Top 6 EV Innovations Coming In 2022 That Are Absolutely Mind-Blowing
In the era of electric vehicles (EVs), the simple idea of getting from point A to point B is being reimagined in countless ways. Each battery-powered innovation introduces a whole new way to move, some of which we never thought possible before. Electric jetpacks, solar cars and electric trucks, up to electric boards like Segways, are living and recent examples. And if you had even a glimpse of what’s going on in the automotive world, you’d know that these EV innovations aren’t going to stop anytime soon.
Need examples? How about flying taxis? Or a solar-powered car with a requirement to charge for about six months at one time? Yes, those seem like wacky, mind-boggling possibilities at the moment, but so did airplanes at some point, until the Wright Brothers proved everyone wrong. With the automotive industry at its peak, we now have an army of such minds, rethinking mobility in every possible way, with the aim of pushing forward the most viable and sustainable solution.
And believe it or not, they succeed.
Unfortunately, we do not focus too much on these developments. I googled “EV innovations 2022” the other day, just to see the latest things going on in the world of electric vehicles. Most of the articles were about scientific developments in battery technology – to increase their capacity (and range), to charge them faster, or to make them safer in vehicles. While a battery is one of the most crucial parts of an EV, these articles have simply ignored all the innovations in the “vehicle” part of EVs.
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And that is the problem with the coverage of the generic term “EV” today. Almost everyone tries to limit the term to battery-powered scooters, cars or trucks, or whatever form of vehicle they are comfortable with. The thing is, as soon as you decide to use a battery to power a motor, the vehicle can be redesigned in any shape around it. For example, electric planes, helicopters, cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, skateboards, skates, boats, submarines and even yachts, as luxurious as you can imagine .
It’s amazing how a simple understanding of this fact opens up so many new ways to reinvent mobility. Here are some of the mind-blowing electric vehicle innovations that are being developed as you read.
Yes, a flying taxi. No, not your ordinary white (or black and yellow) sedan. Flying taxis are the next high-end mobility project being developed by reputable entities like Uber, Audi, Airbus, Italdesign, Boeing and Bell Helicopters. The idea is to establish a node-to-node air network for travelers in a city. Kind of like airports, but on a smaller scale.
The concept emerged, it’s true, from a fact you learned above – electric vehicles can be shaped into any shape. So, for an entirely new purpose, came a whole new form of vehicles – called eVTOLs, short for Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing Vehicles. The vehicles are designed by several companies, some of which have already carried out their demonstrations and flight tests.
Uber has a full plan mapped out in its whitepaper. Named Uber Elevate, the company’s flying taxi plans promise a ride from Gurugram to Connaught Place in less than 6 minutes. He even claims that eVTOLs will prove cheaper than Uber’s road cars in the long run. It’s something we really want to see around us as soon as possible.
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A solar car that never breaks down
In 2018, I came across a 2-year-old EV startup named Lightyear. At the time, the company was building its first prototype – an electric car with solar cells embedded in its roof. The vision was to build a unique battery-powered electric vehicle, which could be recharged simply from the sun’s rays.
Coupe to 2022 and the very car is now on sale for a jaw-dropping price of 255,000 euros or just north of Rs 2 crore. The electric vehicle is called Lightyear 0. It can be charged, yes, like a classic plug-in electric car, to gain an impressive range of 520 km in one hour of charging. Its WLTP range is 625 km, and the company claims it is able to gain an additional 70 km of range, through the sun’s rays in a day.
So, in theory, this is an electric vehicle that may never run out of battery, even if you use it every day. The company says it will eventually try to advance the technology to a point where the electric vehicle will recharge its entire battery using solar power.
Also read: Electric car buying guide: 11 things to know before buying an electric car
You read correctly. Forget the ABCs of driving like throttle, brake and clutch. Electric vehicles have evolved to such an extent that they no longer require the other two pedals and can be easily operated on one pedal. A clutch, of course, has long since become unnecessary, thanks to the automatic transmission of vehicles. Today, car manufacturers have even succeeded in consolidating the accelerator and the brake into a single pedal.
How it works is simple. You press on the pedal to accelerate, and you lift your foot to brake. Note that this braking is not done by the conventional brakes that we have on vehicles. Instead, leaving the pedal triggers regenerative braking in the electric vehicle, a process that turns the car’s kinetic energy into electricity and stores it in the battery. Result – you get extended range.
These electric vehicles also tend to have a regular brake for emergency braking. Although for most of their travel, the single pedal is sufficient for both acceleration and deceleration. Interestingly, one-pedal cars have been selling in the market for a long time, and the concept is gaining adoption around the world.
Also Read: Best Electric Scooters in India: Ather 450X, Ola S1 Pro, Bounce Infinity E1, etc.
What’s better than a car that runs on a single pedal? A car that drives completely by itself. We all know that self-driving cars are being made and looking at Tesla Autopilot and other such self-driving systems, it’s easy to see that the dream will soon become a reality. It then remains to visualize all the ways in which this can be used.
Most of the electric car concepts that have emerged recently are integrated with autonomous technology. To amplify its usability, these cars even feature rotating seats inside the vehicle, so occupants can simply turn around and face each other. As they chat and spend quality time together, the car easily drives to its destination. Of course, there is still time before we see a completely autonomous (level 5), or simply driverless, car hit the road legally.
Elon Musk sketched out his long-term plans for Tesla early on in the electric vehicle maker’s journey. Called the vision for part two, the plans mention a network of Teslas in the future that will act as robotaxis. As self-driving car technology becomes powerful enough, he wanted electric vehicles to engage in a ride-sharing program that takes passengers from A to B.
According to Musk’s original concept, this would happen when electric vehicles are idle and the owner is not using them. Robotaxis will transport passengers in their spare time, while collecting money for the owner through work. Of course, there are several details that need to be filled in, but it’s easy to see how the idea really comes into its own once fully self-driving cars are in use.
In April of this year, Musk also hinted at a special class of vehicles for this cause. These cars would be without a steering wheel or pedal for any driver, and would instead be driven entirely by Tesla’s Autopilot system. For now, the cars’ production date should be 2024, although we all know Tesla and its overly ambitious deadlines by now.
Charging the vehicle to the network
With the increasing use of electric vehicles, there is an unprecedented load on the power grid just to keep their batteries charged and running. In this mix of things, some have come up with a rather unique solution to the problem: reverse charging, from the electric vehicle to the grid. This means that instead of drawing electricity from one point, these bi-directionally charging electric vehicles can be plugged in to supply electricity to the grid.
Before judging the idea, be aware that such vehicle-to-grid charging is already in use in some areas and serves a very important purpose. It is capable of supplying much-needed electricity to a region during peak periods. This means that when homes and other grid infrastructure demand the most electricity, electric vehicles can be useful in backing it up with their batteries.
To encourage the habit, companies where the idea is underway are even offering incentives to EV owners who charge the grid through their vehicles. This negates their expenses when recharging the EV later. However, few automakers are into the idea, as they believe end users are looking for batteries with high capacity and faster charging capabilities.
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