Car Service

How electric cars are finally competing with petrol

The concept of the electric car has been around for over a century, but it has struggled to make an impact on a market dominated by petrol and diesel vehicles. But with rising concerns over the environment, along with plenty of new innovations when it comes to electrical technology in general, the electric car is finally looking like a real competitor in the automotive world.

After an electric performance from Volkswagen at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July, stockist of the Volkswagen Up! and e-Up! Lookers Volkswagen explores how the electric car has finally revved up and joined the race.

Battery-power

It was way back in the 1800s when the idea of a battery-powered car was raised by innovators in Hungary, the United States, and the Netherlands. They created small-scale electric cars, but it took until the second half of the 19th century before French and English inventors produced the first practical electric vehicles.

The electric-powered vehicle proved popular, as their quiet nature was perfect for a short city trip. Thomas Edison worked to develop better batteries for electric vehicles and in 1901, the world’s first hybrid electric car was invented.

But the drop in crude oil prices in 1920 meant electric vehicles dropped off the radar for a while, until environmental concerns began to rise in the 1900s. With a green future becoming a main objective amongst the world’s leaders, it’s anticipated that by 2040 electric cars will account for a third of global sales. In the UK, ministers have been informed that most new cars would need to be electric by 2030 and, with fully autonomous cars due to be rolled out in the coming years, the industry is well on its way to hitting this target, especially as motoring giants are producing more and more electric versions of their fleet.

Upgrades

Electric cars are already making waves. The world is realising that we have to move away from a fossil fuel-driven economy towards one that is more sustainable as we attempt to bring a halt to climate change. Transportation can, and is, one area that must be focused on. In 2017, more than half of cars sold in Norway were electric, while China continues to lead the way in a market that keeps growing. In fact, with sales of electric cars rising each month, Volkswagen has announced a $10 billion investment in the country to develop relevant technology and has set out plans to manufacture 1.5 million electric vehicles by 2025.

What other developments are in place? Lithium-sulphur and solid state devices are also in development to continue the improvement in the car’s battery life. Also, the number of charging points available in the UK is on the rise, quickly increasing by over 5,000 between 2016 and 2017. It’s these two developments that are leading the way in the electric car revolution.

The improvements stretch beyond the public sector too. Spectators at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed were treated to a record-breaking run as the VW ID R, fresh from breaking the record for the fastest run up the Pikes Peak international Hill Climb, smashed the official hill climb record for electric vehicles by 3.5 seconds. This, on top of the rise of the enthralling Formula E series, shows just how far these automobiles are coming.

Ready to compete with petrol and diesel?

Electric cars are still a bit more expensive than petrol and diesel cars, but the prices are beginning to level out. Thanks to rules that are being introduced to limit the kind of vehicles allowed into major cities, electric cars are becoming more mainstream. Plus, since they have very few moving parts, electric cars in theory allow for fewer issues to arise. This means that on the whole, servicing your electric car should be cheaper than a petrol or diesel car. However, the range you achieve from an electric car, although increasing as batteries improve, isn’t as good as what you’d receive from a full tank of petrol or diesel.

The choice to switch to electric boils down to your own needs and type of driving. However, given time and with constant technological advancements you can expect the power and range of electric cars to improve, meaning the rise of the electric vehicle in the 21st century is one that looks like gaining even greater moment over the coming years.