Fossil-fuelled cars will soon be the equivalent of the horse and cart - outdated and firmly in the past. Today, virtually every manufacturer is investing in green car technology, driving development forward and costs down. With so much going on, this handy round-up explores the technology that’s fuelling the green driving revolution and advancing electric and hybrid vehicles (ULEVs).
Electric-only ranges are improving all the time
Concerns over the distance electric vehicles (EVs) can travel on a single charge will soon be a concern of the past. Battery technology is improving all the time resulting in new makes and models that can travel as far as traditional petrol or diesel-fuelled cars without charging.
*The Express recently revealed the top ten longest range EVs you can buy in 2019:
|Tesla Model S Long Range||375 miles||£81,650||View on Scheme|
|Tesla Model 3 Long Range||348 miles||£47,900||View on Scheme|
|Tesla Model X Long Range||315 miles||£85,650||View on Scheme|
|Jaguar I-Pace||292 miles||£85,650||View on Scheme|
|Kia e-Niro||282 miles||£36,495||View on Scheme|
|Hyundai Kona Electric||279 miles||£35,706||View on Scheme|
|Audi e-Tron||241 miles||£71,520||View on Scheme|
|Nissan Leaf e+||239 miles||£35,895||View on Scheme|
|BMW i3||193 miles||£35,320||View on Scheme|
|Renault Zoe||186 miles||£21,220||View on Scheme|
As you can see, in general, the more you spend the further you can travel on a single charge. But the good news is that more affordable cars are making the top ten list too. With the average UK driver only travelling around 10 miles, all these cars have enough range to cover multiple journeys without needing more electricity.
And don’t let some of these prices put you off: it costs £2-3 to charge an electric car to travel 100 miles versus £9-13 for petrol or diesel. These savings will offset a significant percentage of the list price over the life of the vehicle.
Super-fast charging and infrastructure is much better
The charging infrastructure for EVs is another focus for the car industry. And some of the big players are entering the market with charging technology that will significantly reduce charging times.
Shell is introducing its own range of super-fast chargers - 500 of them at 80 petrol stations in Europe. They can charge next-generation EVs in around 10 minutes, three times faster than current chargers. The UK will receive 44 of these super-fast chargers from 2019 onwards, starting with the M20 in Maidstone.
And mobile charging services provided by NIO in China could also be rearing their heads in the UK at some point thanks to China’s burgeoning electric car industry.
In the meantime, the existing charging infrastructure continues to develop at pace. More charging points are popping up at motorway service stations, local shops and car parks around the country, adding to the 10,000 which are currently in place.
Charging cables could soon be a non-starter
Like mobile phone technology, EV charging is heading for a wireless future. Instead of plugging your car in using a cable, you’ll drive it over a pad in the ground where your car will charge.
The system works using inductive charging, transferring electricity through an air gap from one magnetic coil in the charger to a second fitted to the car. Simply park so you align the coils and charging begins.
Only certain makes and models will be available for wireless charging initially but if this trend takes off we could all be parking in spaces with built-in charging pads. So our cars will be ready to go when we are.
New car design that recycles more energy
Using electricity is better than fossil fuels but if we can restrict the amount we use of this resource, even better.
That’s exactly what James Dyson, founder of the Dyson technology company, is doing with his new EV designs. Patent applications for his latest design has revealed unexpectedly large wheels designed to increase energy absorption from regenerative braking. As the car slows down, the kinetic energy that’s produced is used immediately to slow the car down or stored for later use in the car’s battery.
It’s these kind of subtle design changes that will make your new EV car look every so slightly different but highly energy efficient.
Sit back and relax with self-driving cars
They’ve been talked about for some time now but driverless cars are inching closer to becoming a reality. Currently in the testing phase live on the streets of a Phoenix suburb, Google’s Waymo One offers a robo-taxi service to a small group of early adopters in.
While some reports indicate this technology has a way to go before it’s a feasible option, others are more bullish: according to Elon Musk, driverless Tesla taxis could be with us as soon as 2020.
For those with a Tesla, the maker claims that this feature is already available in some of their vehicles. Except, according to Which, they’re not self-driving, not autonomous and not legal in the UK if they were.
Which leaves us all guessing exactly when this technology will be ready, approved and cost-effective enough for average drivers to take up in the UK.
Moving from fossil-fuelled to electric vehicles is like trying to turn a big ship: although it’s been slow so far, we’re very close to making the turn. With consumers already embracing a better way of driving, it’s time to look into your next new car and seriously consider going green.