The History of Battery Electric Vehicles

Battery Electric Vehicles or BEVs, predated the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles. It was between 1832-1839 that Robert Anderson, a Scottish businessman, invented the first electric carriage and Professor Sibrandus Stratingh from the Netherlands designed the first small-scale electric car which was built by his assistant Christopher Becker in 1835.

The storage battery improved, firstly by Gaston Planté, a French physicist who invented the lead acid cell in 1859 and the first rechargeable battery. Then, in 1881, Camille Faure developed a more efficient and reliable battery which became so successful in the early electric cars. This discovery caused battery electric vehicles to flourish, with France and Great Britain being the first nations to support widespread development of electric vehicles.

Prior to 1900, battery electric vehicles held many speed and distance records, the most notable of which, was the breaking of the 100 km/h (60 mph) speed barrier. It was by Camille Jenatzy on April 29, 1899 in a rocket-shaped vehicle named Jamais Contente (Never Happy) which reached a top speed of 105.88 km/h (65.79 mph).

During the early 20th Century, battery electric vehicles outsold gasoline powered vehicles and were successfully sold as town cars to upper-class customers. Because of technological limitations, these cars were limited to a top speed of about 32 km/h (20 mph). The cars were marketed as “suitable vehicles for women drivers”. Electric vehicles did not need hand-cranking to start.

One of the downfalls of the battery electric vehicle was the introduction of the electric starter in 1913. It simplified the task of starting an internal combustion engine which was previously difficult and dangerous to start with the crank handle. Another was the mass-produced and relatively cheap Ford Model-T. Finally, the loss of Edisons direct current electric power transmission system. He was battling with George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla over their desire to introduce alternating current as the principal electricity distribution. Edison’s direct current was the load for electric motors.

Battery electric vehicles were limited to niche applications. Forklift trucks were battery electric vehicles when introduced in 1923. BEV golf carts which were used as neighborhood electric vehicles and were partially “street legal”. By the late 1930s, the electric automobile industry had disappeared until the invention of the point contact transistor in 1947 which started a new era of electric vehicle.

In 1959 the Henney Kilowatt was introduced and was the world’s first modern transistor-regulated electric car and the predecessor to the more recent battery electric vehicles such as General Motors EV1. Only 47 Henney Kilowatts were produced, 24 being sold as 1959 models and 8 as 1960 models. It is not clear what happened to the other 15 built but it could be possible that they were sold as 1961 or 1962 models. None of the 8 1960 models were sold to the public because of the high manufacturing costs, but were sold to the electric cooperatives who funded the project.

It is estimated that there are between four and eight Henney Kilowatt battery electric vehicles still in existence with at least two of the survivors still driven periodically.

Battery electric vehicles have had issues with high battery costs, with limited travel distances, with charging time and the lifespan of the battery, although advancements in battery technology has addressed many of those problems.

At the present time, controversy reigns over battery electric vehicles. Campaigners, (et al) for BEV’s are accusing three major US automobile manufacturers of deliberately sabotaging BEV efforts through several methods, for instance, failing to market, failing to produce appropriate vehicles, by failing to satisfy demand and using lease-only programs with prohibitions against end of lease purchase.

In their defense, the three major manufacturers they have responded that they only make what the public want and the current trend is that the public doesn’t want battery electric vehicles.

Although we have the technology to manufacture and provide BEVs, one of the biggest downfalls for the prolific production of BEVs is the extortionate cost of replacement batteries. In some cases the cost of replacement batteries can be more than the price of the whole vehicle, especially when buying used battery electric vehicles.

Electrifying Facts on Electric Vehicle Conversion – All You Need to Know

Right now, with the gas at prices that we have never seen before, many people are looking for ways to cut down on gas consumption and there are some people who are looking at ways to avoid using gas at all. They are researching electric vehicle conversion which is converting a car or small truck to run on electricity instead of gas. There are many benefits to having vehicle that runs on just electric but an electric vehicle conversion is no simple task. The benefits for the vehicle are, smooth running, low maintenance, low vibration, economical, and totally convenient. An electric vehicle conversion is complicated. As well as no longer using gas the vehicle will no longer use oil, an exhaust, belts, hoses, water pump, coolant, radiator, spark plugs, plug wires, and injectors. So this is not a job that should be undertaken by an amateur.

If you are a mechanic who knows what they are doing, the electric vehicle conversion can be done in your own garage, with few specialist tools. The materials needed for the electric vehicle conversion is of course the electric motor, the motor mount, motor controller, speed controller, system control box, high current shunt, high current fuse, high current circuit breaker, current meter, voltmeter, clutch plate hub adapter, main battery bank, 12V battery charger, 6V golf cart batteries (common choice), battery rack, cable terminal lugs, along with a vacuum pump and switch kit for the brakes.

Other materials for the electric vehicle conversion will include any kind of framework that you would want to use to house the batteries that are needed to run the vehicle. Cars that are most commonly used used in electric vehicle conversion are the Chevy S10, Dodge Colt, Daytona Ford Escort, Porsche 914, Honda Civic, Mazda B2000 pickup, Datsun pickup, Plymouth Sundance, Pontiac Fiero, Suzuki Samurai, Toyota pickup, and Volkswagen Beetles.

The cost of the electric vehicle conversion will vary and depend greatly on the vehicle that is going to be converted. This can range from $6500 and $9500 dollars and that estimate does not include the cost of the vehicle itself.

Depending on the size of the vehicle and the number of batteries that are used in the conversion, the distance the vehicle can drive on one charge will vary accordingly. The general Chevy S10 which has 16 six-volt batteries and weighs a total of 3700 pounds, will go about 35 miles on a full charge. If you have more batteries on a lighter car, then you will be able to go much further on a single charge.

The weight of the vehicle will also factor on how fast the vehicle will be able to go. The lighter the car and more batteries, the faster it can go. Historically electrically converted cars were slow but now they can achieve speeds of 60 to 80 mph.

Deciding on whether this option is right for you really depends on your mileage, how long you intend to keep you vehicle, and of course your commitment to the environment. Hopefully i’ve sparked enough interest for you to want to find out more.

What is an Electric Vehicle Conversion Specialist

Electric vehicle conversion refers to the modification of a conventional internal combustion engine or the ICR driven vehicle to one that is battery electric propulsion, thus creating a battery electric vehicle.

The career outlook for an Electric Vehicle Conversion Specialist is good. They make on average $39-$59 thousand a year. Electric vehicles are quickly becoming a mainstay in the auto arena.

Many major automobile manufacturers in the US have started performing ICE conversions, but due to lack of consumer demand, the programs had been terminated. However, a few re-builders specializing in electric car conversion have started offering new or remanufactured conversion to satisfy the limited demand. One major reason for the rather low demand is the high price of completed vehicles, which can double the price of a comparable ICE vehicle.

Why It’s Green

People who have owned and used electric vehicles points out that the ranges of these cars are adequate, and that it is more convenient to simply plug the car for charging rather than driving to get some gas. Aside from these, electric vehicles are also quiet if not totally silent and they are non-polluting because they use renewable energy rather than gas, which produces air pollutants.

Professional and Personal Qualities

Generally, people without experience or modest knowledge in mechanics and electrical devices should not attempt to maintain or operate a ‘home made’ electric vehicle.

A career as Electric Vehicle Conversion Specialist is hard to come by in most states due to the lack of demand for electric vehicles. But in some places, and where companies manufacture electric vehicles, an electric car conversion specialist may be highly demanded.

Skills and Trainings

If you are planning to become an electric vehicle conversion specialist, you need a wide range of skills to be able to perform your duties. For instance, you’d need to have knowledge on automobile surveying and be able to identify problems in potential conversion vehicles. Such skill will be required to identify and purchase a good used ICE vehicle and will come handy especially when the conversion is done by another builder.

Aside from that, basic mechanics knowledge is also required as a builder should be able to manufacture small brackets for mounting sensors, switches and relays. Some other required skills and training for would-be electric car conversion specialists should include machine shop skills, welding, automotive mechanics, basic electric skills, as well as basic electronic skills.