What is an Electric Vehicle?
What makes an electric vehicle so different than any other vehicle?
This might seem very basic for some people, but it needs to be addressed so that we are starting at the same point. Before I go far into what is an electric vehicle we need to establish what can be considered an electric vehicle. For a vehicle to be considered an electric vehicle it needs to be powered by an electric motor for propulsion, or in other words, to drive the vehicle. This does not necessarily require the vehicle to be driven exclusively by the electric motor. It can be fully electric driven, electric assisted, and everything in between.
The reason for different identifiers on vehicles is to let you know the role of the electric motor on each vehicle. Full electric vehicles are known as battery electric vehicles (BEV), most notably: Tesla vehicles. Teslas have helped gain more exposure and boosted consumer excitement for electric vehicles.
There is a wide range of hybrid electric vehicles on the market that is fully electric drive to the electric motor assist a gasoline engine. Some vehicle types can switch between the electric motor and the gasoline engine, depending on driving range and vehicle speed.
There is confusion about electric vehicles when hybrid electric vehicles are brought up. This confusion stems from the wording used by automotive marketers, which is similar to that used for electric vehicles but means different things. Many companies have pledged to provide electrification of their fleet in a designated amount of time. Many people interpret that by assuming the company will start to make full electric vehicles by a specific date.
In reality, what vehicle makers have promised is that their current or new models will be electric. It is great that big automotive companies have started to embrace electric vehicle implementation into their product lines.
Electric Car Growth Into Mainstream Society
The number of electric car models offered has gradually increased in the last decade alone. Most automotive companies are struggling to figure out what to do with electric vehicles and how to fit them in with their current structure. This big change has shaken the automotive world since it would require a change in company culture, and how it operates as there is an emphasis on maintenance of all vehicles to generate consistent revenue. This is also the reason why a new company like Tesla is able to produce full electric vehicles since they did not have the existing infrastructure in places like dealerships for sales and repair garages. In Tesla’s case, this would previously have been a huge issue for a gasoline-powered vehicle to be close to a repair garage for continual maintenance to keep a valid warranty. Tesla motors built out their own infrastructure the way they wanted and that which suited their vehicles best.
For an existing automotive vehicle company to make such a drastic change would cause alienation of their existing customers and the cost would be very high.
The electrification of more vehicles provides a wide variety of cars in different vehicle ranges, sizes, and price points. Each type of electric vehicle has their good and bad points that should be evaluated to see if it the right fit for you.
Electric Vehicles Are Not Limited to Electric Cars
The classification for electric vehicles is not limited to cars and truck, or automobiles, in fact, this applies to any mode of transportation. This applies to vehicles large and small, not just cars.
Large-Sized Electric Vehicles
Large electric vehicles currently on the market are semi-trucks, underground mining machines, and airplanes. The electric planes are full-sized, not small hobby RC planes, which are in prototype testing. These electric planes are not in commercial use at this point but could be in the next few years as they are already doing trans-Atlantic flights. As for electric semi-trucks, there is a surge to supply a solution for one of the biggest traffic pollution sources. Semi-trucks are always on the road moving every sort of payload for every industry, from short routes to long-hauls across the country and land borders. This is one of the latest steps in electric vehicle expansion.
Medium-Sized Electric Vehicles
Some medium-sized electric vehicles include electric race cars and boats. The race cars I am referring to are Formula-e vehicles. The Formula-E racing circuit is pushing the boundary of electric vehicles as there are big manufacturing companies involved with their research and development. It helps that there are bragging rights on the line as well as exposure for a leading organization in electric drivetrain development.
Small-Sized Electric Vehicles
Smaller electric vehicles include racing go-karts, golf carts, forklifts, and electric bikes. Electric golf carts have been around for quite some time using either a 12V or 24V system. One of the most interesting electric vehicles in emerging markets is the electric bike, or e-bike and have become very popular in India and China. With a larger city population density in India and China, crowded roadways create the appeal for e-bikes. These bikes are also gaining popularity in North America due to their simplicity to operate in urban centers, as long as you avoid highways.
Mainstream Electrification is Opening Opportunities for New Automotive Suppliers
It’s a good idea to step back from electric cars to see the larger picture of electric vehicles every once in a while to see how other applications are being influenced. The expansion of electric vehicles is spreading to many different industries and vehicles that were previously thought to be too difficult or expensive to be an electric vehicle. Keeping an eye on the world of electric vehicles allows you to see the importance of them and demand that exists. The trend of electrification is constantly spreading to new applications that are inventive and pushing them further into mainstream use.
As Usual Focused Innovation For Electrification
With a growing number of manufacturers and equipment suppliers switching to an electric drivetrain, there is a charge in the business of electrification that has some companies scared. They are given the option to innovate in order to keep up the new emergence of electric vehicles or to support an older technology and be left behind.
There are also new component manufacturers being created to serve this new market at a high pace. This applies more pressure on traditional equipment manufacturers to keep up with these new highly targeted companies. This can be a difficult transition as it may require restructuring and a mind shift in the corporate culture.
One the most popular companies is Tesla, which shook up the automotive world. They first did this with the Tesla Roadster, which was more of an EV conversion of a Lotus Elise, to electric from the factory. The largest shake-up was the release of the Model S, which was built from the ground up by Tesla as a battery electric vehicle.
Another company that is creating some buzz is Faraway Futures who are looking to compete with Tesla and to push out some of the more traditional vehicle manufacturers. This can only be a good thing as more competition drives up development and typically keeps the overall consumer cost low, if not the same.