Tech Trends for 2016: Electric vehicles and scooters

100 year-old technology is in the midst of a renaissance, with recent advances having significantly improved the range and power of electric road vehicles...

Electric vehicles have been around in some guise or another for more than 100 years. For much of the 20th century, the UK was the world’s largest user of electric road vehicles but, despite some major manufacturers best efforts, they’ve always struggled to break into the mainstream.

Until recently electric vehicles were costly to run and were only able to travel short distances on a single charge but recent advances in battery technology and energy management have fuelled an electric vehicle revival and ‘range anxiety’; the fear that a car won’t have enough charge to get the driver to their destination, is becoming a thing of the past.

Only last week, Ford – the fifth biggest car manufacturer in the world – announced plans to invest $4.5bn in electric cars and plans to sell 13 new electric models by 2020.

London-based manufacturer POD Point has also announced plans to expand its network of 1,300 electric vehicle charging stations across the UK in 2016, with the goal of having a charge point anywhere you might park your car for an hour or more – be that at home, at work or at the shops.

It’s not just cars that are undergoing an electric revolution, FlyKly has recently announced the UK’s first road legal electric push scooter; the SmartPed. The fold down e-bike uses an electro motor and battery, all fitted into the rear wheel, which is automatically turned on to extend the ride when the rider self-propels with a kick.

As well as benefiting from lower fuel costs, there are financial incentives to investing in an electric vehicle. Thanks to reduced carbon emissions, the UK government offer grants of up to 35% off the cost of a plug-in car; up to a maximum of £5,000, and 20% off the cost of a plug-in van; up to a maximum of £8,000.

Additionally, there is no vehicle tax to pay for an electric vehicle and London residents are eligible for 100% discount on the congestion charge with some boroughs already offering free or reduced parking.


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How it works

Estimated to be three times more efficient than the internal combustion engine, an electric vehicle propels itself using electrical energy stored in a rechargeable ion-lithium battery, which can be charged either at home or at a public charge point.

Charging points can be either wall or floor mounted and are available at different powers, with the lower three kilowatt charger taking around six to eight hours to fully charge and the rapid 22-43 kilowatt charger taking approximately 30 minutes.

There’s nothing new about using an electric motor to power a vehicle but, as mentioned above, technological improvements have increased the distance that can be travelled on a single charge. The range of a typical vehicle is around 100 miles and, considering the average UK driver only travels around 25 miles a day, that should be more than enough to suit the needs of the average driver.

 

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