51Introduction

The rapidly developing technology of EV design precludes the description of a definitive universal package because the substantial forces which shape the EV market tend to cause quite sudden major changes in direction by the key players, and there are a number of different EV categories with different packages. For passenger cars, it seems that the converted standard IC-engine driven car may be giving way to a more specifically designed package either for fuel-cell electric or hybrid drive. While the volume builders may lean towards the retention of standard platform and body shell, it seems likely that the more specialist builder will try and fill the niches for particular market segments such as the compact city car. It is thus very important to view the EV in the wider perspective of its market and the wider transportation system of which it might become a part.

Because electric drive has a long history, quite a large number of different configurations have already been tried, albeit mostly only for particular concept designs. As many established automotive engineers, brought up in the IC-engine era, now face the real possibility of fuel-cell driven production vehicles, the fundamentals of electric traction and the experience gained by past EV builders are now of real interest to those contemplating a move to that sector. A review of the current 'state of play' in sole electric drive and associated energy storage systems is thus provided, while hybrid drive and fuel-cell applications will be considered in the following chapter.

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