Author: Graham Brennan, transport programme manager SEAI
This two-part article examines why after 100 years, the EV is today emerging as the leading contender to displace the use of combustion engines on our roads. Part 1 will examine the technical issues around the vehicle and Part 2 will deal with the manufacturing costs and infrastructure requirements going forward.
Motor transport is a difficult area to address in terms of efficiency and emissions because of the dominance of the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and the requirement for high energy density fuel to supply it. The combustion engine has been with us since the 19th century and offers little scope for major gains in thermodynamic efficiency.
Even before the combustion engine, electric motors and batteries were well understood and, in the 1890s, the electric automobile began to emerge as the first passenger car. With a range of 30km, it was regarded as a safe, reliable and clean method of city transport for the wealthy.
The discovery of oil in the USA and the development by Henry Ford of the ICE at prices that many Americans could afford meant that by 1912 the Electric Vehicle (EV) was soon surpassed in sales by the combustion engine vehicle and was eventually consigned to the scrap heap.