Since its announcement in March 2016, the Tesla Model 3 has been positioned as a product to popularize electric vehicles. With a starting price tag of 35 thousand dollars, 220 miles (350 km) of travel distance and all the necessary hardware to activate the autopilot (at least, as Tesla itself states), in the future Model 3 has every chance of getting into the history books along with Ford Model T and Citroen C2V.
It was two years ago. Now that production has finally accelerated, it is likely that the Tesla Model 3 will be available to the general public later this year. The company seems to have realized that it does not have a monopoly in this market. General Motors, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Volkswagen Audi Group – now they are all ready to run in selling their own electric vehicles, but unlike Tesla, they have centuries of automotive experience behind them. This means that a new era will soon begin in the electric vehicle industry, and a lot of interesting things await us in the next 3-5 years. But today it is May 2018, and while there is some time before the events described above, it is better to pay attention to the functionality of electric vehicles.
How do they work?
At a basic level, electric vehicles work the same way as conventional cars with gasoline, diesel, or even hydrogen engines: there is a fuel source, a drive unit, and a gearbox (in this case, very simplified) to provide back and forth movement. Well, on top are the passenger and luggage sections.
The advantages of electric vehicles (EV, Electric Vehicles) begin with the absence of jerks when changing the power transmitted to the wheels, and the disadvantages include a slower acceleration than cars with an internal combustion engine of similar power. But if you do not compare the power, then the fastest vehicle for public roads – Tesla Model P100D.
Due to the ultra-high weight, the batteries in all electric vehicles are located in the floor, this allows not only to free up as much space as possible, but also to lower the center of gravity as much as possible for superior stability and a smooth ride. For example, Tesla Model S and Model X, with a weight of more than 2 tons, are driven no worse than any small car. Another plus of placing the batteries in the floor of the car is the absence of a transmission tunnel, which increases the amount of free space in the cabin.
Is electric vehicle driving any different?
The key difference between internal combustion engines and electric cars in everyday life is the EV's regenerative braking system, which captures the energy generated by coasting the vehicle forward and then transfers it directly to the vehicle's battery. Basically, every time you release the accelerator pedal, the car charges. Electric vehicles still have a brake pedal, but it can be used much less frequently due to the additional deceleration during operation of this energy recovery mechanism. As practice shows, for people who first sat behind the wheel of an electric car, it is the topic of regenerative braking that raises the most questions. In simple words, the operation of this system can be described as follows: when you smoothly release the gas pedal, the car slows down gradually, and if you release it sharply, then it brakes sharply, accumulating a directly proportional amount of energy.
For example, currently Nissan is touting the new generation Leaf, with a strong emphasis on simplified handling with just one pedal for both acceleration and braking. Yes, the Leaf has a brake pedal, apparently due to laws requiring it in every car, as lifting your foot off the gas pedal provides even more braking force than the brake pedal in conventional cars.
Reviews of ordinary electric car owners say that it is really enough to release the 'trigger' in order to stop in advance before the pedestrian crossing. After several hours of driving an electric car with one pedal, you will not understand how you did without this convenience before. The brake pedal is important only in two cases: in emergency situations requiring lightning-fast braking, or on a frosty morning / evening, when there is no time to warm up the batteries and the recuperative system in a hurry.
There are many reasons for switching from combustible fuel cells to electric power, but the most basic is the lack of 'localized' emissions like ICE cars. By 'localized' I mean the emissions generated directly from the operation of the vehicle.
The electric car itself does not pollute the environment with harmful gases, but during its production and in many cases of generating electricity for its movement, a lot of waste is created that negatively affects the environment and contributes to urban smog. Therefore, there is a debate about the feasibility of generating electricity by burning oil or coal, as well as what to do with the batteries of electric vehicles that will no longer be usable. Globally, however, this volume of emissions is still not comparable to the amount of emissions produced by all cars with internal combustion engines.
Another plus of electric vehicles that ordinary users will appreciate is that there is no need to buy oil and much less frequent replacement of brake discs and various linings – all thanks to the aforementioned energy recovery system.
The rest of the advantages are even more obvious: quiet driving, ease of control, a gearbox that does not require any action from the driver, and economy (filling the battery costs several times cheaper than using gasoline or diesel to travel the same distance). If you also install a small charging station at home (in civilized countries, almost all EV owners have this 'accessory') and charge it with the energy accumulated by solar panels, then most trips will cost you absolutely nothing.
In addition, in many large cities parking is free, and there is no transport tax, and in some countries (of course, not in Russia) there are government subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles. For example, in the United States, the federal payment ranges from $ 2,500 to $ 7,500, but this program will only work until each of the automakers releases 200,000 EVs. Tesla will reach that mark in early 2019, after which the incentive subsidy will be gradually reduced, and unless the system changes, many of the 400,000 people who pre-order Tesla Model 3 will not receive any discount.
It's also worth remembering that this is just a way to encourage people to switch to EVs, so when EVs become the norm sooner or later, the government aid system will be canceled or revised.
Only some of the charging stations are free, so Tesla began to build its Supercharger network, free for all customers of the company who bought an electric car at a price that includes the cost of using the Supercharger, or for those Tesla owners who used a referral promo code from another driver when buying.
What about hybrids?
Hybrid vehicles are of two types. In the first case, these are classic hybrids like the old versions Toyota Prius, using both a gasoline engine and a small electric motor at the same time. Such cars charge the batteries only with the help of energy recovery during braking and can travel on one gasoline or only on electric traction, but in both cases this will be a much shorter distance. Such hybrids cannot connect to hybrid charging stations.
The second type of hybrid car is a cross between classic hybrids and electric vehicles. Recently, this option is rapidly gaining popularity, as they can replenish the battery when braking or descending a mountain, or they can connect to public charging stations. For daily trips over short distances (to work, study, shopping and other places within a radius of 15-20 km), it is enough to leave such a car every night for charging, like your smartphone, and you will not even have to use gasoline and an energy recovery system. The latest in this class include the VW Golf GTE, Mini Countryman Hybrid and Range Rover P400e, each with a range of up to 50 km on a single charge.
Will electrification of cars affect our way of life?
Living with electric cars requires us to make certain changes in our daily lifestyle. The first thing that comes to mind is the charging process. You will need to work out your itinerary for your daily commute based on the distance between stations on your way from your home to your destination. Of course, this question is relevant only for large cities, where it is easy to wind more than one hundred kilometers in a day.
Secondly, each owner of an electric car will need to think over all the factors that can affect the battery life – we are talking primarily about the average air temperature in a particular region at a certain time of the day, because batteries in an EV are no different from a lithium battery in your smartphone and are just as afraid of the cold.
So, we figured out the movement inside our settlement, then we need to learn how to plan long trips – and with the massive distribution of electric vehicles, they will become super popular due to their almost complete free-of-charge (you will no longer need to pay for gas). In the context of planning an EV trip, you need to determine the exact route – the required number of charging stations should be located on it, taking into account the range of your car. In this case, one must take into account the malfunction of some stations, possible queues at them and other force majeure circumstances that can delay you on the way to the next stop and leave you in the middle of the track with an empty battery.
By the way, about charging: yes, the infrastructure of charging stations is now far from ideal even in the West, and there is nothing to say about our country. But the situation is changing, just a few years ago there was no place to charge an electric car in Moscow or St. Petersburg, and now it can be done even far outside the city center. After all EV buyers start installing miniature stations at home, and new apartment buildings start to rent with chargers in the parking lot, replenishing the battery of an electric car will be no more difficult than putting a smartphone on charge overnight.
The data provided by the manufacturers on the distance that a particular model travels on a single charge is as useless as the declared fuel consumption figures for conventional diesel and gasoline vehicles. These values can only be used to compare the capabilities of two different electric vehicles; they cannot be used to judge the real autonomy of the car. However, this does not always mean that companies overestimate this parameter, hoping to seduce the buyer with beautiful numbers. For example, Tesla Model S and Model X, depending on weather conditions, quality of road surface and driving style, pass about 30% more than the manufacturer promised.
At the same time, the operation of the air conditioner and the use of the audio system almost do not affect the battery life, but the continuous use of some systems, which are quite harmless in terms of energy efficiency, like the powerful air purification system in the Tesla Model X, significantly reduces the distance covered on a single charge. .
Electric vehicles are slowly but surely filling roads around the world as it becomes more profitable to own such vehicles thanks to gradual price reductions, longer travel distances and an expanding network of charging stations.
In addition, electric vehicles have a number of tempting advantages: comfortable ride, more convenient control, no engine noise, savings on fuel and maintenance, getting rid of the need to pay for parking, road taxes and other related costs …
There are no perfect gadgets (I believe that electric vehicles should be viewed from the perspective of digital devices), and this case is no exception. High cost, weak infrastructure, demanding weather conditions – there are many obstacles in the way of electric vehicles, but every day we can see how the situation is improving. New stations are opening, new dealers appear, official service stations are opening. In a word, the process is going on, and by leaps and bounds, and given the current rate of technology penetration, soon we will all switch to electric vehicles.
I understand that this is not about Russia, but at the dawn of the automotive industry and there were no roads ANYWHERE, but now look what happens in the city center during rush hour. Or another example, closer to the mobile industry: could you imagine 5-6 years ago that today you can pay in a grocery store with a smartphone or a watch? This is the case with electric vehicles.