Technically speaking, it’s relatively simple; an electric motor vehicle is just that – a vehicle that uses an electric motor to move down the road. Ok, what’s the big deal then? The big deal has multiple facets – clear cut and clouded. We’ll explore these below.
Moving Toward a Solution
The problems with internal combustion engines are plentiful – fuel requirements, environmental concerns due to pollution and noise. Add to that gas is now expensive!
Still, for many years the idea of an electric motor vehicle or electric car seemed futuristic. It’s sort of strange because electric cars have been around for over a hundred years. One major hurdle, a few main obstacles and timing stood in the way of electric motor vehicles coming into the limelight.
The first hurdle was wires; you’ve probably seen pictures of trolleys hooked to the maze of wire above for power. This was and still is ok for a fixed route large electric motor vehicle – not so for smaller individual vehicles. The solution was a system of batteries that store power within a chemical field and discharge it as required for practical usage. That’s enough chemistry – there are other obstacles associated with batteries.
Batteries are heavy, have a limited capacity and nominal shelf life. That’s why we saw electric motor vehicle technology evolve in the direction to golf carts and very small, light-duty vehicles with low power and distance limitations. Still, the technology developed and small in-city models of electric motor vehicle are making their way into the marketplace. Plug it in overnight and drive around town during the day – 25-30MPH is possible – quiet, non-polluting and relatively inexpensive to operate.
The Purely Electric Motor Vehicle
Solar powered electric motor vehicles have been built and research continues. The main problem is power, sufficient amps to carry a reasonable load with sufficient force at a reasonable speed. Solar has a long way to go to meet these parameters.
Hybrids and Beyond
It seems that Detroit and Japanese automakers still don’t like electric motor vehicles. We’d see hydrogen cars first if they could figure the fuel cell thing out. Meanwhile, with pressure for some ‘greener’ alternative, hybrids are showing themselves as the next step. Hybrids use internal combustion for power generation and glean from braking efforts additional power to charge batteries. Then that battery power is available for low speed movement – primarily around town driving. It’s a start and battery technology will probably improve due to this effort.
It seems a strong public will regarding electric motor vehicles is still lacking. What will power a real move to electric motor vehicles? That’s a good question. Check back when gas prices hit $5 and we’ll take another look.