Electric vehicles (EVs) use one or more electric or traction motors for propulsion and include road, rail, aircraft, spacecraft, above water, and underwater vehicles. EVs are powered by either electricity contained within the vehicle itself, or from externally supplied power sources. EVs may be equipped with batteries, solar panels, fuel cells, or electric generators for converting fuel into electricity.
EVs generally consist of a basic series of components to function including, but not limited to, a battery, charge port, DC/DC converter, electric traction motor, onboard charger, power electronics controller, thermal cooling system, traction battery pack, and electric transmission.
The original idea for creating an electric vehicle is debated but is commonly attributed to a set of independent innovators located in the United States, the Netherlands, and Hungary during the years of 1828-1835. When the first ideas for creating battery-powered electric vehicles were emerging in Europe and the United States, horse and buggies were the primary modes of transportation. The first electric vehicle was an electric carriage made by a British inventor named Robert Anderson around the year 1832. The vehicle was unreliable and not fit for any practical uses beyond a proof of concept.
Progress on electric vehicle technology stalled from 1832 until the second half of the 19th century when French and English inventors began creating the first practical electric road vehicles.
William Morrison, a chemist living in Des Moines, Iowa, is credited for creating the first successful electric vehicle in the United States. The vehicle held six passengers and had a top speed of 14 miles per hour. Morrison’s electric vehicle sparked a growing interest in electric vehicle production leading to several automakers in the United States beginning to make their own electric vehicles. A few years after Morrison’s electric vehicle launched, New York City had a fleet of electric taxi cabs consisting of more than 60 vehicles.
Electric vehicles were most popular in cities and were outselling gasoline-powered vehicles, due to their ability to be recharged relatively cheaply and the ability to reach the desired destination within city limits without needing to recharge compared to suburban or country dwelling electric vehicle owners. Electric vehicles were also easier and more environmentally friendly to drive compared with the first initial gasoline-powered vehicles that required drivers to change gears, start with a hand crank and produced a lot of noise and pollution.
The first mass-produced electric vehicle was the Studebaker Electric, sold and developed by the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company of South Bend, Indiana. The car was sold from 1902 until 1912.
By 1900, approximately a third of all vehicles on the road worldwide were electric, and electric car sales continued to grow over the next decade until Henry Ford began mass-producing the gasoline-powered Ford Model T in 1908.
Electric vehicles regained relevance in the marketplace due to the invention of metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) technology. Mohamed M. Atalla developed the MOS transistor in 1959, leading to the development of microprocessors at Hitachi, Intel, and others. The single-chip microprocessor vehicles reduced power losses, improved handling, and reduced retail prices.
The development of the lithium-ion battery is another technological breakthrough that has contributed to the resurgence in electric vehicles, with a larger energy bank making long-distance travel possible.
Battery costs tend to make up a significant cost in a battery-powered electric vehicle (BEV), which makes competition to create a cheaper, better battery profitable. The cost of electric vehicle batteries has fallen over 87% since 2010 on a kilowatt-hour, with the drop in price creating more affordable electric vehicle options in the marketplace.
There are a number of companies producing electric vehicles, from mainstream producers to small businesses creating made-to-order vehicles. Tesla, by market value and vehicle output, is the largest electric-only car maker; however, a number of car manufacturing incumbents known for gasoline and diesel style engines have made their way into the electric vehicle market.
Electric vehicle manufacturing companies
Electric vehicles rely on batteries which are capable of driving long distance, and as a result, there is healthy competition to create better batteries. Lithium-ion batteries make up the majority of the marketplace, due to larger charging banks which allow further distance between charges. As of 2018, commercially available electric vehicles were capable of driving 250 miles per charge, with the battery needing to be replaced, at a minimum, every eight years or 100,000 miles.
Electric fuel cell manufacturers
Aside from batteries, electric vehicles utilize electric motors as opposed to conventional internal combustion engines. This means they require different parts not only in the engine but in systems connected to the engine including the drive train, heat pump, and brake system. These companies, among others, are third-party suppliers for electric vehicle manufacturers.
As electric vehicles enter the market at an increasing rate, there is a greater public need for electric charging stations. These stations, similar to conventional gas stations, offer electrical power for a fee to recharge the vehicle during trips away from a home charger. The charging station market has been growing at an unprecedented, rate due to private and public investment and is projected to reach 27.7 billion USD by 2027, compared to 2.5 billion USD in 2019.
Electric charging station developers
Electric vehicles utilize computer systems on-board and via the cloud to optimize vehicle performance. The computers have to share battery power with the drivetrain in electric vehicles, creating marketplace competition to create more efficient computers.
Electric boats and watercraft offer a zero-emission, wave-less, and noiseless alternative to traditional boat technology. Electric boats sometimes offer autonomous driving, eliminating human error in the water and reduce harmful chemicals entering the water cycle.
Electric aircraft available in the form of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), also known as drones, but there is also a push by private businesses to create electric passenger planes in the upcoming years. Electric aircraft offer reduced noise, cost savings, and reduction of emissions, making them an enticing technology for businesses and consumers. Cost efficiency would help alleviate pilot shortages by lowering expensive pilot training and open up the realisticness of short-distance flying.
Electric personal use vehicles, including scooters, skateboards, and bicycles sales are at an all-time high, with growing popularity. Electric personal vehicles are effective for urban transportation, allowing people in cities a compact and easy-to-use alternative to public transportation or a car. These vehicles allow consumers to avoid the costs of parking, bus fees and reduce their carbon footprints, without the physical demands of a standard bike or scooter.
Electric vehicles are entering the market at a growing rate, creating an opportunity for an electric vehicle fleet to communicate and reduce overall energy expenditure. Many electric vehicles offer autonomous capabilities, enabling electric vehicles to work in sync to detect and react to hazardous conditions and obstacles across an entire network. These opportunities pose a technological challenge and market competition to create an effective, efficient, and safe communication system between electric vehicles.
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