• Mitch Yow

Types of Electric Vehicle and Their History

EVs (all-electric vehicles) are powered by one or more electric motors. They receive electricity by plugging into the grid or solar, and they store the electricity in batteries. They consume no petroleum-based fuel and produce no tailpipe emissions.

EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) delivers electrical energy from an electricity source to charge a PEV’s batteries. It communicates with the PEV to ensure that an appropriate and safe flow of electricity is supplied.

ICEs (internal combustion engines) generate mechanical power by burning a non-renewable liquid fuel (such as gasoline, diesel, or biofuels) or a gaseous fuel (such as compressed natural gas). They are the dominant power source used in on-road vehicles today but that is subject to change over the next ten to twenty years.

PEVs (plug-in electric vehicles) derive all or part of their power from electricity supplied by either the electric grid or from stored solar/wind power. They include EVs and PHEVs.

PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) unlike regular hybrids (the original Prius), the PHEVs can be plugged in for charging.

A Little History

The PEV concept isn’t new. More than 100 years ago, all-electric vehicles (EVs) held much of the U.S. car market, but their popularity waned as the interest in internal combustion engines rose. At that time, the ICE vehicle had a longer driving range, petroleum fuel costs were very low and stable. Gasoline and diesel-powered ICE vehicles ended up dominating transportation in the 20th century and still do so today.

Concerns about the environmental impacts of ICE vehicles sparked a PEV renaissance at the end of the 20th century. In 1990, California passed the nation’s first zero-emission vehicle mandate, putting the state at the forefront of that decade’s deployment of PEVs, such as the General Motors EV1, Chrysler EPIC, Ford Electric Ranger, and the Toyota RAV4 EV. Although all vehicles from this generation were discontinued in the early 2000s, California’s vision helped set the stage for the next generation of PEVs.

Today, PEVs are back and ready to compete with—and complement—the ubiquitous ICE technology. Advances in electric-drive technologies like highly efficient AC motors, regenerative braking, and torque multipliers like Torque Trends ev-Torque Box, a single-speed EV gearbox, make EV-conversion economical. Continued technological advances in battery chemistry and specifically energy density along with charging efficiency have enabled manufacturers to introduce a new breed of PEVs that don’t use an ICE at all, like Torque Trends EV motor and EV transmission power packages.

Every year more light, medium, and heavy-duty BEV models are available. Because of the benefits they offer, BEV market penetration and availability are growing quickly. BEVs are safe, convenient, and can slash a fleet’s operating costs while demonstrating community leadership.

All-Electric Vehicles (EVs)

EVs (also called battery-electric vehicles or BEVs) use batteries to store the electrical energy that powers one or more motors. The batteries are charged by plugging the vehicle into an electric power source. EVs can also be charged in part by regenerative braking, which generates electricity from some of the energy normally lost when braking. EVs use no petroleum-based fuel while driving and therefore produce no tailpipe emissions.

Today’s EVs typically have a shorter range than legacy vehicles have. Most light, medium, and heavy-duty EVs are targeting a range of 200 to 300 miles on a fully charged battery. Torque Trends feels that this is like trying to make a one size fits all approach. We have designed our BEV systems specifically for the lower daily mileage and low mileage fixed-route fleets. We take each fleet vehicle and design the most economical range package based on the average daily miles driven, and then build in a 10% cushion for the off or unusual day, no waste, no excess and no unnecessary costs.

Factors That Affect Plug-In Electric

The efficiency and driving range of BEVs vary substantially based on driving conditions and driving habits. Extreme outside temperatures tend to reduce range because more energy must be used to heat or cool the cabin. Cold batteries do not provide as much power as warm batteries do. The use of electrical equipment, such as AC compressors, battery and cab heating can reduce range. High driving speeds reduce range because more energy is required to overcome increased air resistance. Rapid acceleration reduces range compared with smooth acceleration. Hauling heavy loads or driving up significant inclines also reduces range.

Training drivers about the optimal ways to operate BEVs can maximize the efficiency and range of fleet vehicles. Torque Trends, Inc. provides a BEV driver training module to help its customers reap the maximum efficiency possible.

What Can BEVs Do for Your Fleet?

They can lower your operating costs and help you comply with government policies while demonstrating your commitment to environmental protection and the energy security that comes with Freedom From Foreign Oil.

How Much Reduction in Operating Costs?

BEVs can reduce your fleet’s fuel costs dramatically because of the low cost of electricity versus carbon-based fuel. Because BEVs rely solely on electric power, their fuel economy is measured differently than in legacy vehicles. You might see it stated as miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (mpge). Or it may be broken down by kilowatt-hours (kWh) per 100 miles for EVs. Depending of course on how they’re driven, today’s EVs can exceed 100 mpge.

Powering a light-duty BEV and charging from the grid usually costs between 3 to 6 cents per mile. In contrast, fueling an ICE vehicle that has a fuel economy average of 11 mpg costs about 31 cents per mile. If 12,000 miles are driven per year, driving the BEV instead of driving the ICE vehicle could save approximately $3000* in annual fuel costs alone. Add to this the fact that maintenance costs of BEVs are dramatically reduced, usually by about one half. Once a vehicle is converted to BEV you won’t purchase, service, repair or replace any of the following.

  • No gas or Diesel fuel

  • No engine oil

  • No fuel, air or oil filters

  • No emissions equipment or smog certifications

  • No exhaust system component replacement

  • No torque converter or transmission clutch problems (the EV gearbox from Torque Trends is an extreme duty, single-speed, planetary gear based reduction gearbox. It has no clutches, no pump, does not shift and has no computer or electronic solenoids.)

  • No engine rebuilds or replacements (quality AC motors have proven to be trouble and maintenance free for hundreds of thousands of miles)

  • And due to the regenerative nature of the AC electric motor, brake wear is typically cut in half so brake repair and replacement costs is much lower.

It is estimated from the above that the payback period of converting to electric power can be three to five years. Every year after the payback period, the cost to operate savings really start adding up.

*Fuel cost savings depend on electricity and gasoline prices as well as vehicle types and driving patterns. As of this writing, fuel costs have experienced a dramatic drop. As electric vehicles become more popular and carbon fuels usage is reduced the cost of these fuels is sure to increase and probably dramatically so.


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