September 20, 2020

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What you should know about electric cars

What you should know about electric cars

Instead of a petrol or diesel engine, there is an electric motor under the hood: electric cars are currently on everyone’s lips, especially when you consider the public debate on how to contain the consequences of climate change. We have the 10 most exciting facts and a glossary for you with the key terms relating to the electric car.

1. What types of electric cars are there? A distinction is made between electric cars in terms of their drive systems.

Pure electric vehicles, so-called Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV), theoretically have an electric motor that takes over the entire drive. According to the current state of the art, these vehicles still need some support for longer distances. That is why some models have a so-called range extender installed. This is an additional internal combustion engine that supplies the battery with energy and is therefore only indirectly involved in the drive.

Fully hybrids, on the other hand, have a combustion engine and an electric motor, both of which are used for propulsion. If the battery used can be charged by means of a power connection, this is referred to as a socket or plug-in hybrid.

There are also micro hybrid vehicles that do not have an electric motor at all, but use the electrical braking energy for this, e.g. B. to supply the vehicle electrical system. And there are mild hybrid vehicles that, in addition to an internal combustion engine, also have an electric motor that is powered by braking energy (recuperation) and supports the vehicle when starting off.

Strictly speaking, according to the Electromobility Act from 2015, purely battery-powered vehicles are considered to be electric vehicles, but also fuel cell vehicles and plug-in hybrids. The latter still has the restriction that they must not exceed 50 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometer driven or that they must have a minimum range of 30 kilometers using the electric drive only. From 2018, this minimum range will be increased to 40 kilometers.

2. How is the energy stored?

The vast majority of today’s electric cars use lithium-ion traction batteries. These have a very high power and energy density, but also have disadvantages. So it takes a long time until they are fully loaded again. In addition, they discharge themselves during longer periods of rest. The production of the batteries is still very expensive today and their lifespan is relatively short.

Researchers are therefore working on alternatives such as stacked batteries that are to have a range of 1,000 kilometers, highly efficient batteries with glass, such as those developed by the co-inventor of lithium-ion batteries, silicon-air batteries that would be unrivaled in price, or environmentally friendly redox flow batteries, such as those installed by Liechtenstein company NanoFlowCell in its electric cars.

Tesla recently released test results with its research partner that featured a new million-mile battery. This super battery is said to have a lifespan of 1.6 million kilometers.

3. How far do you get?

The range that can be achieved with one battery charge depends on the storage capacity of the installed battery. In theory, considerable ranges would be conceivable, which correspond to those of a car with an internal combustion engine. However, the very high manufacturing costs for the batteries stand in the way.

The traction batteries currently installed by car manufacturers offer an average range of approx. 100 to 600 kilometers per charge. The new cars with the greatest range include two newcomers: the Model E from Tesla, which is due to be launched in late 2017, and the Ampera-E from Opel. The Jaguar I-Pace S covers 420 kilometers.

4. How long does the battery last?

The lifespan of the batteries installed in electric cars is limited. Experts believe that lithium-ion batteries will need to be replaced after approximately 1,000 charges. If you calculate a range of 100 kilometers per charge, a battery will last around 100,000 km. Depending on the intensity of use of the vehicle, this means a durability of approx. 5 to 10 years.

The batteries mentioned above must first come from the test phase in order to be able to make a reliable statement about their lifetime.

5. How many electric cars we have?

On January 1, 2019, around 83,200 electric vehicles drove on German roads. In January 2017, there were just under 55,000 electric cars. Incidentally, most electric vehicles were in the south and west of the republic and in the cities. As you see number of electric cars on the road increases slowly by number, but fast enough to see on average over 50% increase per sales in EU countries.

6. Which countries are considered pioneers of electric mobility?

In Europe, the absolute pioneers are the Netherlands, Norway and France. Norway has now fled to most European countries. The Norwegian government waives VAT on ecar buyers and pays import duties. Drivers can also look forward to a reduced vehicle tax.

In absolute terms, China remains the measure of all things in terms of electromobility worldwide. More than 142,000 electric cars were sold in the Middle Kingdom in the first quarter of 2018.

7. What does an electric car cost?

Electric cars are much more expensive to buy than cars with a pure combustion engine. Depending on the manufacturer and vehicle type, you have to accept prices that are up to twice as high. And according to an ADAC study, these only pay off in exceptional cases. Because even if fewer wear parts have to be replaced due to the lack of a clutch or exhaust system and therefore lower workshop costs, the high purchase price means that the vehicles cannot keep up with the profitability, i.e. the cost per kilometer, with gasoline or diesel-powered cars.

But there is an environmental bonus?, a purchase premium for electric vehicles, which can be applied for here. There is a € 4,000 premium for pure e-vehicles and € 3,000 for plug-in hybrids. The Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (Bafa) has a document ready that lists all eligible models.

8. Do you have special rights with an electric car?

Yes. The electromobility law (EmoG), which came into force in June 2015, grants special rights to electric cars. These include, among other things, reduced parking fees, preferential treatment for access restrictions, such as those that have been set up against noise and exhaust gases, and dedicated parking spaces with charging options in public spaces.

9. Where can I charge the vehicle?

According to the Federal Ministry of Transport, 300,000 charging points will be available in Germany by 2030, the majority of which will be quick-charging stations. Electric car drivers can currently fill their vehicles with electricity at 20,650 publicly accessible charging stations. They can be found primarily in metropolitan areas and public parking garages, according to the Federal Association of Energy and Water Management (BDEW). Around 12% of the charging stations are quick charging stations.

10. How environmentally friendly are electric cars?

The manufacture of batteries installed in electric cars involves an enormous amount of energy, which initially has a negative impact on the overall energy balance of the electric vehicle. In addition, the cars are only as clean as the electricity they use. As long as this is largely obtained from coal-fired power plants instead of from renewable sources, this has a negative impact on the environmental balance of electric cars.

However, if you look at the entire lifespan of the electric car, it scores significantly better than vehicles with a combustion engine in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. Electric motors do not emit any pollutants and make them independent of fossil energy sources in the long run. Ultimately, consumption is also important: the less electricity it uses per kilometer, the more it protects the environment.