The future of transportation needs to be fully electric. In the meantime, hybrid vehicles can help us transition away from fossil fuel dependency.
Electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid vehicles are becoming widely popular, as design innovations and a growing market demonstrate the industry’s potential. The last decade has seen a rapid increase in the use of electric and hybrid cars, in part due to continuing urbanization and increasing alarm over climate change. And of course, improvements in EV technology and products have contributed to the boom in electric and hybrid cars. With many EV manufacturers now operating with 100% carbon-free facilities, the appetite for this environmentally friendly choice continues to grow.
Besides being more sustainable, EVs have lower operating costs for the consumer than do gas-powered cars. Further, improvements in technology have driven the EV manufacturing cost down, ultimately leading to more affordable cars. The global EV market size was estimated at approximately $208 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $957 billion by 2030 .
Nevertheless, fully electric cars have been met with challenges around the globe. The need for charging facilities, the time required to charge, their range, and their speed are still significant hurdles. The hybrid car industry can effectively navigate these barriers until EVs can be implemented on a broader scale. And indeed, the global hybrid market is already a force to be reckoned with: its size was estimated at $350 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $1.67 trillion by 2030 .
A BRIEF HISTORY OF EV
Electric powered vehicles are far from new. As far back as 1827, Hungarian priest Ányos Jedlik built the first crude but viable electric motor and the following year he successfully powered a small car using it. Then in the 1830s Robert Anderson invented the first electric carriage powered by non-rechargeable primary battery cells. Scottish chemist William Morrison built the first successful electric car around 1890, a six-passenger vehicle with a top speed of 14 mph.
In the early 1900s, mass-produced EVs began appearing in the USA in the early 1900s. The Studebaker automobile company entered the automotive business with EVs in 1902. Soon, EV models from different manufacturers began popping up across the country. New York City even had its own fleet of more than 60 electric taxis. By 1900 EVs accounted for almost a third of all vehicles on the road in the United States. The EV looked ready to dominate the country.
But in 1908, Henry Ford’s mass-produced Model T dealt a major blow to the electric car industry. The gas-powered T was faster and could go further than its electric competitors, and it was much cheaper. In 1912, a gas-powered car was available for $650, while an electric roadster cost $1,750. Though electric trucks remained in use well into the 1920s, in the years following the debut of the Model T most producers of passenger vehicles opted for gas-powered cars. The age of the electric car appeared to be all but over.
Today, growing concern about climate change is a crucial factor in the revival of EVs. General Motors is also credited with this new beginning for electric cars. The company introduced its EV concept two-seater at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 1990, and GM produced 1,117 EVs from 1996 to 1998. Still, EVs at the time were limited in comparison to gas-powered options. Hence, in the late 90s the hybrid vehicle became an attractive middle choice.
The first widely successful hybrid was the Toyota Prius, released in Japan in 1997. The dawn of the 21st century brought still bigger expansions and new opportunities for electric and hybrid vehicles. Multiple companies around the world began focusing on the wide production of EVs and hybrid cars. And in 2006, a small Silicon Valley startup called Tesla Motors started producing a luxury electric sports car that could go more than 200 miles on a single charge. As many readers are no doubt aware, this marked a dramatic turning point in the story of EVs.
Any transportation from road torail, to underwater vessels and spacecraft, can be electrically powered.Their obvious appeal is their reduced carbon footprint, a pressing necessity for all industries in the face of Greenhouse gas-driven climate change. The future will need to be electric, however much such a world might feel like science fiction right now.
In fact that world might be closer than you think. The basic architecture of EVs is simple, and electric motors have fewer moving parts and don’t require upkeep such as oil changes, new spark plugs, or fuel filter replacements. The result of this simpler design is a lower overall maintenance cost to the consumer. Additionally, many electric utilities offer lower rates for off-peak charges, and charging times can be programmed in the EV as you prefer. Charging costs for EVs are roughly half – or less – that of fueling a standard gas-powered car for the same distance.
Meanwhile, the availability of charging stations for the workplace and the public are growing, although most drivers fully charge their EVs at home overnight.. And several federal, state, and local incentives bring down the cost of buying or leasing an electric car, such as federal tax credits, the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP), and local rebates. Greater affordability and ease of use contribute to the phenomenal growth in the EV market.
Modern electric cars bring more to the table than an alternative fuel source. EVs are equipped with many smart features, such as smart connectivity, controller applications, and autonomous driving systems. Further, their performance on the road is exceptional – the battery pack’s position in the middle of most EVs lowers the cars center of gravity, giving the vehicles superior weight distribution and stability.
Another major benefit of electric cars is the improved air quality they bring to cities. Pure EVs produce zero carbon dioxide emissions, and an EV-dependent city would have drastically reduced air pollution. Media focus on EVs has understandably centered on their potential to combat climate change, but the improved public health outcomes of a fully electric transportation system should not be overlooked.
EVs also generally provide a higher level of safety than gas-powered vehicles, and many models provide further crash-protection assistance to the driver. For example, the affordable Tesla Model Y (Figure 1) is designed for safety. Tesla all-wheel drive comes with two independent motors, each with only one moving part, for improved redundancy and minimal maintenance. These provide digitally-controlled torque to the front and rear wheels, allowing for better handling, traction, and stability. And of course, Tesla’s autopilot system, designed to assist the driver with the most burdensome parts of driving, has become famous in its own right.
A single charge has an estimated range of up to 330 miles, and a 15-minute recharge can take you another 162 miles. The Model Y Long Range Dual Motor has a battery capacity of 82.0 kWh, and a usable battery capacity of 75.0 kWh. The car uses a Type 2 charge port with 11 kW AC power, a charge time of 8 hours and 15 mintues, and a charge speed of 54 km/h. For fast charging, the vehicle uses a CCS fast-charge port with a maximum power rate of 250 kW DC, a charge time of 27 minutes, and a charge speed of 670 km/h. Its real energy consumption is estimated to be from 118Wh/km to 238 Wh/km.
Hybrid vehicles, as is well known and as the name implies, are designed to reap the benefits of both electric and gasoline power. They use two or more engines, including an electric motor and a conventional engine. Hybrids can use parallel or series drivetrains, and there are also plug-in hybrid options. Their versatility make the hybrid model a powerful competitor to fully gas-powered vehicles. This, coupled with their better fuel economy and greater power, have made them a popular choice for the consumer. Finally, their obvious benefit to the environment with lower overall CO2 emissions certainly helps their popularity.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) combine a large battery pack, which is recharged by plugging into an outlet or charging station, and a gasoline or diesel engine with an electric motor. In addition, the battery pack can be charged internally by its onboard internal combustion engine-powered generator. Most PHEVs are passenger cars, but PHEVs also include commercial vehicles and vans, utility trucks, buses, trains, motorcycles, mopeds, and even military vehicles. In all-electric mode the battery pack provides all the required energy, while in hybrid mode both electricity and gasoline are employed to power the vehicles.
The new Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid (Figure 2) is a full-parallel hybrid drive system, equipped with both a gas engine and a battery-powered electric motor. These work together to deliver maximum efficiency and ensure world-class fuel efficiency. IONIQ \comes with a powerful lithium-Ion polymer battery which gives it an amazing fuel economy. The car features a fresh design and the latest advanced driver assistance and active safety systems. Bluelink Connected Car Services provides seamless direct connectivity with online voice recognition and a wide range of features to ensure a more convenient and enjoyable driving experience. With a combined output of 141 PS and 265 Nm of torque, IONIQ delivers a dynamic driving experience with plenty of torque. Combined test cycle for Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid, fuel consumption 1.0-litre T-GDi in l/100 km: 5.2 – 4.4 and CO2 emissions in g/km: 119 – 100 (WLTP). It has a specially calibrated 1.6-litre GDI direct injection gas engine that delivers 105 PS with class-leading energy efficiency and world-class fuel efficiency.IONIQ Hybrid offers electric speed: the 43.5 PS electric motor delivers high torque, high efficiency, and impressive acceleration.
Speed is an important factor in the evolution of EVs. The performance of an EV directly depends on its motor specifications, and the motor’s performance is determined by the torque-speed and power-speed ratios. An EV motor consists of two major parts—stator and rotor. The stator of a motor is the stationary outer shell that is mounted to the chassis, and the rotor is the lone rotating element that feeds torque out through the transmission onto a differential. Batteries are DC devices, and to solve EV power the electronics include DC-AC inverters that provide stators with the alternating current (AC) necessary to create the all-important variable RMF. EV technologies have grown rapidly over the past few decades. The field of power electronics and control techniques has developed different types of electric motors that are suitable for EVs, such as a DC series motor, a brushless DC motor, a permanent magnet synchronous motor (PMSM), an AC induction motor, and a switched reluctance motor (SRM). The EV motor has several features and capabilities including high instant power, fast torque response, high power density, high acceleration, high efficiency, and low-performance cost ratio.
The Rimac Nevera (Figure 3) comes with four liquid-cooled permanent magnet synchronous electric motors. The brushless DC electric motors use DC electric power supply and an electronic controller. This controller switches DC currents to the motor windings that produce magnetic fields which effectively rotate in space, and which the permanent magnet rotor follows. The control system adjusts the phase and amplitude of the DC pulses to control the speed and torque of the motor. Each of Nevera’s wheels is independently driven by one dedicated motor, which channels torque accordingly to give unprecedented control and agility. Capable of 0-100 kph (62 mph) in 1.97 sec, 0-300 kph (186 mph) in 9.3 sec, and a top speed of 412 kph (256 mph), the Nevera is capable of exceptional speeds and uniquely powerful performance.
EV BATTERY PACKS
Innovations in modern rechargeable battery technology are playing an important role in EV evolutions. Battery manufacturers and EV makers are investing heavily to build cheaper, denser, and lighter batteries. EV battery packs consist of thousands of individual lithium-ion. When the battery charges, electricity is used to produce chemical changes within the batteries, which are then reversed to produce electricity for power when the EV is in use. The most widely used EV batteries are lithium-ion and lithium-polymer because they offer a particularly high energy density relative to weight. Currently, lithium-ion batteries are used in most portable consumer electronics including cell phones and laptops. There are many variations of rechargeable batteries used for different EVs, such as lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, zinc-air, and sodium-nickel chloride batteries.
At the recent InsideEVs 70 mph highway range test, the Lucid Air Dream Edition (Figure 4) was confirmed to have a usable battery capacity of 500 miles (805 km), consuming 117 kWh during the test. To supply the Air’s primary power Lucid Motors uses lithium-ion battery cells sourced from LG Chem. The Air uses a Type 2 charge port 22 kW AC power, a charge time of 6hours and 30 minutes, and a charge speed of 110 km/h. For fast charging, the vehicle uses a CCS fast-charge port with a maximum power of 300 kW DC, a charge time of just 33 min, and a charge speed of 880 km/h. The total power and electric range are 696 kW (946 PS) and 695 km, respectively.
EV CHARGING SYSTEM
Battery charging can be conductive or inductive. Inductive charging systems are wireless and are often utilized when the car is in stationary modes, such as in garages, parks, or at traffic signals, but these systems can also be dynamic. Conductive charging uses direct contact between the EV connector and the charge inlet, sometimes called conductive wireless charging. EV charging systems using the conductive method come in two varieties: AC chargers (or onboard chargers) and DC chargers (or off-board chargers). Needless to say, charging is an important factor for EVs. An EV’s charge can take as little as 20 minutes to upwards of 40 hours, depending on the particular car’s battery and charging system. EVs generally have three charging levels:
- (Level 1) plugging into a regular 120-volt outlet where charging is slow—between 40 and 50 hours
- (Level 2) charging from a220-volt outlet where charging takes four to ten hours
- (Level 3) charging uses direct current fast chargers (DCFC)—which can charge EVs in as little as 20 minutes.
Nowadays EV chargers also come with many smart features. JuiceBox 40 (Figure 5) by Enel X Way is a WiFi-enabled 40-amp smart EV charging station relay on Level 2 EVSE. It can charge up to 7x faster using 40A/9.6kW and has WiFi connectivity with a smartphone app and an online control dashboard. JuiceBox 40 comes with a 25-foot cable and integrated cable management, voice control via Amazon Echo and Google Home, and dynamic LED lights that show power, connectivity, and charging status. JuiceBox offers a smart and scalable commercial EV charging solution and is compatible with all EVs with Type 2 sockets. It is available in a range of power outputs with both socket and cable configurations and is suitable for outdoor and indoor installation. JuiceBox’s power output can be optimized w the current energy consumption of other devices and the maximum available power supply. The user can manage RFID cards, charging sessions, and usage reports via integration with the Enel X web dashboards and JuicePass app. The mechanical installation is simple with a secure mount. Further, JuiceBox is capable of automatic load balancing of multiple chargers on a single circuit.
With the environmental necessity of a large-scale shift to sustainable energy and a dramatic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, it is greatly encouraging that electric vehicles have rapidly grown in popularity over the last decade. As noted, important factors in their newfound appeal are improved ranges and speeds, battery capacities, smart charging systems, and cost. EV technologies are evolving with remarkable speed, and their future is highly promising.
For the interim, before EVs are everywhere, hybrid cars are a solid short-term fix that can ease the transition from fossil fuels to a fully electric transportation system. Their affordability and quality make them a great choice for the environmentally conscious consumer.
We can expect in the near future to see an explosion of EV technology, with EVs used for not just road travel but also water, air, and even space. Some suggest that by 2035 the largest automotive markets will be primarily electric. This means a green future and a significant economic opportunity.
PUBLISHED IN CIRCUIT CELLAR MAGAZINE • SEPTEMBER 2022 #386 – Get a PDF of the issueSponsor this Article
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