Recent developments in communication technology have made communication easier and faster. However, that is not enough since human beings are demanding a transport system that is quick and efficient. The invention of the airplane made it easier to travel long distances over a short period. The human desire is insatiable, and scientists are working routinely to make discoveries that would bring the human desire to satisfy. Although the invention of gasoline-powered vehicles remains phenomenal in human history, the invention has been captured with several challenges. Human beings want a fast, sustainable, affordable, and easily accessible mode of land transport. The idea of electric vehicles (EVs) is not new since they started in the eighteenth century. The idea started with innovators in Hungary, and none thought their innovation would burgeon and shed light on humanity’s transportation future. Tesla, Renault-Nissan, Volkswagen, Kia, and Hyundai, among many other companies, are investing in EV manufacturing. The companies are registering outstanding profits, and seemingly going electric is the only future for cars. With developments in the EV industry, understanding the challenges of fuel-powered vehicles and EV efficiency could answer the future of the EV industry.
The Gasoline Vehicles
The automobile industry has metamorphosed from simple steam-powered engines to gasoline-powered ones to the much-anticipated redesigned electric-powered ones. The French Nicolas Joseph Cugnot is the automobile industry father who built the vehicle in 1769 (Luparenko 260). While Nicolas Joseph Cugnot built the first car, Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz invented the first successful gasoline-powered vehicles (Schwedes and Keichel 120-125). Modern gasoline-powered motor vehicles borrow Daimler and Benz’s ideas. The gasoline-powered motor vehicles are attributed to Daimler and Benz, but it is fair to attribute the motor vehicle invention to the Frenchman Joseph Cugnot since scientific inventions involve the ideation and practicality of the ideas. Automobile history is solely based on the internal combustion engine (ICE), the heart of a vehicle. The engine serves as the heart of the car that brings the car’s functionality to life. The structure, design, and mechanism of ICE have evolved from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first century more efficiently.
History of ICE
The most significant inventions of the ICEs took place between the nineteenth century and the seventeenth century, which shed light on the design of the engines. A Dutch Physicist, Christian Huygens, was the first to design an ICE 1680. Unlike the modern gasoline-powered engines, the designed ICE was powered by gunpowder (Schwedes and Keichel 120). In 1807, Francois Isaac de Rivaz invented an ICE engine fueled with hydrogen and oxygen. Rivaz made a bold move to design a car model for his engine but was unsuccessful. Many other inventions were made years later, but the most significant inventions in the automobile industry were Nicholas Otto’s, Rene Panhard’s and Emile Levassor’s, and Henry Ford’s inventions. The inventions provided insight into the car designs and functionality of the ICE engines.
Nicholas Otto built the “Otto Cycle Engine,” the first practical four-stroke ICE engine built onto a motorcycle. The 1876 Nichola’s four-stroke engine is universally adopted for all liquid-fueled vehicles in the twenty-first century. In 1890 woodworking machinery busyness partners Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor emulated Daimler’s engine and built the first car. The partners significantly contributed to the automotive body design that has remained phenomenal until today. The partners made vehicles with pedal-operated clutch and a change-speed gearbox, now common in all cars. Levassor designed the first car with an engine at the front of the car with a rear-wheel-drive layout, a concept used in modern automobile designing and manufacturing (Orloff 432). Car manufacturing was a time-consuming process until the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, when Henry Ford transformed the industry. Henry Ford installed the first conveyor-belt assembly line that reduced the assembly time. Ford’s invention helped reduce the cost of manufacturing cars and was adopted for mass car production (Orloff 467-489). The early inventions transformed engine and car model designs and the car production system.
Mechanism of ICE
The ICE mechanism involves high-temperature combustion of fuel within the engine itself. Combustion, or burning, involves an exothermic redox reaction between an oxidant and a fuel such as petrol or diesel. The combustion within the engine produces energy that is put into work within the engine. A fixed cylinder and a moving piston help in the conversation of the energy produced during combustion to work. During the ICE combustion, the gases expand, pushing the piston, and rotating a crankshaft (Dado et al. 1-4). The crankshaft is the backbone of an ICE converting the linear motion to a rotational motion. A gear system in the powertrain utilizes the crankshaft converted rotational motion in driving a vehicle’s wheels (Dado et al. 15). The combustion mechanism within an ICE depends on the ICE: either the spark-ignition gasoline engine or the ignition diesel engine.
Although both spark-ignition gasoline and ignition diesel engines are four-stroke cycle engines, they differ in the supply and ignition of fuel. A four-stroke cycle engine requires four piston strokes a cycle completion (Dado et al. 7-8). The four cycles involve intake, compression, combustion, power stroke, and exhaust. The spark-ignition engines mix fuel with air and induct it into the cylinder during the intake. The piston compressed the mixture and ignited sparks causing combustion. While Ignition diesel engines induct air only, then compress it, the diesel engines spray diesel on the hot compressed air at a measured rate causing combustion. Albeit the ICE’s efficiency and automobile transformation, they are marred with disadvantages that call in for an environmentally sustainable solution, EV.
Disadvantages of ICEs
Industrialization and technological advancements have increased fuel demands globally, leading to fluctuating fuel prices. ICEs vehicles are expensive to use due to increasing fuel costs worldwide. Furthermore, combustion within the engine system results from wearing and tearing, resulting in frequent vehicle check-up services that are costly (Andor et al. 454). Engines’ wear and tear might be caused by the inappropriate mixture of fuel and air, leading to engine malfunction. Although gasoline engines have a shorter life span than diesel engines, both engines deteriorate with time. Therefore, maintaining an ICE vehicle is costly, and the consumers would be attracted to affordable alternatives such as EVs. Furthermore, green energy is clean and sustainable, and the global community aims at green energy to save future generations from adverse climatic changes. The ICEs vehicles exhaust hazardous gases into the air, affecting the ozone layer (Andor et al. 453). Since ICEs vehicles are financially and environmentally disastrous, the invention of EV promises a sustainable and the affordable automobile.
The Electric Vehicles
The invention of EVs dates back to the 1800s when Hungary innovators toyed with battery-powered vehicles. A Briton innovator, Robert Anderson, built the first crude electric carriage in the late 1800s (Saniuk 2). In the late nineteenth century, the French innovators borrowed Anderson’s concept to build their first electric cars. William Morrison’s six-passenger vehicle revolutionized the American electric car industry in 1890 (Saniuk 3). Morrison’s “electric car,” which was more than an electrified wagon, moved at a speed of 14 miles per hour, sparking interest in electric cars. EV innovation was long ignored in the past until gas shortages and environmental concerns sparked interest in the electric automobile industry.
Mechanism of Electric Vehicles
Although the invention of ICEs was a breakthrough in the transport industry, electric motors have remained significant towards a green world. The EV, unlike the ICE vehicles, has electric motors acting as the vehicles’ hearts. A large traction battery pack plugged into charging equipment powers the electric motor. Unlike the ICE vehicles that emit gases into the environment through tailpipes, the EV does not have tailpipes. The EV has several key components, including a battery, the charge port, the DC converter, the electric traction motor, and the thermal system (Evtimov et al. 1). The various components harmoniously work together for efficient EV operations.
The auxiliary battery provides electrical power to the EV running the electric vehicle. In electrical power exhaustion, the charging port allows connection to an external power supply (Evitmov et al. 2). The traction battery pack stores high-voltage electricity to run the traction motor. The DC converter converts the high-voltage electricity in the traction battery pack into a DC that runs the vehicle accessories and charges the axillary battery. The electric traction motor is the heart of the vehicle that runs the wheels. The onboard charger converts the AC from the external power supply into DC power, charging the traction battery (Eviytmov et al. 4). The power electronic controller manages electrical energy flow controlling the electric traction motor speed and torque produced. Since the electrical transmission is an exothermic process, thermal transmission ensures optimum temperatures in the motor and other components. The EV mechanism is environment-friendly and cheap to maintain.
Trends in Electric Vehicles
The electric vehicle industry is one of the most creative and lucrative industries. For instance, a popular electric vehicle maker, Tesla, has recorded a gross margin of about 30% (Boudette). Various governments have formulated legislation burning the sale of non-electric cars by 2025 (Husain et al. 1040). The United Kingdom, Norway, and France are the leading countries supporting the EV industries. The government’s support promises increased sales of electric vehicles in the future (Husain et al. 1056). Breakthrough technologies such as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) have been incredibly valuable in the electric vehicle industry. Through PLM, the EV companies have come up with creative car designs that are excellent and of safety standards. Creativity in the EV industry has led to the invention of smart cars. Einride, a Swedish company, has manufactured autonomous and remotely controlled cars through T-Log and T-Pod technologies. The adoption of technological breakthroughs among EV companies has opened the door for more future opportunities and transportation problems.
Electric Vehicles and Going Green
Environmental sustainability is a great concern among the global community. Greenhouse gases are the commonest destroyers of the ozone layer leading to adverse climatic changes. Various organizations and governments advocate for clean energy, excluding fuels such as diesel. The EVs are environmentally friendly since they do not release excess greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (Husein et al. 1052). Furthermore, many consumers are attracted to companies that have adopted clean energy. Electric manufacturers are increasingly building their consumer brand equity by innovating to preserve the environment. Since many people are inclined towards a sustainable environment of positive climatic changes, many opt to buy EVs. As human beings advocate for environment-friendly technology, EV sales are likely to rise shortly.
EVs are beneficial to humanity, but technology is faced with several challenges. Unlike ICE vehicles, electric cars take longer to recharge, and the power may not last for long distances (Husain et al. 1045). The vehicles are charged at three levels, each taking a considerable duration. The standard 120-volt plug is used for home appliances and takes up to 40 hours of charging time (Zhang et al. 8-14). The 240-volts “level two” provides the cars with 20 to 25 miles of electrical power per hour. The most advanced is the DC “level three” chargers that charge the vehicles up to 80% within 30 minutes (Arafat et al. 478). The “level three” charger is the most efficient; however, limited charging stations are still a major challenge (Husain et al. 1053). Running out of power is the major challenge facing electric car users and preventing potential consumers from purchasing the cars.
The EV has a higher price tag compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. The advanced technology required to manufacture and recharge the EVs exacerbates the price. Although the charging and maintenance costs of electric cars are cheaper than fuel-powered vehicles, the initial prices of the cars are high. An average electric car unit costs $30,000 to $40, 000 which is more expensive than ICE vehicles (Glandorf). Furthermore, installing the charging component is very expensive and may go as high as $35 800 for the DC charger (Glandorf). Although EVs are expensive, they are energy efficient and easy to maintain, saving for future opportunities.
The EV is the panacea to the troubling climatic changes influenced by greenhouse gases in the environment. Unlike ICE vehicles, EVs do not release CO2 into the environment leading to the adoption of EVs among governments and citizens (Order and Ryghaug 2). Reducing CO2 and other greenhouse gases helps reduce future climatic changes that may cause floods and other calamities. The EV companies have invested in complex technologies that boost the efficiency and comfortability of the vehicles (Order and Ryghaug 10). The depletion of fuel reserves due to increased fuel demand globally has led to the increasing demand for EVs. Furthermore, the EV has a future due to cheap maintenance costs and governmental interventions to make cars affordable. With huge investor power, various EV companies, such as Tesla, have invested in complex technologies that transform EVs. Therefore, EVs have a future, given the increasing demand of the EV and a move toward clean energy.
The inventions in the transport industry have made mobility easier and faster. The ICE inventions enabled people to travel long distances within a short time. The ICE vehicles have been transformed over time, but the greenhouse gas emissions and maintenance costs are challenges. Fortunately, the invention of the electric motor transformed the automobile industry. The EV uses electricity instead of gasoline, emitting fewer greenhouse gases. Various countries adopt EV use given their cheap maintenance costs and environmental friendliness. Since EV technology is at its initial stages, many companies have really invested in EVs to secure tremendous future opportunities.
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