Plugged In: Explaining Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Tech

By 2030, it is reckoned that 50 per cent of all cars sold will be Hybrid or all-electric (HEV or EV).

I would argue that this needs to be achieved to help fight global warming and pollution. As our Australian cities get bigger more pollution follows, and as they get to be as large as other main cities of the world such as London and New York, massive amounts of pollution comes along for the ride.

According to the U.S. government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), motor vehicles cause 75 per cent of carbon monoxide pollution in the United States. The Environmental Defence Fund (EDF), a non-profit group, have calculated that 27 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and 33 per cent of the air pollution that produces smog in the U.S. is caused by on-road vehicles.

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) states: “On-road nitrogen oxides emission levels of modern diesel cars are on average about seven times higher than the limit set by the Euro 6 emission standards.”

The principle pollutants are:
• Sulphur Dioxide
• Nitrogen Oxides
• Particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5, PM1)
• Carbon Monoxide
• Lead and Heavy metals
• Volatile organic compounds

If you ever exercise in an urban area – be it walking, jogging cycling, whatever it may be – this is what you are breathing.

What I’m leading to is the need for a decrease in the number of internal combustion engine (ICE) and diesel-powered motor vehicles in urban areas. This will, hopefully, come via the uptake in electric vehicles and other vehicles such as electric-hybrid pedal bikes.

While on my study tour of the UK and Europe, I have researched these vehicles and spoken to retailers selling them. In Bath in the southwest of England, there are more than 17,000 university students and many of these students have cars – a situation that adds not only to the city’s pollution but also causes parking congestion as most students live in rental housing and commute to study.

I spoke to one retailer in the city who told me they participate in a program that leases bikes to Bath University. However, Bath is a hilly city and the climb to the University is long and steep. Winters can be harsh too and this is a challenge for the students.

A solution could be electric bikes (or hybrid electric bikes, as they work by pedal power and an electric motor), which can now be bought for a few thousand dollars in the UK. A popular model, particularly with women, is the Axcess Exmoor2 which has a shorter frame, 24-inch wheels, can be fitted with puncture-resistant tyres, and comes with 10Ah or 16Ah lithium batteries and a 250Watt motor rear hub motor. It has a range of 60-70km. The retail price is about $2500.

There are two types of motors available for these bikes. The hub type can be either in the front or rear and this type is mainly found on cheaper electric bikes. The crank motor type, which can be found on models such as mountain bikes, is more expensive.

A popular men’s bike sold by the Bath retailer is the crank motor-powered Cube Cross Hybrid Race Allroad. This is powered by a Bosch CX Generation crank motor with a 36V, 250W cruise, 500Wh, Bosch power-pack Li-ion battery. It has 11-speed Shimano gears and air sprung suspension with hydraulic disc brakes. This one retails for just over $5000.

In Australian cities, hybrid electric bikes could be ridden all year round, and with 54 per cent of the world’s population living in urban environments it would far better for general health, lifestyle and wellbeing if these vehicles were used. Promoting their use is, in my opinion, a push that could be taken up by universities, and local councils and governments should encourage it to happen.

Take care.

Original source: Motor Trader Magazine (September 2019)

10 Sept 2019