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Electric cars, moving evolution

It is no longer a novelty or a whim.

During the recent months, electric cars have taken over in light of recent historical developments, especially talking about energy consumption.

It's about the attention to emissions then, more than sustainable consumption and enviable performance. Electric cars have become part of many people's wish list, in a continuous evolution that has seen them as the main charachters for years.

But how is an electric engine made?

Excellent performance

Anyone who thinks that an electric engine is lacking in terms of performance is wrong. Today, in fact, the latest versions of high-class electric engines can easily be comparable to their combustion cousins ​​in terms of power and performance. The propulsion and acceleration potential of an electric engine, even a small one, could be really impressive.

The electric engine also has a high propulsive ability already at 0 rpm, and doesn't need a minimum rotation speed to reach its maximum thrust.

However, the constraint that an electric engine is forced to undergo is mainly represented by the heat which it would largely develop. Therefore, it does not theoretically have mechanical limits, but physical ones.

Let's talk about autonomy

In practice, however, a limit does exist.

We are used to thinking of an electric engine full of potential, but it's important to understand that, if applied to means of transportation such as cars, the situation changes.

A car needs to move freely in space, without a predefined trajectory, which does not happen, for example, in trains. It therefore needs a physical allocation to store the energy of the charge, and it does so by exploiting special storage batteries. A system that has limitations as well, of course.

Maximilian Fichtner, professor of Solid state Chemistry at the University of Ulm and Head of the Energy Storage Systems Department at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, explained to Volkswagen in 2021 that the progression of the development of electric engines is picking up speed, starting precisely from the conformation of the batteries that currently contain only 25/30% of storage material in their overall dimensions.

"The next generation of batteries, Fitchner explained, will be designed more efficiently and the storage share could nearly double, thereby increasing energy content as well as reducing production costs."

What about the electric engine?

The architecture of an electric engine is extremely simple, in fact it only has two main components:

  • the stator: it is composed of a conductor that generates variable magnetic fields in clear opposition to those generated by the second component;

  • the rotor: it is equipped with permanent magnets which together with the stator transmit the necessary energy to the wheels to move, and all thanks to the magnets.

The interaction of these elements, called torque, allow to generate movement and are powered by electric current, except in the cases of brushless engines where only the stator is powered by current. Electric engines are built to work in direct current or alternating current.

The core of the vehicle is the battery, which accumulates the energy for the movement of the vehicle having an autonomy per recharge ranging from 300 to 400, to 800 km/h in some cases.

A simpler engine to produce

The engine for electric cars is, as we have seen, extremely simple in its structure, compared to an internal combustion engine, because the mechanical technology applied to the movement of the electric car does not require particular additional components.

An electric car doesn't need a gear stick: the engine is able to manage the pace by itself without the need to change the gear ratio which, on almost all models on the market, is fixed. Even if there are cases of nostalgics for the manual gear stick, in electric engines, the absence of a component of similar magnitude represents an important part which doesn't need maintenance anymore.

But it is from the point of view of industrial production that the simplicity of the electric engine represents an important advantage. As explained by Massimo Bardissone, CEO of MeC, a company specializing in economic engineering, the BOM (Bill of Materials) of a 100% electric car contains 10-15% less lines than the one of a car with a internal combustion engine.

And there's more: Tesla has recently implemented a system of presses which makes the frame of its Model 3 a one-piece-only mechanism, instead of 80 as it was before. A novelty that is due to the Italian ingenuity of Idra, a company in the province of Brescia.

Furthermore, ambitious projects such as the one that will soon involve Volkswagen, include the design and construction of a single-block engine, which will contain a single-ratio transmission, a high-power inverter, the electronic control center and the software. A new milestone in a shorter production chain perhaps?

The evolution of the production chains

It's not just design, then.

The production chains will also have to adapt to new needs, like the one supported by Italian companies such as Angelantoni, which will be responsible for creating 103 climatic chambers for BMW in the upcoming months. The systems aims to test batteries in extreme thermal conditions, simulating all the environments that a car may experience in its life cycle, from the coldest to the hottest ones.

And what about our own company, which not only promotes and works directly to implement technologies with low environmental impact, counting among its customers the most important players in electric mobility.

And then again the new components, the production of batteries and the transformation of old departments as we know them, that soon may no longer exist. We must be ready to welcome, with some inevitable bumps, an imminent change. Production chains will have to coexist with new needs and fields of intervention, specific training and an advanced, constant, increasing speed.


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