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The Ultimate Guide to Electric Cars

The Ultimate Guide to Electric Cars

Learn all about the cutting-edge science behind electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and the infrastructure being put in place to make them a viable option to the internal combustion engine.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd

in this issue

1 min
welcome to the ultimate guide to electric cars

Without question, the automotive world is entering a new dawn. Change is imminent, with exciting and innovative new technologies and measures meaning vehicles are set to evolve more in the next five years than they have in the last 50. At the forefront of this is a switch in how cars are powered, leaving behind the internal combustion engine and the fossil fuels in petrol and diesel forms which power it, in favour of cleaner, faster and renewable energy in the form of electricity. Welcome to the dawn of e-mobility. This new automotive world is already here – you will very likely have spotted a fair share of electric cars already gracing the public road – yet the industry admits its grasp of the concept is still relatively primitive, and…

10 min
the electric car revolution is here

The future of motoring is electric. We even have a deadline for this future: from 2040, no new car powered by a petrol or diesel engine – and this includes plug-in hybrids – will legally be allowed on sale. If this wasn’t enough of a stretch goal, there have recently been calls to bring it forward to 2030. Some are so convinced of the electric future that they want to guarantee your next car-but-one will be electric. The wholesale transformation of the private car is going to happen before our eyes, and the revolution is already underway in British showrooms. We’ll go deep into the technicalities of electric vehicles – or EVs – later. At their most straightforward, they are conventional cars, from which the engine, gearbox, fuel tank and other…

9 min
batteries included the electric story so far

Blame the Ford Model T. Until the ‘Tin Lizzie’ arrived in 1908, electricity was a popular alternative to petrol, but Henry Ford’s runaway success effectively wiped out electric cars for decades to come. Imagine that the Model T had been battery powered. Would global warming be less of a looming catastrophe? Would, perhaps, reduced dependence on oil have prevented recent military conflicts? One thing is certain: politics has always been closely linked with the story of electric cars. The first electric vehicle (EV) was built in 1837 – some 48 years before the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, generally considered the ‘first car’. Admittedly, Scottish chemist Robert Davidson’s machine ran on rails, and thus was technically a train, but this would prove to be its downfall. When Davidson introduced his larger ‘Galvani’ electric locomotive…

2 min
timeline: evolution of the electric car

1837 FIRST ELECTRIC VEHICLE Robert Davidson builds the world’s first electric vehicle in Aberdeen. It runs on rails and is powered by non-rechargeable galvanic cells. Workers on the steam railways regard Davidson’s invention as a threat. 1884 FIRST PRODUCTION ELECTRIC CAR The first electric car arrives in 1884, a year before Karl Benz reveals his famous – and petrol-engined – Patent-Motorwagen. Englishman Thomas Parker’s machine uses rechargeable lead-acid batteries. 1908 FORD MODEL TLAUNCHED Ford begins mass production of the Model T, bringing motoring to the middle classes. Its unprecedented popularity lead to a steady decline in electric-car sales. By the mid-1920s, EVs are almost extinct. 1966 A SMALL-SCALE COMEBACK British marque Enfield introduces the 8000, the first production EV for many years. With a range of 40 miles and a 48mph top speed, it’s very much a city car. Just 118…

15 min
the pioneers

Encouraging car buyers to abandon internal combustion and move to the wholesale adoption of electric vehicles is no easy task. It takes drive, ambition and vision to make it happen, so it’s fortunate that the car industry has plenty of people with those very qualities. From looking far into the motoring future, convincing today’s buyers to choose EVs, or revolutionising motorsport, a certain pioneering spirit is required, and the five people we’ve chosen here certainly deserve that description. While all of them are committed to both transforming their companies and the way we’ll drive in the future, we begin with one man – Elon Musk – who has done more than most to change the way we look at the electric car… “TESLA HAS TRANSFORMED THE WAY THAT THE PUBLIC VIEWS…

12 min
behind the tech:   investigating battery and charging technolog

When it comes to the way they operate, electric cars are essentially simple devices, albeit ones backed by ever-increasing levels of technology. At the heart of that operation are three main components: a battery pack, one or more electric motors to drive the wheels through a relatively simple transmission, and a system of power electronics that manages the flow of power to the motor(s) and maximises energy usage, and controls the recharging of the batteries. That latter aspect is in many ways key to the appeal of the EV, as once the battery is depleted, the speed and convenience with which it can be recharged has a major impact on the everyday usability of the vehicle compared to one powered by internal combustion. The matter of recharging will be addressed later,…