Recall the conspiracy documentary from 2006, “Who Killed the Electric Car?”
The documentary detailed the creation, commercialisation and destruction of GM’s electric vehicle called EV1 in the mid-1990s.
Ironically, the world’s first automobile was actually electric and at the turn of the 1900s, EVs were a common site in New York and London, with many of them operating as taxis.
38% of vehicles in the US at the time were EVs believe or not, while 22% of vehicles were gasoline.
Electric vehicles did have drawbacks at the time though. They were expensive, slow and had a short range. Sadly, it wasn’t long before the combustion engine became mainstream, thanks to Henry Ford.
Fast forward almost a 100 years and the EV made a come back with GM’s EV1. It didn’t last long though. Fast forward another 22 years and the EV industry is booming, thanks to global climate change commitments.
With advances in solar technology, many of the EV’s shortcomings are fast becoming distant memories. Costs are also coming down as the technology matures and production ramps up.
But where are EVs heading and who’s who in the zoo at present?
1. Jaguar I-Pace “First Edition”
The I-Pace is Jaguar’s first, fully fledged SUV EV!
The Jaguar I-Pace boasts some impressive figures as a pure EV.
Electric vehicles have the advantage over combustion engines in that they have high torque. The I-Pace can go from 0 to 100 km/hr in 4.8 seconds.
The car also has an impressive range of 480 km on a single charge and features a 294 kW electric motor.
With such a long range, the car has a 90 kWh energy storage system installed. The car also uses regenerative braking technology that recovers energy when braking and uses it to charge the battery.
A feature that makes the car truly unique is an installed heat pump that harvests heat from the outside air and electronic components of the vehicle. The warmth is transferred to the cabin via the heating and ventilation system, reducing the power demand from the battery while maximising range.
Charging is easy and fast with its built-in 50 kW DC fast charger!
2. Faraday Future - FF91
Faraday Future is a new kid on the block when it comes to automobile manufacturing companies.
They are a US startup based in California and you can see by the futuristic design of their flagship EV model the FF91 that it will definitely turn pedestrian and other drivers’ heads once on the road.
The EV features 3 electric motors and reaches a speed of 100 km an hour in 2.39 seconds!
Their propriety designed Lithium-ion energy storage system ensures a range of 480 km on a single charge, not bad for a sporty SUV! By the way, Faraday Future has partnered with LG Chem to build batteries for their EVs.
The Lithium-ion battery has an energy storage density of 130 kWh. A 30-minute rapid charge will provide the vehicle with a range of 320 km.
Not only does the onboard computer use A.I for facial recognition that recognizes and greets you before you enter the vehicle, it becomes more intuitive about your preferences every time you drive. Certainly a blast from the past, you could almost imagine you’ll be driving David Hasselhoff's Kit from Knight Rider!
3. Bentley - Bentayga Hybrid
The Bentayga is Bentley’s first plug-in luxury SUV hybrid.
This hybrid vehicle has a range of 50 km in pure EV mode. The vehicle also features a V6 petrol engine that operates in synergy with an electric motor, thus guaranteeing the required performance level.
The Bentayga is built entirely by hand at the Bentley factory in Crewe. Bentley also partnered with world-renowned Philippe Starck to design the Bentley x Starck Power Dock, a wall mounted battery charger for the plug-in hybrid vehicle.
Unfortunately, the luxury SUV is not available to order yet but will be offered in limited edition to a select few markets at the end of 2018.
4. BMW i8 Roadster
The BMW i8 Roadster is an open-top version of the plug-in hybrid i8 sports car.
The BMW i8 Roadster is an impressive futuristic looking car. There’s something about an open top car and having the wind blow through your hair - and the experience is even better if it’s an electric vehicle.
Just looking at it one can’t help noticing the most striking feature: the imposing lightweight carbon-fibre hinged doors. It also features full-LED headlights and redesigned Air Curtains.
The i8 includes an intelligent energy management system that seamlessly manages the interaction between the electric motor and battery with the combustion engine.
This greatly improves the efficiency of the vehicle, boasting an impressive combined fuel consumption of only 2.1 L per a 100 km and CO2 emissions of up to 46 grams per a km. It also has a combined power consumption of 14.5 kWh per a 100 km.
Charging is easy with a wall mounted BMW i Wallbox, or why not make use of a custom designed solar roof carport for clean green charging?
The car consists of the drive module with an aluminium chassis and the life module, an ultralight passenger compartment made of high-strength carbon-fibre.
5. Audi e-tron
The Audi e-tron is Audi’s first plug-in hybrid EV series that will be commercially available from the end of 2018.
The electric drive chain is based on the large electric platform developed together with Porsche.
The plug-in hybrid will come in 2 models, the popular Audi A3 Sportback e-tron and the Audi Q7 e-tron quattro.
Both models combine electric drive systems with combustion engines so one can benefit from both worlds.
Benefit from emission-free driving in pure electric mode, with sporty performance and a long range in combustion engine mode.
The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron boasts an impressive combined range of 1.6 to 18 L of fuel consumption per a 100 km. Similarly, in EV mode the car uses approximately 11.4 to 12 kWh per a 100 km. With a combined CO2 emissions factor of 36 to 40 grams per a km.
In pure EV mode, the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron travels up to 50 kilometres on a single charge - far enough for many urban journeys. On longer journeys, the car goes into a hybrid mode where it uses a combination of the electric motor and combustion engine.
The car uses the sophisticated battery charging technology that allows it to be charged in 2.5 hours using public charging facilities.
The Audi Q7 e-tron quattro has a combined fuel consumption of 1.8 to 1.9 L per a 100 km. When using the electric motor it uses 18.1 to 19 kWh per a 100 km. It has a combined carbon emissions factor of 48 to 50 g per a km.
Electric vehicles have been around since the early 1900s and had a brief lifespan before combustion engine vehicles became mainstream. In the mid-1990s they made a brief reappearance when GM released the EV1 but that was also short-lived and fizzled out fairly quickly. In the past few years, EVs have made a massive comeback, with major automobile manufacturing companies and even new startups such as Faraday Future investing in R&D.
Energy storage technologies have advanced radically in recent years, removing many of the challenges originally faced by EVs. New EVs now have extended ranges and the ability to be charged quickly. The technology is advancing rapidly and as it matures the cost of EVs will come down drastically to be on a par with the more conventional internal combustion car.
The 2018 Geneva International Motor Show really showed the extent of new EVs that are either in prototype phase or soon to be in commercial production. Governments are also investing in public charging facilities that provide the clean, green energy needed.
The irony of it is that the electric vehicle was the first car on the road and it might just have the final say at the end of the day, as the internal combustion engine quietly disappears into the sunset!
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Photo credit: BMW