AT the recent Tokyo Motor Show and the Frankfurt Motor Show last month, electric cars were seen in the booths of major international automotive manufacturers.
If the contents of the floors of these shows are an indication of the future cars that we will drive, it seems that the electric car is on the verge of making it to the mainstream.
The Tokyo Motor Show 2017 saw the unveiling of noteworthy electric vehicle (EV) cars, such as the Sports EV Concept car from Honda, a retro styled electric sport car that is a nod to the its S600 and S800 sports cars, but with an “electric twist”. The car will have artificial intelligence in the form of Honda Automated Network Assistant that handles everything, from navigation to other complex car functions.
Nissan showed off a NISMO version of their Leaf EV and the new IMx, a crossover concept targeted squarely at the Tesla Model X with a maximum range of around 600km.
With a combined power putout of 320kW and 700Nm of torque, the vehicle seems to be pushing into new territory.
Then there is Mitsubishi’s surprising reveal of its new Evolution. Dubbed the Mitsubishi e-Evolution, the new car has metamorphosised into a sports utility vehicle (SUV) with all round electric drive, and autonomous drive. The SUV, currently a prototype, will have a an artificial intelligence race car co-driver, which will look at road conditions through sensors and “co-ordinate the deliverable performance and setup to best adapt to the situation”.
Just a month earlier, at the Frankfurt Motor show, a slew of electric cars and concepts were unveiled as well.
The cars included BMW’s i Vision Dynamics, a new concept sedan that may lay the foundation for an electric car that sits in between its i3 city car and the i8 supercar.
Performance for the new electric car include acceleration times of 4 seconds to 100kph, with top speed of over 200kph and a range of 600km.
The concept is a lead up on BMW’s electrification plan, which will see the automaker rolling out 25 electrified models until 2025, out of which a dozen will be fully electric.
Meanwhile, Honda displayed the Sports EV Concept’s sibling, the Urban EV Concept, a cute throwback to the small first generation Civic hatchbacks of the 70s with an astounding amount of charm bundled with its technology. The small hatchback has suicide doors, and a wood and gray interior with bench seats. There are no details on its range or power output.
Meanwhile, an announcement by Toshiba earlier this month may bring with it a revolutionary jump in the capabilities of EVs.
According to a press release from Toshiba Japan, a new battery is in development that offers high-energy density and the ultra-rapid recharging required for automotive applications.
The highlight is the battery will give a compact EV a drive range of up to 320km after just six minutes of charging.
The new ultra-rapid recharging battery gives three times the distance possible with current lithium-ion batteries.
The battery is a next generation SciBTM, which uses a new material to double the capacity of the battery anode.
First launched towards the end of the last decade, the company says it has constantly refined the SCiBTM technology.
Its titanium niobium oxide anode is less likely to experience lithium metal deposition during ultra-rapid recharging or recharging in cold conditions — a cause of battery degradation and internal short circuiting.
“We are excited by the potential of the titanium niobium oxide anode and the SCiBTM,” said Toshiba Corporation Corporate Research and Development Centre director Dr Osamu Hori.
“Rather than an incremental improvement, this is a game changing advance that will make a significant difference to the range and performance of EVs. We will continue to improve the battery’s performance and aim to put the next-generation SCiBTM into practical application in fiscal year 2019.”