This page represents an overview of electric vehicles at 2023 based upon personal research, no representation of accuracy of information is made.
Much can be said of the history and development of electric vehicles and electromobility both globally and at local level in the United Kingdom. In 1832, Scottish inventor Robert Anderson was credited with inventing a first electric vehicle link opens in new window
ZF's website also gives a comprehensive history of electric vehicles link
1930's - Inventor, Nikola Tesla is said to have developed an electric car in the 1930's known as the Pierce Arrow.
100% electric vehicles do not have an internal combustion engine therefore consume no combustible fuels during driving. In the words of Greased lightning...It's Electrifying!
EVs have low emissions meaning better quality breathing air and less noise in comparison to Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles (ICEVs).
The key benefit of pure electric vehicles is said to be Zero exhaust emissions, with hybrid vehicles (with ICEV) having reduced exhaust emissions than fully fossil fuel powered combustion engine driven vehicles. Lowered environmental emissions means less pollution at a time when governments are seeking to reduce carbon footprint and offset climate change said to be caused by greenhouse gases and heating of the Earth's atmosphere. The long term effect of climate change is rising sea levels and subsequent flooding due to global melting of glaciers.
International agreements promote government policies to encourage motorists to dispose of combustion engined transport in favour of electric transport mobility termed electromobility. Incentives include heavy taxation on traditional fossil fuel powered transport compared to low taxes and finance incentives to encourage purchase of electric vehicles.
Government ambitions indicate that target dates are set for terminating manufacture of fossil fuel powered vehicles.
The UK government is providing financial incentives to operate electric vehicles through the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV).
Plug in Vehicles Grant scheme offers discounts built in to the purchase price of the vehicle.
Electric motors develop higher torque at higher revs per minute (rpm) compared to the internal combustion engine (ICE) which produces peak torque in a narrow rpm band.
Further benefits of electric motors include simplicity with less moving parts than a traditional combustion engine and low noise with reduced vibration.
Electronic control systems mean soft start programming is available allowing gradual increase of speed for smoother driving without the need for manually operated clutches. Electronic control of battery charging can increase battery cell lifespan further increasing efficiency.
Smart Rechargeable Electrical Energy Storage Systems (REESS) have potential to in feed the national electricity grid from high power vehicle batteries offering increased sustainablity. Vehicle battery packs can also be used as a component to build off grid power storage systems for domestic dwellings.
Less moving parts than internal combustion engine powered vehicles
Development of magnetic resonance wireless power transfer for vehicle battery charging.
Development of autonomous (self driving) vehicles : see Google Waymo : Self driving car is a progressing technology. Image sensing, global positioning and robotics can be integrated with electric vehicles for both transport, constructon and security applications.
At March 2023 upfront capital cost of the cheapest new electric cars starts at around £8k for the most basic upgraded 4 wheel bike with most small electric cars being in the £30k bracket upwards. Capital purchase cost of EV's is not strictly a disadvantage when whole life asset cost is calculated taking account of purchase incentives and potential to use renewble energy technologies such as solar, hydro, and wind power generation.
Engineers are actively working to reduce the problems assosciated with electric vehicles :
Constant demand for electrical power; demand and loads may be controlled by computer software using the vehicle communications networks.
Limited availability of high current 3-phase charging points across the UK - more become available as network develops.
Capacity of electric vehicle charging points is restricted by available power supply network especially in rural areas such as Shropshire & Mid-Wales.
Fast charging requires availability of local industrial 3 phase power supply.
The range of an EV depends on the battery capacity and output which has many variables including temperature and load. Cold temperatures reduce EV range.
As battery efficiency deteriorates vehicle range may also deteriorate. Electric vehicle batteries are currently deemed near end of life at around eighty percent of new capacity.
EV battery range is measured in Watt Hours per Kilometer ((Wh/km) making economy comparisons difficult against engine powered vehicles.
Energy Density per unit volume of batteries is lower than petrochemical fuels meaning proportion of vehicle load which is fuel is higher.
Battery capacity is proportional to time taken to recharge batteries. Fast charging to eighty percent capacity is achievable however 100% charge requires extended time.
Overcharging or Undercharging of batteries may reduce lifespan. Battery management systems limit this problem.
Risk of Electric Shock ; Training, safe working procedures, following manufacturers data, insulation, and warning labelling, can reduce this risk. Towing may generate unwanted electrical energy posing risk of shock.
Fire risks assosciated with thermal runaway of batteries ; temperature monitoring and control can reduce this risk.
RF and Electromagnetic radiation ; Electrical circuits can act as an aerial. Design and shielding can reduce risk.
Magnetic fields can cause interference with sensitive electronic equipment and also cause unexpected movement.
Danger of release of explosive gases as electrolysis takes place in battery packs and also from fuel evaporation creating highly flammable gases.
Corrosion causes deterioration of electrical connections.
Increased demand for Cobalt, Copper and conductive metals ; Recycling provides a solution.
Controversial mining of non-renewable Lithium salts used to build Lithium battery packs. Millions of litres of water are required to produce relatively small quantities of Lithium salts. Child labour has been used in third world countries to mine Lithium Salts however reputable battery supply companies only use ethhically sourced raw materials.
Electric vehicles are so quiet that pedestrians may not hear an EV approaching introducing accident risks
Independent garages have constantly faced the need for costly investment in technician training and new EV diagnostic equipment which is first rolled out to main dealers.
ICE vehicles had to meet standards such as EOBD to allow basic diagnostic equipment to communicate with a vehicle however EV's will face new protocols with the ability for remote diagnosis 'in the cloud' creating new ties to the vehicle manufacturer likely to create cloaked anti-competitive practices and potentially increase repair costs to the end user.
Technological development from electric vehicles to fully autonomous software defined vehicles connected to the internet of things (IOT).
Hazards with autonomous vehicles not recognising safety critical situations, damage, potential cyberattacks & hacking driving legal liability to new levels.
Connected vehicles risk Man in the Middle (MiTM) attacks leading to denial of service, in plain English your car is turned in to a brick!
Might be a new angle on car insurance risk.
Increased use of personal data facilitated by Block-chain technology including vehicles transmitting data such as seat position which could be used to calculate such things as the height of vehicle users which enables detailed user profiling.
There are risks associated with any transport system, many of which can be diminished by clever engineering, common sense and care. EV's have to pass rigorous crash testing and safety standards before being allowed on to the UK road network.
Two of the most important questions when considering electric vehicle purchase is "how far will it travel before the battery runs out ?" and "how long does it take to recharge the batteries ?"
EV buyers and operators may wish to compare vehicle travel distance range.
Range will be affected by battery capacity, vehicle loading, thermal management and electrical loads. UN/ECE regulation 101 compares electrical energy consumption based on Watt Hours / Kilometer (Wh/km)
User demands from electric vehicles may be dictated by average journey distance and travelling time.
Recharge time depends on the size and type of battery, vehicle weight and load affected by driving style, existing charge level of battery, and electrical supply charging current availability from static battery charge points.
Electrically powered vehicles can be linked to telematics systems for fleet management. Sophisticated electrical current control of motor during driving and generator charging of battery ensures maximum range.
Commercial vehicle range is reduced as load is increased.
A Permanent magnet electric motor is supplied high current and voltage to create high rotary torque output.
Motor torque output is measured in either kilowatts, Newton Metres, or Horsepower.
A generic electric motor torque output graph generally shows a constant increase in power as revolutions per minute (rpm) speed increases.
An inverter changes the characteristics of electric current from direct current (dc) to alternating current (ac).
Microcontrol of variable current frequency allows the inverter to control the speed of EV electric motors.
Some of the inverter input electrical power energy is lost as heat reducing output efficiency therefore temperature control is imprtant.
The VCU accepts driver input signals and processes to give outputs
Function of a DC-DC battery charger is to control charging current from a dc power supply to a second battery. A secondary function of the DC-DC converter enables control module low voltage (LV) power supplies to be maintained when the 12v battery is in a low state of charge (SOC)
Fuses form a safety device to disconnect electrical power in the event of a fault.
High voltage (HV) vehicle electrical cabling is colour coded Orange for easy identification
The BMS module allows monitoring of individual battery cells to optimise battery charging for peak power and efficiency.
EV electrical connection to allow battery charging from a fixed power supply eg. Mains power source.
A wide range of vehicles offer electromobility
There is a whole range of electric motorcycles on the market from electric mopeds through to the worlds fastest production electric motorcycle, the Lightning LS218
, capable of zapping around at speeds of 200 mph plus.
Electric Motorcycle Specifications quote travelling distance range of anything between 60 and 400 miles on a full charge.
Typical electric motorcycles may be capable of 0-60 in 3.0 seconds whilst offering around 150 miles range on a single 60 minute fast charge.
Electric vehicles for disabled persons require design to be accessibile, easy to use with restricted mobility ,portable, with ease of battery charging
Many manufacturers have introduced a range of electric cars.
Electric vans have Small Medium Enterprise (SME) business applications for fleet transport use offering cost advantages over ICE vans. Much research has been carried out in to electric vans by stakeholders such as energy companies for example, UK Power Networks in the "White Van Plan".
Electric HGV trucks offer low noise benefits for example Dennis Eagle's electric waste collection vehicle combines low emissions with telematics technology to enhance fleet management. Low noise operation can be a key factor for utility vehicles operating in urban areas.
Good sized vehicle body roofs offer space to utilise the potential of solar panels.
Electric powered public transport has been a common sight in cities using tram networks. From electric minibuses to electric luxury coaches. There is an extensive list of manufacturers of electric buses..
The agricultural industry offers huge potential to exploit electric vehicle technologies to reduce emissions, and integrate precision management systems. Kinetic energy could be recovered from power take off shaft rotational braking as well as vehicle speed.
From the electric garden mower to innovate diy conversion of groundcare machinery. The horticultural industry is embracing green energy due to low vibration and convenience.
John Deere has pioneered the development of its electric SESAM tractor model.
Key features of electric tractors and groundcare machinery :
Electric excavator ranges are being developed by manufacturers such as JCB offering many benefits.
Zero emissions mini excavators could be used inside buildings or underground for construction and demolition work.
Reduced noise could extend contractor working hours in urban environments.
Photovoltaic Solar panel arrays provide an income opportunity for land owners but care must be taken to avoid removing land from food production use.
Electric forklifts have been in use for many years. Electric forklifts have an onboard battery pack normally recharged by plugging in to a mains supply whilst the truck is out of use. Traction motors are used to provide drive and hydraulic power. Zero emissions and low noise benefits for factory environments.
Hybrid electric vehicles are complex and may have both low (12v, 24v, 42v) and high voltage battery systems, an internal combustion engine, combined generator / battery powered electric motor, and driveline consisting of either single clutch (mild hybrid) or multiple clutches (strong hybrid), and automatic transmission with mechatronic or hydrostatic actuation providing controlled torque output.
The engine provides mechanical power to move the vehicle.
The batteries store energy to power an electric motor so that short journeys can be made under electrical power. The battery does not have an external charging source on HEV models.
HEV's offer the flexibility of running on fuel , only electrical power or a combination of both.
Hydrogen fuel cells offer rapid refuelling and an alternative to batteries as a power source by producing direct current electricity from the chemical process of electrolysis between Cathode (-ve) and Anode (+ve) through a liquid or solid electrolyte.
The Hydrogen fuel cell utilises a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) as a solid electrolyte, used to combine Hydrogen and Oxygen to form Water.
Temperature changes can cause a problem. Hydrogen must be stored at high pressure. An Inverter is required to change electrical output from DC to AC for powering AC electric motors. Main current disadvantage is cost of production of the fuel cell.
Monday 13th August 2018 : The University of Glasgow claims development of a "flow battery system" that increases energy storage and can cut charging times to seconds and store energy as Hydrogen gas or Electricity for use in hybrid vehicles.
PHEV's have both an engine, generator and electric motor drive, and automatic gearbox.
PHEV Batteries can also be recharged from an external charging point for example from a special charging outlet wired to domestic mains supply.
PHEV batteries can be recharged by engine driven generator or by regenerative braking.
Purely electric vehicles have no combustion engine therefore offer comfort with low noise and reduced maintenance costs. Power source is large, high voltage batteries supplying an electric motor with output via final drive or individual electric wheel motors. A clutch and gearbox is usually absent with forward and reverse being controlled electrically.
Batteries are recharged by an external power source (mains) or by regenerative braking.
AC from the alternator generator is rectified to DC to charge batteries by an inverter.
Battery voltage is changed from DC to AC by the inverter to power the motor. Benefits from low maintenance costs due to no engine oil changes, no gearbox, no clutch. High Voltage Cables are identified by orange insulation.
An engine driven generator provides additional battery charging to extend driving range. Drive is electric. (GM Chevrolet Volt / Ampera)
The vehicle battery is an electrochemical storage device providing a reservoir of electrical energy.
A battery pack is made up of a number of galvanic cells consisting of
The Anode (+ve plate) electrode
The Cathode (-ve plate) electrode
Electrons flow from one electrode,through the electrolyte, on to the other electrode, during charge and discharge cycles.
Electrolysis or Electron flow is termed Current (I) and is measured in Amps(A) creating a potential difference (p.d) in Volts across batttery cell terminals.
Battery pack voltage is increased by linking battery cells in series. Battery pack current is increased by linking battery cells in parallel.
Individual battery cells may have different states of charge (SOC) so cell balancing may be required to get optimum battery performance, this is done by control of charging done by a battery management system (BMS).
Battery level guages measure Depth of Charge (DOH), State of Health (SOH), and State of Charge (SoC) in Coulombs or as a percentage. Instrumentation drift can occur over a period of time as equipment deteriorates. Inaccurate battery guage readings may require periodic recalibration of instrumentation and temperature correction.
Thermal runaway : Temperature control of batteries can also be problematic especially in hot climates or at freezing temperatures.
Battery cooling systems such as immersion cooling have been developed to enable faster charging and minimise fire risk.
Lithium Ion is commonly used for vehicle batteries.
Electric vehicle batteries can be charged from an external fixed installation (A.C. Mains, D.C. Supply network, or Generator) and to an extent by regenerative braking during driving.
Battery capacity is proportional to time required to charge.
Bigger batteries take longer to charge.
Electric vehicle batteries can be charged from a domestic 16 amp supply via special charging point.
Electric vehicle charging outlets have communication with onboard vehicle systems for battery management and climate control.
Higher voltage (electrical pressure) allows more current flow (Amps) resulting in faster charging times.
Fast charging at higher voltage from 3 phase industrial supplies can be accomplished in shorter periods of time using dedicated equipment to achieve around 80% SOC within rapid charging times of 30 minutes.
Replacement of the 12 volt vehicle battery is likely to require reset, battery registration, and calibration of the battery management system (BMS) using specialist vehicle diagnostic equipment to configure correct parameters.
Replacement of the traction battery pack will require specialised lifting equipment.
A network of electric vehicle charging points is already in place across the UK. Many applications (apps) are available for mobile phones to show local EV charge point locations.
Long journey route planning may need to take account of charge point location.
Electric vehicle batteries can be recharged from the existing UK 230v domestic supply using applicable charger , this takes around 8 hours (source: Nissan website).
Electric vehicles may be charged via various charging modes depending on availability and type of power supplies, cable, and connectors:
Mode 1 Uses a charging lead from domestic 230v single phase supply.
Typical vehicle charging time around 8 hours to theoretical 80% charge (domestic supply without communication).
3 pin UK domestic plug BS1363 - 230v AC supply
Typical vehicle charging time around 3 hours to theoretical 80% charge.
IEC 60309 (BS 4343) Industrial Blue round 3 pin connector plug 230v AC Supply
from dedicated supply point with charger to vehicle communication : Typical vehicle charging time around 1 hour to theoretical 80% charge. (Communication with vehicle)
from dedicated charge station with charger to vehicle communication.
CHAdeMO - Japanese Electric Vehicles - DC
CCS - Combined Charging System - European Electric Vehicles - DC
Type 1 - Electric Vehicles - American SAE J1772 ( 5 Pin Plug) - AC
Applications include :
Chevrolet Volt - Citroen CZero - Ford Focus - Mitsubishi - Nissan Leaf - Peugeot Ion - Renault Fluence / Kangoo -Toyota Prius - Vauxhall Ampera
Type 2 Mennekes IEC 62196 - 2 ( 7 Pin Plug : Has 3 large pins for main power and two communications pins plus two other.) - European Electric Vehicles AC
Tesla type 2
Innovative systems for wireless power transfer to electric vehicles (SAE J2954) are being researched and developed by some companies which will reshape vehicle transport.
Qualified electrical installation of fixed EV charging points is required by law to meet regulations.
UK Government encourages installation of electric vehicle charging points with a range of grant schemes.
see UK OLEV Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme.
The IET publishes a Code of Practice for Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment Installation book.
Charging cost will depend on battery charge capacity , level, source and cost of energy supplied.
A network of fixed EV charging points is connected to the National grid.
Savings may be made at off peak rates. Alternative energy sources may reduce cost. Smart metering devices and battery charge controllers may also reduce long term cost.
Off-grid installations include stand alone generators and photovoltaic solar panel charging systems.
Regenerative braking utilises the similarity between a D.C. motor and D.C. generator (dynamo) to return electrical current back to the supply battery.
To generate electricity by electromagnetic induction requires a magnetic field , and rotary motion of a wound rotor housed, in a stator. Torque is required to turn the rotor shaft whilst power is generated.
Regenerative braking uses a generator fitted to the driveline to slow down the vehicle.
Regenerative braking was commonly used on commercial vehicles (retarder) as a way to make the brake friction linings last longer by absorbing momentum and kinetic energy from the vehicle driveline which would otherwise be lost as heat.
Rheostatic braking using resistors offers an alternative to regenerative braking and is used on electric trains (source: http://www.railway-technical.com).
Braking generates heat which could be channelled to provide vehicle heating.
There are many designs of both Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC) electric motors used in vehicles. Electric motors can be used in transport, agricultural, plant and machinery applications to drive hydraulic systems.
Electric motors work on magnetic principles, by passing electrical current through wires wound in coils (windings) creating magnetic fields. This also produces heat.
A motor consists of a Stator (static magnetic field) and a Rotor (rotating magnetic field).
Reverse Gear : The direction of rotation of a DC motor may be reversed by controlling (switching) the direction of current flow and resulting magnetic fields, through stator or rotor armature.
Torque load affects motor temperature and electrical current consumed and is proportional to load. Environmental climate also affects motor temperature and need for cooling. Overheating an electric motor can cause insulation to deteriorate and soldered joints to melt. Motor temperature control increases lifespan and safety.
Electric vehicles can accelerate quickly and smoothly providing sufficient current and voltage is supplied and controlled.
Current affects Torque and heat losses : Voltage affects speed : Reduced battery voltage and current will slow motor speed and output.
Transistors can operate as both switches and amplifiers. therefore electric motor control circuits can be switched on or off with speed and torque control by utilising IGBT (insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors) (which are heavy duty transistors) and Thyristors in motor control circuit design.
D.C Motors with commutators and carbon brushes can be subject to arcing, carbon brushes sticking in brush holders , and subsequent commutator damage. have advantages because no carbon brushes to wear out therefore lower servicing costs and increased lifespan.
The design of motors is developing and offering compact size combined with reduced wear and liquid cooling. Brushless electronically controlled motors consisting of wound stator coils (phase windings), position sensors, and a permanent magnet rotor have advantages because increased control is possible together with no carbon brushes to wear out therefore lower servicing costs and increased lifespan.
Manufacturers warranties may rely on the correct vehicle maintenance and charging of the vehicle battery. Periodic software updates may be required to validate insurance and warranty. Battery packs may have warranty against failure but can nevertheless degrade over time, requiring expensive replacement.
Electric vehicles contain stored energy introducing hidden risks such as Arc flash and unexpected movement.
Technicians servicing electric vehicles require specialist training & qualification to understand and work on powertrain systems fitted to electric vehicles presenting dangers of
electric shock and high voltage (HV).
Technicians must follow manufacturers service procedures, HSE guidance and approved codes of practice.
Drivers and operators of electric vehicles are also likely to require specialist safety training
Emergency Services personnel may require specialist EV training to deal with critical situations where danger of HV electric shock is present.
Many companies seek to recruit trained electric vehicle technicians, autoelectricians, engineers and consultants. Research and development of electric vehicle technologies is a growing industry attracting government and innovtion funding.
The legal aspects of Electric Vehicles are extensive. Key points relate to
Contract Law, Consumer Rights, Manufacturer's liability, Construction&Use, Intellectual property, Legislation, and of course, emissions.
Drivers data storage has implications under data protection.
Electric vehicles must have type approval and meet similar safety standards to standard vehicles.
Electric vehicle chargers must incorporate an overcurrent protective device (fuse / circuit breaker) in each live conductor.
Health and Safety executive provides guidance on electric and hybrid vehicle safety.
The Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 c.18 s4.4 has particular references to safety critical software updates and its effect on liability of the vehicle insurer.
Crash detection by safety restraint airbag systems may be linked to provide electrical isolation in the event of an impact.
Reduced vehicle noise can affect other road users who may not hear the approach of a low noise vehicle.
Danger of Electric Shock, Burns and Explosions from High Voltages. Danger of Arc Flash.
Specialist training is required for persons dealing with electric vehicles including maintenance, emergency, and breakdown recovery personnel.
End of Life Electric Vehicles introduce specialist waste disposal requirements for items such as batteries. Producers, manufacturers and importers of vehicles are responsible for compliance with ELV legislation which is policed in the UK by DEFRA. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations may also apply.
A huge quantity of batteries will be produced by scrapping electric vehicles .There is an emerging market for ELV secondhand battery packs to be used for domestic energy storage from PV solar panel , Windpower , and alternative off grid energy sources. High capacity battery packs are also in demand for use on vans used for mobile businesses such as catering. The Lithium taken from batteries could be used to produce greases.
Design and prototype development costs of both vehicles and charging network.
Cost of production , tooling, marketing , equipping the aftermarket, technical training.
Batteries : Weight of batteries : Bigger batteries = more range but are heavier so more power is used to move a greater load. Battery lifespan
Recycling costs : Some batteries may be classified as hazardous waste.
A few developing ideas:
Feasability of any idea is questionable when engineers examine ideas;
Could a ground source heat pump be combined with traditional boiler to produce a steam powered generator for battery charging. The charged battery could then be used for domestic and transport energy supply.
Could food waste be processed in biodigester to provide methane for fuel to burn to heat water to steam for generator to batteries to transport.
Could a Tesla coil with electronic interference suppression be used for wireless battery charging.
Could vehicle heating be provided by ducting air over resistor packs to use the heat discharged during regenerative braking ?
Could solar panels be built in to vehicle body components eg the vehicle roof to allow additional battery charging ?
New developments in electric vehicle technology allow manufacturers to go one step further, literally, with electric vehicles that have legs which can walk over rugged ground. Of course some of this new technology has been around a few years already in construction and agricultural industries where equipment manufacturers have used jack legs to raaise machines out of the mud.
This list is by no means comprehensive:
United Nations ECE R100 revision 3: Uniform provisions concerning the approval of vehicles with regard to specifci requirements for the electric powertrain.
Road Traffic Act
Vehicle Type Approval
Directive 2000/53/EC : End of life vehicles
Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
HSE Guidance note GS38
1. 'The story behind the horseless carriage' viewed online at https://web.archive.org/web/20120621030141/https://www.gm.ca/inm/gmcanada/english/about/OverviewHist/hist_auto.html
2. 'Office for Zero Emission Vehicles' viewed online at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/office-for-zero-emission-vehicles accessed 14th March 2023.
BS EN ISO17409 : 2015
BS EN ISO17409 : 2017
Lu,J.,and Hossain,J.,Vehicle-to-Grid: Linking Electrc Vehicles to the Smart Grid. 1st edition, Stevenage,UK. The Institute of Engineering and Technology.
The Telegraph : "How does a fuel cell car work and should I buy a hydrogen car?"
The Institute of the Motor Industry offers a range of education about electric vehicles. Engineering.com electric vehicle article viewed online 8th June 2019.
Harley Davidson Livewire one motorcycle viewed online March 2023
The Institute of the Motor Industry offers a range of education about electric vehicles.
Engineering.com electric vehicle article viewed online 8th June 2019.
Harley Davidson Livewire one motorcycle viewed online March 2023
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