While gasoline-powered vehicles continue to make strides in mileage and environmental friendliness, alternative energy options are also gaining a lot of traction. Whether it be a plug-in electric battery, a hydrogen fuel cell or even solar power, your next vehicle may never need a sip of gasoline.
Battery electric vehicles, or BEVs for short, are powered exclusively by on-board rechargeable battery packs.
With no gas engine or fuel tank, these vehicles instead “fuel up” at electric recharge stations that can provide either a quick jolt of power to continue a trip or fully recharge the vehicle over the course of a few hours.
Using the “miles per gallon gasoline equivalent” measurement, all-electric vehicles often rate at or above 100MPGe, which puts most gas-powered vehicles to shame. Many states are currently expanding their electric vehicle infrastructure, which should help speed up adoption of these green machines.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are still deep in the research and development phase, but the technology has already shown great promise for the future. These vehicles are powered by an electric motor and high-voltage battery that is charged by a fuel cell system which produces only water as a byproduct. The result is a car that has a range in line with (or better than) a traditional gasoline engine, but releases no harmful pollutants and can be refueled in just minutes.
There are still significant challenges that must be conquered before hydrogen powered vehicles show up at your local car dealer, however. Cost of the fuel cell technology must be feasible for consumer level pricing, a refueling infrastructure will need to be much more widespread, and due to the water generated by the fuel cells, operation in sub-zero climates is still a challenge.
The sun delivers an immense amount of power to our planet every day in the form of solar energy, but aside from specialized, lightweight racing vehicles, solar power hasn’t made much of an appearance in the modern automotive landscape. The Ford C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is a first for the industry, and its ability to completely break free from the energy grid makes it an exciting harbinger of things to come.
The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept utilizes custom solar panels spread across the vehicle roof in concert with a magnifying canopy that concentrates the sun’s rays to recharge the car’s electric battery. This means that areas without an advanced electrical infrastructure could still utilize the vehicle’s gas-saving features without issue.
Cars are evolving in a way never seen before, and we’re no longer beholden to fossil fuels to get us from point A to point B. If you’re in the mood for a change, you don’t need to look far, and as we move further into our automotive future your options will only continue to grow.