As the world becomes more aware of the atmospheric damage caused by carbon emissions, hybrid and electric cars are bound to multiply. Companies that traditionally make internal combustion engine vehicles are now fueling research and development into electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid car technology. The result? A ton of exciting technological development.
If you’ve been considering purchasing one of these vehicles or if you’re just a tech aficionado, here’s the latest scoop on hybrid and EV technology.
More Efficient Batteries
When electric vehicles first started hitting the general market, the average distance they could travel between charges was a miserly 100 miles or less. This meant you were limited to quick trips like driving around the neighborhood for groceries. But as fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries have increased in efficiency, that mileage has more than doubled. EVs are starting to compete with diesel cars on a one-to-one fill up basis. Unfortunately, batteries still take longer to charge than a pump at a gas station.
Supercapacitors vs Batteries
This year, Tesla, one of the world’s leading fully electric vehicle manufacturer, acquired a supercapacitor company to help improve their EVs. The preference for using supercapacitors versus batteries is two-fold.
- Longer-lasting – Some initial testing shows that a typical EV battery will last around 2,000 full charges and discharges. Compare this to a supercapacitor’s potential 1,000,000 charges, and you can see how EVs longevity could increase dramatically.
- More power – While batteries can output a sustained amount of energy for longer periods, supercapacitors have the potential for much higher energy outputs. For speed demons, that could mean seeing next-generation electric vehicles run 0 to 60mph in less than two seconds.
Cheaper Batteries Creates More Options For Consumers
For both hybrid and electric vehicles, the money poured into battery research has made the production side cheaper and more efficient. This means more areas are seeing an influx of hybrid and electric cars, across the globe. Whether you visit a VW dealership in Spokane Washington or Vauxhall dealership in Edinburgh, UK, you’ll find there’s a whole selection of these previously unaffordable electric vehicles.
As previously mentioned, much of the anxiety over buying electric cars comes from the limited driving range. This is why hybrid still outsells electric and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. The one technological advancement that could flip this purchase ratio on its head is the mass production of refillable batteries. Right now, research groups in universities and private R&D labs are developing ways to create efficient refillable batteries for the consumer.
The goal is to find a gas station equivalent that will allow for EVs to pull up, fill up, and then get right back on the road. However, because of technological growth, some researchers expect refillable battery technology to bypass traditional gas stations and be delivered straight to the consumer.
It was Einstein who first determined that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. When a car brakes, a tremendous amount of kinetic energy disappears into the atmosphere in the form of friction and heat. Engineers have used Einstein’s logic and applied it to braking systems in order to harness the “lost” energy back into car batteries. Their success is called regenerative braking.
New Ways For Dead Batteries to be Recycled
There is a looming problem that hangs over the head of electric vehicle makers. And that is electronic recycling. Car batteries take a significant amount of cobalt and lithium to create. These two metals, unfortunately, are in short supply. That makes the development in recycling dead batteries a core ingredient to the future success of hybrid and electric vehicles. Luckily, researchers are starting to make headway on this problem, and the ability to restore spent cathodes to their original performance seems achievable.
The Future of Hybrid and Electric Car Technology
As more funding reaches the hands of engineers and scientists, hybrid and electric car technology will continue to boom. In the past ten years, electric cars have gone from a pipe dream to a blossoming reality. While hybrid vehicles are still leading the charge with their ability to switch back and forth between diesel and electric, with new technology being funded, it might not be long before we see fully electric vehicles compete side-by-side with diesel cars in all performance aspects.