light weight car


In June 2023, the Institution of Structural Engineers published a report suggesting that the weight of our cars is too much for many multi-storeys built in the 60s and 70s. Known for being heavier, EVs have been the first to be blamed ─ but is this fair?

It’s clear that cars have come a long way in design and development over the past 50 years. But while their safety, range, and ride have improved drastically, there’s something else that has increased too ─ their weight.

Looking at some of the most prevalent vehicles of the 60s and 70s highlights the increase in weight. The BMC AD016 was Britain’s best-selling car for more than five years and had a kerb weight of just over 830 kg. Other popular cars included the Ford Escort at 867 kg, and the estate Ford Cortina at 940 kg. So, what’s the comparison to modern vehicles?


Let’s consider last year’s most popular car ─ the Nissan Qashqai. Comparing petrol and equivalent hybrid models within the range, such as the Acenta Premium, shows a weight increase of approximately 250 kg with the partially electric version. The 1.3L petrol comes in at 1348 kg, versus the hybrid 1.5L version at 1612 kg. While the slightly larger engine will contribute to the weight increase, it’s clear that the battery itself ─ even for just a hybrid ─ adds up to the weight. And the Tesla Model Y, the UK’s best selling electric car, boasts a weight of 1980 kg, with 771 kg belonging to the battery alone.

But is it fair to place all the blame on electric cars? It’s worth noting that, while electric and hybrid equivalents are likely to be heavier, there are still plenty of larger petrol and diesel cars on the upper end of the scale. New Range Rovers typically weigh upwards of 2400 kg, and the trend towards larger vehicles in general is another important factor in the weight debate.

Therefore, making more lightweight vehicles is likely to become a growing priority ─ not just in achieving higher fuel efficiency, but also to support older and aging infrastructure.


When it comes to electric vehicles, the battery is likely to be an area of focus. Simply opting for smaller batteries won’t do; this will only negatively impact the range of usability of the vehicle. Therefore, if we’re going to make EV batteries lighter, a more sophisticated approach is required.

One option is the implementation of regenerative braking technology. Regenerative braking allows the surplus energy generated by braking to be directed back into the battery. This improved efficiency can extend the EV’s range by ten to 15 per cent, and even higher in optimum conditions. Therefore, by implementing regenerative braking technology, it becomes possible to slightly reduce the size of the battery, without a huge effect on range.

To safely implement regenerative braking technology, a dynamic braking resistor (DBR) is essential. The DBR dissipates any excess energy in the system, such as that generated when the car is braking on a full battery. Providing a safe way of dispelling this excess energy is crucial to protect the electrical components in the vehicle and to prevent overvoltages.

In line with lightweighting measures, it’s therefore important to choose a compact DBR. Here at Cressall, we have a range of lightweight DBRs available. Our flagship EV2 resistor is just 15 per cent of the weight of an equivalent air-cooled resistor, making it an ideal choice for EV manufacturers seeking to cut vehicle weight with no loss to safety or performance.

While there’s truth in that EVs are typically heavier than their petrol equivalents, it’s clear that the trend towards larger cars in general has contributed to the strain being placed on our infrastructure. But with EV uptake only set to increase within the next few years, making them lighter must be a priority. Regenerative braking is just one example of a technology crucial to improving EV efficiency and weight ─ and with new technologies emerging all the time, it certainly won’t be the last.



cabin heating electric vehicles


The end of the road for internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE) has been on the agenda for a few years now, with many countries on track to meet their own targets for final sale. But the rollout isn’t without its challenges. Here, Simone Bruckner, managing director of power resistor manufacturer for the electric vehicle (EV) market, Cressall, explains the resistor solution to ensuring EU-compliant braking systems.

According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or AECA, of the 1.9 million cars registered in 2021, the number of diesel car registrations represented 66 per cent less than in 2017. In the same time period, battery and hybrid EVs experienced a tenfold increase. However, while electrification seems to be progressing well for cars, challenges remain in other vehicle categories.


EU regulation relates to any vehicle belonging to category M3 — vehicles used for the carriage of passengers, comprising of more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seats with a maximum mass exceeding five tonnes. Typically, these are buses and coaches.

Regardless of how category M3 vehicles are fuelled, they must be fitted with a secondary or endurance brake to safeguard the vehicle’s ability to stop. Category M3 vehicles brake differently to cars, as they do not purely rely on their service brakes to slow down. Instead, they also use an endurance braking system, which enables the driver to reduce the speed, or descend at a nearly constant speed, without using its service brakes. The benefit of an endurance braking system is that it doesn’t overheat as quickly on long declines and reduces the risk of fade or failure of the service brakes.

In order to comply with regulation, vehicles must pass the ECE R13 Type -IIA test, which requires the vehicle to maintain a speed of 30 kilometres per hour (kph) for 12 minutes on a 7 per cent slope without using its service brakes.


In the past, passing this test has proven difficult for EVs. The technical issue comes when the battery is fully loaded. The vehicle’s endurance braking system works on a regenerative braking model, meaning that when the vehicle’s brakes are pressed, the kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy, which is directed to the EV’s battery to recharge it.

When an EV’s battery is full, the vehicle’s kinetic energy cannot be converted into electricity and stored, meaning regenerative braking is impossible, and the endurance braking system cannot operate. So in order to pass the test, it’s important to ensure the availability of sufficient capacity in the battery, or create a separate outlet channel for excess energy to be directed into to keep the system operational and ensure the vehicle can pass the downhill test.


One solution to ensuring sufficient capacity of the EV’s battery is to fit a dynamic braking resistor that removes excess energy from the system and dissipates it as heat. This heat takes the form of hot water within the EV’s own, existing cooling system. Removing energy from the system in this way ensures that the endurance braking system remains active by providing an outlet for excess energy.

Typical concerns around the use of a resistor for this application centre around a possible negative impact on weight and cost. But Cressall’s EV2 water-cooled DBR is designed specifically for EV applications, providing the high reliability, mechanical simplicity and low weight required. The EV2’s unique patented design means it is typically ten per cent of the volume and 15 per cent of the weight of the inequivalent air-cooled DBR. It can also be integrated into a vehicle’s existing overall cooling system, removing the need for a separate cooling circuit, further reducing weight additions.

The shift away from ICE vehicles is well underway, and despite no solid targets for the end of the sale of ICE buses and coaches, their electric counterparts are proving popular in Europe, with sales expected to quadruple by 2030. But for uptake to have as much success as anticipated, it’s crucial for automakers to consider how to ensure their braking systems are compliant to keep the EU’s roads safe.




The electrification of the on-road transportation sector is well documented. What’s less discussed, however, are the off-road applications that can also benefit from electrification. That includes agricultural equipment. Here‘s how the agricultural sector can electrify, and the echnologies that can help.

According to the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food, & Rural Affairs’ Agri-climate report 2021, in 2019, agriculture was the source of ten per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. The sector was also responsible for 68 per cent of total nitrous oxide emissions, 47 per cent of total methane emissions and 1.7 per cent of total carbon dioxide emissions.

However, despite these figures, it seems the farming community is seeking change. The 2021 Farm Practices Survey indicated that 67 per cent of farmers consider recognising greenhouse gases to be either fairly or very important when taking decisions about their land, crops and livestock. One method of reducing emissions is to electrify equipment that traditionally runs on fossil fuels, such as tractors.


Modern agriculture depends on a fleet of heavy-duty vehicles, from pickup trucks and small utility vehicles to massive tractors and combines that can weigh several tonnes, plus attachments. This machinery is commonly powered by diesel engines, mostly due to their higher torque and dependability. And here is where an electrification challenge may lie.

The electric sceptics of the agricultural industry claim that the largest problem with electrifying tractors and other heavy vehicles is that battery-powered options don’t have the energy density of a diesel model required to do long, hard work in the field. As load impacts on battery life, pulling a piece of heavy equipment would drain power fast. Using diesel, therefore, means a farmer won’t have to worry about filling the tank for 10 to 12 hours while out on the job.

Battery technology, therefore, needs to be developed in order to withstand the heavy loads of agricultural vehicles and supply a lasting and reliable source of power. Some manufacturers have produced compact, swappable batteries to extend the length of operation. Another option, developed by John Deer in 2019, features a long power cable that’s only available for farmers who are able to produce their own electricity via the use of solar panels, manure digesters or windmills.

Right now, despite its challenges, attempts to electrify farming vehicles are well underway. The work is being done, and given the mounting pressure to decarbonise all areas of industry, it won’t be too long before electrification becomes more accessible to the masses. In addition to the battery itself, manufacturers must consider the other components that make electrifying possible.


Resistors will play a role in electrification, to support the process of regenerative braking. As part of regenerative braking, excess kinetic energy is used to recharge an EV’s battery. It is able to do this because the electric motor in an EV can run in two directions: one, using the electrical energy, to drive the wheels and move the vehicle, and the other, using the excess kinetic energy, to recharge the battery.

When the driver lifts their foot off the accelerator pedal and steps on the brake, the motor starts to resist the vehicle’s motion, “swapping direction”, and begins putting energy back into the battery. As a result, regenerative braking uses the EV’s motor as a generator to convert lost kinetic energy into stored energy in the battery.

Regenerative braking can support the ongoing dilemma of electric tractor battery range. However, to work effectively, other technologies are needed to make the process safe and effective. If the vehicle’s battery is already full or there is a failure, regenerative braking cannot happen as the excess energy has nowhere to go and must be dispelled safely. If not dissipated, it won’t be possible to slow down the vehicle, resulting in braking failure. To make electrifying agriculture safe, resistors are used to collect excess energy and dissipate it safely.

Cressall’s EV2 dynamic braking resistor converts excess kinetic energy during the braking process into heat that can be dissipated or used in other parts of the vehicle, like to heat the tractor’s cabin. It is a high-power density, lightweight and compact resistor that has proven to meet all major shock and vibration standards, suitable for all automotive applications, not just on-road vehicles.

While electrifying on-road vehicles has become well recognised, the same attention must be paid to other areas of the automotive industry. The agricultural sector is beginning to wake up to the prospects of decarbonising, and positive steps are being taken towards electrification. To make it happen, agricultural vehicle manufacturers need to consider the technology that can make agricultural EVs more efficient, and safer.



In his 2022 Autumn Statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that electric vehicle owners will have to pay road tax from 2025. Critics say the move will further hinder consumers from purchasing an EV sooner than they need to. But, even as EV adoption continues to climb, what are the other reasons holding people back from making the switch?

Though EV uptake has been increasing in recent years, new electric car registrations still lag far behind petrol and diesel vehicles. The Government’s Vehicle Licensing statistics for 2022 showed that in the April to June period, 13 per cent of new car registrations were fully electric, with petrol still taking the majority at 53 per cent. But, when under increasing pressure to meet climate carbon targets, why is there still a reluctance to switch to an electric vehicle?


With energy bills doubling over the past year, the cost of powering an EV is a major barrier to their adoption. A poll by the AA suggested more than three in five drivers have been put off owning or switching to an EV due to skyrocketing electricity costs.

And those who can’t charge their vehicle at home need to pay even more for their electricity. Public chargers can cost up to twice as much, with the RAC Charge Watch reporting a 42 per cent price increase in 2022 for using a public rapid charger.


According to Zap-Map, out of a total 36,000 public charging points across the UK, only around 7,000 of these are rapid or ultra-rapid chargers. With non-rapid chargers potentially taking several hours or even overnight to charge an EV battery, there’s a very noticeable difference when switching from a petrol or diesel that takes only minutes to refuel and has a much longer range on a single tank.

The charging times of non-rapid chargers can also mean that a charging point is taken up for several hours, unlike a petrol station where each pump is only occupied for minutes. When it comes to electric power, the number of charging points needs to reflect the number of cars as well as their expected recharging times.


Many potential customers are discouraged by the initial cost of an electric vehicle, often considerably higher due to the more expensive technologies used in EVs. Insurance firm LV found new EVs to be an average of £7,000 more expensive than their petrol and diesel equivalents. And this trend follows into the used car market, with a used electric hatchback up to 27 per cent more expensive than its petrol counterpart.

With mounting pressure to reduce carbon emissions on the roads, it’s inevitable that drivers will need to switch to EVs before long. But what can manufacturers do now to help improve the EV uptake?


Increasing EV uptake, particularly before the ICE deadline, will require effort from all stakeholders — be that automakers, infrastructure developers and government. When designing EVs, there are several considerations manufacturers can make to boost their efficiency and thus make them more commercially attractive.

One way of boosting vehicle efficiency, which positively contributes to EV driving range, is implementing regenerative braking. This process takes the excess energy generated when the vehicle is braking, and reverses the flow of electricity, putting it back into the battery.

But there may be situations where the energy generated in a sudden burst is too high for the battery to take in, such as when making an emergency stop. This can lead to overvoltages, damaging electrical components within the system, and there are other factors to consider when designing a safe and effective regenerative system.

To dissipate the excess energy safely, resistors should be used. Compact, high power dynamic braking resistors with simple connections are easily installed into existing circuits. Modular resistors can also be put together to match the level of braking power required depending on the type of vehicle.

Though much progress has been made in increasing EV uptake, there are still many drivers who are yet to be persuaded. But we’re not at the end of the road yet, and there are many considerations EV manufacturers can make to make their vehicles a more enjoyable, efficient, and safer drive for end users.