Electric Future?

The Frankfurt motor show last month showed a wealth of electric cars ready for production. Economies of scale results in electrical energy being generated at about 60% efficiency whereas the internal combustion engine is only about 30% efficient. Naturally some energy is wasted in delivering the energy to the car to recharge it and electric motors waste a further 10% or so. Despite these losses, there are significant savings in carbon emissions to be made by running electric cars.
Electric motors are virtually maintenance free so drivers will save on routine servicing. Transmissions will also be simple since electric motors generate maximum torque from rest. This will mean that electric cars will need no clutch or gear ratios and will accelerate instantly with none of the waiting whilst a petrol engine spools up and the driver sets the ‘biting point’. Official acceleration figures under-estimate the advantages of electric power for the driver since figures are based on the instant the car moves off. Petrol cars will have a second or so handicap in real life situations.
The range of electric cars is abysmal employing current battery technology but a 100% improvement will make electric cars competitive. Bearing in mind that battery technology seems to be following Moores Law with a doubling of capacity every 18 months or so, it is a question of time before batteries fit the purpose for electric transport. Hydrogen or ethanol fuel cells will no doubt be developed to extend the range of electric vehicles.
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