An electric car is an automobile driven by the electromotive force of one or more electric motors , generally powered by a storage battery , a fuel cell or even a heat engine coupled to an electric generator for electric hybrid cars .
Models in each of these sectors include the Tesla Model 3 and the Renault ZOE with batteries, the Toyota Mirai with a fuel cell, and the Chevrolet Volt with a range extender that makes a rechargeable electric hybrid .
The car is usually equipped with one or more electric motors whose total power can range from 15 to more than 400 kW , depending on the size of the vehicle, the use and the desired performance. For example :
49 kW ( 67 hp ) for a small four-seater sedan ( Mitsubishi i-Miev ) 2 ;
57 to 88 kW (depending on model) for the Renault Zoe 3 ;
150 kW for the Opel Ampera 4 ;
220 kW for the sporty electric Venturi Fétish 5 ;
397 kW for the Tesla Model S P90D .
A battery of accumulators most often, sometimes a fuel cell or other source of electrical energy , provides the engine with voltage. The accumulator batteries are themselves recharged by cable from an external power source; or by regenerative energy recovery during regenerative braking , for hybrid electric cars , the engine then operating as an electricity generator ; either by one or the other, for plug-in hybrid vehicles .
Battery capacity varies from 15 to 200 kWh , the total voltage being 300 to 500 V . The range of the vehicle depends directly on the capacity of the battery, the type of journey (flat, varied, urban, etc. ), the driving mode and accessories used (headlights, heating, air conditioning, wipers, etc.). ).
The manufacturers announced an average autonomy of 150 km until 2016 when most have announced, at the Paris Motor Show , the passage of this autonomy to 300 km , especially for the Renault Zoe, Opel Ampera-e and the Golf de Volkswagen. They plan for 2020 a range of 450 km for PSA to 600 km for VW and Mercedes; Tesla announces up to 600 km for its Model S as of 2017 6 .
In the state of technology before 2016, and according to the volume dedicated to them, the batteries made it possible to ensure a range of between 100 and 300 km and required charging times of approximately eight hours N 1 . Some electric vehicles are therefore equipped with internal electric generators, conventional thermal engine ensuring, depending on the situation, a part of the traction or a generator function alone for electric hybrids ; can also be embedded a fuel cell or solar panels integrated into the body, for particularly economical vehicles N 2 . The Tesla Model Sis an exception, with a range that exceeds 400 km (426 km according to the EPA and 480 km according to Tesla 7 ) with a proprietary fast loading system called ” Supercharger ” which allows to reach 240 km of autonomy in 30 minutes, with almost zero battery wear 8 .
The cost of the battery, necessarily higher than that of a simple gas tank, represents a significant part of the cost of the vehicle. Charging can, however, be more economical, at equal mileage, in countries where electricity is not itself predominantly made from fossil fuels. A solution adopted by some manufacturers is therefore to rent the battery N 3 , 9 , which has different advantages: the purchase price of the vehicle is less dissuasive; the exchange at the service station or at home is fast; at the end of its life, the battery is recovered for recycling. The unit cost of this recycling depends on the volume to be treated.
The generalization of this type of vehicle involves the development of related community equipment for off-site charging: charging stations (or exchange empty batteries for full batteries), additional power plants to provide energy substituting fuels current, consequent development of the battery industry, etc. The automotive industry and related industries are therefore undergoing a profound change.
A study conducted for Greenpeace , Friends of the Earth Europe and Transport and Environment and published in 2010, showed that in Europe , electric vehicles are more durable than vehicles equipped with the most efficient combustion engines 10 , 11 . Electric vehicles do not emit, at the time and place of their use, any gasneither any noise. The study also concluded that the increase in the number of electric vehicles, without modifying the current legislation that allowed manufacturers to use the sale of electric vehicles to offset the production of energy-intensive vehicles, could lead to both an increase in oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from the automotive sector in Europe, compared to a situation without electric vehicles, as well as an increase in coal- based electricity generation and nuclear , instead of an increase in renewable energy production .
The impact on the environment of the electric car is mainly related to the production of electricity , but also to the emissions of fine particles. An independent study conducted in 2014 by Transport & Mobility , a spin-off from the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven), reveals that the electric car produces slightly less fine particles than a new petrol car. This is partly due to faster wear of the brakes and tires on the road, due to the extra weight of the batteries. This wear remains low thanks to the braking energy recovery system and the increase in energy density.batteries (which represent 10 to 15% of the total weight of the vehicle) and the incentives to roll in a gentle way (to increase the autonomy of the vehicle anticipating the slowdowns). On the other hand, the electric car does not emit nitrous oxide , which leads the authors of the study to conclude that it is more environmentally friendly than diesel cars 12 .
The associated equipment must meet the safety requirements for the installations and be integrated into the future smart grid . This is to guarantee electric vehicles available, an optimized energy bill and a minimal carbon footprint.
The electric vehicle can be seen as an effective and concrete response to reduce the environmental footprint of transport. It is a missing link in the panorama of sustainable urban mobility (train, tram, bus, bicycle) and responds to the modes of travel of drivers who travel less than 20 km daily , mainly in the urban perimeter: individuals who use their vehicle for commuting and many business fleets.
One of the most difficult problems to overcome is the availability of lithium , the essential constituent of batteries suitable for automobile transport. Indeed, according to a book published in 2010, the resources used for this purpose would not exceed 4 million tonnes 13 . Knowing that the mass of lithium required for a vehicle is of the order of 5 kilos, and that there are currently 1.5 billion “oil” cars in the world, the reserves would not allow to relay the disappearance of the oil. But according to US Geological Survey (USGS) 2016 estimates , economically exploitable lithium reserves are estimated at 14 Mt (million tonnes) and resources identified at 40.7 Mt, largely sufficient to supply the entire world fleet 14 .
Solid batteries seem well placed to eventually succeed lithium-ion batteries . They promise increased storage capacity, better security, lower cost, greater durability and even faster charging. The liquid electrolyte is replaced by a solid ceramic material or a polymer; they do not contain any liquid or combustible components and therefore offer better safety, in particular by reducing the risk of fire. Hyundai, Toyota, Fisker, BMW, Google, Solvay, Bosch, Dyson, Continental are working to develop this technology 15 . Batteries sodium ion also seem a promising alternative, sodium being forty times more abundant than lithium
xix th century
In 1834 , the first electric vehicle, a miniature train 18 , was built by Thomas Davenport .
In 1835 , in Groningen , the Netherlands , Sibrandus Stratingh is developing an experimental electric car scaled 19 .
Other electric car prototypes were probably built before 20 , but it takes the better functioning of the batteries by Gaston Plante in 1865 and Camille Faure in 1881 , for electric cars really take flight 21 .
In November 1881, Gustave Trouvé presents an electric car at the International Electricity Exhibition in Paris 22 . At the end of the xix th century , three propulsion modes share the emerging market of the automobile : the ignition engine called “gasoline engine”, the electric motor and the steam engine . The electric car is a certain success in the last decade of the xix th century in Europe – especially in France 23 – the United States 24. These are mainly taxi fleets for urban service, instead of cabs and other horse rental cars. These cars were equipped with lead batteries weighing several hundred kilograms which were recharged at night in specialized stations. For the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race of 1895 , an electric car is on the starting line, led by Charles Jeantaud , coachbuilder, specialist in this type of engine. For this race, he creates a six-seater wagon with wooden wheels. This 7 horsepower car has 38 Fulmen accumulators of 15 kg each. The autonomy is about fifty kilometers, at the average of 24 to 30 km / h , which forces him to have new batteries throughout the course. But he must give up in Orleans on the return. From 1897 to 1906, his main French competitor will be engineer Louis Kriéger (de) .
In the United States Andrew L. Riker wins competitions around New York between 1896 and 1900 , on his models Riker Electric (in particular against Henry Morris in Providence the first time).
Then there are some key vehicles like the Never pleased made by CGA Dogcart of the Belgian engineer Camille Jenatzy , which exceeds for the first time the 100 km / h , reaching 105.88 km / h the April 29 , 1899. The Belgian then moved to Paris hassle to Count Chasseloup- Laubat Gaston of the land speed record in the year 1899. This has Jeantaud model Duke Power, and each man gets three records in less than six months. It will take exactly 100 years to talk about approved records in this area.
xx th century
In 1900 , out of 4,192 vehicles manufactured in the United States , 1,575 were electric, 936 gasoline, and 1,681 steamed 25 . Patrick Fridenson notes that”The United States has shown early interest in mechanical cars. But they lost time compared to Europe, giving priority until 1901 to steam and electric cars. These two types of cars have a higher quality there than in Europe. Electric cars are also recommended for their ease of use, which particularly attracts women. The mediocre roads in the countryside concentrate the circulation of new cars in the cities, which is better suited to electric or steam cars . The United States dethroned France as the first car producer worldwide in 1904-1905 26 .
In 1942, a small electric car called the “electric egg” circulates in Paris. It is the work of a French engineer of the SNCF, Paul Arzens (1903-1990) 27 .
The gasoline automobile ends up supplanting the electric car. In a 1955 article 28 , John B. Rae offers a deterministic explanation for the failure of the electric automobile: it would only suffer from its intrinsic flaws in comparison with the advantages of gasoline-fueled technology and it was inevitable that the latter are necessary. Rae said that the development of the electric car at the beginning of the century, is a “parasitic excrescence of the automotive industry, and that his death was not mourned by those who had had the unfortunate idea to invest their money 28 . ” Since 1955, most historians have accepted the explanation Rae 29, with the exception of Rudi Volti 30 who is the first to question the thesis of determinism 29 . Several kinds of technical and economic reasons were and are advanced to explain the intrinsic superiority of the car gasoline 31 . However, in the early 2000s , a book by David A. Kirsch 32 defends a more nuanced perspective. Kirsch supports, in fact, by relying on sociology and economics of innovation (in particular those of Paul A. David ), that this technology could have developed in particular segments of the automotive market, particularly for urban fleets, if contingent factorsand social did not oppose it. Other authors 33 explain that the electric car failed because of cultural rather than technical problems.
At the beginning of the last century, the technology of the electric car might have been able to constitute a viable industry, at least in certain sectors (for urban transport), but in fact it was not the case. Be that as it may, the idea that it remains a viable and promising alternative or supplement to gasoline vehicles has never completely disappeared: the hopes placed in the technology of electric cars are old 34 , 35 . In the late 1960s , the electric car enjoyed a renewed interest 36 , thanks in particular to the development of the fuel cell , and is, for example, presented on television as a technology that can be imposed in the relatively short term
xxi th century
At the beginning of xxi th century reappear in the press articles announcing the next emergence of this technology, under pressure from the increase in oil prices and the development of environmental concerns 38 , 39 and, with the latest technological advances 40 .
As of 2007 Roger Schroer obtains land speed records in electric vehicles, at more than 487 km / h , on Venturi Buckeye Bullet type 2.5 and 3 (called ” Venturi Jamais Contente “), and in 2014 starts the championship of Formula E FIA on Spark SRT 01E ; organized by the FIA , it uses single-seaters of Formula I which technology is changing every year. A new championship of electric cars this time without drivers , Roborace, and also organized by the FIA, must see the day.