History of the electric car
The electric car is older than the internal combustion engine. Long before Carl Friedrich Benz sent his motor car number 1 to test drive, battery driven electric vehicles were already rolling across the streets of Europe and especially the USA. For many years, the technology of the two drive types developed peacefully next to each other, until an electric motor switched off the light. In addition to the gasoline available at the time in seemingly inexhaustible quantities, it was above all the development of US engineer Charles F. Kettering, who led the triumph of the combustion engine in modern times. Kettering designed the electrical starter for serial production in 1912. He socialized the car driving, after the engines no longer laboriously had to be cranked by hand.
The electric drives subsequently withdrew into the niche, since then mainly small supply and ground conveyance vehicles as well as the heavy traffic with external power supply, for example in locomotives.
The upcoming turnaround of this development is and will be with the storage: How successful the electric car will be is not so much at its possible driving time per load, but at the cost-benefit ratio. Ultimately, only a very limited part of the potential users are willing to pay high surcharges for the electricity storage. A low-cost e-mobile for short-haul traffic with a range of about 150 kilometers would have the same potential as a 4 to 500-kilometer car that does not cost more than a conventionally driven model.
Lithium-ion cells are currently the medium of choice for battery technology. The cheaper nickel-metal hydride batteries play a significant role in the automotive sector only in Toyota’s hybrid models, other technologies such as LiFePO4 batteries are currently too expensive and more complex in production and battery management. In the case of the projects for battery manufacturers, as they are currently being examined and enforced in the motor vehicle sector, however, the production of such battery cells is not a priority. These are cheaply purchased, for example, in the form of standardized 18650 batteries, as they are also used in torches. However, Tesla has recently announced plans to enter the battery cell production.
Nevertheless, the essential know-how of the companies and the main task of the battery manufacturers is to connect the individual cells to large so-called stacks and develop a corresponding charging and management technology. The latter is indispensable to compensate for different charging states of the individual cells, the so-called “balancing”.