electric vehicle

Electric Cars: Chronicle of an Announced Resurgence - Part 1/4

Start
This Thursday, October 4, the Paris Motor Show opens for ten days at the Porte de Versailles, where more than a million visitors are expected. This 120e The publishing industry is undergoing a profound change, forced to reinvent itself to embody a mobility sector in full transformation. And this is unquestionably the advent of the electric car. The lack of choice, one of the obstacles identified to the development of the electric car, is about to be lifted. The price and autonomy remain, which are still problematic, especially on Western markets. UP' offers you a four-part dossier to help you understand the resurgence of the electric car (EV). 
 
A To date, only 1% of the registrations are for 100 % electric cars, with no CO2 emissions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has estimated that nearly 3.1 million electric cars in the world by the end of 2017, of which 500,000 in Europe. One drop of water out of the billion cars on the planet.
However, according to a Cetelem 2019 Observatory study, 85% of motorists worldwide (92 % in China, 73% in France and only 68% in Germany) believe in the future of the electric car. Considered as a "clean" vehicle by a large majority of respondents (89%), pleasant to drive (86%), reflecting a positive, modern and responsible image (85%), it has everything to please... including battery autonomy adapted to the mobility needs of motorists who travel an average of 51km per day (53km in France). Moreover, 68% believe that the electric vehicle is "reserved" for large cities.
 
 
There are two locking points:
 
- The electric vehicle is perceived as a more expensive car to buy than its thermal equivalent for 86% of motorists worldwide and 91% of the French. Even including the lower operating costs, 73% of respondents believe that owning an electric car is more expensive than a "conventional" vehicle.
The limited range is also a major obstacle: only 13% of the French (30% in the world) imagine being able to buy an electric car with a range of less than 300 kilometres. Similarly, ¾ of respondents consider the number of charging stations to be insufficient.
The qualitative interviews showed that those who have opted for the electric vehicle are not planning to go back. Once they have taken the plunge, motorists adopt the electric vehicle without reservation.
 
- A proven lack of information: The electric car represents a major technological breakthrough. Motorists need to know more about this car that almost nobody has had the opportunity to test and which remains unknown to many. 70% of motorists around the world say they do not have enough information about this car.
 
Here's the perfect opportunity to take an in-depth look at the resurgence of the electric car, which, incredible as it may seem, is almost 140 years old. 
 

File - Part One (1/4): History

 

Introduction

There is, strictly speaking, no single prototype to represent the EV (Electric Vehicle). There are prototypes and the principle of resurgence concerns the concept of the EV as a whole rather than a specific artefact. In the context of ARIAD/R this document deals more specifically with the private electric car (thea EV), distinguishing it from the electric vehicle (thee VE), which integrates all electric vehicles, whatever the mode of traction - goods and passenger transport vehicles by rail, cable or road - locomotives, trams, trolleys, funiculars, cable cars, trucks, buses, but also trolleys and other quad bikes, motorcycles, bicycles, electric wheels and even electric utility vehicles. The latter are therefore not dealt with in this document, even though certain characteristics are common to all electric vehicles. The aim is to highlight the various stages in the resurgence of EVs, a clean, green car before its time, which has been efficient and functional since its inception, and to analyse its successive failures.
 
In view of the global warming partly attributed to internal combustion engines (a quarter of the world total) and recent subsequent environmental protection legislation - in terms of CO2emissions, the European Union sets a target of 95 grCO2/km (3.7l/100km) for new cars, compared to 130 grCO2/km, the EV seems destined for a new legitimacy. In fact, it meets current ecological requirements and legal constraints better than its thermal rival. Can we just bet on its latest resurgence (2010) after a century of thermal hegemony?
 
A historical look at the electric prototypes shows not only the antecedent of the invention of the EV on the internal combustion vehicle, but also the notable performance, and even original simplicity from the outset, which are all attractive criteria for its adoption. However, the joint development of combustion engines will however dominate EVs for more than a century, in particular because of its Achilles heel, the battery, but also because of the political and economic stakes linked to the oil industry, which are inseparable from the development of the automobile and which have hindered its deployment until recently, then had a major impact on its price. This project presents, in a variety of contexts - historical, technical, industrial, political, economic and design - the particularities of EVs in order to understand its various rebounds, which constitute the Ariadne's thread of its development. In the midst of the climate crisis, it highlights the requirements for vehicles to comply with new environmental laws and the need to adopt carbon-free solutions in the years to come, representing an unsuspected renaissance after four identified periods of chronic resurgence, from the beginnings up to 1920, the first resurgence during the world war in 1940, the second resurgence during the 1973 oil crisis, the third resurgence in 1990 with the new amendment to the Clean Air Act and the latest resurgence in the midst of the environmental crisis in the 1990s. It ends on an optimistic note with forecasts for an EV/thermal convergence by 2030.
 

Historical background

The carriage corresponds to a thousand-year-old necessity, the terrestrial locomotion, formerly carried out by the horse-drawn carriage, most often thanks to the service of a coachman driving according to the times chariot, coach, carriage, horse-drawn carriage, hansom cab when it is not simply a question of putting oneself in the saddle, on an animal, of a distinct kind according to the regions, donkey, mule, mule, horse, camel, elephant.
 
The electric vehicle will first change shape, three wheels for the ancestor of the EV, the tricycle in 1881 (G. Trouvé), 1882 (Ayrton and Perry), before stabilizing at four wheels.
Electric tricycle by G. Found, 1881
 
At the end of the 19th centuryth In the 20th century, three modes of energy coexisted - steam, electricity and internal combustion. They will contribute, each according to a specific technology, to the evolution of the automobile at the turn of the 19th century.th and XXth century.
In spite of early technical innovations in the fields of the automobile, J Cugnot made the fardier, presumed ancestor of the automobile, as early as 1769, and, jointly, in that of electrical engineering; A. Volta the electric battery in 1800, M. Faraday the laws of electrolysis in 1834, Z. Gramme the electric generator (the dynamo) in 1867, to mention only a few key examples of electric motorization. The first electric automobiles appeared at the end of the 19th century.th century (1881), but only eleven years separated the invention of automobiles using these three types of energy, external combustion (1873) and internal combustion (1884), marking the apogee of the industrial revolution in this sector.
 
However, the history of EVs depends not only and in particular on the discoveries of electrical engineering, which is essential to its mode of operation, but also on the development of the automobile in general, and the infrastructure it requires - particularly in terms of equipment, bridges, roads and energy supply.
The development of the automobile is also linked to the increasing demands of modern life in terms of mobility, performance and efficiency. We have to go ever further, ever faster and at an ever faster pace. Signifying a change in behaviour, beyond even the technical details of manufacture, the car mainly responds to the needs of modern life, which are characterised by the ideas of escape, travel and autonomy. These concepts, which symbolise the freedom to be through freedom of movement, also attest to the change in lifestyles and will become unalterable values of contemporary society.
 
During the first half of the 20th century, the automobile was more likely to benefit affluent incomes, despite efforts to appeal to the middle classes with the mass production of reliable and lower-cost automobiles. However, it was not until the end of the Second World War, more precisely the reconstruction at the end of the 1940s, and the return of production dedicated entirely to household consumption, largely supported by the dominant oil industry, that all social classes benefited. The automobile then became popular and accessible, and manufacturers refined their marketing policy according to different production niches: sports, luxury, practical, urban, rural, family, economic, clean, criteria that each type of car must meet, whatever its engine.
This evolution of the automobile market is initially carried out without any real concern for the environment, and in a kind of productivist euphoria that takes absolutely no account of the emerging imbalances that threaten the planet at the dawn of the 21st century.th century. It could even be said that several generations have gone by in a general carefree manner, driven by an ideal of autonomy and power through the icon of the automobile. A fundamentally individualistic way of life, but undoubtedly an inalienable right of flourishing democracies, which even today, and despite the various alarmist signals on the environment, few of us seem willing to sacrifice without claiming, through personal convictions, the defence of a noble cause.
 
The story of EV is inextricably intertwined with that of its combustion rival. For they each have many points in common: contemporary invention period - 1880s, identical ambitions; mastery of travel, appropriation of space and time. However, innovative at the same time as other types of motorized vehicles, and offering very good performance from the outset - simplicity, efficiency and speed - EVs are still suffering today from competition from internal combustion vehicles. With just over 1 % of annual passenger car production in just seven countries worldwide, its economy is rather fragile and its image still pejorative. In order to consider the real reasons that may have prompted manufacturers to abandon the principle periodically in the history of the automobile, it is first necessary to explain its operating characteristics.
 

Technical innovations

At the height of the industrial revolution, the dominant mechanical energy is that of the combustion engine. First of all, external combustion, the invention of this engine dates back to the XVIIth century.th century, with further development in the following century (J Watt, 1781). These engines transform the thermal energy of water steam, produced by one or more boilers (usually coal-fired), into mechanical energy.
The first private car, the "Obéissante" (A. Bollée, 1873), would operate according to this principle, almost a century after the invention of the engine that would propel it.
 
Amédée Bollée's "L'Obéissante" (The Obedient)
 
The internal combustion engine dates from 1859 (E. Lenoir), the symbolic date of the first oil extraction in Pennsylvania, USA, although the fuel used in this invention is gas, but also dates from the invention of the first electric battery (lead-acid accumulator, G Planted). The efficiency of the internal combustion engine is better than its external analogue because it has no heat loss. It works according to cycles, two or four strokes - suction, compression, explosion and exhaust, which are renewed and generate mechanical energy. Twenty-five years after its invention, the first internal combustion vehicle was developed (É Delamare-Deboutteville, 1884).
 
Forty-seven years separated the birth of the electric motor (T. Davenport, 1834) from the first electric vehicle (1881), whose invention paradoxically preceded that of the internal combustion vehicle (three years). The electric vehicle, which does not depend on any fossil fuel, is very simple; it has only one moving part: a copper-wound rotor that rotates continuously in a magnetic field composed of electromagnets (stator). Compared to an internal combustion engine, the electric generator uses far fewer parts - no air filter, no tank, no gearbox... Hence its simplicity, which prevails not only in its manufacture, but also in its use and maintenance. Without friction, there is less wear and tear, and the vehicle is more resistant. It is also faster to manufacture.
In particular, the electric motor adapts to any form of energy that can be converted into electricity, a strong point of this type of invention, even if current critics of EV consider that it pollutes, through its batteries, when connected to the network of carbonaceous, gas, fuel oil, coal or nuclear power plants that produce radioactive waste. This practice is not irremediable and can be completely stopped by using renewable energies such as solar, wind or biomass, unlike thermal engines which are intrinsically dependent on fossil fuels.
 
The EV is inseparable from its batteries, the bête noire of its history, the reason for its failures, and for good reason, it is its power supply, therefore its self-mobility, practically the opposite of what gasoline will be for the combustion vehicle, its salvation, but which could be fatal to it. Indeed, while the electric motor onboard the EV is clean, the storage of the energy required for its operation poses this indisputable problem: how can the automotive battery, the strategic heart of the EV, but the essential cause of its autonomy, contravene the very principle of the automobile, autonomy? There is a clear contradiction here, no doubt intrinsic to EVs themselves, and which partly explains their delicate adoption, and even their successive failures.
 
The history of electric motorization is inextricably linked to the evolution of electricity. Several discoveries punctuate the latter. From a technical point of view, it is necessary to solve the problem of the continuous supply of the electrotechnical motor, steps taken in the first half of the 19th century.th century: battery (electrical energy), electrolyte (electrical conduction), lead accumulator (storage of electricity), dynamo (electrical conversion).
Research then turned to the various components capable of offering the best electrochemical solutions, a process that was also resolved in the second half of the 19th century.th Today, lithium-ion, which is valued thanks to its high mass energy (two to five times more than nickel-metal hydride, for example) but also thanks to the absence of a memory effect or its low "self-discharge", has been used since the early 1990s for telephones and laptops. Its primary quality is of course its low weight and, consequently, its small size.
Finally, the key problem with batteries is the space required, the less space they take up, the more accumulators can be added, the greater the autonomy. These various qualities make lithium-ion the white gold of the automotive saga. Where we notice that we are moving from one energy problem to another, in this case from black gold to white gold. However, it must be recognised that lithium-ion cannot be the ultimate solution to the battery problem, particularly for ecological reasons linked to its exploitation and its perverse effects on the surrounding ecosystem - disturbance of the biological balance of the Andean regions of South America, the main lithium resource area - and even economic-political reasons - exploitation of child miners in the cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt dioxide is used in the operation of the lithium-ion battery based on the reversible exchange of theion lithium between a positive electrode, (most often cobalt dioxide, but also manganese or phosphate) and a negative graphite electrode.
 
But the battery also poses other concerns for EV producers and users, particularly in terms of power supply and even maintenance. Several solutions currently coexist: connection to the domestic electrical grid (several hours of charging), public (variable depending on the location), dedicated service stations with fast and ultra-fast charging stations. Some commercial systems offer hire-purchase formulas when the vehicle is purchased (leasing), or battery exchange. Furthermore, if there is a need for a suitable road infrastructure to meet these needs, which is clearly not the case today, the energy capacity of power generation to meet the demand for such technology may prove insufficient.
Finally, in order to meet the common uses of the electric motor and to compare it to those of the petrol car, there are also the obstacles of the space travelled in a single battery charge (so far an average of 200 to 400 km according to the manufacturers in 2017, for some, "Tesla model S", six hundred km) and the time needed to charge the battery (depending on the different charging points, from twenty minutes to over twelve hours).
These figures do not take into account the variations resulting from the various functions that add to the energy consumption, in particular the immoderate speed of the vehicle - above 110 km/h, the power gauge goes down much faster, its air conditioning and other usage options depending on driving conditions, all of which impact the battery's range.
We can see here, in addition to this list of grievances, the necessary change in the behaviour of motorists, which in politics is called a decoy. In other words, the EV is first and foremost a clean city car that's ideal for short distances. Its real challenge is for long journeys. In France, however, the average daily mileage of car users is around thirty kilometres, well below the two hundred kilometre range of a standard battery. But using a car must also be used for holidays, as a practical and cost-effective mode of transport! EVs also complain about the high cost of the battery, twenty to forty percent of the price of the car. State aid, ecological bonus and conversion premium combined, about ten thousand euros in France (2017), nevertheless make it possible today to situate the price of the mid-range vehicle at a rate similar to that of its thermal counterpart.
 
Finally, it is worth highlighting here the recent progress of the fuel cell electric car (FC EV), the ideal ecological solution for a zero carbon emission vehicle with electricity production within the vehicle. The EV with a fuel cell also has obvious advantages, especially in terms of range over the distance travelled (more than six hundred km) and charging times (like petrol at present), but although many research teams are working on this project, which is now assessed as one of the most dynamic, it still poses a number of unresolved problems, particularly with regard to hydrogen production. The electricity of the EV at PAC is the result of the electrochemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, which produces energy heat. For the time being, the use of platinum, a noble metal as expensive as gold, a component used to accelerate the chemical reaction of the heat pump, poses a problem. To produce clean and economically viable hydrogen using green electricity - wind or solar power, water electrolysis, and no longer using natural gas - it would cost almost twice as much. Finally, the life span of the CAP is four thousand one hundred hours, i.e. about one hundred and fifty thousand km (compared to the current three hundred thousand km for diesel), and there are only fifteen hydrogen recharging stations in the country today. These various obstacles must be resolved before this type of motorization can be marketed to the general public, in particular through the automated production of electric cars, which would lower their price - today the cost of an EV with a battery-powered car is eighty thousand euros, a figure equivalent to that of the battery-powered EVs of the first resurgence, more than fifty years ago, which may explain the craze among manufacturers for battery-powered EVs today, when production costs have been halved.
 
Frank PecquetResearch Fellow: Aesthetics/Creation and Sound Design - University of Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne
 
 

Anything to add? Say it as a comment.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
mobility
Previous article

New cycling plan: The little queen in the spotlight in Angers

electric car
Next article

Electric vehicle: Chronicle of an announced resurgence - Part 2/4

Latest articles in Mobility - Transport and Eco-mobility

JOIN

THE CIRCLE OF THOSE WHO WANT TO UNDERSTAND OUR TIME OF TRANSITION, LOOK AT THE WORLD WITH OPEN EYES AND ACT.
logo-UP-menu150

Already registered? I'm connecting

In order to contribute to the information effort on the current coronavirus crisis, UP' proposes to its readers a free entry to the latest published articles related to this theme.

→ Register for free to continue reading.

JOIN

THE CIRCLE OF THOSE WHO WANT TO UNDERSTAND OUR TIME OF TRANSITION, LOOK AT THE WORLD WITH OPEN EYES AND ACT

You have received 3 free articles to discover UP'.

Enjoy unlimited access to our content!

From $1.99 per week only.
0 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
WhatsApp
Email
Print