As an Automobile Engineering student, I know a bit about vehicles and in this article, I’ll attempt to present a complete breakdown on why Electric vehicles are much better than the outdated gasoline and diesel-powered automobiles. I’ll highlight all the negative aspects of the common automobile technology and explain the advantages of EVs over IC engine vehicles.
I’ll delve a bit deeper into the technical aspects but I’ll also try to keep it simple and concise considering the general readers who aren’t well-acquainted with the technical terms.
Not many people are aware of the fact that Electric vehicles aren’t a new innovation but it simultaneously existed alongside fossil-fuel powered vehicles in the early era.
In fact, it was more popular than other kinds of automobile technologies. But due to the limited advancements in battery technology at that time, electric vehicles were deemed relatively inefficient. Therefore, fuel powered vehicles gained more popularity among the masses later on, and massive funding was poured onto it by the governments and wealthy investors for its development.
Due to low funding for research, expensive battery manufacturing costs, limited technology and less mass interest, development of Electric vehicles was almost dead and EVs were left behind in the race.
It’s only been a few years Electric vehicles have been resurrected and serious efforts are being put by some large automobile companies to develop the EV technology.
I’ll try to explain the major points why the commonly used automobiles today are outdated and why we need to adopt electric vehicles.
Complicated and Outdated Technology
A typical IC engine alone has more than hundred moving parts and thousands of major static parts.
Internal combustion engines are one of the most complicated technologies mankind has ever developed. There are so much of engineering principles crammed into it, that one needs to have a vast amount of knowledge in Physics to grasp the complete inner workings of a typical IC engine. Even the tiniest of details you find while dissembling an Engine part has a significant function and a deeper meaning to its structural design.
With every small advancement and with every new iteration, the anatomy & construction design gets more and more complicated and new accessories and parts are being added every day with an attempt to cover up the flawed base-technology. But the new designs aren’t much effective and every new feature that gets added up has its own trade-offs…
They’re just filling up the bigger holes by digging up other smaller ones .
As you can see in the image, it only has two major parts in which the rotor is the only moving part. The construction design is similar to most of the other motors used in everyday machines. Most EVs use 3-Phase 4-Pole AC Induction Motor invented by sir Nikola Tesla in the 19th century.
There are only three major parts in an electric vehicle… the battery, the inverter and the electric motor. EVs are simple in design, efficient, noise-free and better than IC engines in power output.
A wise man once said,
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
– E. F. Schumacher
Why use a complicated mess, when there’s a simpler alternative?
IC engine vehicles have served us for decades but considering the negative effects on environment, cluttered and outdated design, inefficient energy to work conversion ratio and massive size & weight, it’s time we upgrade our vehicles with better technology. It’s clear that EVs will be more preferable to the masses in the near future because people will always shift towards the technology which is less complicated and user-friendly.
IC Engine Vehicles Vs Electric Vehicles
One of the main reason why EVs are more superior than it’s IC engine equipped predecessors is due to the reason that when you use a powerful motor to propel the vehicle instead of an IC engine, you get significant advantages like costs reduction, weight reduction, space reduction, noise reduction, pollution reduction e.t.c, with an increment in power output, efficiency, speed and manoeuvrability.
Unlike the traditional automobiles which use mechanical linkages, hydraulic & pneumatic pipes to run most of its systems, Most of the automobile systems in EVs are electronic which not only increases the accuracy and efficiency of the systems but also reduces a hell lot of weight, material costs & space. Plus it requires very little maintenance and the upkeep prices are low.
Drawbacks of IC engine vehicles
- IC engine vehicles consist of more than 10,000 moving parts and hence they produce excessive vibrations and it’s very noisy in operation.
- It emits a lot of pollutants like Nitrous oxides, Carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, sulphur oxides and various particulate matters.
- IC engines are energy inefficient and convert only 30% percent of the energy input into useful work. Rest is lost in heat and friction.
- Further power loss occurs in the bulky transmission system during the power transfer through the engine to the wheels.
- Expensive in the long term.
Advantages of Electric Vehicles
- EVs have less than 200 moving parts and it produces very less vibration which results in a noise-free operation.
- EVs are eco-friendly and it produces zero emissions.
- EV converts about 90% of the energy input into useful work.
- It consists of simplified power-train in which the electric motors are in direct drive with the axle so there’s no friction loss in transmission.
- It’s cost-effective in the long-term
Safety Issues & Maintenance issues
In the traditional IC engine vehicles, The engine generates power through internal combustion of the fuel inside the combustion chamber of an engine where deadly explosions of the air-fuel mixture are occurring every second. The rapid expansion of gases exerts a large amount of pressure on the pistons inside the combustion chamber which in turn transfers power to a crankshaft through a connecting rod. This way the linear motion of the piston converted into rotary motion which is then used to rotate the wheels through a power transmission system.
Another safety issue is the engine seizure problem which happens pretty often when one of the other systems like lubrication system or the cooling system of the engine fails to perform effectively. The cylinder blocks are precisely machined by providing sufficient gap between the cylinder walls and the piston to let it move up & down with less friction, and at the same time, it’s made as tight as possible with very little clearance so that the lubrication oil beneath the piston doesn’t enter the combustion chamber. It’s all done accounting the normal operating temperature of the engine and coefficient of the expansion of metals.
This engineering setup works well under normal conditions but there are times when there’s insufficient cooling or insufficient lubrication in the Engine parts due to various reasons (like leaks and damaged parts in the cooling system & lubrication system) which causes the engine to overheat and exceed extreme temperatures. As the temperature rises, excessive expansion of the metals causes the piston surface & cylinder walls to collide and the engine comes to a dead stop. Countless of deadly accidents that have already occurred due to engine failure and engine overheating problems.
There’s also another major issue known as ‘hydrostatic lock’ that occurs when the coolant, lubrication oil or water gets inside the combustion chamber due to some mechanical failure or leaks. And since liquids are incompressible, the piston suffers a violent jerk when it tries to compress the air-fuel mixture + the liquid inside the combustion chamber. Not only it brings the engine to a dead stop and damages the parts like piston, connecting rod and cylinder walls heavily; It also puts you at a serious risk of an accident.