How Electric Cars Work

As fossil fuel use threatens our very existence, and as this world runs out of gasoline, we all need to look for new options to keep our automotive industry running. The most promising option today is that of Electric cars. At this stage we are experimenting with various different forms of such vehicles, including hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, and trying to improve upon their design and capacity.
How Electric Cars Work
Source - Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APlug-in_hybrid_electric_vehicle_(PHEV)_diagram.jpg)

Electric Cars use Electricity instead of Gasoline to propel the Vehicle

By doing so they save on gasoline, and provide an option for countering the impact of rising gas prices. In addition, they also cut down on the dangerous emission of green house gases that pose a great threat to environmental integrity today.

Using Electricity to run the Car

Instead of the internal combustion engine that runs the conventional gasoline car, the electric car uses electricity and has a three component system instead of engine.

(i) Electric Motor- The car is moved by the electric motor that moves its wheels.  Essentially it performs the

function of a conventional gas engine.

(ii) Controller - It serves to pass on the power to the motor from the batteries.

(iii) Rechargeable Batteries- They serve to store energy that is used to drive the vehicle. Charging of batteries can be done from a power grid, at home or in designated recharging site. Their size and efficiency is the biggest limiting factor, and their disposal one of the biggest challenges currently faced.

Pure Electric Vs. Hybrid Vs. Fuel Cell Cars

Currently used electric cars can be classified in three major groups.

1. Pure Electric Cars : These are vehicles that depend solely on electricity stored in batteries for moving the cars. They do not have any gasoline engine, and recharging of car is done through power grid. Example include REVA electric vehicle, which is one of the earliest models to have gained popularity.

2. Hybrid Cars : These are vehicles with electric batteries as well as a conventional gasoline internal combustion engine, with a complex computerized control to automatically shift the power from batteries to engine and vice versa depending upon needs.

3. Fuel Cell Cars : These are also electric vehicles as they use electricity to propel the car. However, instead of storage in rechargeable batteries, electricity is generated in the fuel cells by utilizing hydrogen to produce electricity and water.

Features of Electric Cars

Technological advancements have now placed electric cars at par with conventional cars in terms of speed etc. Tesla Roadster, one of the latest models launched this year can accelerate from 0 to 210 km in 4 seconds and has a


fuel efficiency of 1.74 L/100 km, which is equivalent to 135 miles per U.S. gallon.

These newer models have largely taken care of the slow speed associated with electric vehicles.

Apart from speed, other constraints of electric vehicles are battery storage, environmental concerns of battery disposal and losses of energy in various stages of production and distribution of power and its actual use in the car.

The electric vehicles provide a greater efficiency of energy used. Simultaneously, they also reduce the emissions. Thus they provide an environmentally friendly solution to the challenge of carbon emissions and depleting oil.

Role of Electrical Cars

Till a few years back, the use of electric cars had been more or less experimental in nature. Though commercial production and use had been in vogue since over a decade, the costs were non-competitive and hence the electric cars, most of which were of hybrid nature, were either a status symbol or an indication of unique preferences of their possesors.

The situation is now changing very rapidly. With improving technology, falling battery costs and rising gas prices, they are likely to become a major option that can be considered for replacing gas engine cars. Hybrid cars, fuel cell cars and electric cars are likely to become more popular due to fuel cost savings as well as incentives attached in the form of tax breaks, and other forms of government policy encouragement.

One of the greatest advantages of electric vehicles is that they provide a way to run cars on electricity that can be generated from renewable sources. This way they could provide a solution to depleting oil, rising oil prices and threatening carbon emissions.



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