Despite appearing to be a modern phenomenon, the first electric vehicle took to the road in 1832 and in 1899, outselling all other available options, including steam and gasoline powered vehicles. Since 1935, with the invention of the internal combustion engines, gasoline-powered vehicles have become the popular choice. This changed in 2016, which saw a record in the sale of electric vehicles worldwide, with 750,000 cars sold.

Here, Simone Bruckner, director at Cressall, explains the recent popularity of electric vehicles and the challenges they have yet to overcome.

In January, car manufacturer Ford announced that it will boost its investment in electric vehicles to £8bn in the next five years, doubling its previous commitment. This investment has been reciprocated by General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen which have made similar pledges as both consumer confidence and sales build in electric vehicles.


Through consumer education, many misconceptions that have traditionally prevented the purchase of electric vehicles have now been disproven.

Consumers previously experienced three major obstacles according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report published in 2016. First is the perceived prohibitive cost, which is rapidly falling as technology advances and can be partially offset by government bursaries and schemes.

Similarly, many drivers worry about a lack of charging points, but this is becoming less of a concern as Poppy Welch, head of the Go Ultra Low scheme explains. “Since the introduction of government’s plug-in car grant in 2011, registrations of electric cars have grown dramatically from 1,089, to last year’s volume of 36,673.” In Europe, there are now nearly as many charging points as there are gas stations.

The last major concern is range. The LMC report revealed that vehicles would need to travel 300 miles on a single charge for the majority of recipients to consider a purchase, which is close to being achieved due to improvements in battery technology.

Electric vehicle resistor

Regenerative braking

Complementary to research into alternative battery technologies including cobalt, range can be extended by retaining energy lost through braking.

Traditional friction brakes convert the kinetic energy from the car’s motion to heat, where it is lost. However, regenerative brakes have the ability to recapture this energy.

When the motors that power the wheels of an electric vehicle are run in reverse following depression of the brake pedal, they become generators, producing energy that can then be stored in the battery keeping it partially charged, contributing to improved battery health.

Energy capture

Despite the many benefits of regenerative braking, it could present problems when the battery is fully charged or due to an electrical fault. Cressall’s water-cooled EV2 resistor can discharge excess energy captured through regenerative braking in these situations.

The EV2 can also provide cabin heating, of particular importance during winter or in colder countries. Instead of using dedicated resistance only for heating, which is an additional component and draws a lot of current from the battery, the EV2 resistor can allow the transfer of heat into the cabin through cooling or heating water in much the same way as in internal combustion cars.

Regenerative braking may be able to capture half of the 80 per cent of energy lost through traditional friction braking and put it back to work by heating the cabin.

Electric vehicle technology is continually developing through improvements in battery technology, regenerative braking and charging stations and this is only set to continue in order to meet the increased demand for electric vehicles. Although electric cars became unpopular after 1900, there is little doubt that 2018 will more than make up for it.



Cressall has signed a new global distribution agreement with electronic and industrial components distributor RS Components (RS), that will see items from its range of resistors and portable load bank units made available across the world.

The new deal will enable industrial customers to purchase Cressall’s resistors and portable load banks from any of the 32 countries that RS operates in.

Cressall RS Components
Cressall products now available worldwide through RS Components.

Specifically for the agreement with RS, Cressall has produced a range of high current adjustable resistor kits suitable for many high power applications.

In addition, RS now stocks a selection of compact IP20 braking resistors. Features of this range include a stable high temperature-resistant alloy, which produces virtually no noise when subjected to chopped DC braking currents. RS will also stock a range of DC and AC portable load units; the DC load units have been designed for testing batteries and power supplies, the AC units are ideal for checking the performance of small UPS systems or generators.

Cressall has over 100 years of experience manufacturing for markets in Europe, Asia, Australasia and Africa. In 2017, the manufacturer expanded its operations into South America.

“The new global distribution deal provides an exciting opportunity for Cressall, RS and our customers,” explains Martin Nicholls, sales director at Cressall. “From our facility in Leicester, we can design and manufacturer bespoke products for applications such as dynamic braking, motor control and neutral earthing, to specifically meet the customer’s need.

“This new venture will allow us to provide resistor solutions to an even wider audience. We’re excited to see this partnership develop and where it might lead.”

Simon Duggleby, senior product marketing manager for semiconductors and passives at RS, comments: “The addition of Cressall to our supplier portfolio augments our passives offering and broadens the choice for industrial customers around the world who are seeking resistor solutions.”

Specific data sheets have been created for each product, providing customers with the mechanical data, unit ratings and procedures for installation. These can be downloaded from the RS web site.

RS Components and Allied Electronics & Automation are the trading brands of Electrocomponents plc, the global distributor for engineers. With operations in 32 countries, the Group offers more than 500,000 products to over one million customers.