Electric Vehicle a redefinition of automobile design

April 13, 2009 · Filed Under Editor's Corner 

In the midst of the automobile industry crisis automakers are very hopeful on what future holds for next generation electric vehicles. The successful development of such vehicle solely rest on establishing both a technological and operational bases that would greatly redefine the current automobile concept as we know it.
For the past 100 years the function and structures of automobiles were simply restricted to engine and transmission and electric vehicles are a mean to bring the traditional concept of automobile design out of this framework. Furthermore, Electric vehicles will be one the means in solving environmental and energy issues that will greatly changes the status of automobiles. One such concept would be the concept of “Easy Transporter” which is the vehicles somewhere between light car, electric wheelchair and electric bicycle fit for areas with high elderly population both in advanced industrial countries as well as emerging economies. Other examples are like the eight-wheeled supercar which is being developed at Keio University, an ultra small vehicle that can be ITS-controlled just like a train in reducing air resistance and the number of drivers or Nissan’s “PIVO 2” a new type of vehicle which was developed in fusion with robotics displayed Tokyo Motor Show. In terms of design future electric vehicle can enjoy a greater flexibility in layout in terms of number of engines that can be mounted on them in comparison to the conventional vehicles equipped with only one engine. Electric vehicles can be mounted with multiple motors as well as in wheel for mounting motor inside wheels of an automobile. Contrary to conventional cars where the engine is only driven in a positive rotation range above the idling range an electric motor can be driven in both positive and negative rotation ranges as well as in both positive and negative torques with characteristics of a linear current torque and responses as fast as several milliseconds resulting in a further comfort in driving control. An electric motor will provide a capability of controlling the driving and braking forces in succession contributing to easier control of road and tire adhesion plus vehicle’s posture resulting in flexibility in design structure and functions as being the two important factors in automobile design that can be greatly enhanced. If trends in improving driving distance are to continue through its down sizing while maintaining the size of an interior space, a number of special technologies need to be incorporated into a small space. In regard to batteries for Electric vehicles, Li-ion secondary batteries with a higher energy density are being developed to improve driving distances of electric vehicles. The same goes for fuel cells (FC) and air batteries including metal-air batteries which are also under development. The metal-air batteries uses zinc, magnesium, lithium and other substances as fuel also hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells which oxidizes hydrogen and metals by using oxygen in the air which are similar to jet engines which requires no oxidizer resulting in a much lighter weight vehicle.
One of the keys in successful start of electric vehicle ear lies in Chemtronics which is a fusion of electronics and electrochemistry as well as mechatronics which will change the way battery characteristics are shown, where a chart representation takes place of mechanical models or any other equivalent circuit models which causes difficulty in designing charge/discharge systems.
Also, in order to promote greater use of electric vehicles that is equipped with replaceable primary batteries, it would be necessary to have manufacturers for production, delivery and replacement of hydrogen, zinc, magnesium, lithium, etc. If the mechanical charging system is used for energy supply making the time consuming charging unnecessary resulting in an usability of electric vehicle equivalent to that of conventional gasoline engine vehicle.
Finally, arriving at the electric vehicle era requires a great deal of time and effort plus the right human capital to develop innovative materials capable of improving power and energy density of batteries and power devices.
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