I must say first of all that: the electric car fascinates me, I like its way to move without vibrations and with little noise.
The electric engine seems to me elegant, with its round components which just rotate, almost without tremors.
The efficiency is a byproduct of this elegance, with its 85/90% outclasses any internal combustion engine for automotive applications and it is comparable only to highly complex stationary systems of cogeneration.
The control electronics seems to me almost magical, with its accuracy which allows, for instance, to build transmissions with no synchronizers due to a minute precision in the regulation of the revolutions.
The recovery of energy, then, is almost something for alchemist: I brake and a battery recharges, I shut off the gas downhill and the supercapacitor is filled again with energy.
Good qualities, real difficulties
In view of this, I can say that I will also be “partisan” but not completely unprepared and, therefore, I cannot minimize the “ballasts” that undermine the flight of the electric cars.
You can use more capable batteries but, at that point, the problem is only postponed: it takes 10 hours to charge the 24 KWh battery of Evalia, with the classic system of 3 kW of committed power.
It, therefore, follows that a plant of 60 KWh, to be fully recharged from zero, implies a machine stop well over the whole day.
It’s no coincidence that Tesla, the brand that has reinvented the electric car, is long since foreseeing the Supercharger, a network of fast chargers which, when fully operational, will be positioned in order to be – at least in the USA – at a distance of less than the autonomy of the Model S.
Here too we should verify the charging networks, because even if we found batteries so light and able to compete – for compactness and energy density – with hydrocarbons reservoirs, and the electric cars caught on, the generation and the distribution of energy would be reorganized, because it would have to deal with much higher consumptions.
Tesla itself, despite the prestige it enjoys, still experiences big financial losses and it has sold, in about 10 years, 100,000 vehicles: even if they are all fine specimens, it is the same sales number reached by the Ford pickup F150 in the first 2 months of 2015.
Why, therefore, several big of the sector have introduced concepts that seem tailor-made to be “anti Tesla”?
Audi announced its electric Q6, Porsche presented the beautiful concept Mission E, Aston Martin is launching the “Rapide” 800 hp and also Mercedes exhibited an elegant all-electric prototype, while BMW is working to a sort of X5 battery operated.
The war of ecological luxury
The reasons may be many, but each of these prototypes will have (unless of an unlikely turn of events) the same difficulties and the same qualities belonging to the Model S electric traction: Why facing a such undertaking?
One possible answer lies in an anecdote – dating back to a couple of years ago – which deals with a press release in which Audi clarified, a bit obstinate, that even if the Model S sold several units, the total sales was much lower than those of Audi.
The problem lies in the fact that the sales of Tesla are exclusively focused on the luxury sector: a brand of noble birth and old traditions as Audi can only looks spitefully at a novice which sells many quality cars.
In another anecdote a member of the board of a premium brand tested Tesla on the circuit until the discharge of the batteries and, after having re-charged them, invited his colleagues on board: the result was that everyone appreciated the road skills of the Model S, comparatively better to those of their top of the range (the Model S was originated as electric with a flat bed for the heavy batteries just a few cm off the ground) and, in this case as well, it was recorded a certain malevolence against that rookie that rose rapidly from 0 to the top.
Is it possible that these – and other – car manufacturers take the risk of uncertain adventure only because a parvenu places them in the premium category?
Certainly in the assessments the need to limit the emissions of the range are included as well, in these turbulent times of increasingly stringent environmental regulations, and it is known that Mercedes looks with interest at the fuel cell.
Anyway Tesla hasn’t neither the secular experience nor the range of other brands but its Model S can be looked at, appreciated and eventually bought starting from today and, when its competitors will be on the road, who knows where it will be gone…
Translated by Federica Izzo