Going all electric soon?

The electrification of urban transport is underway

By Claire Marchand

Growing concern about the adverse impact of noxious emissions from internal combustion engines is driving the electrification of public means of urban transportation on roads and, increasingly, on water too. 

Solar Impulse in Hawaii
Flying from Nagoya, Japan, Solar Impulse is about to land in Hawaii

On roads and on water

The general adoption of fully electric buses is still some years away, but a gradual transition to cleaner vehicles relying on various hybrid solutions is underway. In some countries, electric drives are being installed in small ferries carrying passengers and vehicles to cut pollution from diesel engines on inland waterways. 

Meanwhile, in additional steps to cut reliance on fossil fuels and pollution, small battery-powered driverless vehicles are being introduced for home deliveries and so-called energy independent vehicles propelled entirely by on-board conversion of wind, sun, waves and other ambient energy sources, are being developed. 

Fully electric soon?

While public urban transportation is slowly but surely moving towards the electrification of its fleet, and while hybrid cars have successfully entered the market, fully electric cars are still seen as a niche market, albeit a growing one. However, manufacturers and engineers are working hard to solve several crucial issues that keep customers from going all electric. Batteries for instance: R&D is going full speed on the development of low-cost, long-life, energy-dense and high-power batteries that would take drivers farther than the current average range offered by today’s personal electric vehicles (EVs). 

With technologies evolving at such a rapid pace, it is nevertheless certain that the trend towards full electric vehicles will not plateau soon. 

Gallery
Siemens e-buses Many cities around the world are replacing their fleet of buses by hybrid or electric vehicles
Solar Impulse in Hawaii Flying from Nagoya, Japan, Solar Impulse is about to land in Hawaii
Claire Marchand, Managing Editor e-tech Claire Marchand, Managing Editor e-tech