The future is truly electrifying

Electric Cars

16 June 2018

THE rate of change within the car industry is about to become truly electrifying, literally.

After more than 100 years of driving vehicles powered by the internal combustion engine, most of us will be switching to pure or partial battery propulsion within a decade.

This is the forecast of every motor manufacturer and Government in the world, as the gradual switch-over gains momentum to the point where the number of people racing to get behind the wheel of an electric car turns into a stampede.

The same thing happened at the turn of the last century when horses disappeared from highways within just ten years after thousands of years as the major driving force.

Sceptics said that cars would never catch on but Henry Ford suddenly found he was selling two million Model Ts a year as early as 1925, with many manufactured in England.

Precisely the same thing happened with mobile phones, which were cumbersome, unreliable and had poor ranges initially, but improved rapidly to the point where two decades ago sales reached their current sustained rate of 100 million a year.

Now it is the turn of the electric car, which experts predict will account for 90 per cent of all vehicle sales by 2040, which is nearer than you may think.

We are currently in the embryonic stage of this revolution, with just 355,000 electric cars in the UK, and just two million out of the world’s one billion vehicles currently being electric, half of which are in use in China.

However, motor manufacturers are predicting that half of all new vehicles will be electric in just over a decade, which will cut oil production by 20 million barrels a day and reduce carbon emissions by more than half, allegedly.

Whilst petrol and diesel luddites are bemoaning the impending demise of any semblance of driving pleasure associated with this new crop of green machines, the reality is that nothing could be farther from the truth.

Although there are shortcomings concerning the driving range of many pure electric models at the moment, in terms of power and performance they are simply untouchable.

Consider that a battery-powered Tesla is quicker than a petrol-powered Porsche 911 Turbo S, with a neck-wrenching 0-60mph acceleration time of just 2.3 seconds.

Triple F1 champion Lewis Hamilton has just unveiled a new Mercedes-Benz that uses the same hybrid technology as his race car to generate a massive 1000bhp.

This is achieved by a combination of lithium-iron cell batteries and a turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 petrol engine that collectively endow the car with a top speed of 210mph and acceleration to 120mph in six seconds.

This may be exceptional by the current standards of even the most powerful gas-guzzling conventional supercars, but not in comparison to rival pure electric or hybrid models, of which there are already a surprising number.

China’s NextEV Nio EP9 can scorch to 60mph in just over two and a half seconds, with a top speed of 195mph, thanks to an incredible output of 1,340bhp from its four electric motors.

Boasting a range of 265 miles, it has also recorded a new chapter in history by taking the lap record for Germany’s challenging Nordschleife circuit at the Nürburgring from petrol-powered rivals.

Mainstream manufacturer Renault’s electric Trezor model may not be in the same league in terms of performance, but is a far cry from the company’s battery-powered Zoe model and gives a glimpse into the future.

Declared the world’s most beautiful concept model, it is currently quicker than any of the French firm’s conventional cars, with a 0-60mph acceleration time of just four seconds.

Renault says it paves the way for an exciting range of forthcoming high-performance electric models.

It is not just sports cars that boast impressive performance from their pure electric or hybrid combinations, because even the most luxurious models are getting in on the act too.

The 18-feet long Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6 generates 740bhp to endow it with acceleration to 60mph in under four seconds, with a steady 155mph cruising speed.

It has a range of 200 miles and the ability to generate 60 miles of driving with just five minutes of charging.

One of the most ground-breaking phenomena of the newcomers is the creation of a new world order in terms of design and production bases, with countries such as Crotia coming to the fore.

Zagreb-based Rimac is often credited with being the original creator of the electric supercar, with an output of 1,110 horsepower and an almost unbelievable 1,180lb/ft of torque, or pulling power.

Quicker than a Porsche Spyder 918, the Rimac reaches 60mph in a fraction over two and a half seconds and boasts a top speed of 220mph.

Another unlikely hot bed of electric sports car production is the town of Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, which is home to the incongruously-named Detroit Electric SP:01.

Revived a decade ago by former Lotus boss Albert Lamb, the company is about to introduce what it claims is the fastest two-seater affordable production sports car in the world.

Achieving an impressive power to weight ratio, it accelerates from rest to 60mph in 3.7 seconds, which is quicker than any conventional Lotus.

Claiming to be the lightest car of its type, thanks to its carbon fibre and aluminium body, the 285bhp/210kW engine endows it with a 155mph top speed.

Electric cars are also laying claim to a superior level of electronic and technological sophistication in other ways.

Typical of this is the battery and charging process of the Detroit Electric, which turns the vehicle into a power source for both the grid and the home, whilst an advanced battery management system gathers data about the car’s battery health and on-board telematics and communicates it directly to the factory.

The car even comes with an app-based system that allows the driver to search for roadside charge points and then pre-book charging time.

Nissan and its North East-based partners have been at the forefront of electric vehicle and battery development and it will not be long before their range of behind-the-scenes electric supercars charge on to the market too.