The automotive industry is midway through a revolution. For more than a hundred years, human beings have been getting from place to place via one mode of propulsion: the internal combustion engine. For all of this invention’s many advantages, it has a few glaring flaws, not least of which are environmental ones. Thus, the transition is being made to an electric alternative – in many cases via an intermediary ‘hybrid’ model that has a foot in both camps.
But exactly what are the differences between these technologies, and is it worth buying electric yet? Let’s take a look and see if we can shed a little more light on the matter.
Petrol and diesel engines work according to the same basic principles. A fuel source is compressed, and then ignited. This causes it to expand, releasing energy into a piston, which in turn drives an axle, to which are attached the wheels of your vehicle. The waste product generated during this reaction, namely the exhaust fumes, are then released via a separate pipe. Engines can have as little as three or four cylinders (in the case of a small hatchback) to as many as twelve (in the case of a modern supercar).
Design engineers have brought things forward considerably over decades, but they haven’t fundamentally departed from the basic principles upon which every internal combustion engine is based.
The electric car isn’t a new invention. But it’s only recently that the technology has become truly roadworthy. Firms like Tesla and Zero motorcycles have made electric transport palatable to the style-conscious motorist, and just about every other major manufacturer is at least working on something electric.
Electric motors dispense with many of the moving parts of an ICE. Instead, they use a series of tightly packed conductive wires to induce a magnetic field, and thereby cause a series of rotating magnets to turn around an axis.
This method of propulsion is several times more efficient than the traditional one. But what’s held the technology back until very recently is the efficiency of available batteries. With an explosive increase in lithium-ion battery capacity has come a series of vehicles capable of travelling hundreds of miles on a single charge.
Sitting between these two camps are hybrid vehicles which incorporate both electric and internal-combustion engines. The batteries of a hybrid vehicle are constantly charged by the rotation of the traditional engine, which means we don’t have to worry about range, but we can still benefit from some of the efficiency-savings of an electric vehicle.
If you’re looking to limit the cost of travel, but you don’t have the upfront liquidity necessary to purchase a costlier, more efficient car, then you might consider finance. You’ll find car finance, even for bad credit, available from reputable online dealers.