Simply speaking, an electric vehicle is one that uses electric motors for its locomotion. This fascinating branch of automotive engineering isn’t nascent, as is popularly misconceived. In fact, the first major breakthroughs in electrically propelled vehicles was achieved in the middle stages of the nineteenth century, when electricity presented itself as an alternative for providing locomotion to the conventional internal combustion engine based vehicles.
After a prolonged period of lull, this field is again vivified with research and development activities from the past decade or so. As the quatity of fossil fuels in our inventory keeps on decreasing, the need to explore alternatives for energy makes itself evident. This has been the primary reason behind the coming together of scientists and automobile experts in order to explore the potential of electricity as a fuel to run most vehicles, apart from only trains and small cars. An electric vehicle may be a family car, a pick up truck or a lorry. One common characteristic of all these vehicles is that they use elctricity to drive the electric motors, which further drive the vehicle into motion. This electricity may itslef be a result of burning of fossil fuels, the turning of a turbine or the tapping of hydroelectric power. There are different methods of feeding the electric vehicle its fuel. This can be done wirelessly through inductive charging, although direct cable charging is the more prominent method. This fuel, in other words – electricity, can be stored in a battery inside the vehicle. More advanced methods of storage, such as using flywheels and super capacitors are also finding widespread popularity among car makers across the globe.
Electric motors score heavily over internal combustion engines (ICEs) in the criteria of energy translation. Whereas ICEs only succeed in tapping something like 20 per cent of available enrgy in gasoline, the electric motors are greatly efficient and convert three fourths of the available enrgy from batteries. Also, electric vehicles exhibit brilliant performance by offering smooth acceleration and noiseless peration to users. This is stark contrast to the more demanding and noisy ICEs. Add to it the fact that electric vehicles cut down particulate emmission, which happens to be the most dangerous agent spoiling our environmental health, and electic vehicles make a very strong case for themselves. Advanced electric vehicles exhibit regenerative braking and suspension, a feature that makes efficient use of energy which is otherwise lost in braking. And then, considering the fact that electric vehicles can immensely reduce the stress on our environment, without making the users compromise on their comforts, there are ample reasons to be impressed.
Automobile giant Toyota launched the first bulk produced hybrid gasoline electric car in Toyota Prius in 2003, thus opeing up the gates to further innovations. Today, most major car manufacturers are working diligently on their own electric car versions. Nissan is all set to lauch the Leaf, the first commercial battery run electric car. The coming years promise to be studded with more such electric vehicle lauches.
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