We live in a world that is very dependent on fossil fuels. These fuels being coal, natural gas, and oil are often related to two issues we see being talked about all the time; global warming and their inevitable depletion. This is problematic to many industries throughout the globe and in particular cars. Millions of people rely on fossil fuels to power their cars and in turn we are aiding global warming by necessity. The supplies of fuel we currently use for cars is estimated to run out in about 100 years. When we use so much of this resource to power not only our cars, but many different infrastructures in our society it seems important to find a new mainstream source of power to replace it. One type of power source has been on the rising in use over the past decade. Electric power is something we are starting to see expand more in the auto industry.
Electric powered cars can be a solution to the depleting energy sources we use today. They run on a cleaner energy source than their gasoline brethren. This is because they are simply more efficient. A common misconception is that gas cars are inherently bad. This is only due to their inefficiency to convert all of the fuel into energy. A better way to put it is taking food into the equation. We are not perfect biological machines, in fact its pretty hard to even build something that has perfect efficiency. Whenever we eat food we do not convert all the energy that it may contain. Both gas and electricity are the same way except electricity converts more of the energy. What is left is the gases that comes out of the exhaust. If we could process fossil fuels more efficiently perhaps electricity would not be needed as a replacement.
Despite these benefits, electric and hybrid cars tend to have stigmas associated with them. Some of these criticisms being that they are not sporty enough, aren’t as practical, or that the technology to widespread use isn’t around. These claims, while in the past were more justified, have been addressed as the technology has progressed.
To illustrate where the modern electric vehicle is currently we can look at the BMW i8, a Toyota Prius, and a Telsa Model S. Another complaint about electric cars is that they are expensive, which is why these three vehicles have been selected. Each represent a different pricing point with the i8 at $140,700, the Prius at $24,200, and the Model S at $69,000. There are many more brands but the point is that these cars also exist in different pricing brackets for different types of consumers just as their gasoline counterparts do. This also means that luxury is something that is not forgone in their design. Electric cars have moved past being cheap and turned into something more.
Prius’ are known to be rather slow creating the image that electric cars are not very sporty in the past however, the Model S will reach 60 mph in as fast as 3.6 seconds and the i8 as fast as 4.2 seconds. Both are in what is considered to be “super car” territory. Their electric motors grant them the ability to use torque instantaneously rather than gradually as gasoline powered cars do. To break it down, cars have horsepower and torque and you will often see horsepower as being the statistic advertised more. Horsepower is how much power the engine is capable of producing. The higher the number the more powerful it is. However ever torque is rotational force that is applied. For example if you have an open bottle of soda and you twist the cap back on you are applying torque to the cap. It’s a similar principle to wheels. A car with more torque can move its wheels easier than one with less. Gasoline cars typically have linear torque gains even if they have a lot of power as they can only apply it at certain rpms or rotations per minute. Electric cars bypass this by having a flat curve. As long as the engine is designed for it, they can more easily access all of the torque and move. The design of more recent electric motors helps to show how far the technology is advancing.
Regardless of the critics against electric vehicles, their approach may be inevitable as many car manufacturers have at least one vehicle that is a hybrid or electric variant; indicating that car manufacturers are moving forward and experimenting. Chevy, Ford, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Porsche, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Cadillac, Fiat, McLaren, and even more have at least one of these vehicles in their current lineups. Considering that emission regulations are getting tighter and tighter it makes sense that manufacturers are trying to get into the electric market. The profit is there and companies are seeing it, with some even claiming to have all electric or hybrid cars by a certain year.