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  • Subject area(s): Engineering
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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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1.1 introduction

Towards the end of the 19th century the automobile was being created into the machine we see in modern day production, life was difficult for early pioneers for the automobile, at the time there was no clear indication of what will energy source will power the automobile. Though, the fundamental design chassis, wheels, driver cabin and steering wheel had been created.

The first record of automobile production started in France 1890. (1) Regions of the world took to mass producing vehicles America used assembly lines a method of efficiency producing quantity, while European countries used methodic engineering and handcrafting techniques. The choice of efficiency or craftsmanship more than a hundred years ago could be said to have affected how cars today are made where Mercedes and BMW huge European automobile manufacturers stand at the pinnacle of quality vehicles and the biggest American manufacturers linger somewhere below.

Originally public opinion of the automobile was a plaything for the wealthy, everyday use had not yet been envisioned for the automobile. Though, the benefits that came along with owning an automobile was quickly recognized by the masses such as ease of travel. Then with the increase in the amount of roads being built it found new uses public transport, transporting of goods, policing and many other forms.

The sustainability of the industry is very questionable. though, the economic and lifestyle consequences of making the industry redundant will create more issues than it can solve the many other industries such as the steel and rubber, output large amounts of international trade directly to the automotive industry. Moreover, the technological progresses of specialized tools for the design and development of vehicles have influenced advances in petroleum, paint, steel and many other industrial processes.

This report looks at the question ‘If we cannot remove the automotive industry what can be done to improve the sustainability of it and reduce environmental impacts?’

Over the past 15 years there has been a gradually increasing efforts in creating sustainability in the production of automobiles, due to the changing outlook at how the manufacturing industry can evolve and reduce its involvement in pollution. As there are many thoughts and theories of how to reduce any environmental pollution output directly attributed to the automobile industry early pioneers for ‘green’ production failed to convince major automobile companies. But the notion of the automotive industry crossing over into the green stuck.

The concept of low environmental impact manufacturing (LEIM) can be closely linked with the practices of lean production. To work in conjunction with LEIM requires a change in mentality and the ability to be allowing for innovation. For the automotive industry both the product and methodology have been subject to scrutiny in vast efforts at reducing environmental impacts but competing with the growing sale increase of up to 80 million vehicles annually.

What establishes low impact manufacturing is the decisions made in the process of manufacturing and also the product that is produced. The objective is to reduce environmental pollution also increase efficiencies along the manufacturing line. Responsibilities for getting these results falls onto the companies within the industry though in someway forced by legislation and pressures from governing bodies. Thus the reemergence of the Electric Vehicle (EV).

The success of the automobile industry has been a gift and curse to humanity, though it comes with many more benefits than shortcomings its labeled as one of the more unsustainable products in production worldwide. Though because the human existence is so tightly entwined with motoring and how our vehicles are powered makes it difficult to instigate change.

1.2 background

• Manufacturing process/ line

2.1 history of electrical vehicles

2.1.1 EV

In 1873 Robert Davidson was the inventor who made the first known electric locomotive. (1) but his invention was soon discovered to be impractical mainly because of its use of primary batteries. Then, in 1881 the first road worthy electric vehicle was made in the form of a tricycle using the planté (secondary) battery. Subsequently, interest in battery powered vehicles grew and the the first battery powered vehicle landed in United Kingdom 1882 by William Ayrton and John Perry.

In its youth the electric car found its growth stunted in the United Kingdom due to the new ‘Red Flag Act’ of 1865 created aimed at reducing the speed mechanically propelled vehicles which in turn affected the EV until its annulment in 1896. In the late 1800s to the early 1900s business and invention for the EV’s boomed the time saw an electric cab, busses, wagons, coupes, first four-wheel one passenger vehicle in 1895 then a two passenger vehicle later that year.

EVs rose to the forefront of the automobile industry in the early 1900s for 12 years, during this time facing stiff competition from the progress of internal combustion (IC) engines. America 1912 was the most successful year for the EV during this time selling around 30,000 units.

2.1.2 HEV

Between 1899-1903 the first Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) was created by Ferdinand Porsche. (2) IC engines had not advanced as far EVs, unlike the modern interpretation of hybrids being made to combat pollution in the early days its implementation was to assist the performance of the IC. It could be said invention came ahead of its time, the nature complexity was not met with open arms by the masses but in its time was a huge step into improving the range on the soon to be beleaguered electric car.

One of two hybrids vehicles made to be shown publicly at the Paris Salon was a parallel type powered by a small air-cooled gasoline engine assisted by an electric motor and lead acid batteries the other a series type rear wheel drive tricycle. (3)

Similar to EVs the HEVs suffered from a loss in demand, the IC had improved and development meant that there was no longer a need for an electric component to assist IC engine power output. However, there were fundamental issues holding back progress of HEVs power electronics to help control the complex electric motor were not yet available instead models used an unreliable combination of switches and resistors.

3.1 environmental imapct of automotive industry

3.1.2 air poluction

Burdened with being the greatest contributor to freedom of mobility along vast distances and the progress humans have made towards modern lifestyle automobiles have also come at great cost, environmental concerns such as global warming, air pollution, destruction of forest lands also depletion of natural resources have grown exponentially.

IC engines are currently the most common propulsion method for vehicles, they require fuels that combust internally as part of a reaction between air and fuel, this then creates heat and other combustion byproducts. The heat created is used by the engine for power. The creation of this power is what brings about the chemical compounds with high levels of toxicity to humans. Hydrocarbons are the chemical compounds made from combustion it contains carbon dioxide, water, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxides also unburned hydrocarbons.

Nitrogen oxide (NO) reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere to form NO2 but is the decomposed by the sun back into nitrogen oxide this return back to NO creates volatile oxygen atoms. NO also reacts with atmospheric water to create nitric acid which added to rain creates acid rain. Acid rain can lead to the desolation of forests.

Carbon monoxide a poisonous gas if inhaled, it is the result of incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons, incomplete hydrocarbon combustions are because of an insufficient amount of oxygen.

3.1.3 Global warming

The worlds transition into becoming more industrialized has caused the earths temperature rise by around 0.8oC over the past decade as a result of the “greenhouse effect” the trapping of solar energy. Though, seemingly a small rise but this change is huge on a global scale.

The causes for climate change are the rising levels of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and other gasses in the atmosphere. The increase in the amount of these greenhouse gasses within the atmosphere the warmer the earths gets. What creates these increases is the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and manufacturing of chemicals, metals and cement.  

In 2013 it was found that 21% of all GHG emissions can be directly attributed to transport in the UK the total emission count of which passenger vehicles were the biggest contributor, that figure stands approximately 3 percent lower than recorded 1990.


Electric propulsion systems (EPS) are what power motion of the Electric Vehicle. EPS’s are comprised of many sophisticated motion and energy systems all brought together to form a engine system similar to that of a IC engine. These systems which include battery technology, electric motors and power electronics. Highly technical amalgamation into one system marks the EV a viable competitor to the IC engine technology. The cost of merging these technologies will be of high importance while addressing importance of driving profile selection, weight, durability and manufacturing. The integration of newly developed and developing EPS designs is a key assignment, adding better performance and efficiency with power electronics and electronic machines. Amongst many issues faced the low manufactural output and interests of power electronics and, limitations on battery technology and resources.

4.1.1 battery technology

Alongside the electric motor Battery technology represents the vast majority of HEV and EV advancements. Commonly used batteries include nickel-based batteries and lead-acid batteries like Nickel Cadmium, Nickel-Metal Hydride, Lithium Ion and Lithium Ion Polymer. (

4.1.2 Lead-acid battery

The first commercially recognised lead-acid rechargeable battery, now commonly used within motoring was Developed by French physician Gaston Planté in 1859(insert reference). Today two lines of lead-acid battery have materialised the small sealed lead acid (SLA)(reference) and the large valve regulated lead acid (VRLA)(reference).

During the last forty-six years the success of the lead-acid battery have vastly improved, benefits created from these advancements were attractive not only to automotive engineers. Research developed a battery designed to be maintenance-free. Valves were added for the allowing of leakage of hydrogen, gas leakage occurs during charge and discharge. Because of the leakages security against spillage the battery needs to be sealed. Sealing leads to pressure build ups and swelling of battery casing.  The materials used (lead oxide, lead and sulfuric acid) are inexpensive for this battery type, although running cost may be costly if full charge cycles are required regularly. Energy density is an issue caused by the high weight load of lead. For EV designs that require a compact sized battery, weight complications may occur.  

Excess charging can cause gassing and water depletion. As a consequence of this the batteries cannot be fully charged to their absolute peak. A safety and financial benefit of the battery is leaving the battery on charge for extended amounts of time does not harbor any potential damage. Compared to other batteries its discharge rate is reasonably low and if left in this discharged state causes sulfation the implications can lead to permanent recharging issues. Vehicle owners may find some discomfort in a highly corrosive agent within their cars due to safety issues.  

Temperature control is a major contributor to the lead-acid battery life span. Optimum temperature for use is about 25°C. Future of lead-acid batteries (image)

More recently discoveries have found higher performing a lead-acid battery named the UltraBattery. Through creative use of already existing materials, improvement have been made in environmental safety, efficiency and affordability for electric motoring.  

Combining lead-acid cells and supercapacitors. Regular lead acid batteries had an accumulation of lead sulfate which limited performance levels necessary for operating EVs and HEVs.

4.1.3 lithium-based batteries

Development on the lithium battery started in 1912 by G.N. Lewis, yet not until over 50 years later that lithium-based batteries became available commercially. Though, only the non-rechargeable battery was available. After many failed attempts at creating the rechargeable version because of instabilities within the metallic lithium the first rechargeable battery was created in 1985.

Lithium is the lightest of all metals it also benefits from great electrochemical characteristics and a sizeable specific energy to weight ratio.

Two lithium based battery technologies that are most common amongst manufacturers are lithium-ion (Li-ion) and lithium-polymer (Li-polymer) Lithium-ion

Research discovered moving away from the instable lithium metal and into further non-metallic lithium battery technologies for better stability. Non-metallic lithium batteries have lower energy densities but ensure better safety when being charged and discharged. Li-ion has the most chemistry potential amongst rechargeable batteries. Improvements in electrode materials can potentially greatly increase the energy densities. As well as having high capacities, the battery behaves reasonably well under high load conditions during charge and discharge. Discharge retention allows for stored power to stay within a desired voltage range.

Battery design requires less complex methods due to high cell voltage batteries with one cell. To attain a stable power output higher current are required. Cell resistances are low which benefits current flow under load. Li-ion requires little maintenance compared to other battery technologies meaning memory and charge cycles are not necessary to extend battery life. In addition to the battery being well equipped to be used with fuel gauges it also creates little environmental issues when disposed.

Through its enticing benefits Li-ion has a few fundamental issues that require attention. The battery requires a guarding circuit for safe operating, limiting peak voltages prevents the cell voltages from dipping below necessary on discharge. It also requires monitored cell temperatures. Charge and discharge capabilities a between 1C and 2C. Capacity deterioration is a concern and can be noticeable after one year regardless of how much use the battery has been through. Its life span is typically two to three years but during this time the battery can succumb to many failures and inconsistencies. The recommended temperature for storage is 15°C to reduce the effects of ageing. Lithium-Polymer

Li-P uses a different type of electrolyte from other forms of batteries. Originally developed in the 1970’s, its unique polymer electrolyte allows the transition of ions but does not conduct electricity. This polymer is used in place of the porous separator.

In terms of safety the dry polymer offers many benefits due there being no flammable properties. The design also is very thin and very rugged. Because of its thinness it is often the designer’s prerogative for shape and size.

Otherwise the polymer battery does have some major disadvantages. It suffers from poor conductivity and high internal resistance makes the battery inconvenient for portable applications, pre-heating does help negate conductivity issues but is essentially unsustainable. Conductivity issues have since been tackled but only for small Li-P batteries by adding gelled electrolytes. adding gelled electrolytes does mean the battery is considered a lithium ion polymer.

Technical difficulties and delays in volume manufacturing have deferred the introduction of the Li'‑'ion polymer battery. In addition, the promised superiority of the Li'‑'ion polymer has not yet been realized. No improvements in capacity gains are achieved — in fact, the capacity is slightly less than that of the standard Li'‑'ion battery. For the present, there is no cost advantage. The major reason for switching to the Li-ion polymer is form factor. It allows wafer-thin geometries, a style that is demanded by the highly competitive mobile phone industry.

4.1.4 nickel-based batteries

Ni-Cd (

The technology of Nickel/cadmium has made vast improvements. Nickel/cadmium batteries benefits from high specific power, long cycle life, high tolerance to electric and mechanical use, a small discharge voltage droop over a wide range of discharge currents, rapid discharge capability, wide range of operating temperature, low self discharge rate, can be stored long-term due to negligible corrosion and available in various sizes. Although, disadvantages can include high initial costs, low cell voltage and carcinogenicity and environmental hazards.

There are two classifications of Nickel/cadmium the sealed or vented type. The vented sintered-plate nickel/cadmium battery, a more advanced version of the nickel/cadmium battery has a top cover finished with vents, which covers the battery. Beneath the vented plate are numerous curved terminals spacer kits and spacers. This type of battery is formed of 20 individual cells. A sealed nickel/cadmium battery is designed so that there is no reason for maintenance this can be achieved by using a particular cell design which prevents the build-up of gassing built up during overcharging.


Research for the Ni-MH battery started during the 1970s and has been on the consumer market since the 1990s. Ni-MH is in some ways very similar to the nickel-cadmium battery but research discovered how to use hydrogen in its chemistry.

The development of the Ni-MH battery is still under much development and is thought to still have many advantages still yet to be explored. Advantages of the battery are: highest specific energy and highest specific power of nickel based batteries. Environmentally friendly, small voltage drops, rapid recharge capabilities. Though the battery is very costly and is less durable than Ni-Cd. Storage at high temperatures and high load cycling can shorten battery life span.

electric motors

In EVT, the electric motor needs to go through frequent starts and stops, high rate of acceleration and deceleration, such as low speed hill climbing and high speed cruising along with different environmental and hostile conditions. Industrial motors, on the other hand, are usually operated at rated speed under common circumstances [27]. Thus, the electric motors used in EVT cannot be compared with motors being used for industrial processes. The electric motors used for EPS should be able to satisfy some basic characteristic for efficient operation. These characteristics are: high torque for starting and low speed hill climbing operation; high power density for acceleration and high speed cruising for highway; high efficiency over wide torque and speed range; suitability for regenerative braking; over load capability during certain period of time; controllability, high reliability and robustness at affordable costs. In addition, fault tolerant capability, minimum torque ripple, temperature management and low acoustic noise are other important issues for design consideration [60], [61], [62], [63], [64] and [65]. Suitability of electric motor in propulsion application should be strongly approved by torque-speed characteristic illustrated in Fig. 8(a). Moreover, the standard torque-speed characteristic of EPS is shown in Fig. 8(b).

Explain commutator

dc motor

DC motors are the most prominent electric motor system for EVs. DC motors have high torque characteristics these characteristics are deemed suitable for its application within a EV. Though, there are significant disadvantages that hamper its credibility as a long-term propulsion mechanism. The DC motor suffers from low efficiencies, is one of the largest in size and also uses mechanical commutators which generate increased maintenance. Necessity for increased maintenance excludes the DC motor from being a viable motor for vehicles which have high top speeds, low weight and are built to not require much maintenance. The DC motor has one of the highest practical and technical maturity. The progress made with power electronics have produced alternatives to the DC motor. Non-commutator motors are now available and have many benefits, such that the DC motor cannot compete with in some ways.

inductor motor

A Induction motor is a non-commutator electric propulsion system that has gained recently in maturity because of much research and development. Reasons for its much improved development can be the appealing attributes such as high reliability, strength, ability to reach higher speeds, austerity, little costs, matured power electronics and ability to operating under high stresses. Operational techniques can be used to increase performance  such as vector and direct torque control.

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