Over the last decade there has been a shift in how cars are viewed and used. As a result of specific events such as the emissions fraud "dieselgate" scandle, and as awareness of the effects of car exhaust fumes on health and the natural environment increases, the share of the car market occupied by hybrid or fully electric vehicles has rapidly increased. Many governments have also provided financial incentives to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are therefore a rapidly growing market, and several of the companies competing for a share of this market are attempting to differentiate themselves from their rivals using technological innovations.
A key issue with electric car technology is how easy the cars are to live with; until electric cars match or approach the convenience and speed with which traditional internal combustion engine vehicles can be refuelled, it is difficult to see how electric vehicles can become truly ubiquitous. Two overlapping areas in which advances in electric vehicle technology can help to address this issue are improved battery technology and improved charger technology.
Ford are working on the next generation of batteries with investments in all solid state batteries (ASSB), which promise improvements in stored energy (and hence driving range) and safety relative to existing lithium ion designs. Other manufacturers are focussing on the speed with which batteries can be charged; the "Supercharge" points compatible with Tesla vehicles are becoming an increasingly common sight at motorway service stations, and an industry consortium including BMW and
Porsche have recently unveiled a next generation charging system, claiming a charge sufficient for 100km of driving can be delivered in less than three minutes.
Fast charge systems may be complemented, or potentially replaced, by inductive charging systems which do not require a connection cable between the car and the charging station. This technology can be used to increase the convenience of charging a vehicle, as inductive charging points can be fitted outside homes or in car parks and can then be used to automatically charge an electric vehicle with minimal input from the driver. The Norwegian city of Oslo plans to provide inductive charging taxi ranks for electric taxis, allowing the vehicles to be charged while queueing for passengers. This is part of ambitious schemes for all taxis in the city to be electric by 2023. The Norwegian government also has a goal for all new cars sold in the country from 2025 to be fully electric.
These are just a few of the recent developments in electric car technology. It seems clear that a future in which electric vehicles outnumber traditional cars can only be a matter of time.
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