Electric vehicles have been prevalent in the past much longer than today’s General Motors or even Tesla Motors. In fact, manufacturers have never tired from trying to make electric cars operational as a business proposition and on the road as they have appeared long before the internal combustion engine. The history and evolution of electric vehicles have a much wider scope than you might think. In this article, we will take a tour of the evolution of the EV industry.
The Development of Electric Vehicles (EV)
To understand the history of electric vehicles, it is imperative to understand the concept of the development of personal vehicles overall. Back in the 20th century, the primary form of transport was a horse. But as technology began to advance and people’s livelihood becomes more sophisticated, newer forms of transport were created. At this point, steam, electric power, and gasoline were all available and in competition with each other for dominance and power in the market.
Steam technology was more widespread and trusted by people since it was widely used to power mines, factories, ships, and trains. But the only issue was that steam engines required significant time to warm up (nearly an hour) and they also had limited range of motion. Plus, they constantly required water to operate.
The four-stroke engine (still available today) was developed in 1893, and the revolutionary automobile vehicle was developed in 1886. However, despite the utility and power these vehicles brought with them, they still had several issues. For instance, they were less easy to drive and were very loud.
But then there was a third option that came into play – electric cars. These cars did not contain most of the issues as the other cars did, and they were quite easy to operate. In 1828, Anyos Jedlik developed an early electric motor and proved that electricity could be used as a mode of transport. In 1834, Thomas Davenport built a different electric vehicle that was able to run on a circular electric track. One of the first-ever practical electric cars was invented in 1884 by Thomas Parker. Another famous example of the early invention of the electric car is the Flocken Elekrowagen, manufactured in 1888.
Unfortunately, the poor infrastructure of the roads outside the urban centers made it hard for electric vehicles to move far beyond the limits of the city. Nevertheless, since the advancement of electricity in 1910, charging these electric cars became much simpler and greatly captured public attention. Car manufacturers eventually started experimenting with electric vehicles. Thomas Edison also believed in the success of electric vehicles and worked his way to produce high-quality, superior batteries. In 1914, Henry Ford partnered with Thomas to search options for affordable electric vehicles.
However, Ford’s development of the Model T in 1912 put a blow to the production of electric vehicles as it removed one of the main issues of the early combustion engines – the hand crank. Electric vehicles further faced their downfall in 1935 when road structure was improved, and several reserves of crude oil were discovered. Hence, combustion engines won the battle and ruled supreme.
How Do Electric Cars Work?
Electric cars work with the use of an electric motor rather than an internal combustion engine used for gasoline-powered cars. In some cases, electric vehicles use a large traction battery pack to run the motor. The battery can easily be charged by plugging it into a specially-designed outlet or charging station.
Since electric vehicles run on electricity, they do not have exhausts or other parts, such as the fuel line, fuel tank, fuel pump, or carburetor – parts that are required in gasoline-powered cars. Ideally, most electric vehicles consist of the following basic components:
In most electric vehicles, the battery is the source of power and startup for vehicle accessories, such as the clock. This, however, should not be confused with the main traction battery pack.
Generally, the voltage level of the traction battery pack will be higher than that of other components in the car. This device converts the higher-voltage DC to lower-voltage DC for safety.
The energy stored in a battery does not last forever and requires to be recharged at intervals. This is what the charge port is for, as it allows the vehicle to remain connected to an external source of power.
Since the electricity from external sources is AC, the onboard charger converts it into DC in order to charge the battery. In addition, an onboard charger is also used to monitor certain battery characteristics, such as temperature, voltage, current, and state of charge.
Electric Traction Motor
An electric traction motor is used to convert electricity into a rotational force in order to make the wheels move. This is apparent since the electric vehicle is bound to move at some point. Some electric vehicles also contain energy regeneration functions to regain some of the lost energy.
Thermal Cooling System
A thermal cooling system is needed to maintain the proper operating temperature level of the power electronics, engine, motor, and other parts.
Power Electronics Controller
This device controls the speed of the electric traction motor and manages the flow of electric energy provided to the battery.
An electrical transmission device is used to transfer mechanical power from the traction motor to move the wheels of the EV.
Traction Battery Pack
The traction battery pack is known as the fuel tank for an electric vehicle, and it is also the source of electric power for many other components of the vehicle.
The Future of Electric Vehicles
In the past few years, the transformation of the auto industry has accelerated immensely, and electric vehicles are the key drivers of their progress and development. Every year we see car manufacturers adding new EVs to their lineup. From well-established manufacturers to new ones, everyone is working on electric vehicles because they are the future.