Electric propulsion: assaulting the life we know?

 

2015-porsche-918-spyder-illustration

By Bertie Scott Brown, September 9, 2014

Though
internal combustion engines still dominate today’s motive power on our
highways, electrification is emerging rapidly. The objective is to
eliminate huge engines with poor fuel economy.

Instead
tomorrow’s vehicles will likely rely on fuel cells where hydrogen reacts
with oxygen, producing nothing more than energy and water, or electric
motors.

Mind
you, the battery-powered electric vehicle has existed almost as long as
the car itself and though their sales still represent a tiny proportion
of total car sales, battery-powered electric cars are becoming an
increasingly strong force. No cylinder blocks or heads, pistons or
connecting rods, crankshafts or camshafts. Even exhaust systems vanish
and all replaced by an electric motor.

Plug-in
hybrids usually refer to vehicles with engines supplemented by
rechargeable batteries or other storage devices like flywheels that can
be restored to full charge by connecting a plug to an electric power
source. Current US wireless technology probably already supersedes the
plug-in model, operating by simply driving the vehicle over a wireless
charging pad.

Porsche’s innovative 918 mid-engine sports car. A plug-in hybrid, its 4.6 liter V8 engine, which weighs 298lbs, develops 600hp at 8,500rpm and 390ft-lbs torque with two electric motors delivering an additional 280hp, giving a combined output of 880hp (600kW).

Porsche’s
innovative 918 mid-engine sports car. A plug-in hybrid, its 4.6 liter
V8 engine, which weighs 298lbs, develops 600hp at 8,500rpm and 390ft-lbs
torque with two electric motors delivering an additional 280hp, giving a
combined output of 880hp (600kW).

But
earlier this year Porsche’s innovative 918 mid-engine sports car arrived
in the US. A plug-in hybrid, its 4.6 liter V8 engine, which weighs
298lbs, develops 600hp at 8,500rpm and 390ft-lbs torque with two
electric motors delivering an additional 280hp, giving a combined output
of 880hp (600kW). The energy storage system is a 312-cell,
liquid-cooled 6.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack positioned behind the
passenger compartment.

The jolt
from its battery power sends this hybrid from 0-60 in 2.5seconds. More
importantly it has the ability to fully recharge its battery pack while
driving via the car’s regenerative braking system and also while the
engine is coasting. Clearly future performance will be determined by the
efficiency of quick-charging batteries rather than the power of the
internal combustion engine.

But the
pure electric car rather than a plug-in hybrid has also made stunning
progress in the form of the Tesla S P85—a car that covers 250 miles on a
charge. It’s available with three outputs which equate to 300hp, 360hp
and 420hp giving claimed 0-60mph acceleration times from 5.9sec to
4.2sec, and top speeds from 120–130mph. Maximum torque generated by its
most powerful three-phase AC induction motor is stated as 440ft-lbs.

Charging_Tesla

Charging
times for the Tesla’s lithium-ion battery pack range from 15 hours at a
public station to about 7.5 hours by Tesla’s home charging kit.

Charging
times for the Tesla’s lithium-ion battery pack range from 15 hours at a
public station to about 7.5 hours by Tesla’s home charging kit.

Imagine
for a moment the devastation of our aftermarket if the transition
happened overnight! Still, ours is the hothouse of ingenuity and no
doubt our industry would soon discover how to make it better.

“Everything in life is somewhere else and you’ve got to get there by motorcar.” –E.B. White

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