Off-Road Electric Vehicles
Frontiers for electric vehicles have changed: 10 years ago or even more recently it was almost impossible to consider an electric solution for all-terrain purposes, now on the market we see new products with highly improved performances. Pioneer in this field is the Italian company Alkè (www.alke.com) who invested research and time to develop the new ATX E range of high performance electric vehicles. They have been able to provide electric utility vehicles that face till 40% slopes (with RID version engines), sandy and icy grounds, loading capacity of 500-1000Kg and towing capacity of around 2000-3000Kg.
Mainly they have three types of electric vehicles on the market:
1. Electric vehicles for industrial use: with strong construction and high loading capacity but without suspensions, to be used only on cement or asphalt with flat floor, very poor body design with squared metallic shapes.
2. Electric vehicles for golf courses and people transportation: with light body, medium-low loading capacity, small 2KW electric engines, plastic ABS body, not for hard job conditions.
3. Electric vehicles for road use: homologated for street circulation, road characteristics, driver and passenger comfort more closer to the one you get with a normal car or minivan, not indicated for off-road uses (rigid suspensions and frame).
The idea to mix best characteristics from these separate sectors adding skills deriving from the more traditional market of all-terrain vehicles is recent. This new generation of vehicles gets separate excitation engines, electronic devices and high performance batteries from the very professional fork lift sector; frames, mechanical solutions and suspensions from the diesel off-road vehicles sector; safety equipments and cabin comfort from road homologated vehicles. The result is clearly an electric machine with outstanding capabilities useful especially in sectors where a more standardize electric vehicle is not enough (multiple grounds – multiple job conditions) or gives too poor performances in at least one environment where it is used.
Speaking with the general manager of this company we asked to know what could be new frontiers in this sector. The answer is that the new task will be to decrease the battery weight that at the moment is the more critical issue to grow performance in off-road situation. Lithium batteries should be the right upgrade but at the moment market price for this solution is still not commercially convenient (5-8 times more expensive then standard lead acid batteries).
We’ll see what will happen in the short future, surely the continuously growing price for diesel and petrol fuel and, not less important, the increasing need of clean energy vehicles will move new changes on this sector.