is roughly 134 horsepower. The direct current supplied from the batteries is converted into alternating current with a DC/AC converter which most electric vehicle motors use. However, most electric trains use DC motors.

The cost of operating an electric vehicle is considerably lower than a gasoline powered vehicle. GM states that the Chevrolet Volt will cost an average of 2 cents per mile using the electric motor, compared to an average of 12 cents per mile using the gasoline engine. This is not typical; the vehicle used and the cost of electricity and other fuels used will determine actual cost.

Image Caption: Nissan Leaf recharging in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Credit: Bontenbal/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)