Electric vehicles are on the rise. With the impacts of climate change becoming ever more apparent, governments and industries are rushing to pledge a reduction in their carbon emissions and individuals are beginning to look at what they can do to cut their own carbon footprint.
Electric vehicles offer a legitimate way to massively cut our environmental impact and manufacturers from Peugeot to Lotus are rushing to bring out their electric models.
Here’s an overview of what we think, are the three best electric vehicles on sale in 2020.
The Kia e-Niro
The e-Niro is a large SUV, meaning it instantly stands out from many of the smaller and less practical electric vehicles on the market today. Boasting a spacious and comfortable interior, the e-Niro is targeted at families, rather than individuals.
Electric vehicles are notoriously expensive, though the costs are plummeting as technology advances. At just under £35,000 the e-Niro is not exactly cheap, but there are still government incentives in play to encourage consumers to buy.
Kia’s battery has an impressive range of nearly 300 miles, and it has proven so popular that there is quite a waiting list to get your hands on one.
Tesla Model 3
Tesla is the king of electric vehicles and they are an increasingly common sight on our roads. Under the leadership of flamboyant billionaire Elon Musk, the company has gone from strength to strength and the Model 3 may well be the jewel in the crown.
The elegant saloon has been designed as a rival to automotive titans such as Mercedes and BMW and judging from the waiting list, it’s been a mighty success.
The futuristic interior is like nothing else and the range of extras means you can tailor your car to meet your budget. Early battery issues have been resolved and the range is now up to nearly 350 miles. With a top speed of 140 miles per hour, it’s not exactly slow!
Hyundai Kona Electric
Offering something a little more understated than Tesla, Hyundai’s Kona Electric is also much more affordable, with prices starting at around £27,000.
The stylish interior is welcome and with the optional larger battery, the range can be increased to 280 miles. It’s big enough to be a family car and also small enough not to be, catering more to individuals than the Kia e-Niro, for example.
Electric vehicles are undoubtedly the future, and it’s great to see so many manufacturers beginning to make their way into the market.
But what is on the horizon for electric vehicle battery technology?
Analysts predict that, by the end of 2020, electric vehicle sales will account for 7-10% of the total new car vehicle market in major territories such as Europe and the US.
Meanwhile, Tesla, a longtime pioneer of the EV market, is pressing ahead with 200mph models with 500-mile-plus ranges at one end of its product spectrum.
This is being driven by a new generation of battery technology from Tesla, which it is calling ‘tabless’ battery technology since it gets rid of the tab that connects the cell to the power unit. Tesla says this will improve the range of its cars by 16% and potentially cut the cost-per-kilowatt-hour of its products in half.
The future of EV batteries
Faster charging time
One of the main barriers blocking mainstream adoption of electric vehicles is the time it takes to charge your car.
At the moment, the best you can realistically hope for from a public charging point is 100 or 150 kilowatts of charging power. This is enough to get you around 100 miles of charge in ten minutes.
However, research is underway with a method of charging called extreme fast charging – or XFC. XFC uses asymmetric temperature modulation to charge at a higher temperature and help prevent the plating that can reduce battery life.
The aim is to deliver 400 kilowatts charging in 10-minute bursts, enough to give a range of around 200 miles.
Toyota, meanwhile, is working on developing solid-state lithium-ion batteries that can fully charge or discharge in just seven minutes – barely longer than it takes to fill your conventional car’s tank with petrol, then stand in a queue to pay for it.
No more cobalt
Another awkward issue with EV car batteries is the use of cobalt. Since much of its production is sourced from mines whose working practices can include child labour. Both Tesla and the Chinese firm SVOLT are working on vehicle batteries that use no cobalt.
One possible future technology involves the development of lithium-sulphur batteries. These batteries, researchers say, have the potential to deliver a driving range of 620 miles. Another area of research is a battery sourced from materials found in seawater and which involves no heavy metals at all.
Finally, there is also research at the University of California in Irvine on gold nanowire batteries. The potential of the nanowire for automotive battery technology is enormous, but they have previously degraded on recharging. Making them from gold seems to solve this problem, unlocking the exciting possibility of a battery with an everlasting shelf life.