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Electric Pickups And SUVs Are Closer Than They Appear

The Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling luxury sedan in 2018 and electric vehicles, in general, are still driving over the competition in 2019. What’s interesting is the lack of news concerning electric SUVs and pickup trucks especially since they are some of the highest-purchased vehicles on the market.

It’s a Matter of Physics

If you think about the shape of a sedan, you’ll notice that most of them are very aerodynamic. This allows the car to travel further distances at higher speeds while using less energy. Physics tells us that there are three forces at work when trying to move an object—a car in this case—along a flat surface from a stationary position. These forces are wind resistance, friction, and inertia.

Once you take into consideration the overall design of a vehicle, one can begin to determine the amount of energy required to actually put it in motion. Once the necessary energy has been computed, a determination can be made about what type of battery is needed and how long a vehicle can travel before needing to be charged.

These types of calculations have been used for gas-powered vehicles for quite some time. The same formula can be used when analyzing electric vehicles, but there’s another element that needs to be considered—regenerative braking.

Regenerative braking is a method that lets vehicles regain energy (recharge) as they are braking. The parts that are “braking” allow the battery to gain energy to be stored and reused therefore increasing the fuel economy of the vehicle.

Electric Energy Applet for Efficiency

Venkat Viswanathan, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Shashank Sripad, Ph.D. Candidate in Mechanical Engineering have developed a small utility application (applet). This applet allows consumers to figure out how large a battery they will need in their vehicle in order for it to perform the way they like.

It’s Also a Matter of Economics

Pickup trucks and SUVs are bigger, heavier, and less aerodynamic than smaller sedans. Of course, this requires more energy to get larger vehicles moving and therefore a more powerful or less-efficient battery. And although the price of batteries has dropped drastically over the past ten years, it’s still not very affordable for the mass-market.

However, the formula is in place to begin chipping away at what needs to happen in order to make trucks and SUVs more affordable to the general public. Custom electric vehicles give consumers more control over the type of energy-efficient vehicle they want and this is a step in the right direction. In fact, if you like in the side view mirror of technology, you’ll notice that electric trucks and SUVs are closer than they appear.

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