For a young engineer who used to sleep through math class, Steven Camilleri has certainly seen his life perk up. From In Motion Technologies' offices in Dandenong, a quiet suburb of Melbourne, Australia, he works on what he considers to be some of the most exciting technology in the world. He's been rebuilding one of the pillars of engineering--the common electric motor--and now he and his five-person research team are poised to see their superefficient, environmentally friendly device roll off production lines.

It all started when Camilleri was dozing through his course work as an undergraduate in electrical engineering at Northern Territory University in Darwin, Australia. Disappointed that the curriculum offered few opportunities to be creative, he delved wholeheartedly into outside projects--he made his own robots and joined the school's team to build a solar car. Along the way, he met Dean Patterson, a professor of electrical engineering at Northern Territory who was backing the solar car project, and he encountered the motor that would change his life.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

VCG/Getty Images

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

Keep Reading ↓Show less