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Electric Car Guide: What you need to know

The 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars put pressure on buyers to switch to electric cars. While electric vehicles have existed in the motoring world for the past century, the recent dramatic increase in sales is due to the need for cleaner and greener vehicles. Car manufacturers have also come up with affordable and more practical electric vehicles. For instance, EVs now offer longer ranges and combine an exciting driving experience with great styling. Ireland's charging infrastructure has also improved, providing better technology for fast charging. This electric car guide will help you understand the features and types of EVs.

History and early development of electric cars

Many people associate electric vehicles with the modern technological world, but electrically powered cars have been around since 1837. Before the 1930s, electric vehicles were a popular option among road users, with 28% of drivers using EVs. The introduction of internal combustion engines allowed car manufacturers to slash their prices, increasing their popularity.

With the growing threat of climate change, electric car manufacturers built a new EV generation in 1996. The Toyota Prius hybrid model gained popularity as the world became pollutant conscious. Nowadays, the choice of electric vehicles is vast, and buyers can choose from plug-in hybrids and pure electric models.

Guide to electric car options

Electric vehicles are available as plug-in hybrids (PHEV) or battery electric vehicles. Battery EVs are purely electric and have no combustion engine. They use an onboard battery, which powers the electric motor. You need to charge the car from an external electric supply. Nowadays, you can find pure-electric vehicles with impressive charging ranges. The emergence of multiple charging spots makes electric vehicles more convenient.

Plug-in hybrid EVs have a small internal combustion engine and an electric powertrain. That means you can drive the car in full-electric mode, use combustion fuel or combine both. The presence of a battery improves the efficiency of the vehicles, and you can charge it from an external electricity supply. Range-extended EVs are plug-in hybrids with a unique configuration. They can use electric charge for an extended range like battery-powered electric cars, but they have a small internal combustion engine that acts as an onboard generator.

The combustion engine can recharge the battery if you run out of charge on the road. However, unlike PHEVs, which allow the combustion engine to drive the wheels directly, you cannot use the combustion engine in range-extended cars to drive. Range-extended cars usually offer a longer electric range than PHEVs, and the conventional engine only serves as a backup.

Electric car features

Electric vehicles are known for their comfortability and positive impact on the environment. How are they different from conventional combustion engine cars? What features should you expect from combustion engine cars?

Hassle-free driving

Since an electric vehicle doesn't have a gearbox, exhaust pipe or clutch, you can enjoy smoother rides than a conventional gas-based vehicle. It also offers quieter rides due to minimal engine vibrations, and you don't have to worry about noise since the car has no gears to shift. The car battery is often situated at the bottom of the car, lowering the suspension and gravity to make the car comfortable to drive.

Large and stylish interior spaces

Internal combustion engines are large and take up a lot of interior space. However, EVs use electric motors that are small and compact. This design gives car manufacturers plenty of room to create a premium interior. Most electric vehicles have sufficient space for seats with better legroom. The luggage compartments are also roomy, and you can open up additional storage space. The improved technology in electric vehicles has also introduced features like infotainment systems.

Multiple charge feature

An electric car can use rapid, fast and trickle charging options. Rapid charging allows the vehicle to charge up to 80% in thirty minutes, while fast charging requires three to eight hours. If you want the car to function in optimal condition, you need to charge it overnight. Trickle charging usually requires charging the vehicle for over 12 hours. Onboard chargers in the EVs convert AC to DC that can power the traction battery. You can also use the onboard charger to check battery attributes, like the voltage and current.

Unique regenerative braking

Regenerative braking is a distinguishing feature of electric vehicles. It allows cars to convert kinetic energy into electrical energy during braking. The electrical energy is stored in the battery and increases the driving range of electric vehicles. Sometimes, regenerative braking improves the driving range by 10%.

EV thermal system

One of the major problems combustion engines face is overheating. You don't have to fret about overheating in the motor and power electronics. Car manufacturers have resolved the overheating headaches in electric vehicles by installing thermal systems. The feature monitors and maintains an optimal operating temperature range in EV components.

High-resolution intuitive displays

Electric cars come with high-resolution OLED displays to check the charging capacity and available range. When you choose a destination in the satellite navigation system, the display informs you if the current charge range will take you to the destination. Some displays also highlight the charging spots along the route. You can use it to monitor the power consumed by the accessories in the EV and find ways to maximise the remaining car range or conserve battery energy.

How does it feel driving an electric car?

Electric cars don't have gears, making them easy to drive. When you get in the car, press the start button, choose the gear selector, and go. Unlike a conventional automatic that requires driving the vehicle, and the transmission shifts through gears, EVs don't have distinct gears. The electric motor rotates in one direction to move forward and the opposite direction to go backwards. Besides, the engine's rotational force or torque is available instantly. You have to switch gears in diesel or petrol-powered cars to get the car in a peak power band before moving. Since electric car motor power is available on tap, it makes it easy to speed up, slow down and drive. The responsiveness of electric motors makes even the most basic models of electric cars fun to drive.

Electric car batteries further improve the driving dynamics. While it adds extra weight to the vehicles, it also ensures the centre of gravity is low since it is placed between the axles. It provides a comfortable and sporty driving experience, making your drive sure-footed and fun.

You can ghost along quietly in an electric car due to the lack of pistons and noisy combustion engines. You also won't feel engine vibrations as you drive. The quietness can seem unusual at first, but it makes your drives peaceful and enjoyable.

Positive environmental impact of electric vehicles

Air pollution remains a major concern for driving internal combustion engines. With WHO reporting close to seven million deaths associated with outdoor air pollution, governments are looking for ways to reduce pollution. Nitrous oxide emitted by fuel engines is directly linked to respiratory issues. Hence, reducing diesel and petrol-powered cars minimises nitrous gas pumped into the atmosphere. Electric vehicles have zero emissions of pollutants. Lower pollution levels promote green initiatives that aim to reduce climate change.

Electricity is renewable energy, which means driving an EV expends limited fossil fuels. Most manufacturers also use eco-friendly materials when building electric cars to improve their sustainability. A popular electric vehicle made with eco-friendly materials is the Nissan Leaf. You can also recycle electric vehicle batteries and engines, which improves environmental sustainability.

Conclusion on electric cars

If you want to join the green club, this electric car guide will help you understand the basics of EVs and the features to expect. When you know the features and various types of electric vehicles, you can find the perfect fit for your needs. Government grants and road taxes improve your cost savings and reward you for being kinder to the planet. The kinds of journeys you make can also help you decide the favourable car range and type of EV to buy. For instance, if you make long journeys, you need a long-range battery-electric vehicle or PHEV.


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