What is E-Mobility?
E-mobility, short for electric mobility or electro mobility, is the idea of using electric-powered drivetrain technology to reduce fossil fuel consumption and carbon gas emissions. Electric-powered vehicles are cleaner, more efficient, and will help to reduce the energy required and used by traditional vehicles.
Types of Electric Vehicles
There are a growing number of electric ground vehicles that are using this technology. Some examples include:
- Electric cars
- Electric trolleys
- Electric buses
- Electric trucks
- Electric tractors
Personal transporters, sometimes referred to as electric rideables, are portable and compact devices that are designed to transport a single person. Some examples include:
- Electric bicycles
- Electric skateboards
- Electric scooters
In addition, there are trains, trolleys, aircraft, boats and submarines that are designed to draw power from batteries rather than fossil fuels. The applications are limitless as people and manufacturers begin to adopt the technology.
Electric Vehicle Differences
The conventional hybrid vehicle (HV) relies solely on gasoline or diesel fuel for energy and can’t be plugged into an outlet to charge. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are – you guessed it – hybrid vehicles that can be plugged into an outlet for energy, while also utilizing traditional fossil fuels. Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) run purely on an electric motor and battery, which means they are usually cleaner and cheaper to fuel than other EVs. And then there are hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), which store hydrogen gas in a tank and convert combined hydrogen and oxygen to electricity to power the electric motor.
History of E-Mobility
Believe it or not, the first electric vehicle was a carriage invented in 1832 by Robert Anderson. It gained traction in the late 1800s and even caught Thomas Edison’s attention. Edison spent a decade trying to create a better battery for electric automobiles. He broke significant ground and was able to improve the alkaline battery, but eventually dropped the project.
A few years later, Henry Ford’s Model T shook the automobile industry. With people’s desire to travel further and faster – as well as abundant access to gasoline – the electric vehicle became obsolete by the 1920s.
For the vast majority of Americans, it wasn’t until 1966 when Congress encouraged the use of electric vehicles to reduce air pollution that people started to consider the possibility of e-mobility again. Then in 1972, Victor Wouk, also called the “Godfather of the Hybrid,” turned a 1972 Buick Skylark into the first substantial hybrid electric vehicle.
With soaring oil prices and gas shortages leading up to the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, Congress passed the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1976. The goal was to help promote the development of new batteries, motors and other clean technology.
Unfortunately, as we neared the 21st century, car manufacturers like General Motors tried and failed to bring high powered – and profitable – electric vehicles to market. The demand wasn’t there, and they were simply too costly to produce. The “car of the future” was repeatedly swept under the rug, especially when the economy was booming and gas prices were low.
Although Toyota only sold 18,000 units of their first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle in the first year, the Prius became instantly popular. The acclaim of the Prius helped pave the way for Tesla Motors – now Tesla, Inc. – to build their luxury BEV sports car, the Roadster. Tesla’s success and popularity, as well as rising concerns for environmental protection policies, have brought the auto industry to develop cleaner and more efficient electric vehicles.
The Complex E-Mobility Framework
There are 4 major components that determine the direction and implementation of electric mobility technology and some challenges that go with the territory.
The first stepping stone to an e-mobility system is having influential manufacturers commit to making electric vehicles. EV producers rely on sourcing components from other vendors, so the vendors have to also make the shift to produce these needed components. As artificial intelligence is implemented and smart cars are conceptualized, EV manufacturers will have to rely even more on third-party components to ramp up production.
In order for electric cars to be a feasible option for the average person, there has to be a large network of charging stations to serve an electric vehicle owner. Currently, 40 million Americans fill up their cars with gas each day. And with roughly 120,000 gas station locations in the U.S., it’s quick and easy to do. Right now, there are only about 16,500 electric stations in the U.S.
Most buyers will be looking for portable charging solutions for long distance road trips, hassle-free home charging installations, and a more convenient network of charging stations before fully committing to an electric car
As electric vehicles are produced, other industries will have to shift their focus and resources to accommodate. We’ll see huge changes in maintenance services as smart technology is implemented into vehicles. With future cars most likely turning into a computer on wheels, we’ll need more vehicle technicians and software experts to help diagnose and fix vehicle problems.
Luckily for EV owners, electric cars have significantly less moving parts than traditional cars so the maintenance cost is currently much cheaper
4. Laws and Regulations
Since e-mobility and artificial intelligence are starting to make their way into the auto industry, we can expect to see massive changes in legislation regarding electric vehicles of all types. The government will need to work alongside manufacturers in all channels to establish new safety measures and regulations. As long as regulations are created and companies continue to receive subsidies to pursue these new breakthrough vehicles, e-mobility will be a hot topic for quite some time.
The Challenges of Fully Embracing E-Mobility
There are technical challenges that prevent the immediate switch to electric vehicle manufacturing. One is over 100 years of design and innovation of fossil fuel-based systems that have to be scrapped – at least to an extent. Engineers have to convert the auto components and machinery to build clean and sustainable energy-based models.
The primary bottleneck within the industry is currently with lithium-ion batteries. The chemical element lithium (Li) is found primarily in brine (salt lakes) as well as within igneous rock and minerals. At the moment, the extraction process takes up to 24 months. And since smart devices and mobile devices also use lithium-ion batteries, EVs and PHEVs aren’t the only technologies competing for these precious resources. In the future, the availability of lithium may be limit EV production if the demand outpaces the extraction process.
The Future of Transportation
Without a doubt, we are moving into a future of sustainable transportation. Urbanization and dense city populations are bringing urgent attention to widespread transportation problems. 6 out of 10 people will live in cities by 2030, so now is the time to fix it.
Cities are struggling to deal with rising city pollution, road deaths, commute times and poverty. Traffic is a seemingly small factor that has a massive impact on productivity and quality of life, which in turn affects the entire economy of a city.
The solution is to embrace innovation. We can work together to reach a sustainable future. Join a local car ride program, look into the benefits of getting an electric car or invest in a personal transporter if you live close to work.
Let us know on social media about where you think the future of e-mobility is headed. We’d love to hear your thoughts or answer any questions you may have.
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