The evolution of electric vehicles and charging technology from 1834 to today
29 November 2016
Futuristic-themed movies and shows would have us believe that electric vehicle (EV) technology is a relatively recent breakthrough, alongside smart buildings, 3D printing and the digital revolution.
The first electric car was, in fact, developed almost 200 years ago in the 1830s. It was the emergence of the combustion engine and subsequent petrol-fuelled vehicles that ultimately leapfrogged the focus on electric cars until recent times.
The evolution of EVs has been a lengthy road from inception to today, but no less interesting than other game-changing technologies.
Hitting the road in 1890, the first US-based EV had a leisurely top speed of 14 miles per hour – not overly impressive, but enough to ignite an interest that would motivate other car manufacturers to move into this space.
In terms of overall driving experience, they were far superior to their gas and steam-fuelled counterparts – there were no foul smelling or noisy emissions to deal with and they were quiet and pleasant to drive. There was a particular uptake by urban women who wanted to take short trips in comfort.
As their popularity increased, EVs experienced a number of important firsts for the motor industry, including:
- The first vehicle with power steering was an EV;
- The first woman to buy a car bought an EV;
- The first ever car dealership sold only EVs;
- The first car race to take place in the US was won by an EV.
At the turn of the century, EVs accounted for a third of the cars on the road. Motoring pioneer Henry Ford bought his wife Clara an EV and his interest drove him to develop his own experimental version within a few years.
However, by 1910, interest and investment in petrol-fuelled cars had taken hold and mass production began to drive the cost per vehicle down. A subsequent sharp drop in oil prices widened access to the masses and the traditional petrol car cemented its place as the dominant force in the industry for the next century.
Batteries and charging for electric vehicles
It was around the late 1950s that developments in space travel triggered advancements in battery technology. Improved batteries and charging options were key to addressing the redline issue of travel range.
At this stage, the maximum travel distance on a single charge was 40-50 miles with a maximum distance of about 40 miles per hour. Moreover, users had to charge their vehicle from home, prohibiting any kind of exploration or long-range travel.
While it would be another 40 to 50 years before EVs reappeared in the mainstream, important developmental work was going on in the background thanks to government policies, innovation and changing environmental factors.
The world’s first mass-produced hybrid EV, the Toyota Prius, was launched in 1997 and became an instant hit. By 2006, Tesla Motors launched a luxury EV that could travel up to 200 miles on a single charge.
As part of this renewed market demand, plus the larger move to sustainable energy, battery performance has improved significantly and costs have been driven down. The remaining focus is on the proliferation of charging stations.
According to the latest figures from Open Charge Map, there are now 75,121 stations in 43,539 locations globally. In Japan, there are now more charging stations than petrol stations, signaling a major tipping point in their automotive industry.
According to the Global EV Outlook Report, China’s targets for 2020-30 include 4.3 million private chargers and 500,000 chargers for public use. France is aiming to deploy a total of seven million chargers by 2030 and Japan two million by 2020.
Encouraged by renewed demand, most of the major international car manufacturers have entered the EV arena in some capacity, providing a choice of almost 60 different models of hybrid and plugin EVs today. Bloomberg forecasts that by 2040, EV sales will be 35% of the total car market. The electric-vehicle industry has truly come full circle.
Design, aesthetics and quality
Today’s electric-vehicle chargers are combining design, aesthetics and quality. Garo Electric Ireland has launched the Garo LS4 Fast Charging Station. With over eight years of experience in EV charging, the LS4 charging station is future proofed.
The GARO LS4 public charging station is manufactured primarily with aluminium to meet the tough requirements set for charging stations installed in public places:
- Charge indicator and lighting in the right place;
- The elevated indicator in the form of a 360° lighting strip, allowing users to see from distance the charge status of each outlet;
- The front side features an illuminated space intended for logos and instructions;
- The charging station is equipped with two type 2 EV outlets positioned in a weather- and wind-proof illuminated recess;
- The charging station is available in 16A or 32A versions for single-phase and three-phase networks, with or without energy meters; and
- There are individual fuses and circuit breakers for each outlet. The three-phase version charging station comes with type B breakers.
The charging station is furnished with an integrated electronics system that handles communication between the station and the electric vehicle. The EV outlets and the communication between the vehicle and the station conforms to international standards, making the product future-proof.
The electronics and fuses are positioned behind screen protectors and can be reset by users without installation authorisation. The incoming electricity supply can be isolated via a main circuit breaker.
The charging station can be equipped with RFID readers and mobile 3G or network communication, LAN kit, Cold Option (heater), over-voltage protection, cable strain reliever or extra large input connection block for additional electrical feeds. Connection to the charging station can take the form of a 3G or high-speed internet connection.
The charging station can be screwed in place with a concrete foundation or similar. The available accessories include a ground plate for burial, a wall plate and an assembly kit for Ø 60mm tube pole. In general, type 2 is used for charging vehicles in Europe and type 1 for vehicles in Asia.
Fine details of GARO LS4
- Clear 360° charge indicator – unhindered visibility
- Front side raking light – any information visible even in darkness
- LED lighting – energy efficient and long lasting
- Weatherproof EV outlets – for extended life-span
- Illuminated EV outlets – easy to connect
- Separate RFID reader – easy for the user
- Simple installation – the pole is fully-assembled on delivery
- Lockable service hatch – for increased security
- Easy-to-follow installation – simple to maintain and monitor
- Special rubber membrane – moisture and pest protection
- Cold option alternative – prevents cooling and condensation in cold climate
To find out more about Garo’s Electric Vehicle charging range, please click here. Click here to watch the video of the charging station in action:
US Energy Department http://energy.gov/articles/history-electric-car
EV Timeline http://www.electricauto.org/?page=evhistory
Open Charge https://openchargemap.org/site
Global EV Outlook Report https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/Global_EV_Outlook_2016.pdfhttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/2016/11/29/electric-vehicle-charging-station/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/GaroLS4_1-1024x579.pnghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/GaroLS4_1-300x300.pngSponsoredbatteries,electric vehicles,transport