Today, electric motors in EV's and many other machines are slowly becoming more prevalent, while traditional combustion motors are becoming less appealing. Driving an electric vehicle today is no longer a niche, as the percentage of EV sales increases globally, and manufacturers provide more choices for consumers. As technology in this space rapidly accelerates, fuel prices continue to soar, and various government regulations and emissions targets are brought in to incentivise a move to electric power, the tipping point is inevitable, and the choice for consumers between electric or ICE motors will become more evenly balanced.
As many of the world's car makers are leaping ahead with technology to provide more electric and hybrid options in their line-ups, we can see a shift occurring. Other forms of electrified transportation such as buses, trucks and ferries, along with domestic machines like lawn mowers are of course also on the rise.
So, why might we consider making the switch to electric motors instead of traditional fuel-burning motors? Let's look at some of the advantages of electric motors. For this article, we will refer to the benefits of electric transportation motors.
Efficiency is one of the biggest advantages of electric motors. Electric motors will typically convert more than twice the amount of electrical energy into mechanical energy, or motion, than traditional internal combustion engines. An electric motor generates torque by electric current and magnetic fields, whereas an ICE motor takes a longer amount of time to combust fuel and turn the crankshaft (in a vehicle). An electric motor can generate full torque when accelerating from a standstill, propelling ahead much faster and more efficiently than an ICE. The wide torque curve also eliminates the need for the traditional 4 - 7+ stages in a gearbox, as a single stage is sufficient.
With very few mechanical moving parts, compared to hundreds in an ICE motor, general maintenance is greatly reduced. Without a combustion engine, the need for regular servicing, oil changing, etc. becomes redundant.
There is no doubt that electric powered vehicles emit far less pollutants into the atmosphere than their combustion engine powered counterparts. For example, on average, an electric vehicle will emit around half as much carbon dioxide as an ICE vehicle, when considering its entire carbon footprint. Reducing emissions and creating a less polluted environment are clear benefits of electric powered motors, and as time and technology advance, they will most certainly become increasingly favourable over those that burn fuel.
Whilst the initial purchase price of many EV's is currently higher than that of their ICE counterparts, the running and maintenance costs are clearly much less. Electricity is of course not free, so factoring in the energy bill is a good idea if the car is to be charged at home, and users can benefit from many power providers offering free or heavily reduced power pricing periods overnight. The cost of electricity use can be further reduced at home by using renewable energy sources like solar panels. Charging stations in public places are free in many parts of New Zealand and around the world, while others require a small fee, and as more options for charging are introduced, costs could be reduced further.
Noise pollution is of course another great benefit of electric powered vehicles. Electric vehicles, including buses and trucks, run with minimal sound, so the effects of engine noise are greatly reduced. As EV's only emit road noise, some car manufacturers have taken to including false sounds in an attempt to make them safer around pedestrians in urban areas.
The process of regenerative braking in an electric motor has several advantages. Regenerative braking recaptures kinetic energy largely lost as heat during braking and converts it back into electrical power in order to charge the battery. This in turn can potentially extend the driving range, meaning less time charging and more time moving. Regenerative braking also slows the car down, assisting with the job of traditional brakes. This in turn means less wear and tear, prolonging their life so fewer replacements are required.
It is no surprise that electric motors have a host of benefits and advantages over their fuel burning counterparts, some of which we have highlighted here. Electric motor technology is accelerating at a rapid rate, and it is only a matter of time before electric motors become the dominant choice - particularly in transportation. As global fuel prices remain volatile, exacerbated by shifts in global power, and other world events, and various emissions targets and regulations are introduced, the shift to a healthier, more efficient world powered by renewable energy sources sounds more appealing every day. So, why wouldn't we want to switch to electric motors?