47 Prospects for EV package design

Electric traction was viable even before 1910 when Harrods introduced their still familiar delivery truck, with nickel-iron battery, which is still in daily use and speaks volumes for the longevity and reliability of the electric vehicle. But very important structural changes have taken place since. At the turn of the Twentieth century EVs did not have solid-state controls and sophisticated control was achieved using primitive contactor technology. Amazingly successful results were obtained with contactor-changing and field-weakening resistor solutions, as is seen in the Mercedes vehicle described at the end of the Introduction.

But the 'writing on the wall' for the first generation of electric cars appeared in the World War I period with the development of electric starters for thermal engines. This was followed by unprecedented improvement, by development, of the piston engine and the success of the Ford Model T generation vehicles in the 1920s which substantially outperformed early electric cars. From then on until 1960 when high-power solid-state switching devices were developed and EVs were basically used for delivery and other secondary applications. Between 1960-1980, a new generation of EVs was developed, of which mechanical-handling trucks and golf-carts were the most notable. These were based on Brushed DC motors with lead-acid batteries and some millions of golf-carts are in use today. However, with growing pollution, and fuel-availability problems in the 1970s, there was an impetus to try to build a successful passenger car, with the realization that it would take an order-of-magnitude improvement in technology to make this happen. There was, however, a significant advance with the coming of power transistors in place of thyristors, and big improvements in drive controllers resulted, epitomized by the successful Curtis controller. This was a field-effect transistor chopper that was to become almost universally used in low power DC vehicles. High performance AC drives also came into being, and four machines thus came to do battle for the EV market.

Electric Car Craze

Electric Car Craze

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