As more and more people desire electric cars, manufacturers are trying to meet the growing demand as quickly as possible. Companies are in a hurry to supplement their range with more and more new models, both by installing an electric drive instead of the traditional internal combustion, and by creating completely new models and using platforms specifically designed for this type of drive. Such platforms allow you to make the most of the advantages of a modern electric car. In addition, it is predicted that in the near future, when autonomous driving technologies become available to a wide range of drivers, some of the advantages of electric cars will become even more important.
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Perhaps the most striking example of what opportunities can be opened by the decision to produce an electric car from scratch was demonstrated by the company “Kia” in 2021 – the South Korean manufacturer created the “E-GMP” platform specifically for electric cars. It was first used in the medium-sized crossover “EV6”.
The all-electric vehicle features significantly more advanced technologies than those available in other mid-range cars at the time. The architecture of the 800-volt system, specially developed for the electric car, provides up to 350 kW of charging power, which allows the 77.4 kWh battery to be filled from 10 to 80 percent in just 18 minutes.
Also, the “E-GMP” platform stands out with better performance indicators, so the “EV6” can travel more than 500 km on a single charge.
Electric drive helps autonomy
However, even these advantages are only a small glimpse of the possibilities that specialized platforms open up for manufacturers. It is predicted that in the near future it will be electric car drivers who will be the first to try the highest level of transport autonomy.
Companies testing autonomous driving technologies typically choose an all-electric drivetrain for this purpose. There are especially many examples of this currently in the United States, where such tests have a more favorable legal framework.
On the other side of the ocean, the company “Uber Eats” in the state of Texas and California already makes deliveries partly with autonomous electric transport. The well-known company “Waymo” also uses self-driving electric cars. And there is no shortage of similar examples.
Why this choice? Companies cite two main reasons. Firstly, electric models are more stable, and secondly, they have a faster response than internal combustion machines. And for autonomous transport, these are very important characteristics.
How is this achieved?
The creation of electric drive machines makes production more expensive, but provides significant advantages, including the already mentioned stability and quick response. “In electric car platforms, the practice of installing the battery pack at the bottom, directly under the cabin, is becoming more and more common. Such a solution has two essential advantages: the luggage compartment does not decrease and stability improves significantly,” says “Kursors.lv” car expert Māris Gaugers.
The fact that electric cars do not have many of the technical components required in the case of internal combustion, such as the gearbox, fuel exhaust system, fuel tank, engine cooling and fuel supply system, allows different structural elements to be arranged differently. The part, for example, can be installed closer to the middle of the car, thus making the car more obedient during sharp maneuvers.
“Currently, one of the development trends is the installation of an electric motor in the wheels. This fundamentally changes the concept of the suspension and again opens up wide opportunities for designers to improve comfort and safety,” says Māris.
The operation of an internal combustion engine is based on thermodynamics: when burning in the cylinder, the fuel mixture rapidly expands and thus generates energy that turns the engine shafts and finally the wheels. This process is not as quickly controlled as electromagnetism in an electric motor. That’s why electric cars are able to respond to commands so quickly.
“From everyday life, we all know that current is transmitted instantaneously in electrical devices. This process also happens in machines just as quickly. There, the electric motor creates a magnetic field as soon as it receives current, which in turn causes the rotor to rotate. Electrodynamic processes happen very quickly and just as quickly reaches the maximum of its capabilities. That’s why electric machines have high torque and amazing dynamics almost regardless of speed,” says Māris Gaugers.
Autonomous systems are developing rapidly
Self-driving transport is rich in sensors and requires the most modern technical support of the moment to capture and analyze various data in real time. This requires a lot of energy, and the high-voltage battery pack not only provides it, but also maintains a constant and stable flow of energy.
It is no surprise that the latest electric models already have many driving assistance systems that use various technologies to read the surrounding information, and manufacturers continue to expand these options. For example, the new crossover “Kia EV9”, which will appear in Latvia in 2024, is built on the already mentioned “E-GMP” platform and will be equipped with the so-called third-level autonomous driving systems. It will be equipped with 15 sensors, including two light beam radars (so-called lidars). This system will monitor the surroundings at a 360-degree angle around the car, will allow identification of moving objects and will react to unexpected situations in a millisecond.
Interestingly, computer-controlled systems also improve sustainability. By precisely calculating the amount of energy required for an optimal trip, resources are used even more efficiently.
After all, car manufacturers want to be able to integrate technology as easily as possible. This would reduce potential problems that could make the machine less stable and – in the worst case – even unsafe. For now, the electric car is the best answer to this challenge.
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