Electric Vehicles

Last Updated: January 18, 2024By

Electric vehicles are the future of renewable energy transportation. From electric cars to ebikes and everything in between, the future of green transportation looks very promising.

Let’s explore how we can get around with clean energy.

What is an electric vehicle?

Electric vehicles are vehicles powered by electricity. There are 100% electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles that are powered by a combination of electric energy and gas, petroleum or diesel.

The electric car has been around since 1890 when William Morrison developed a 6-seater fully electric vehicle in Des Moines, Iowa.

Since then, electric cars, with significant pros and cons, have developed massive public interest, especially in the past few years. Most electric cars are powered by the fossil-fuel grid, though, and not charged directly by clean energy.

If you charge your EV through renewable energy you’re helping reduce reliance on fossil fuel power plants and carbon emissions that cause climate change.

Types of electric vehicles

There are many different types of electricity-powered vehicles beyond the motorcar.

Ebikes (electric bikes) are becoming super popular as an alternative to 100% human-effort pedal power bicycles.

Electric motorcycles and electric trucks are becoming increasingly popular, especially since there were featured in the Long Way Up adventure travel series featuring Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman.


The world’s most known electric vehicle brands include Tesla, Rivian, Lucid, Karma and many, many more.

It’s estimated that the electric car market doubled in 2021 to 6.6 million sales per year and this is climbing rapidly.

Electric cars include hybrids (which include a traditional internal combustion engine as well as an electrical propulsion system), plug-in hybrids (hybrids with larger batteries) and battery electric cars which are 100% powered by batteries.

Types of electric vehicles include:

  • Electric tractors and farm vehicles
  • Electric trains
  • Electric buses
  • Electric aircraft
  • Electric trams
  • Electric cars
  • Electric bicycles
  • Electric motorbikes
  • Electric scooters

In fact, electricity is influencing every form of transportation and the world is slowly adopting renewable energy instead of fossil fuel transportation.

Traditional car manufacturers such as GM, Chevrolet, Nissan, Toyota and BMW have embraced the electric car trend and are heavily investing in alternatives to internal combustion engines.

How do 100% electric cars work?

Electric cars have a battery system and electric propulsion system instead of an internal combustion engine.

There are no emissions from a 100% electric car so there is no exhaust pipe, no smelly pollution and very little noise.

You don’t need to fill up your electric car at the gas station but rather you charge the battery system at a dedicated charging station or from your home charging station.

What are the important parts of an electric car?

The traction battery system powers the vehicle and converts stored electrical energy to kinetic energy (motion).

The battery system must be charged and has a charge port that is plugged into a charge station. The charge station gets power either from the grid or from renewable energy sources like solar.

You will also find a DC to DC converter which converts the high-energy power from the main battery to lower voltage power used to power the auxiliary battery and electrical components in the car.

The traction motor converts the main, high voltage power from the main battery into kinetic energy which turns the wheels of the car.

The charging unit converts AC power from grid-based charging stations to the DC power stored in the battery.

The electronic power controller manages the electrical power from main traction battery and regulates it for what the traction motor needs. This works like an accelerator to control the power and torque that turns the wheels.

The cooling system is important to ensure everything operates at an efficient temperature. Batteries, engines and electronics must not get too hot or else they will get damaged.

The auxiliary battery system is the secondary battery system that powers the electronics of the car and all other accessories.

The transmission system uses the kinetic energy from the motor to drive the wheels.

What is the range of an electric car?

The range of an electric car is the distance you can travel on a single charge. Range is an important thing to consider when buying an electric car. You need to be able to get to your destination without running out of power.

Range has significantly improved in recent years. Batteries have become more efficient and can hold more electrical energy. This means you can drive much longer distances from a single charge.

Some countries have now developed a network of charging stations along main routes. This means you can travel across the country in your electric car without worrying about running out of power.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

The time it takes to charge an electric car can be anything between 30 minutes and 12 hours.

In 2022 the average time for a full recharge is 8 hours. If you have a rapid charger you can boost your range with a quick charge. You can add up to 200 miles of range within 30 to 40 minutes.

Technology is constantly improving and this means batteries can be charged a lot faster than in the past.

The amount of time it takes to charge depends on the size of the battery, the type of battery, the type and speed of the charging station, the make of vehicle and other factors including temperature and altitude.

Your EV can be fully charged over night and then topped up during the day while at work, on the road or at home.

Are electric cars fast?

Yes – electric cars are significantly faster than traditional cars and have a much larger acceleration because the torque from the electric motor is immediately available to the drive shaft and wheels. Internal combustion engines lose a lot of power and there is a delay in transmission of power from the engine to the wheels.

Electric car batteries

The core power to drive the wheels come from the battery pack. Electric car batteries are more efficient than ever and able to hold a larger charge for longer and more efficiently convert this energy to efficiently power the motor.

Electric car batteries are usually rechargeable lithium-ion batteries which are more expensive than the traditional lead acid batteries you find in traditional cars and boats.

Lithium ion batteries last significantly longer though and have a higher energy density.

Braking system on an electric car

Braking systems usually use a lot of energy and lose energy when the brakes are applied in the form of heat on the brake pads.

Modern electric cars are able to transform the energy lost from braking into stored kinetic energy through a regenerative braking system. This saved energy is used to power the car.

What is an ebike?

An ebike is an electric bicycle that works like a normal bike but includes an electric assist system to make it easier to pedal.

When you push the pedals on an ebike a small electric motor helps turn the wheels. This gives your bike a burst of energy when you’re headed uphill or over a sandy or rocky road.

There are many different types of ebikes. Some even have extra load space and can be used as courier bikes or cargo bikes to transport packages.

How fast can an ebike go?

Electric bicycles are regulated by the rules of the road and have restricted power. You can’t generally go faster than 30 miles per hour depending on the bike, although we are sure many cyclists have tried to achieve maximum speed on a downhill slope.

A small on-board rechargeable battery powers the motor of an ebike. You can probably get up to 100 miles per charge, depending on the brand of ebike you get.

Should you get an ebike?

If you are able to safely move around your neighborhood or commute to work on a bike, you should consider the advantages of an ebike.

You will cycle more often and enjoy the scenery because it takes less effort to get around on an ebike than on a regular bike.

You will also get places faster and reduce the dependence on your car – so you will save money in the long run.

Even though an ebike assists you over the hills, you will still get plenty of exercise.

What should you consider before you buy an ebike?

Bear in mind that there are different types of ebikes. Some have constant electric assist while others have delayed assist that only kicks in once you start to pedal and stops at a certain speed.

Some ebikes have the motor on the back wheel while others have the motor on the frame of the bike.

Ebike brands and models are rated for different amounts of torque and power.You should do your research and compare before you buy.

You should also consider the range of the battery and how long your daily commute or road trip will be.

Ebikes are an investment and cost significantly more than regular bikes, so it pays to shop around and get the best deal you can without foregoing quality.

Ebikes are also a lot heavier than regular bikes so don’t get a shock when you lift one.

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About the Author: Tony Lopes

Tony is the founder and editor of CleanVolts.co.za. He has completed solar certifications and courses through Green Solar Academy. Tony's goal is to see solar panels on every roof-top in South Africa and the adoption of EVs and renewable technology across the African continent.

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