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Electricity - the future of transportation

Imagine a car. A bus, van or a truck. Are you picturing a vehicle with an internal combustion engine inside, with a roaring noise, and smoking tailpipe? That's what most of modern vehicles are equipped with and they sound, and smell alike. Of course the automobile industry has gone through many changes over the decades. None of the new cars are as loud or emit as many exhaust gasses as their predecessors. Some of them do even more.

If you follow the modern automobile industry even a little, you have seen what it offers as an alternative to internal combustion engines, fueled by gasoline, diesel or even biofuel. Those are hybrid engine vehicles (HEV), or battery electric vehicles (BEV). They might change our way of thinking about transportation and cargo delivery. Some of them do so already.

But when you look at the history of automobiles you will find that at the end of 19th century the inventions of carriages with electric engines went along with those using internal combustion. In fact they became quite popular, relatively, of course, at the beginning of 20th century. At the same time the world saw first hybrid electric vehicles, including Ferdinand Porsche's “Mixte” which was exhibited at 1900 Paris Fair and created  a significant press response.

So why did the automobile industry go down the road of petroleum fuels instead of much less environmentally harmful electricity? Electric vehicles had a number of advantages over their early – 1900s petrol fueled competitors. They did not have the vibration, smell, and noise associated with gasoline cars. They also did not require gear changes. But electric and hybrid electric drives were expensive to produce, required high quality materials, large battery packs (electric-only also required a recharging infrastructure and had a very limited range) and as the years gone by and the development of internal combustion engines progressed, they simply were unable to achieve satisfying velocity. Add to that the fact that worldwide discoveries of large petroleum reserves led to the wide availability of affordable gasoline, making gas-powered cars cheaper to operate over long distances. And of course hardly anyone back then thought about the impact on environment.

Nowadays people became much more aware of the problem. As technology progressed we have achieved methods to make hybrid and electric vehicles cheaper to produce, more efficient to use and requiring less maintenance. Batteries are becoming lighter and can store more energy, which means longer distances between charges in battery electric vehicles or less need to switch on the internal combustion engine in a hybrid (on average, at least 50% of the journey time in hybrid test drives is spent purely in electric mode, as stated by Toyota Motor Corporation, one of the leading manufacturers of HEVs). No more wasting fuel in heavy traffic or on stop lights, as electrical engines only use battery power during movement and hybrid electric start-stop technology switches the internal combustion engine off during stops. Regenerative breaking also charges the batteries every time you press the break.

When it comes to cost efficiency, it depends on a few factors. Hybrid drives are designed to turn on the gasoline engine after reaching the car reaches a certain speed, so if you are driving in a city traffic, the internal combustion engine might rarely go on. On higher speed motorways the fuel savings are lesser, because hybrids electric engine is not designed for high velocities. Nevertheless, most hybrid drive cars consume 20 to 30 % less fuel than most fuel efficient gasoline powered cars. 

Owners of an electric vehicle have the advantage of even lower running costs. Even though the range on one charge is limited, the electricity to charge an electric vehicle works out around a third as much per kilometre as buying petrol for the same vehicle. A battery electric vehicle has a lot less moving parts than a conventional petrol/diesel car. There is relatively little servicing and no expensive exhaust systems, starter motors, fuel injection systems, radiators and many other parts that aren’t needed in an EV. Though the cars themselves might cost a bit more it will pay back in the long run.

But what does it mean for you? Hybrid and electric vehicles are making their way into every field. We have all seen hybrid taxis, hybrid and electric busses, delivery trucks, garbage trucks and other utility vehicles, or even electric scooters used for food delivery. Major companies are including HEVs and BEVs into their fleets, for example UPS which has ordered a new fleet of fully electric delivery trucks from Tesla. More and more automobile manufacturers are showing their hybrid and electric products. That said, no matter what business you are running, you can find your solution to cut costs on travel and transportation and help the environment by reducing harmful exhaust emissions and saving fossil fuel reserves.

Go with the current, help lower your expenses as well as the pollution and smog problems by choosing electricity.


Author: Sonia Rejnik