Tag Archive | "battery powered cars"

What Next For The Motor Industry?

To the casual observer at least, it seems to have gone a bit quiet on the electric car front – no pun intended. Most car makers have at least one on their books or in development, but all the hoo-ha that surrounded their introduction has died down to an almost inaudible hum.

The problem is well known and seemingly insurmountable – at least for now. Range anxiety. Elsewhere on these pages Motor Blogger has discussed the pro’s and con’s of battery vehicles; it’s old news now. However, a recent proposal from the EU (a group of people who call the shots whilst only having a tenuous grasp of the real world) that by the year 2020, new vehicle emissions must be reduced by a further thirty per cent. It remains to be seen if this is actually enforced – no doubt manufacturers will have something to say about it.

Nevertheless, the pressure is on to effectively eliminate the use of fossil fuels in cars as soon as is technically possible before the Earth starts to look like a child’s deflated football that’s been left in the garden during the winter. The snag is that battery technology is still only in its formative years.

Certainly electric cars are fine in the city but out there in the boondocks where the wild things live, petrol is still the king. Despite sterling efforts from car designers around the world the Euro-whingeing continues and meantime boffins are beavering away to solve the battery power issue. It’s not really safe to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel just yet but there may just be a faint glimmer, like a struck match in a thunderstorm.

The American Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other interested parties are working on – oh, how they love their acronyms – CAEBAT, which apparently stands for Computer Aided Engineering For Electric Drive Vehicle Batteries.

This is software that ‘simulates spirally wound lithium-ion batteries battery cells’. It’s an aid to speed up the testing of new technologies. Through this the scientists hope to develop improved battery performance and life whilst making them more cost effective. If you’re thirsty for more of this stuff then it’s locatable on the web.

So where does this leave the manufacturers? Basically, they’re caught between a rock and a hard place. To comply with regulation they’ve made some spectacular improvements to internal combustion engine technology for which society should be thankful and yet they are obliged to listen to and obey people who bludgeon them with new demands but have no idea how difficult and costly this cutting edge alternative energy stuff is. Or don’t care. Here’s a thought. We once saw a Brougham carriage being pulled by a couple of llamas. Maybe we’re onto something here…it’s certainly alternative and drivers could put the exhaust on the garden!

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Battery Powered Cars – Is it worth it?

You could be forgiven for thinking that the battery powered car is a new creation, however it has actually been with us for many decades and the concept of a car powered by an electrical battery has been with us for even longer.

It is only recently though since battery power has become a more viable option for powering a car.  Previous downfalls were the simple fact that battery technology simply wasn’t capable of providing enough power for long enough to make it a worthy contender to petrol. Batteries were often incredibly heavy and cumbersome and gave very poor performance, meaning cars that were incredibly slow.  Think of a milk float for example!

The other downfall of battery powered cars was the range.  Battery powered cars sometimes had a range of as low as 12 miles meaning that it was totally impractical for most car owners.

However, battery technology has advanced in leaps and bounds and now batteries are smaller, lighter and more powerful.  As well as this, designers have found ways of making the use of that power more efficient, meaning that the range of a battery powered car has drastically increased.

There is now also the infrastructure for battery powered cars beginning to pop up in major cities.  Take London for example, many of the car parks in central London now have battery charging points for people driving battery-powered vehicles.  This makes owning a battery powered car even more viable.

However, battery powered cars still do have a very limited range when compared to petrol vehicles and this can mean that long journeys are practically impossible.  Unfortunately the infrastructure simply does not exist outside of major cities and that means that on a journey from London to Manchester, for example, there would be nowhere to “refuel” a battery powered car.  This is where an electric car still falls short.

So, is it worth it?  Well, investing in a battery powered car means no petrol costs which straight away makes for some huge savings.  It also makes your car exempt from paying road tax, and if you are in London you are also exempt from the congestion charge.  These all combine to make some pretty significant savings.  Therefore, if you live in London and only ever really drive in London then the answer is most certainly yes, it is well worth it.  The range on an electric car nowadays is easily enough to get you around the city and to and from work with ease.  The savings will be absolutely huge and will make ownership well worthwhile.

If you live outside of a major city though then the benefits of ownership of a battery powered car can quickly be outweighed by the negatives.  The lack of charging points and infrastructure will make it practically impossible to leave your town or village or residence and means that you will always be keeping a beady eye on your battery meter as you panic that you won’t make it home.  Also, outside of the slow-crawling traffic of London and other cities you will quickly notice the lack of performance and speed.

In short, if you live in a built up and congested city that has charging points and infrastructure then you are on to a sure winner.  If you live outside of these areas then it is probably waiting a few more years for things to improve a bit more.

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