Electric Vehicles (EVs)

Remember those remote-controlled cars that used to be a fantasy when it came into existence. I used to see them and think about what if automobiles operate the same way. But I never knew that my thought would become a reality so soon and we would have battery run vehicles dominating the automobile markets.

Welcome to yet another interesting blog. In this one, we are going to understand the basics of “Electric” vehicles and drones, their working, implications, and future scope.

So, fasten your seat belts as we enter and explore the world of electric vehicles.

As technology continues to upgrade, scientists, researchers, and technocrats across the globe are finding out ways to align this growth with sustainable development. One of my beliefs (which is also a common belief according to me) is that technical growth is putting a question mark on the natural ecological balance, our values, and sustainable development. We cannot deny this assumption also because we are witnessing the constant decline of our environment and eventually human life, in this race of achieving technological superiority.

Figure 1 We are facing the consequence of what e have been doing Source: https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/6sdOJ3Bp9rrrHltWsqZfhHPCG3U=/0x66:3353×1821/fit-in/1200×630/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/13255663/earth_dangers.jpg

Well, in such a scenario it is very important to look for alternatives. Alternatives that can save the planet. Alternatives that can cut investment and cost. Alternatives that are energy efficient. Alternatives that are sustainable. We are all well aware that the world has become a victim of nature’s aggression, whether it is in the form of global warming, climate change,e or even in the form of the ongoing pandemic- COVID-19. And today, man is able to realize his worth, we are helpless and frantically searching for some protection. All these years, we have been exploiting nature to ace the economic and technological hegemony. Just one retaliation by nature and we have realized what we were doing- it has put a full stop on our speedy growth.

When humans were locked down, the planet regained its beauty- the lakes and rivers revived, no air pollution,n and no resource abuse anywhere. Our greed and ignorance towards nature have brought us in a situation, where there is a question mark on our existence. I am sure that we will overcome this challenge but if we continue to be ignorant, we are going to face greater challenges in the very near future.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Out of all the technologies introduced to the date, I certainly think that electric vehicles are a potentially decisive one considering all the aspects like environment, energy, and capability.

What are electric vehicles?

Most of you might know, but to give you a brief definition, I would say that any vehicle that runs on an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine is an electric vehicle. This according to me, is such a noble thought because “pollution” is the primary concern these days, especially in a country like India. Of course, an electric motor operated vehicle will not need any fuel to run, which adds to the idea of using batteries as an alternative.

Figure 2 Petrol pumps replaced with recharge pumps Source: https://www.google.com/search?q=electric+vehicles+&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwj2–ulzLXoAhXc4DgGHRa2AtYQ2-cCegQIABAA&oq=electric+vehicles+&gs_l=img.3…291069.293337..293551…0.0..0.0.0…….0….1..gws-wiz-img.-mmfKi-Cbd8&ei=ckp7Xvb6I9zB4-EPluyKsA0&bih=730&biw=1499&tbs=isz%3Am&hl=en#imgrc=xuTHywTy56HjfM

Though the idea of electric vehicles has been around for a long time now, it has received maximum attention and validation in recent years when the world, as a totality is facing an environmental crisis in the form of rising carbon footprint and pollution from fuel-run vehicles. Let us explore more about electric vehicles and later in the text, we will study the feasibility of this technology in India and the possible challenges posed by this creative class of latest technologies.

TYPES OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Just like autonomous vehicles are classified into various categories based on the “degree of automatic assistance offered” by the vehicle design, electric vehicles are categorized based on the “degree of electricity” used as an energy source for the vehicles.

Figure 3 Classification of EVs Source: https://mk0acecwimf55vfrtbrb.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/2018_03_DS_TECH_TypesOfElectricVehicles_NoLogo_CMYK-724×1024.jpg

The classification can be understood as follows:

(1) BATTERY ELECTRIC VEHICLES (BEVs)

The name says it all. Do you know what is the best part about batteries, specifically rechargeable batteries?

They can last you a lifetime if handled well and recharged whenever needed. It is like your mobile phone battery that can be reused numerous times after recharging and lasts a long time if maintained well. BEVs are usually described as fully electric vehicles with rechargeable batteries. The battery power is used to run the electric motor and all the other electronics on board. The battery is recharged externally whenever the energy is completely consumed and unlike the gasoline engines, the batteries do not generate any harmful emissions.

Obviously, for a rechargeable battery, you will need a battery charger. These are also called the Electric Vehicle chargers and are further classified based on the speed with which they charge the rechargeable batteries.

These can be broadly categorized as – Level 1, Level,2, and Level 3 or DC fast charge batteries. You can learn more about these levels by clicking on the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1_DH4rDU14

Some examples of BEVs include Tesla Model 3, BMW i3, Volkswagen e-Golf, Chevy Bolt

(2) PLUG-IN HYBRID ELECTRIC VEHICLES (PHEVs)

These vehicles have dual capabilities, meaning, they can either recharge the battery through “regenerative braking” or by “plugging into some external source”. PVEHs can travel quite a distance (somewhere around 0-40 miles) before the gasoline engine provides assistance.

Some examples of such vehicles include Mercedes GLE550e, Mini Cooper SE Countryman, Audi A3 E-Tron and Hyundai Sonata

(3) HYBRID ELECTRIC VEHICLES (HEVs)

You must be wondering what is “regenerative braking”, which was mentioned in the last category of EVs.

Well. Electric energy is generated through the car’s braking system (friction) which is further used to recharge the batteries. This exquisite phenomenon is called regenerative braking.

And HEVs operate on both gasoline and electricity, initially starting off with electric motor and then switching to gasoline engine when speed rises. Of course, this tuning between the dual operation is handled by an internal computer through a certain code or algorithm so as to offer great economic performance along with energy efficiency.

Notable examples of HEVs include Toyota Camry Hybrid, Toyota Prius Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid.

COMPONENTS OF AN ELECTRIC VEHICLE/ CAR

Now that we are well aware of the categories of EVs, let us understand what are the various components of an electric vehicle, specifically an electric car.

Figure 4 Components of an Electric car Source: https://afdc.energy.gov/sp/assets/car_pages/electric-c6dddcfed973673ca0cc28eddfcb3e385d56b94e8c33d7120aa3f125609e8249.jpg

  • Battery (all-electric auxiliary)

The first and foremost component has to be a battery. In an electric vehicle, a battery offers the electricity to operate the electric motor and other power-run accessories on board.

  • DC/DC converter

A DC to DC converter is used to convert higher DC voltages to lower DC voltages, used to run vehicle accessories and auxiliary battery of the EVs.

  • Battery pack

A battery pack is required to store energy that will be used by the electric motor for operation.

  • EV charge port

Of course, just like conventional charge ports, the EV charge port allows the vehicle to connect to an external power supply which in turn charges the battery pack for further operations.

  • Electric motor

This motor operates to drive the wheels of the electric vehicle. It gets energy from the battery pack for the same.  These motors can either be run with electric charging or regenerative braking.

  • Transmission system

As the name suggests, this unit transfers mechanical power produced from the main motor for the movement of wheels.

  • Onboard charger

The main battery is charged as an onboard charger takes in the incoming AC electricity supplied by the charge port and converts it into DC power. 

  • Power electronics controller

This unit is responsible for managing the flow of electrical energy delivered by the main battery, hence controlling the speed of the electric traction motor and the torque it produces.

  • Thermal system/ Cooling system

There is a chance of heat generation due to the friction and conversion processes happening one after the other, so the cooling unit is a must in such a set-up. This system maintains a proper operating temperature range of the engine, electric motor, power electronics, and other components.

If we are on the same page, then you must be thinking what I am thinking. Did you see, how complex a system can be?

There is so much that makes a system work. We only see the final result but imagine all these subsystems add to the overall operation of an electric vehicle. Indeed, technicians have a huge responsibility of designing an efficient system, taking care of the tiniest details about their consumption and operation.

Now that we have discussed the technical aspect related to the Electric vehicles, I think we must now understand how this idea is beneficial and how it can cause potential havoc to mankind and society.

IMPLICATIONS OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES

 A lot has been improved after the first-ever electric car was introduced. Before we make up our minds reading any new technology, we must always analyze the pros and cons related to it. The pros definitely make it the best choice, but the cons? The cons help us think of lucrative measures that can make the technology more efficient.

PROS

Figure 5 Pros of EVs Source: https://es-cms-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/filer/66/d1/66d1ed9b-72c1-4317-a412-d0bcc37b633b/24-pros-of-evs.png 

  • Obviously “energy-efficient”

While gasoline engines convert only 12-13 percent of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels, electric vehicles convert about 80 percent of the electrical energy to power at the wheels.

Source: Visit this link to know more about this fact: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/atv-ev.shtml

  • No harmful emissions and hence environment friendly
  • Smooth operation with enhanced acceleration and reduced expenditure

CONS

Figure 6 Cons of EVs Source: https://es-cms-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/filer/fd/f9/fdf9ba4f-56ad-4412-9400-58ae87536666/24-cons-of-evs.png

  • Driving range (after charge) is low and is still under the process of improvement
  • Recharging time is an overhead as recharging a normal battery can take somewhere between 3-12 hours
  • Expensive as compared to conventional cars

Well, we can observe that both in terms of society and environment, EVs are a great alternative of combustion fuel engine vehicles, we just have to work on the technical drawbacks to make it the ultimate choice of people.

WHERE IS INDIA?

India has been vigorously taking part in incentivizing electric vehicles for faster adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles and for establishing the necessary infrastructure and other essentials for EVs. The government has also adopted steps to augment the manufacture and use of this remarkable technology under the FAME-II scheme. 

Figure 7 India EV Story Source: https://www.innovasjonnorge.no/contentassets/815ebd0568d4490aa91d0b2d5505abe4/india-ev-story.pdf Do refer to this report to know about India’s EV story and progress in various parts of the country.

WHAT IS THE FUTURE SCOPE?

Figure 8 Future mobility solution with hybrid cars and improvements Source: https://www.acea.be/images/made/1d28c611cbce8a67/future_mobility_728_410_c1_t_l.png

Well, we have had a long discussion about energy efficiency and environmental concerns as two main factors that make EVs a decent choice and alternative over gasoline (combustion fuel engine) cars. We have also seen how electricity (which is basic energy that can be generated from many unconventional resources like solar power, wind, water flow, and geothermal sources) can easily replace expensive and non-renewable resources like fuel, reducing pollution and carbon footprints manifold. But, with this, we also need to ensure that we make the best use of unconventional, renewable (abundant) resources for higher efficiency and natural resource consumption. Some of the feasible ways to progress are:

  • Employing the waste heat energy from the motor and braking system to work. A prominent example of this measure is the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS).
  • Improving the car design for the smart application of renewable sources. For e.g., using photocells in glass roofs for fuel economy and optimized car interiors
  • Additional power supply by solar cells

Another wonderful approach is optimizing energy consumption while offering comfort and security of vehicles is using the latest technologies. Ensuring the safety and security with devices like IR thermography is a possibility. Apart from this, we can always use AI technology components for monitoring and regulating vehicle functions, smart route selection, and effectively modeling electricity consumption.

CONCLUSION

Of course, electric vehicles are a tremendous breakthrough in the recent technologies for their energy-saving, energy-storing, and energy-producing characteristics. Lately, there is a heightened interest among researchers, technicians, and scientists for hybrid vehicles that have smaller fuel consumption and subsequently less contamination emission footprint. We have a possibility of further extending the capabilities of EVs and HEVs by improving the means of self-energy production (where energy can be generated in the vehicle itself, by the vehicle, and for the vehicle) so that our vehicles also function in a “democratic” manner!😄