Electric vehicleJust over ten years ago, the number of electric vehicles on the road could be counted in the hundreds. Now, more than 1.3 million EVs have been deployed across the globe. But even as EVs become a stronger force in the transportation sector, many buyers still cite one major deterrent in going electric: range anxiety.

Range anxiety refers to the fear that during longer trips, the EV battery may run out of energy and leave drivers stranded without a charging station. However, Ford, BMW, and VW are planning to but this fear to rest in Europe where they’re planning to develop a networking of charging stations along major highways.

The car companies believe this implementation of these stations will help enable long-rage travel and facilitate the mass-market adoption of EVs. Because current EVs cannot exceed a 300 mile driving range on single charge, the establishment of ultra-fast charging stations will help take away some of the anxiety drivers feel behind the wheel.


Uphill Battle for Electric Cars

With plunging oil prices, it is proving to be more difficult than ever to entice buyers into purchasing an electric vehicle. While the low oil prices may be good for consumers’ gas tanks, the transportation sector continues to account for 27 percent of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions.

The question then arises of how electric car manufacturers can steer folks back toward electric vehicles and away from gas-guzzling cars?

(MORE: Read Interface: PV, EV, and Your Home)

Impact of falling oil prices

“It definitely makes the transition to sustainable energy more difficult,” said Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, at a business conference in Hong Kong about the impact of the free-falling oil prices.

Tesla rose to prominence in 2003 when oil prices soared, making electric vehicles all the more tempting. With oil prices continually on the decline, it’s now up to companies like Tesla to compel buyers and stress the importance of transitioning toward cleaner vehicles.

New features for electric cars

For companies like Tesla, that means developing things like autonomous cars with “summon” features – allowing the user to call their car just like a pet. Even aesthetic aspects have become more important, with Tesla focusing on futuristic designs.

“What we’re aspiring to do is to make the cars so compelling that even with lower gas prices, it’s still the car you want to buy,” Musk said.


Toyota Rolls out New Vehicle

Toyota has just unveiled the prototype of their 3-wheel i-ROAD urban mobility vehicle at the TED Conference in Vancouver.

Those who experienced the vehicle described it as a cross between a zip scooter and an eco-friendly electric car. Toyota is describing this electric two-seater as a “personal mobility vehicle.” The company used the TED Conference as their launching platform for to gauge how the attendees see the future of mobility.

However, the i-ROAD is not designed to be your primary highway-driving vehicle. John Schultz of Toyota Motor Sales USA states that the vehicle would be most effective for every day short trips, such as running errands and grocery shopping.


Until now, the motor and the inverter, which converts the battery's direct current into alternating current for the motor, were two separate components.Credit: Siemns

Until now, the motor and the inverter, which converts the battery’s direct current into alternating current for the motor, were two separate components.
Credit: Siemens

A team of engineers at Siemens’ has developed a way to save space, reduce weight, and cut the cost of electric car production. The team’s solution revolves around integrating an electric car’s motor and inverter, which have always been two separate components prior to this development.

This from Siemens:

The solution’s key feature is the use of a common cooling system for both components. This ensures that the inverter’s power electronics don’t get too hot despite their proximity to the electric motor, and so prevents any reduction in output or service life.

Read the full article here.

Accordingly, the weight of the vehicle is reduced due the integration of the inverter into the motor, which will now only need a single housing. Additionally, the development produces added installation space that can be used for a charging unit.

For more information on current and future developments in the electric car industry, check out some of our past coverage or head over to the Digital Library to see what our scientists are working on.