The expertises of Scuderia de Adamich are directed towards the future, with the inclusion of hybrid and electric.
The technological competences of Scuderia de Adamich are the result of 30 years of experience in the automotive field, or better, of actually over 60 years if we consider the activity of its founder and managing director Andrea de Adamich.
Now Scuderia is moving towards the future, involving more and more the new vehicle propulsion types, in particular the hybrid and the electric one.
Here are some considerations on these two systems.
Electric cars are now a reality: a reality that, at least in Italy, still struggles a bit to catch on, but that is going to become more and more part of the reality of everyday driving.
Therefore, it is worth addressing the topic of driving this kind of vehicles.
A clear distinction must be made between:
1. The actual driving, meaning the general behavior of the car: road holding, reactions, handling, behavior in emergency situations;
2. Driving meant as behaviors to be implemented to limit what now is, together with the charging time, the biggest problem with this power supply: power reserve.
Let’s start with point 1, the actual driving. The good news is that, compared to a more traditionally powered car, little changes: the trajectories are the same, the progression through corners is the same, the way of braking is the same. There are basically no differences compared to “normal” cars. However, there are some aspects that must be taken into account.
First of all, the gearshift. Indeed…. It’s not there! Literally, because electric cars usually do not have gears: the electric engine is not like the combustion one, it doesn’t have a torque curve, it is either 0 or 100%, so the management is entrusted to the electric part, the so-called “Inverter”, which is the one managing the accelerator. Gears are not necessary, a gearbox from the engine to the wheels is enough. Likewise, there is also no clutch, not even the one used for automatic transmissions: in fact, unlike the combustion engine, the electric engine doesn’t have any idle, when the accelerator is released, the engine will stop. But how does this affect driving? Actually, once you get used to the lack of gears and to the lack of automatic transmission gear shifting, and it takes little, you will not be missing them much…
Secondly, the noise: you will get used to driving in silence, at least as regards the noise of the engine. On the other hand, the noise that is usually covered by the engine on traditional cars will be amplified: rolling tires and aerodynamics in the first place. You’ll get used also to this, but there’s something you’ll have to take in consideration: there is total silence inside the car but also outside the car, therefore pedestrians, cyclists, etc. will not perceive your arrival by the noise of the engine. Take this into account when driving around town!
Performances will surprise you. In fact, the performances of the electric engine are enviable even to less sporty cars, especially in acceleration: when you fully press down on the accelerator, the thrust comes all together, as if a launch control system was engaged! This is true for city cars, let alone for sportier cars that have dragster-like acceleration!
You don’t have to worry about consumption and you don’t have to be too concerned about driving either: as we said, it’s similar to a traditional car in every way. Braking, could seem like a critical issue since the engine reverses its functioning during the release phase, generating energy that recharges the batteries and significantly increasing the engine braking, but in reality it’s not a problem: the electronics and the drive by wire take care of everything without the driver having to do anything.
Because of these features, and the ease with which extreme performances are achieved, especially in acceleration, very high-performance electric powered cars are becoming more and more popular. These vehicles have supercar characteristics, going from multiple engines (theoretically even up to 4, one per wheel) to 2-speed gearbox instead of single-speed, and please the driver with a Formula car performance. For this reason, one of the most successful championships in the motorsport world is actually FormulaE, whose starting grid is entirely made up of electric cars!
So, with regard to driving, do electric cars have any problems whatsoever? Actually one thing must be taken into account: weight. In fact, batteries are a very heavy component, that affects the dynamics of the car. It is true, however, that they are usually located at the bottom, in the car platform, to better balance the handling of the car by further lowering the center of gravity: this means great driving pleasure!
And then we come to the second point: fuel economy and its maximum exploitation. With the premise that economy does not only concern driving (where the cost per km of an electric car is lower than the one of a corresponding diesel/petrol/hybrid -fueled one), but also situations that are independent of the driver: think of the lower maintenance due, for example, to the lack of oils and other fluids in the mechanics of the car.
Here we obviously address the driving. And if you aim for maximum autonomy, that automatically means greater savings, there are many possible tricks.
Of course driving an electric car is much smoother, you’re more relaxed, you try to make the most of the energy recovery system and to drive in a better way aiming to increase autonomy: in fact, speaking of autonomy, we don’t have to consider only the one supplied by the batteries, but also the one provided by the energy recovery system, which, in some cases, can reach even tens of percent of the total.
To make this happen, a fundamental role is played by the on-board computer, a device that is installed on every electric car: this tool is especially important in a country like ours (but almost everywhere it still is) where the charging stations are few and therefore one cannot feel, in this regard, as carefree as when driving a normal car. The on-board computer can show different graphics, but usually they always inlcude an instantaneous consumption indicator and a series of graphs that show us whether we are driving in a “saving” way or not. When you vigorously accelerate and everything “turns red” you’ll understand that the remaining autonomy (that is always shown) is in serious danger!!
Therefore the main rule is to be as gentle as possible with the gas pedal (actually, we cannot call it this way here: let’s just say the accelerator!): going gradually is the key. Then, when you’ve reached the cruising speed, you must try to maintain it with as little use of the accelerator as possible: as always, constant speeds between 90 and 110 km/h are the most “efficient” when it comes to consumption.
The deceleration part plays a fundamental role in the costs saving: in fact, as we said, during release the system recovers energy and acts as a car retarder itself. You should be able to slow down with the release only and then use the brakes at the very last moment and gently, just to stop the car. This way you’ll get the most out of the system. The autonomy of electric cars is in fact influenced by the charging-while-driving of the vehicle itself. So, it will be the opposite of endothermic cars: constant gas on the highway = high consumption precisely because there is no recovery.
Energy recovery takes place because during release the polarity of the engine itself is reversed, making it a power generator and producing engine braking, that otherwise would be non-existent. However, be careful that, almost in every electric car, the first part of the braking is always generated this way, only to a greater extent, and the braking system is involved only when there’s great pressure on the brake pedal. Furthermore, the most recent products have several steps of “brake” mode (or other acronym), from sailing to strong slowdown, to better customize the regenerative moment according to the preferences of the driver on board.
In this regard, almost all the electric cars are also now equipped with the “Brake” feature that, once activated when going downhill, increases the electromagnetic resistance of the engine, leading to the recovering of more energy and a further braking of the car.
To optimize consumption, the use of on-board systems is also crucial: from the air conditioner to the window, from the headlights to the heating, from the windshield wipers to the radio, everything absorbs energy directly from the batteries and therefore reduces the autonomy. Normally the ancillary services are powered by an additional 12v battery (lights, stereo, windshield wiper, infotainment), while the heating and air conditioning of the passenger compartment use the primary battery pack, affecting the autonomy. Take this into account!
From what we’ve said, it’s clear how important it is to adopt a predictive way of driving, meaning the one that allows us to better understand what is going to happen in front of us, and adapt our driving accordingly. This is why sight becomes even more important: looking straight ahead helps us not only to be safer, but also to use less power. I’ll give you two examples:
- When driving on the highway, looking far ahead and seeing that the cars that are 500-600 meters ahead of us are slowing down allows us to anticipate the release of the accelerator in order to recover energy!
- While driving in the city, looking straight ahead allows us to see the traffic lights that are turning or are already red, implementing the same energy recovery procedure.
Soon you will be finding yourselves having fun while “challenging yourselves” to see the maximum mileage achieved with only one recharge!
A final note: the current problem of electric cars is not really their autonomy, which has almost been overcome in the latest models, but the recharging time, to which the scarcity of suitable charging stations must be added. Therefore, a long-distance trip requires a planning that is not necessary with a heat engine car. Planning stops, perhaps where there are good restaurants, or in places that are worth a visit, becomes necessary. But maybe this is also part of the fun of traveling by car, which, unfortunately, is something that lately is less and less common!
Hybrid cars are starting to be quite widespread and, without getting into the different types of system (mild, full, plug-in), we can define two specific purposes of hybrid cars:
1. Improving consumptions;
2. Improving performances.
Let’s start with the second category: here there are no particular precautions to apply, as if you want to go fast, for example because you are on a track and you are behind the wheel of the latest hybrid super sports car, you just press on the accelerator without hesitation and it will be the “intelligence” of the car the one that will give you the best in terms of performance. In this case reducing consumptions is not a priority.
But if the hybrid vehicle we purchased is a “normal” one, and therefore we bought it for hybrid-related reasons, like reduced consumptions, greater ecology, but also access to city centers and many other bonuses, then taking some precautions while driving can help us better achieve our goals. Notwithstanding that, if you want to drive in a normal way, a hybrid car is the same as any other automatic transmission car…
Here are some tips that are also useful for optimizing fuel consumption with any other car, taking though in consideration the fact that each car has its own particular operating system that may require some further specific tricks. We will focus on 8 tips:
1. Select the correct driving mode
More or less all hybrid cars have the possibility to change the electronic setting of the vehicle through a selector (or button or other tool) that changes the system response in its parameters: response of the accelerator, energy recovery while braking, more or less electric, etc. Usually there are 3 settings (but also this is different from car to car): ECO, NORMAL, SPORT. It goes without saying that if you are not in a hurry, the ECO solution is the best saver …
2. Be very gentle on the accelerator
It may seem trivial, but reaching the cruising speed progressively is a trick that helps the two types of engine be combined and make the hybrid system work well.
3. Never start abruptly
Especially with hybrid cars, where the driving of the first few meters is managed by the electric engine, this is a golden rule! If we drastically accelerate, the heat engine will start functioning immediately, nullifying the savings provided by the electric.
4. Brake gently
Hybrids recharge their batteries when braking, this helps to have more “self-generated” electric power available for greater autonomy and more functioning in electric mode, which is what provides the greatest savings.
5. Anticipate situations
The tips above can be put into practice way better if we always look straight ahead of us. This always applies to driving, but in this case it’s even more important to know what we are about to face (braking, a curve, a straight), it allows us to put into practice more precisely the behaviors we have just mentioned.
6. Do not force driving in electric mode only
If you empty the batteries, then the engine will have to entirely recharge them, and this will increase consumption: finding the right balance ensures great savings!
7. Use the electrical devices on board as little as possible
Air conditioner, lights, chargers, etc absorb a lot of energy!
8. Get in tune with the on-board computer
Usually all hybrids have wonderful color screens that indicate the status and functioning of the system: understanding the graphics and how they work helps us optimize our driving behavior!
However, remember that hybrid vehicles give their best in the city and on extra-urban roads with many speed variations. On the highway the consumption is similar to any other car of equal displacement.
One last recommendation: when you get out of the car, make sure it‘s really off: hybrids make no noise when stationary!!