The first viable electric motor was built by a Hungarian priest Anyos Jedlik in 1827. He used this motor along with a rotor, stator and commutator to power a tiny car. In 1835 a professor of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, Sibrandus Stratingh built a small electric car. Around this same period early experimental electrical cars were also moving on the rails too. In 1840 a patent was granted in England to use rails as the conductors for electric current, while similar patents were also granted in the United States of America.
In the early 1900s electric vehicles were first mass produced in the United States of America. Electric Vehicles were among the earliest of the automobiles. They held various vehicle land speed and land distance records at that time. At one point of time they had even outsold the gasoline powered vehicles. In 1900 28 percent of the cars on the American roads were electrical.
A number of factors contributed to the fall of use of electric vehicles mainly which were lack of proper road infrastructure and the discovery of large reserves of petroleum in Oklahoma, Texas and California. And with the introduction of cheap assembly cars by Ford, electric cars were side-lined. And the limited number of the storage batteries, they could not gain much popularity. However electric trains gained popularity due to the economies in cost and the speeds that they could achieve.
Electric Vehicles have seen a rise in usage in the last few decades. The impact of petroleum based transportation infrastructure on the environment, the rising prices of oil as well as the fear of depletion of the remaining reserves has led to this. EVs consume electricity that is being generated from various sources such as fossil fuels, nuclear power and renewable sources of energy such as solar power, tidal power and wind power or any combination of these. The carbon footprint of EVs is considerably lower than those of fossil fuel powered vehicles but it depends on the fuel and technology that is being used by them for the generation of electricity. Various government initiatives have also pushed the growth of EVs in the last few decades. The low cost of EVs as compared to before is also leading to rise in the sale of electric vehicles.
Types of Electric Vehicles
Plug-in electric vehicle
A plug-in electric vehicle also known as PEV is any motor vehicle that is recharged from any external source of electricity which are wall sockets and the electricity stored in rechargeable battery packs. Plug-in cars have several benefits as compared to conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. They have very low operating and maintenance costs, and contribute little or no local air pollution. They have reduced the dependency on petroleum and can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the source of power which is onboard the car, depending on the fuel and technology used for electricity generation to charge the batteries. Plug-in hybrids have most of these benefits when they operate in the all-electric mode. Despite their benefits which they have over the conventional gasoline powered vehicles, the market penetration of plug-in electric vehicles has been very slow than the expected rate as adoption by the general public has to face various hurdles and limitations. The global market share of the plug-in vehicle segment achieved 0.86% of total new cars sold in 2016, up from 0.62% in the previous year, 2015 and which had been 0.38% in 2014. However, the total share of plug-in electric cars was only 0.15% of the 1.4 billion motor vehicles which were on the world’s roads by the end of 2016.
Hybrid electric vehicle
A hybrid electric vehicle or HEV is a type of hybrid vehicle that has a combination of a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) system with an electric propulsion system (hybrid vehicle drivetrain). The electric powertrain helps to achieve better fuel economy than a conventional gasoline powered vehicle. One of the most common form of an HEV is the hybrid electric car, although hybrid electric trucks (pickups and tractors) and buses also exist.
Over 12 million hybrid electric vehicles have been sold worldwide since their introduction in 1997 as of January 2017. Till April 2016, Japan has been ranked as the market leader having more than 5 million hybrids, followed by the United States of America having a cumulative sales of over 4 million units since 1999, and about 1.5 million hybrids delivered since 2000 in Europe. Japan also has the world’s highest market penetration in regards to hybrid cars. In 2016 the hybrid car sales accounted for 38% of new standard passenger car sales, and 25.7% of new passenger vehicle sales including kei cars. Norway is ranked second with a market share of 6.9% of new car sales in 2014 in hybrid cars, followed by the Netherlands which has 3.7%, while France and Sweden, both have 2.3%.
Railborne Electric Vehicles
Due to the fixed nature of the rail line it is relatively easy to power electric vehicles through permanent overhead lines, which eliminates the need for heavy batteries on-board. Electric locomotives, electric light rail systems, electric trams /trolleys and electric rapid transit are all commonly used today, especially in Europe and Asia. Since electric trains do not have a need to carry heavy internal combustion engine or large batteries, they usually have very good power-to-weight ratios. This allows high speed trains such as to operate at speeds of 320 km/h or higher, and electric locomotives to have a much higher power output than fossil fuel powered locomotives.
Tesla, Inc. which was formerly Tesla Motors is an American company that specializes in electric vehicles, energy storage and solar panel manufacturing which is based in Palo Alto in California. It was founded in 2003 and the company specializes in the manufacturing of electric cars, lithium-ion battery energy storage, and residential photovoltaic panels. CEO Elon Musk has said that he envisions Tesla as a technology company which aims to eventually offer electric cars at prices which will be affordable to the average consumer. Tesla’s two most popular electric vehicles are the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X. The Model S is Tesla’s luxury sedan, and at the time when it was first released in July 2012, it was the highest rated vehicle ever tested by Consumer Reports. As of December 2016 its cumulative global sales have reached more than 158,000 units.
The Model X is the electric SUV from Tesla which was released in the United States in September 2015, features falcon wing doors, has room for seven passengers, and almost 300 miles in range per charge. Its cumulative global sales has crossed 25,000 units.