EV Innovations: What’s Round the Corner?

You’ve heard about how great EVs are for the environment. You know that having an electric car means skipping the gas pump. But what else is great about new plug-in models?

Actually, a lot. Car companies are now racing to innovate in terms of creating new and improved electric vehicles. The progress is happening at lightning speed.

Here are some big extra advances that are turning heads in the EV world.

The Autonomous EV

Of course it makes sense to combine the electric motor with self-driving technology.

You’ll see a lot of this at next year’s auto shows. Different companies are looking at how autonomous tech is going to drive advancement on the street. They’re also recognizing that self-driving vehicles don’t need to rely on old gasoline engines.

Here’s an example from Volkswagen – the Germans unveiled their “Sedric” autonomous plug-in at the Geneva auto show. There’s also a VW microbus plan that’s electric-driven. Not to be outdone, companies like Nissan with its IDS and Chevy with its Bolt are also contemplating new self-driving electric models.

Energy Harvesters

Another big change in plug-ins involves what experts are calling “energy harvesting.”

What if you didn’t want to just rely on charging stations for your electric car? What if there aren’t many charging stations in your neck of the woods?

Now, many new plug-in models are starting to feature energy harvesting features that actually bring in passive solar into the equation.

Some of these cars have the ability to store quite a bit of electricity from solar, in addition to a plug-in model. This helps to greatly extend the practical range of any given vehicle. It makes an EV less reliant on the grid.

A Lightweight EV

Some of the limiting factors on EV range also have to do with load. Now, companies are pondering using new materials to create a lighter build. That way, the EV gets more out of every kilowatt.

Carbon-fiber frames are the way of the future. Right now, scientists are perfecting this type of automotive shell. It won’t be long before we start to see the practical applications on American roads.

Think about some of these brand-new advances in EV design, and consider whether now is a good time to get a plug-in in your garage or driveway.

By Justin Stoltzfus
Updated: March 12, 2017

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