A Brief Perspective on Vehicle Electrification

Ryan Gajewski

Friday, January 18, 2019

Since the automobile was invented, the dream of full electrification has existed. Now, as electric vehicle technology continues to evolve, that dream is becoming a reality.

In recent memory, fully electric vehicles - those that relied solely on a battery and an electric motor to produce torque - fit into a very specific category: high-end luxury sedans and coupes like the Fisker Karma or the Tesla Roadster (based on the chassis of the agile Lotus Elise). They boasted impressive abilities as a result. Due to the lack of a traditional transmission, direct power from pedal to engine was available, which lent itself to faster acceleration and higher top speeds.

Meanwhile, other vehicles were being developed to satiate a growing desire for more ecologically-friendly transportation, though these options were not fully electric. Toyota leaped out of the gate with the ubiquitous Prius, which quickly became the most popular hybrid-electric vehicle in the world.

Chevrolet entered the ring in 2011 with the Volt. This was a new take on an electrified motortrain, with a single electric motor and a gas generator to charge batteries after a 40 mile charge was exhausted. While Chevy is discontinuing the Volt as we know it due to market changes, the legacy lives on with the compact Bolt - a fully-electric vehicle for the masses.

The future is looking bright for EVs, both hybrid-electric and fully-electric. While engineering challenges still exist, progress has been steady, and the auto industry is moving to capitalize on this growing opportunity. According to Kevin Kerrigan, VP of Automotive at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, more than 300 models of electric vehicles will be unveiled over the next few years. In fact, Ford is aiming to electrify the popular F-Series of trucks.

As long as innovation remains a focus for the industry and infrastructure keeps pace, consumer adoption of electric vehicules should continue to accelerate.

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