The increase in oil prices, noise pollution, and the emission of greenhouse gases are the major reasons for the demand for electric vehicles in the market. Governments encourage the adoption of electric vehicles by providing subsidies, tax credits, and other incentives. In fact, some countries have set goals to ban gasoline vehicles by 2040. The leaders in the market are rolling out their electric cars of which Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S are the bestselling ones. A bunch of startups is also trying to compete with the giant automakers by incorporating interesting technologies in their electric cars. For example, Rimac Automobili, a company started in 2009, is trying to unleash the full potential of Tesla’s AC motor better than Tesla Motors itself. Let’s take a look at five such interesting startups.
Evolution of electric cars
Electric vehicles, as fancy as it sounds, is not an invention of the 21st-century scientists. They were invented in the mid-19th century. Electric vehicles were one of the earliest automobiles that held the record for land speed and distance in the early 1900s. It was mostly used for other forms of transport than cars because internal combustion engines were dominating the propulsion systems for motor cars. Electric powered cars were not famous because of insufficient battery capacities. With the oil industry in bloom and the fossil fuel market in the rise, electric cars were thrown off the charts.
It all first started in 1827 by Anyos Jedlik, who built a viable electric motor with stator, rotor, and commutator. He used this motor on a tiny car. Following him in 1835, a professor by the name Sibrandus Stratingh developed a small-scale car. Then in 1832, a crude electric carriage was built in Scotland. In 1840, the patent for electric trains was issued. Trains gained more popularity than electric cars due to the financial boom it had brought and the faster speed. Slowly in the 20th century, electric powered platform trucks, forklift trucks, ambulances, tow tractors, and urban delivery vehicles emerged in the market.
1. Rimac Automobili
A company that was started by a group of people in a garage has grown up to have 250 employees in just nine years. The owner of this company is a 30-year-old from Croatia, which has never had a car company. Rimac Automobili produces electric hypercars, battery systems, and drivetrains. The company’s battery systems are used by reputed hypercar makers like Aston Martin, Koenigsegg, Jaguar cars, SEAT, and others.
Rimac’s first model was the “Concept One,” a limited edition production vehicle. Only 88 Concept One cars were made. Rimac Concept One generates 913 kilowatts and 1,600 newton meters of torque, which comes from four oil-cooled electric motors. It can travel 220 miles (350 km) on a charge. Its torque-vectoring system utilizes the advantages of an independent wheel drive of the four motor powertrain system.
Now Rimac is ready with its all-new Rimac Concept Two. This car, unlike its predecessor, can sprint 0-60 mph in just 1.85 seconds making it the fastest accelerating car. It can generate 1,427 Kilowatt and 2,399 newton meters of torque.
2. Classic Factory
Their idea of beauty is “classic.” Classic Factory gives equal importance to the performance and the aesthetics of the car. They have an international network of designers and partnerships around the world for supplies of novel materials. Challenging Rimac, the Swiss automotive design company has announced an electric supercar called Elextra. It combines classic design with modern technology. Elextra is a four-seater and will be capable of going from 0 to 62mph within 2.3 seconds. Unlike conventional supercars, Elextra has four doors and four seats. It can travel up to 370 miles on a single charge and is expected to beat Rimac’s record. About 150 cars are planned to be built and the information provided about the launch date is limited.
With so many electric supercars on the market, Weltmeister has kept the common public in mind. They have launched the EX5 recently in China. This company aims to sell 100,000 electric vehicles by 2021. Weltmeister means “champions” in German. The company looks at itself as a competitor to Tesla. The EX5 has a feature that opens the car door as you approach it, just like the Tesla. It has a range of 372 miles per charge. It is going to house the intelligent interaction system that identifies drivers and their family members. It will also be provided with internet services. It is funded by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.
Nio is a global startup that designs and builds high-performance premium electric vehicles. It has more than 4,000 employees. With the fastest autonomous car — the EP9 — up its sleeve, Nio has been leading the way to blue skies since 2014. EP9 is a two-seater sports car built in 18 months assisted by the Formula E racing division. EP9 has achieved 40.33 seconds at a top speed of 160 mph without a driver. A unique feature of EP9 is that each of its wheels has its own motor and transmission. The battery can last up to 265 miles and recharging takes only 45 minutes. The chassis and exterior are made up of super-strong carbon fiber. There are four screens to display the performance data — two on the dashboards, one at the center, and another one on the steering wheel. Six EP9s were sold to Nio investors and the company has announced that another 10 will be rolled out for the general public. The other products of the company include ES8 and ES6.
ES8 is a seven-seater production SUV that was developed with the help of Tata Technologies. The vehicle was put into production in June. ES8 is powered by a lithium-ion battery and the price starts from $65,000.
5. Lucid motors
Lucid Motors has received $1 billion from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF). By investing in EVs, PIF aims to bring back the revenue that it would lose in the world that is moving away from oil. The company is building its electric car called Air. The luxury electric car maker is using the funds for the development and experimentation operations of Air. Also, Lucid Motors has tied up with Samsung for battery supply and with Sony and McLaren for technological development.
Air is a sports car that comes with the comfort of a luxury sedan. The car already exists in prototype form and it can go from 0 to 60 mph in less than 2.5 seconds. The sports sedan is expected to have a driving range of 400 miles. Lucid Motors is planning to roll out Air by 2020 in North America and the car will be priced a $60,000 (approximately).
Electric cars: The time is now
One hundred years ago, electric cars outsold gasoline-powered cars. Then came Henry Ford in 1913, who initiated the mass production of gasoline-powered vehicles, which became cheaper than electric cars. Though there was renewed interest in electric cars took in the 1990s, it was short-lived as some oil and traditional auto companies conspired against EVs and killed the electric cars again.
But a few years later, environmental pollution awareness and fossil fuel scarcity created another, stronger interest in EVs. More than 1 million electric cars have been sold worldwide. The future looks like a bright place for the vehicles. Leading companies like Volkswagen, Porsche, Jaguar, Nissan, Aston Martin, and others plan to release new electric cars by 2025. Ten business giants including Ikea, Unilever, and DHL have committed to using electric vehicles in the near future. The recent deals that Saudi Arabia and China signed promise a big boom in the future of the EV market.
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