electric vehicle

Nissan Leaf recharging

Electric vehicle – uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion. Three main types of electric vehicles exist:

  • directly powered from an external power station
  • powered by stored electricity originally from an external power source
  • powered by an on-board electrical generator, such as an internal combustion engine (a hybrid electric vehicle) or a hydrogen fuel cell

Engineering innovations go into new automotive components


  • UK is testing roads that charge electric cars – Highways England set out to implement a pioneering technology that will allow electric car users to not have to stop to recharge their vehicles. For the system to work, the car would have be equipped with wireless technology and have to travel on specific roads. Electric cables are buried underneath these roads to generate electromagnetic fields which are caught by a coil inside the vehicle and converted into electricity.

Other examples

  • Tesla Roadster – the company’s first vehicle, is the first production automobile to use lithium-ion battery cells and the first production EV with a range greater than 200 miles (320 km) per charge. more…

What’s the problem?
There is a lot of interest in electric vehicles. However, the technology currently does not support the needs of drivers.

  • Ask – What are some of the benefits of electric vehicles? What are some of the problems or shortcomings?
  • Imagine – How can some of the current limitations be resolved? Is there technology available to address the problems?
  • Plan, Create – As new technologies, like fuel cells get better, how can the vehicles be designed to take advantage of the technology?
  • Improve – What technologies are improving with electric vehicles?

That’s engineering
Series plug-in hybrids, also called Extended Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs). Only the electric motor turns the wheels. The gasoline engine only generates electricity. Series plug-ins can run solely on electricity until the battery runs down. The gasoline engine then generates electricity to power the electric motor. For short trips, these vehicles might use no gasoline at all.

  • Emission Certification: Tier 3 Bin 30, LEV-III SULEV30/PZEV * Engine: 2.0L I4 50 kW electric motor
  • Emission Certification: PZEV, Tier 2 Bin 5 * Engine: 0.6L I2 125kW electric motor
  • Engine: 1.4L I4 111 kW electric drive

Engineering ideas

  • Nikola Tesla, three-phase electric motors, lithium-ion battery, power train, aerodynamics, voltage, power density,

Do it
Here are some challenges for you to work on…

  • Solar Car Racing – Select components of your solar car such as the body, battery and tires to optimize performance. Race your car in a desert and a racetrack environment and see how it performs. Modify your design based on feedback and performance and race again!

News, updates

  • Toyota’s First Fuel Cell Car – the Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) will combine hydrogen and oxygen to generate the electricity needed to drive the car. The vehicle’s forced chemical reaction produces water as a byproduct, replacing the noxious exhaust typically associated with automobiles.
  • Electrifying Formula One – Racing exposes the best and worst about EVs – in lieu of a tire-change pit stop, drivers of the new all-electric Formula E series will sprint from one car to another midrace—twice. The car swap will allow pit crews to recharge the batteries

Learn more…