While the development of electric or hybrid (electric and fuel combined) cars has been continually progressing, there have still been many bumps in the road. Slow charging, bulky batteries, batteries that don’t last and are expensive to replace, and costly repairs are just a few of the difficulties that are faced by the owners (and manufacturers) of electric vehicles. However, as green technology continues to advance to make cars run cleaner and more efficiently, there is progress continuing to be made on electric cars.
New Material Advances
Because the battery seems to be the largest problem in keeping electric cars from becoming the mainstream, researchers and engineers are focusing on solving the battery problem. In the case of Volvo, the company is looking at ways to use the body panels of the car as a power source by building the body panels out of lightweight carbon fiber. When these strong carbon fiber door panels, hoods, and roof panels are infused with micro batteries and capacitors, a sort of battery “skin” is created which charges as the car is driven.
As this skin battery is created to charge while driving, it is able to be refreshed faster than a conventional car battery, but can also be plugged in to bring it to a full charge. In addition, this car is about 15% lighter than a typical metal paneled vehicle, which makes it more fuel efficient and cost effective to run. Still, it only has about an 80-mile range, but that is plenty for folks who are planning on using the car only for commuting and short range purposes. Some critics are concerned about the safety of such cars, but with Volvo as a main frontrunner of safety, this concern is clearly on their radar as well.
Changes in Energy Sources
Although carbon emissions from electric cars is significantly less than that from traditionally fueled cars, there is still some criticism over the sourcing of power for plug-in cars. However, as green technology continues to propel alternative, renewable energy sources, the carbon footprint of electric cars will continue to lessen. With wind power, solar power, and even power created by algae, the decentralization of energy production will continue to be more common. As this happens, the energy being used by electric cars will steadily come from cleaner, more sustainable sources which makes the negative effect on the environment from electric cars on a trajectory downward. This should continue to drive the popularity of electric cars upward.
With the growing focus on environmental technology, conservation, and eco-friendliness, we can expect to see further development of cars which use less fossil fuels and more sustainable energy. As we look into the future, generations to come will likely have all gasoline cars in museums as part of their antiquated past as electric and hybrid cars become more and more the standard.