Fleet FYIs: A Podcast by Utilimarc

EV TECH SERIES - PART ONE: How do electric vehicles and electric vehicle batteries actually work?

March 10, 2023 Utilimarc Season 4 Episode 6
EV TECH SERIES - PART ONE: How do electric vehicles and electric vehicle batteries actually work?
Fleet FYIs: A Podcast by Utilimarc
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Fleet FYIs: A Podcast by Utilimarc
EV TECH SERIES - PART ONE: How do electric vehicles and electric vehicle batteries actually work?
Mar 10, 2023 Season 4 Episode 6

In part one of the EV Tech Series, host Gretchen Reese discusses how electric vehicle batteries and EVs themselves, actually work. Tune in to this week's episode of #UtilimarcFleetFYIs for more.

Share your thoughts on LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook with #UtilimarcFleetFYIs.

Show Notes Transcript

In part one of the EV Tech Series, host Gretchen Reese discusses how electric vehicle batteries and EVs themselves, actually work. Tune in to this week's episode of #UtilimarcFleetFYIs for more.

Share your thoughts on LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook with #UtilimarcFleetFYIs.

Gretchen Reese (00:19):

Welcome to the Fleet FYIs podcast, the weekly podcast by Utilimarc that reveals how you can make the most of your data for smarter fleet management. My name is Gretchen, and every week I'll be sharing with you not only over two decades worth of data insights, but some of the industry's hottest talking points and key metric analysis with the aim to help you better understand your fleet from every angle.


Before we begin, if this is the first time you've heard our show, thanks for stopping by. Once you've finished today's episode, if you could take a few minutes to leave us a review on your favorite podcasting platform, I would really appreciate it. Give us a rating, five stars, I hope, or tell us what you liked or leave us a comment or a question about what you've heard in today's episode. If we haven't yet covered a topic that you're interested in hearing more about, let us know. We would be happy to go over it in detail in a later episode. Let's dig in.


Hello everyone, and welcome back to another episode of the Fleet FYIs podcast. I've got a bit of a techy episode for you today, which I can't wait to dive into, but first I wanted to shed a little bit of light on a super cool new resource coming out on the Utilimarc front. We've just recently wrapped up a survey on electric vehicle performance and we're getting ready to share the results with you. If you want to be one of the first to hear about the new reporting metrics and EV performance highs and lows from top fleets in North America, make sure you sign up for our email list. That way you won't miss them when the results come out. Head over to utilimarc.com, U-T-I-L-I-M-A-R-C.com/blog to get on the list. Anyways, without further ado, let's jump into the show.


For full transparency here, I just wanted to let you know that this techy episode is part one of a four part series, and it has everything to do with electric vehicles, hence the EV survey resource plug at the beginning and the technology that surrounds them. So we all know at this point that sustainability and climate change have become increasingly pressing issues for all types of businesses and all types of organizations worldwide. There is more internal and external pressure than ever before, especially for organizations to make their practices more sustainable and to find different ways of doing so. For fleets, sometimes this pressure can be a bit overwhelming, especially as transportation is considered the greatest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. This pressure can come directly from consumers demanding accountability due to local legislation and mandates or to meet companies' specific social responsibility goals.


Regardless of the motive, though, more organizations are bringing on dedicated sustainability teams to push incentives with immediate action. Now, sustainability can mean something different for each distinct organization. We've been over this on this show before and I just wanted to reinforce that as part of this episode series two, because sustainability looks different depending on how you approach it, it's not a one size fits all solution. This can include assessing a fleet for your electric vehicle readiness. It could be considering alternative fuels for internal combustion engines or even evaluating how a fleet compares in the industry when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions and idle time.


One thing, however, is quite certain, is that electrification is imminent, and with it will come a whole host of new challenges, which personally I think the fleet industry is ready to tackle. But what I'm getting at here is that electric infrastructure will require massive reinforcing and novel materials will be made en mass. Massive, massive, massive amounts of new materials, right, which has the potential to disrupt supply chains and increase dependence on the rare elements that are used to produce them, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.


Whilst the whole world will surely feel the effects of the challenges that come with electrification, fleets will be on the front lines of these efforts. Hopefully, we're no stranger to that by now, but I wanted to touch on how electric vehicles themselves work, a little bit behind the technology and dig into the nitty gritty here. So when we're specifically talking about how electric vehicles work, there are many types of EVs on the road. You're probably already familiar with hybrid electric vehicles, otherwise known as an HEV, as well as a plugin hybrid, which is known as a PHEV if we're going by the acronym here. These combine a traditional internal combustion engine with a battery to store additional energy and to supplement the vehicle's operation. Battery electric vehicles, otherwise known as a BEV, will most often incorporate a lithium-based liquid electrolyte battery as the sole power source in the vehicle, and they've become an increasingly popular technology choice in these vehicles themselves.


Battery technologies and available charging infrastructure have skyrocketed in the recent years, but this seems to be the one that's holding the test of time. Hybrid vehicles, it's thought to be that they will ultimately be phased out of the picture to eliminate tailpipe emissions, but they, as well as developing electric technology, for example, hydrogen fuel sub vehicles, are still important to keep tabs on as this movement continues. Now, I want to talk about power source too because I'm sure you have some questions about batteries. I did too when I first started digging into this, and this is just something I wanted to reiterate here on this show.


Though the world of electric vehicles is already really complex, I mean, we've all heard of new models, new makes coming out every single year, right? The major components of an EV remain pretty simple. Electric energy is stored in vehicle batteries of varied chemistries and are depleted by the operation of the vehicle in itself. This electricity is replaced by the use of charging stations, which most often attach directly to the electric grid network, or on some occasions, a standalone power source. Understanding how EV batteries, charging stations and even the electric grid work will become an important endeavor that each of us should strive to be able to complete our knowledge of.


The absolute most crucial component of electric vehicles is the battery itself. The battery serves as a limiting factor in EV development, which I'm sure we're all aware of by now with the ultimate vehicle price, range, power and longevity, all directly depending on the quality of the battery technology. EV technologies, which circumvent the need for batteries, fuel cell electric vehicles is a really good example of this, are still kind of infants in comparison to actual electric technology that's been around for many, many years at this point, and this comes with a host of additional problems, meaning that the solution for enhancing EV technology is still dependent on battery development. Typically, electric vehicles run most efficiently with a battery that has the highest energy density to weight ratio. This is also known as specific energy and any additional vehicle weight can potentially lessen the efficiency of a vehicle propulsion.


One of the challenges with EV technology, especially those powered by batteries only, is that the energy density of gasoline is hard to replicate. To this day, it still remains one of the most efficient fuels in the world for most efficiency metrics that are actually used to judge it based on other fuels. For example, CNG, EVs, plug-in hybrids, you get what I mean. Batteries on the other hand, store energy in the form of chemical potential energy, as does gasoline, but the largest difference between the two is that gasoline stores potential energy in the form of chemical bonds, which can be accessed by burning the fuel and converted to mechanical energy to power your vehicle. This is an irreversible process and a costly one in terms of our carbon footprint when we look at it from that perspective, because you can't recreate the gasoline once you've burned it.


Batteries, on the other hand, offer a bit more of a flexible and reversible framework to consistently store and release energy when connected to an electric circuit. Two electric terminals called the cathode and the anode, which are separated by a chemical material called an electrolyte, is how the battery structure is created. When a battery is coupled to an external circuit, electrons move throughout the circuit simultaneously moving ions in an opposing direction through the electrolyte itself. The direction of these moving ions or the ions in motion, as I like to call it, either stores energy from or releases energy to the external circuit itself.


This is a really important side of it too, but batteries require a DC power source, otherwise known as a direct current power source to complete this energy storage circuit. This means that typical AC power sources or alternating power sources like the electric grid will require the conversion of this energy, which I'll be chatting a little bit more about next week in part two of our EV technology series. But just a little note, when we're looking at AC and DC, alternating current or direct current, this is where you look at level one chargers, level two chargers, both are AC chargers or you have your DC fast charging, which is known as that level three. That's the biggest difference for how some of these chargers are actually broken down and then the amount of voltage that's required to use them, but again, we'll be going more into this part of the discussion in part two next week on Friday.


I'd love to know if you have any questions though surrounding EV technology, how it works, battery tech, fuel efficiency, you name it. I can answer some of them in next week's episode if you get them to me on time, otherwise we've got three more after this, so you've got plenty of time to spare if you can't get it in by Wednesday. Anyways send me an email, you can tag me on LinkedIn, you can use the #UtilimarcFleetFYIs, or you can send me a carrier pigeon. We all know how much I love that. I'm looking forward to hearing from you as always, and I'll be back to chat with you more next week on Friday. Ciao.


Hey there, it's me again. I think it's time to cue the virtual high five because you've just finished listening to another episode of the Fleet FYIs podcast. If you're already wanting more on all things fleet and vehicle technology, head over to utilimarc.com, which is utilimarc with a C, U-T-I-L-I-M-A-R-C.com for this episode's show notes and extra insights coming straight from our analyst to you. That's all from me this week, so until next time, I'll catch you later.