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The future of automotive
Electric cars are set to form a pivotal part of the future automotive landscape after a century of historical false starts with electrification.
They were primitive in the late 19th century and early 20th century, of course – essentially a horseless carriage powered by batteries. And by the 1930s, electric cars had all but disappeared as the internal combustion engine soared in popularity.
From false starts to fast tracked
The 1970 Clean Air Act and 1973 oil crisis influenced a revival of interest in electric cars in the 1970s, but manufacturers were more excited than buyers and their return was short-lived, petering out by the turn of the next decade.
Two factors continued to plague electric vehicles (EVs): their relatively high cost compared with similarly-sized cars, and ‘range anxiety’ – the term given to a driver’s fear of running out of battery power and being stranded.
Momentum for electric cars seems unstoppable now, however. Battery technology continues to develop at a fast rate, and multiple manufacturers have committed to a significant percentage of EVs in their showrooms for the next decade.
And in 2017, Volvo Cars became the first manufacturer to declare that its entire model range would become electrified in at least some form: mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fully electric.
Recharging the battery
This will include models that meet the classic definition of an electric car: a vehicle that is powered only by one or more electric motors.
Recharging the battery of an electric vehicle is as simple as refueling a petrol- or diesel-powered car – it just takes longer.
You can recharge an electric car by plugging it into a conventional household power socket, though for the quickest times it’s possible to install special fast-chargers in your garage.
There’s also a growing network of charging stations, though the infrastructure is still in its infancy – especially in Australia.
Going the distance
The distance you can travel on a full charge varies between electric vehicles – essentially determined by the size of their battery packs, and their energy density – measured in kilowatt hours.
Compact electric cars have typically been offering a range of about 160km, though newer models are reaching claims of 200km, or even close to double that distance. Some larger EVs are already capable of about 500km – and a new generation of EVs arriving in the next few years will reach a similar range.
Volvo electric cars
The Volvo Cars showroom of the near future will comprise vehicles that all feature at least one electric motor.
A choice of vehicles
Customers will have a choice of electrified vehicle, whether it’s a mild hybrid utilizing a 48-volt electrical system in conjunction with a conventional petrol or diesel powertrain, a plug-in petrol or diesel hybrid, or a full electric car.
Fully electric range
Volvo Cars will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021. Three will wear the famous Volvo ironmark, with the other two wearing the Polestar badge of Volvo’s high-performance arm.
In 2015, Volvo also debuted its stunning Twin Engine technology. Combining a high-performance supercharged/turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an electric motor, this T8-badged powertrain produces a total output of 300kW yet can achieve official consumption in the region of 2L/100km.