Archive for electric cars

Electric Cars: How They Could Revolutionise the Future

Although you may not have seen the excellent Chris Paine documentaries ‘Who Killed the Electric Car’ (2006) and ‘Revenge of the Electric Car’ (2011), chances are you have a good idea as to why electric vehicles have the potential to revolutionise the future and help us combat global warming which is an all inclusive phenomenon that threatens everyone’s future; mine, yours, our children’s – everyone’s.

Electric vehicles: A short history

As you may have heard before, ‘If you don’t know the past then you don’t know the future’, which is a very apt statement to make where electric vehicles are concerned, however, that doesn’t explain why electric vehicles have such a lengthy history yet they’re so scarce a sight on the road – a conspiracy perhaps?

The history of the electric car began much longer ago than most people are aware, way back in the mid 19th Century which is quite remarkable taking into account the fact that the year 1886 is considered the birth of the automobile.

What is perhaps more remarkable as far as dates are concerned is that the first electric vehicle in a conventional sense was developed in 1890 or 1891 by William Morrison of Des Moines, Iowa and the electric vehicle in question was a six-passenger wagon that could reach a speed of 23 km/h which was remarkable for those times.

Although there were technical limitations and the top speed an electrical vehicle could reach was 32 km/h, electric vehicles had a number of advantages over their gasoline powered counterparts, as they do today. They ran without the noise, smell and vibration of gasoline powered cars and they didn’t require gear changes either, what was considered to be the most difficult aspect of driving in those days.

Anyhow the electric car was not to be, and instead we’ve had over a century of gasoline powered vehicles and the problems now overwhelmingly associated with the use of fossil fuels – environmental degradation, pollution and global warming, not to mention their adverse affects on human health.

To the future … and beyond!

Whilst fossil fuel driven cars may still be more popular on the road that isn’t to say they’re representative of the future of road travel, far from it. One of the biggest impediments to the popularity of electric vehicles has been the lack of charging stations but that’s fast changing and there are now over 200 EV (electric vehicle) charging stations in the UK alone and that number is increasing rapidly. Therefore there will soon be a time where everyone in the UK will be able to conveniently access an EV charging station to charge their EV.

The price of EVs has also been cited as an impediment to their popularity and admittedly they were rather exclusive at one time but that is also changing and prices have dropped significantly so now owning an electric vehicle – and not only an electric car but also an electric motorcycle or scooter – is within the reach of most motorists. What’s more, EV prices will continue to fall further rendering them the most astute choice of vehicle it’s possible to hit the road in.

Whilst some might say not everyone is able to afford a Tesla and that’s true, however, not everyone is able to afford a Ferrari or Lamborghini either. Therefore we will have to be realistic with our expectations regarding ownership of electric cars just as we always have been regarding ownership of cars powered by fossil fuels.

So why should you drive an electric car? In addition to revolutionising the future and making it a better, safer place for us to grow old and our children to grow up, there are a number of excellent reasons why you should drive an electric car, electric motorcycle or electric scooter. Here are three.

  • Save money. Gasoline is only going to get more expensive.
  • Save time. Electric vehicles are smaller, more manoeuvrable and overall better suited to our increasingly congested roadways.
  • Help the economy. We need energy efficient technologies to reduce our reliance on foreign oil reserves.

These are three great reasons why you should take an interest in driving an electric vehicle and there are many, many more.

BMW i3 – A Quick Look

bmw-i3-coupe-concept-3The BMW i3 may have a name that makes it sound that it has been built in conjunction with Apple, but we can assure you it’s all BMW and as revolutionary as any product Apple has created.

Unlike other sorts of electric vehicles the new i3 is a very different type of electric car thanks to a number of innovations. For one thing the BMW comes with a rear wheel drive – something that is quite unusual in the electric vehicle world. However, it does make sense. The car’s rear powered  wheels are in the perfect position thanks to the driveline and mean that there is no need to string hefty cables from front to rear or vice versa.

Battery

The auto itself has a 230kg battery, which sits underneath the floor of the car and is kept at low temperatures thanks to the cars air conditioning system. This is all well protected thanks to a thoroughly strong chassis and sills made of nothing less than carbon fibre. The motor that drives the car is positioned beneath the boot’s floor.

The car keeps weight down thanks to a suspension made from aluminium and hollow drive shafts. The wheels of the car are made from forged aluminium and all screw, bolts and a whole lot more is made from aluminium.

Weighing in at 1270kg, the BMW is a quite light car, obviously thanks to the use of aluminium and carbon fibre. BMW quotes that a car made with traditional materials of this kind would be around 300kg heavier – which would obviously greatly impact on the fuel consumption and the power to weight ratio, which would affect performance.

Power

Power wise the 22kWh lithium ion battery can produce plenty of it and the electric motor drives 168bhp through the rear wheels of the car – a lot of petrol cars pale in comparison to this figure. Expect the car to go as fast as 93mph and acceleration to be undimmed throughout.

Of course, the other big performance factor is the range of the car and BMW quote this at 140 miles on a charge on combined roads. In realistic terms expect to see around 100 miles to a charge. BMW however has also offered the option of adding a range extender to the vehicle – something we’re interested to see with our experience as BMW specialists Cardiff.

This is essentially a 650cc motorcycle engine that’s added to the car and acts as a generator for the car’s battery. This will charge the car as it goes and pushes its range to 186 miles. This is expected to be added to the vast majority of cars that are bought.

Rear Hinges

The car comes with rear hinged doors – possibly there just to push the notion of modernity, while inside the car is comfortable enough to accommodate four people at a push. The trim comes in all manner of shapes and forms with wood, plastic and fibres thrown in. However, reports suggest that it doesn’t completely live up to its BMW billing and is a little slacker in terms of quality than usual.

However, one benefit of the motor in the rear is that the noise of the electric power is at the rear and quite quiet.  Expect the ride to be better also thanks to the cars lightness and handling is said to be precise, while he car is brisk and agile on B roads – quite similar to a Mini – a car that it utilises plenty of parts from.

The BMW is probably the best attempt at any EV yet and a real step forward in a lot of ways. However, priced at over £25,000, it’s a lot more than the £11,000 tag on a Nissan Leaf. Though, it is a BMW after all.