Electric car

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Smart electric drive charging at an on-street station

An electric car is an automobile that is propelled by one electric motor or more, using electrical energy stored in batteries or another energy storage device. Electric motors give electric cars instant torque, creating strong and smooth acceleration.

With the German Flocken Elektrowagen, the first electric car of the world was created in 1888 already[1]. Electric cars were popular in the late 19th century and early 20th century, until advances in internal combustion engine technology and mass production of cheaper gasoline vehicles led to a decline in the use of electric drive vehicles. The energy crises of the 1970s and 1980s brought a short-lived interest in electric cars; although, those cars did not reach the mass marketing stage, as is the case in the 21st century. Since 2008, a renaissance in electric vehicle manufacturing has occurred due to advances in battery and power management technologies, concerns about increasing oil prices, and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[2][3]

As of November 2013, series production highway-capable models available in some countries include the Mitsubishi i MiEV, Chery QQ3 EV, JAC J3 EV, Nissan Leaf, Smart ED, Wheego Whip LiFe, BYD e6, Bolloré Bluecar, Renault Fluence Z.E., Ford Focus Electric, BMW ActiveE, Tesla Model S, Honda Fit EV, RAV4 EV second generation, Renault Zoe, Roewe E50, Mahindra e2o, Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500e, Volkswagen e-Up! and BMW i3. The world's top-selling highway-capable all-electric cars are the Nissan Leaf, with global sales of 83,000 units through September 2013;[4] the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, with global sales of more than 30,000 vehicles by June 2013, including more than 4,000 minicab MiEVs sold in Japan, and over 10,000 units rebadged as Peugeot iOn and Citroën C-Zero and sold in the European market;[5][6] and the Tesla Model S, with 18,200 units delivered through September 2013.[7][8] Pure electric car sales in 2012 were led by Japan with a 28% market share of global sales, followed by the United States with a 26% share, China with 16%, France with 11%, and Norway with 7%.[9]

Benefits of electric cars over conventional internal combustion engine automobiles include a significant reduction of local air pollution, as they do not emit tailpipe pollutants,[10] in many cases, a large reduction in total greenhouse gas and other emissions (dependent on the fuel and technology used for electricity generation[2][3]), and less dependence on foreign oil, which in several countries is cause for concern about vulnerability to oil price volatility and supply disruption.[2][11][12] Widespread adoption of electric cars faces several hurdles and limitations, however, including the higher cost of electric vehicles, the lack of recharging infrastructure (other than home charging) and the driver's fear of the batteries running out of energy before reaching their destination (range anxiety) due to the limited range of most existing electric cars.[2][3]


Electric cars are a variety of electric vehicle (EV). The term "electric vehicle" refers to any vehicle that uses electric motors for propulsion, while "electric car" generally refers to highway-capable automobiles powered by electricity. Low-speed vehicles electric vehicles, classified as neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) in the United States,[13] and as electric motorised quadricycles in Europe,[14] are plug-in electric-powered microcars or city cars with limitations in terms of weight, power and maximum speed that are allowed to travel on public roads and city streets up to a certain posted speed limit, which varies by country.

While an electric car's power source is not explicitly an on-board battery, electric cars with motors powered by other energy sources are generally referred to by a different name: an electric car powered by sunlight is a solar car, and an electric car powered by a gasoline generator is a form of hybrid car. Thus, an electric car that derives its power from an on-board battery pack is a form of battery electric vehicle (BEV). Most often, the term "electric car" is used to refer to battery electric vehicles.


German Flocken Elektrowagen of 1888, regarded as the first electric car of the world[15]
German electric car, 1904
Detroit Electric car charging

Electric cars enjoyed popularity between the late 19th century and early 20th century, when electricity was among the preferred methods for automobile propulsion, providing a level of comfort and ease of operation that could not be achieved by the gasoline cars of the time. Advances in internal combustion technology, especially the electric starter, soon rendered this advantage moot; the greater range of gasoline cars, quicker refueling times, and growing petroleum infrastructure, along with the mass production of gasoline vehicles by companies such as the Ford Motor Company, which reduced prices of gasoline cars to less than half that of equivalent electric cars, led to a decline in the use of electric propulsion, effectively removing it from important markets such as the United States by the 1930s. However, in recent years, increased concerns over the environmental impact of gasoline cars, higher gasoline prices, improvements in battery technology, and the prospect of peak oil, have brought about renewed interest in electric cars, which are perceived to be more environmentally friendly and cheaper to maintain and run, despite high initial costs, after a failed reappearance in the late-1990s.

1890s to 1910s: Early history[edit]

Before the pre-eminence of internal combustion engines, electric automobiles held many speed and distance records. Among the most notable of these records was the breaking of the 100 km/h (62 mph) speed barrier, by Camille Jenatzy on April 29, 1899 in his 'rocket-shaped' vehicle Jamais Contente, which reached a top speed of 106 km/h (66 mph). Before the 1920s, electric automobiles were competing with petroleum-fueled cars for urban use of a quality service car.[16]

Proposed as early as 1896 in order to overcome the lack of recharging infrastructure, an exchangeable battery service was first put into practice by Hartford Electric Light Company for electric trucks. The vehicle owner purchased the vehicle from General Electric Company (GVC) without a battery and the electricity was purchased from Hartford Electric through an exchangeable battery. The owner paid a variable per-mile charge and a monthly service fee to cover maintenance and storage of the truck. The service was provided between 1910 to 1924 and during that period covered more than 6 million miles. Beginning in 1917 a similar service was operated in Chicago for owners of the Milburn Light Electric cars who also could buy the vehicle without the batteries.[17]

1911 Ideal Electric Car ad

In 1897, electric vehicles found their first commercial application in the U.S. as a fleet of electrical New York City taxis, built by the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company of Philadelphia. Electric cars were produced in the US by Anthony Electric, Automatic, Baker, Columbia, Anderson, Fritchle, Studebaker, Riker, and others during the early 20th century.

Despite their relatively slow speed, electric vehicles had a number of advantages over their early-1900s competitors. They did not have the vibration, smell, and noise associated with gasoline cars. They did not require gear changes, which for gasoline cars was the most difficult part of driving. Electric cars found popularity among well-heeled customers who used them as city cars, where their limited range was less of a disadvantage. The cars were also preferred because they did not require a manual effort to start, as did gasoline cars which featured a hand crank to start the engine. Electric cars were often marketed as suitable vehicles for women drivers due to this ease of operation.

In 1911, the New York Times stated that the electric car has long been recognized as "ideal" because it was cleaner, quieter and much more economical than gasoline-powered cars.[18] Reporting this in 2010, the Washington Post commented that "the same unreliability of electric car batteries that flummoxed Thomas Edison persists today."[19]

1950s to 1990s: Pollution and energy problems[edit]

The Henney Kilowatt, a 1961 production electric car based on the Renault Dauphine

Some European nations during World War II experimented with electric cars, but the technology stagnated. Several ventures were established to build electric cars, such as the Henney Kilowatt. In 1955, the U.S. Air Pollution Control Act helped address the growing emissions problems and this law was later amended to establish regulatory standards for automobiles.[20] In 1959, American Motors Corporation (AMC) and Sonotone Corporation planned a car to be powered by a "self-charging" battery.[21] It was to have sintered plate nickel-cadmium batteries.[22] Nu-Way Industries also showed an experimental electric car with a one-piece plastic body that was to begin production in early-1960.[21]

Concerns with rapidly decreasing air quality caused by automobiles prompted the U.S. Congress to pass the Electric Vehicle Development Act of 1966 that provided for electric car research by universities and laboratories.[20] Meanwhile, the Enfield Thunderbolt, an electric car produced after a competition run by the Electrical Board, was won by Enfield Auto, and 100 cars were produced at their factory on the Isle of Wight.[23] By the late-1960s, the U.S. and Canada Big Three automakers each had electric car development programs. The much smaller AMC partnered with Gulton Industries to develop a new battery based on lithium and use an advanced speed controller.[24] Although a nickel-cadmium battery was used for an all-electric 1969 Rambler American station wagon, other "plug-in" vehicles were developed with Gulton that included the Amitron and the similar Electron.

The energy crises of the 1970s and 80s brought about renewed interest in the perceived independence that electric cars had from the fluctuations of the hydrocarbon energy market. In the early 1990s, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) began a push for more fuel-efficient, lower-emissions vehicles, with the ultimate goal being a move to zero-emissions vehicles such as electric vehicles.[2][25] In response, automakers developed electric models, including the Chrysler TEVan, Ford Ranger EV pickup truck, GM EV1, and S10 EV pickup, Honda EV Plus hatchback, Nissan lithium-batteryAltra EV miniwagon, and Toyota RAV4 EV. These cars were eventually withdrawn from the U.S. market.[26]

1990s to present: Revival of interest[edit]

First Nissan Leaf delivered in the U.S. on the road south of San Francisco

The global economic recession in the late 2000s led to increased calls for automakers to abandon fuel-inefficient SUVs, which were seen as a symbol of the excess that caused the recession, in favor of small cars, hybrid cars, and electric cars. California electric car maker Tesla Motors began development in 2004 on the Tesla Roadster, which was first delivered to customers in 2008. As of March 2012, Tesla had sold more than 2,250 Roadsters in at least 31 countries.[27] The Mitsubishi i MiEV was launched for fleet customers in Japan in July 2009, and for individual customers in April 2010,[28][29][30] followed by sales to the public in Hong Kong in May 2010,[31] and Australia in July 2010 via leasing.[32] Retail customer deliveries of the Nissan Leaf in Japan and the United States began in December 2010,[33][34] followed in 2011 by several European countries and Canada.[35][36]

The BMW ActiveE is part of a field testing program aimed that contributed to the development of the BMW i3.[37]

In the 2011 State of the Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed an ambitious goal of putting 1 million plug-in electric vehicles on the roads in the U.S. by 2015.[38] The objectives include "reducing dependence on oil and ensuring that America leads in the growing electric vehicle manufacturing industry."[39]

The Smart electric drive, Wheego Whip LiFe, Mia electric, Volvo C30 Electric, and the Ford Focus Electric were launched for retail customers during 2011. The BYD e6, released initially for fleet customers in 2010, began retail sales in Shenzhen, China in October, 2011.[40] The Bolloré Bluecar was released in December 2011 and deployed for use in the Autolib' carsharing service in Paris.[41] Leasing to individual and corporate customers began in October 2012 and is limited to the Île-de-France area.[42]

In February 2011, the Mitsubishi i MiEV became the first electric car to sell more than 10,000 units, including the models badged in Europe as Citroën C-Zero and Peugeot. The record was registered by Guinness World Records. Several months later, the Nissan Leaf overtook the i MiEV as the best selling all-electric car ever.[43]

Models released to the market in 2012 include the BMW ActiveE, Coda, Renault Fluence Z.E., Tesla Model S, Honda Fit EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, and Renault Zoe. The Nissan Leaf passed the milestone of 50,000 units sold worldwide in February 2013.[44]

Comparison with internal combustion engine vehicles[edit]

An important goal for electric vehicles is overcoming the disparity between their costs of development, production, and operation, with respect to those of equivalent internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). As of 2013, electric cars are significantly more expensive than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles due to the additional cost of their lithium-ion battery pack.[45] However, battery prices are coming down with mass production and are expected to drop further.[46]

Electric cars have several benefits over conventional internal combustion engine automobiles, including a significant reduction of local air pollution, as they have no tailpipe, and therefore do not emit harmful tailpipe pollutants from the onboard source of power at the point of operation;[47][48][49] reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the onboard source of power, depending on the fuel and technology used for electricity generation to charge the batteries.[2][3] Electric vehicles generally, compared to gasoline vehicles show significant reductions in overall well-wheel global carbon emissions due to the highly carbon intensive production in mining, pumping, refining, transportation and the efficiencies obtained with gasoline.[50]

Electric vehicles provide for less dependence on foreign oil, which for the United States and other developed or emerging countries is cause for concern about vulnerability to oil price volatility and supply disruption.[2][11][12] Also for many developing countries, and particularly for the poorest in Africa, high oil prices have an adverse impact on their balance of payments, hindering their economic growth.[51][52]


Sales of the Mitsubishi i MiEV to the public began in Japan in April 2010, in Hong Kong in May 2010 and in Australia in July 2010.

The up-front purchase price of electric cars is significantly higher than conventional internal combustion engine cars, even after considering government incentives for plug-in electric vehicles available in several countries. The primary reason is the high cost of car batteries.[53] The high purchase price is hindering the mass transition from gasoline cars to electric cars. According to a survey taken by Nielsen for the Financial Times in 2010, around three quarters of American and British car buyers have or would consider buying an electric car, but they are unwilling to pay more for an electric car. The survey showed that 65% of Americans and 76% of Britons are not willing to pay more for an electric car than the price of a conventional car.[54]

The electric car company Tesla Motors uses laptop battery technology for the battery packs of its electric cars, which are 3 to 4 times cheaper than dedicated electric car battery packs of other auto makers. Dedicated battery packs cost $700–$800 per kilowatt hour, while battery packs using small laptop cells cost about $200. This could drive down the cost of electric cars that use Tesla's battery technology such as the Toyota RAV4 EV, Smart ED and Tesla Model X which announced for 2014.[55][56][57] As of June 2012, and based on the three battery size options offered for the Tesla Model S, the New York Times estimated the cost of automotive battery packs between US$400 to US$500 per kilowatt-hour.[58]

A 2013 study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy reported that battery costs came down from US$1,300 per kilowatt hour in 2007 to US$500 per kilowatt hour in 2012. The U.S. Department of Energy has set cost targets for its sponsored battery research of US$300 per kilowatt hour in 2015 and US$125 per kilowatt hour by 2022. Cost reductions through advances in battery technology and higher production volumes will allow plug-in electric vehicles to be more competitive with conventional internal combustion engine vehicles.[59]

Several governments have established policies and economic incentives to overcome existing barriers, promote the sales of electric cars, and fund further development of electric vehicles, more cost-effective battery technology and their components. Several national and local governments have established tax credits, subsidies, and other incentives to reduce the net purchase price of electric cars and other plug-ins.[60][61][62][63]


The Tesla Roadster, launched in 2008, has a range of 244 mi (393 km) and ended production in 2011.

Electric cars have expensive batteries that must be replaced but otherwise incur very low maintenance costs, particularly in the case of current lithium-based designs. The documentary film Who Killed the Electric Car?[64] shows a comparison between the parts that require replacement in gasoline powered cars and EV1s, with the garages stating that they bring the electric cars in every 5,000 mi (8,000 km), rotate the tires, fill the windshield washer fluid and send them back out again.

Running costs[edit]

The cost of charging the battery depends on the price paid per kWh of electricity - which varies with location. As of November 2012, a Nissan Leaf driving 500 mi (800 km) per week is estimated to cost US$600 per year in charging costs in Illinois, U.S.[65]

The EV1 energy use was about 11 kW·h/100 km (0.40 MJ/km; 0.18 kW·h/mi).[66] The 2011/12 Nissan Leaf uses 21.25 kW·h/100 km (0.765 MJ/km; 0.3420 kW·h/mi) according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.[67] These differences reflect the different design and utility targets for the vehicles, and the varying testing standards. The energy use greatly depends on the driving conditions and driving style. Nissan estimates that the Leaf's 5-year operating cost will be US$1,800 versus US$6,000 for a gasoline car in the US[68] According to Nissan, the operating cost of the Leaf in the UK is 1.75 pence per mile (1.09p per km) when charging at an off-peak electricity rate, while a conventional petrol-powered car costs more than 10 pence per mile (6.25p per km). These estimates are based on a national average of British Petrol Economy 7 rates as of January 2012, and assumed 7 hours of charging overnight at the night rate and one hour in the daytime charged at the Tier-2 daytime rate.[69]

The following table compares out-of-pocket fuel costs estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency according to its official ratings for fuel economy (miles per gallon gasoline equivalent in the case of plug-in electric vehicles) for series production all-electric passenger vehicles rated by the EPA by May 2013, versus EPA rated most fuel efficient plug-in hybrid, (Chevrolet Volt),[70] gasoline-electric hybrid car (Toyota Prius third generation),[71] and EPA's average new 2013 vehicle, which has a fuel economy of 23 mpg-US (10 L/100 km; 28 mpg-imp).[72]

Comparison of fuel efficiency and costs for all the electric cars rated by the EPA for the U.S. market by April 2013
against EPA rated most fuel efficient plug-in hybrid, hybrid electric vehicle and 2013 average gasoline-powered car in the U.S.
(Fuel economy and operating costs as displayed in the Monroney label)
EPA rated
fuel economy
EPA rated
fuel economy
EPA rated
fuel economy
Cost to drive
25 miles
fuel cost
Scion iQ EV[73]2013All-electric121 mpg-e
(28 kW-hrs/100 mi)
138 mpg-e
(24 kW-hrs/100 mi)
105 mpg-e
(32 kW-hrs/100 mi)
$0.84$500See (1)
The 2013 iQ EV is the most fuel
efficient EPA-certified vehicle of all
fuel types considered in all years.
Chevrolet Spark EV[74]2014All-electric119 mpg-e
(28 kW-hrs/100 mi)
128 mpg-e109 mpg-en.a.$500See (1)
Honda Fit EV[75]2013All-electric118 mpg-e
(29 kW-hrs/100 mi)
132 mpg-e
(26 kW-hrs/100 mi)
105 mpg-e
(32 kW-hrs/100 mi)
$0.87$500See (1)
Fiat 500e[76]2013All-electric116 mpg-e
(29 kW-hrs/100 mi)
122 mpg-e108 mpg-e$0.87$500See (1)
Nissan Leaf[77]2013All-electric115 mpg-e
(29 kW-hrs/100 mi)
129 mpg-e102 mpg-e$0.87$500See (1)
Mitsubishi i[78]2012-13All-electric112 mpg-e
(30 kW-hrs/100 mi)
126 mpg-e
(27 kW-hrs/100 mi)
99 mpg-e
(34 kW-hrs/100 mi)
$0.90$550See (1)
Smart electric drive[79]2013All-electric107 mpg-e
(32 kW-hrs/100 mi)
122 mpg-e
(28 kW-hrs/100 mi)
93 mpg-e
(36 kW-hrs/100 mi)
$0.96$600See (1)
Ratings correspond to both
convertible and coupe models.
Ford Focus Electric[80]2012-13All-electric105 mpg-e
(32 kW-hrs/100 mi)
110 mpg-e
(31 kW-hrs/100 mi)
99 mpg-e
(34 kW-hrs/100 mi)
$0.96$600See (1)
BMW ActiveE[81]2011All-electric102 mpg-e
(33 kW-hrs/100 mi)
107 mpg-e96 mpg-e$0.99$600See (1)
Nissan Leaf[82]2011-12All-electric99 mpg-e
(34 kW-hrs/100 mi)
106 mpg-e
(32 kW-hrs/100 mi)
92 mpg-e
(37 kW-hrs/100 mi)
$1.02$600See (1)
Tesla Model S[83]2013All-electric95 mpg-e
(35 kW-hrs/100 mi)
94 mpg-e97 mpg-e$1.05$650See (1)
Model with 60kWh battery pack
Tesla Model S[84]2012All-electric89 mpg-e
(38 kW-hrs/100 mi)
88 mpg-e
(38 kW-hrs/100 mi)
90 mpg-e
(37 kW-hrs/100 mi)
$1.14$700See (1)
Model with 85kWh battery pack
Toyota RAV4 EV[85]2012All-electric76 mpg-e
(44 kW-hrs/100 mi)
78 mpg-e74 mpg-e$1.32$850See (1)
Chevrolet Volt[86]
2013Electricity only98 mpg-e
(35 kW-hrs/100 mi)
--$1.05$900See (1) and (2)
Most fuel efficient plug-in hybrid car.
The 2013 Volt has a combined
gasoline/electricity rating of 62 mpg-e
(City 63 mpg-e, Hwy 61 mpg-e).
Gasoline only37 mpg35 mpg40 mpg$2.57
Toyota Prius[87]
50 mpg51 mpg48 mpg$1.74$1,050See (2)
Most fuel efficient hybrid electric car,
together with the Prius c.
Ford Taurus FWD[89]
(Average new car)
2013Gasoline only23 mpg19 mpg29 mpg$3.79$2,300See (2)
Other 2013 models achieving
23 mpg include the Chrysler 200,
and the Toyota Venza.
Notes: All estimated fuel costs based on 15,000 miles annual driving, 45% highway and 55% city.
(1) Values rounded to the nearest $50. Electricity cost of $0.12/kw-hr (as of November 30, 2012). Conversion 1 gallon of gasoline=33.7 kW-hr.
(2) Premium gasoline price of US$3.81 per gallon (used by the Volt), and regular gasoline price of US$3.49 per gallon (as of November 30, 2012).

Mileage costs[edit]

Most of the mileage-related cost of an electric vehicle can be attributed to the maintenance of the battery pack, and its eventual replacement, because an electric vehicle has only around 5 moving parts in its motor, compared to a gasoline car that has hundreds of parts in its internal combustion engine.[90] To calculate the cost per kilometer of an electric vehicle it is therefore necessary to assign a monetary value to the wear incurred on the battery. With use, the capacity of a battery decreases. However, even an 'end of life' battery which has insufficient capacity has market value as it can be re-purposed, recycled or used as a spare.[citation needed]

The Tesla Roadster's very large battery pack is expected to last seven years with typical driving and costs US$12,000 when pre-purchased today.[91][92] Driving 40 miles (64 km) per day for seven years or 102,200 miles (164,500 km) leads to a battery consumption cost of US$0.1174 per 1 mile (1.6 km) or US$4.70 per 40 miles (64 km). The company Better Place provided another cost comparison as they anticipate meeting contractual obligations to deliver batteries as well as clean electricity to recharge the batteries at a total cost of US$0.08 per 1 mile (1.6 km) in 2010, US$0.04 per mile by 2015 and US$0.02 per mile by 2020.[93] 40 miles (64 km) of driving would initially cost US$3.20 and fall over time to US$0.80.

In 2010 the U.S. government estimated that a battery with a 100 miles (160 km) range would cost about US$33,000. Concerns remain about durability and longevity of the battery.[94]

Total cost of ownership[edit]

A 2010 report by J.D. Power and Associates states that it is not entirely clear to consumers the total cost of ownership of battery electric vehicles over the life of the vehicle, and "there is still much confusion about how long one would have to own such a vehicle to realize cost savings on fuel, compared with a vehicle powered by a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE). The resale value of HEVs and BEVs, as well as the cost of replacing depleted battery packs, are other financial considerations that weigh heavily on consumers’ minds."[95]

A study published in 2011 by the Belfer Center, Harvard University, found that the gasoline costs savings of plug-in electric cars over their lifetimes do not offset their higher purchase prices. The study compared the lifetime net present value at 2010 purchase and operating costs for the US market with no government subidies.[96][97] The study estimated that a PHEV-40 is US$5,377 more expensive than a conventional internal combustion engine, while a battery electric vehicle is US$4,819 more expensive. But assuming that battery costs will decrease and gasoline prices increase over the next 10 to 20 years, the study found that BEVs will be significantly cheaper than conventional cars (US$1,155 to US$7,181 cheaper). PHEVs, will be more expensive than BEVs in almost all comparison scenarios, and more expensive than conventional cars unless battery costs are very low and gasoline prices high. Savings differ because BEVs are simpler to build and do not use liquid fuel, while PHEVs have more complicated power trains and still have gasoline-powered engines.[96]

Range and recharging time[edit]

Most cars with internal combustion engines can be considered to have indefinite range, as they can be refueled very quickly. Electric cars often have less maximum range on one charge than cars powered by fossil fuels, and they can take considerable time to recharge. This is a reason that many automakers marketed EVs as "daily drivers" suitable for city trips and other short hauls.[citation needed] The average American drives less than 40 miles (64 km) per day; so the GM EV1 would have been adequate for the daily driving needs of about 90% of U.S. consumers.[64] Nevertheless, people can be concerned that they would run out of energy from their battery before reaching their destination, a worry known as range anxiety.

The Tesla Roadster can travel 245 miles (394 km) per charge;[98] more than double that of prototypes and evaluation fleet cars currently on the roads.[99] The Roadster can be fully recharged in about 3.5 hours from a 220-volt, 70-amp outlet which can be installed in a home.[100] But using a European standard 220-volt, 16-amp outlet a full charge will take more than 15 hours.

However, most vehicles also support much faster charging, where a suitable power supply is available. Therefore for long distance travel, in the US and elsewhere, there has been the installation of DC Fast Charging stations with high-speed charging capability from three-phase industrial outlets so that consumers could recharge the 100-200+ mile battery of their electric vehicle to 80 percent in about 30 minutes.[101][102] A nationwide fast charging infrastructure is currently being deployed in the US that by 2013 will cover the entire nation.[103] DC Fast Chargers are going to be installed at 45 BP and ARCO locations and will be made available to the public as early as March 2011.[104] The EV Project will deploy charge infrastructure in 16 cities and major metropolitan areas in six states.[105][106] Nissan has announced that 200 of its dealers in Japan will install fast chargers for the December 2010 launch of its Leaf EV, with the goal of having fast chargers everywhere in Japan within a 25 mile radius.[107] Although charging at these stations is still relatively time consuming compared to refueling, in practice it often meshes well with a normal driving pattern, where driving is usually done for a few hours before stopping and resting and drink or eating; this gives the car a chance to be charged.[108]

The BMW i3 has an optional gasoline-powered range extender engine

Another way to extend the limited range of electric vehicles is by building them with battery switch technology. An EV built with such technology can be able to go to a battery switch station and swap a depleted battery with a fully charged one in a few minutes. In 2011 Better Place deployed the first modern commercial application of the battery switching model, but due to financial difficulties, the company filed for bankruptcy in May 2013.[109][110][111][112]

A similar idea is that of the range-extension trailer which is attached only when going on long trips. The trailers can either be owned or rented only when necessary.[113] BMW i is offering a gasoline-powered range extender engine as an option for its BMW i3 all-electric car.[114] The company is also planning to offer additional mobility packages for trips where the range of an BMW i3 would not be enough to allow customers to cover longer distances, by providing a conventional BMW vehicle on a given number of days per year.[115] The i3 performance in range-extending mode may be more limited than when it is running on battery power, as BMW clarified that the range extender is designed not for long-distance travel but purely as an emergency backup to keep the electric system going until the next recharging location.[116] The range-extender option will cost an additional US$3,850 in the United States,[117] an additional €4,710 (~ US$6,300) in France,[118] and €4,490 (~ US$6,000) in the Netherlands.[119]

Air pollution and carbon emissions[edit]

Electric cars contribute to cleaner air in cities because they produce no harmful pollution at the tailpipe from the onboard source of power, such as particulates (soot), volatile organic compounds, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, ozone, lead, and various oxides of nitrogen. The clean air benefit is usually local because, depending on the source of the electricity used to recharge the batteries, air pollutant emissions are shifted to the location of the generation plants.[2] The amount of carbon dioxide emitted depends on the emission intensity of the power source used to charge the vehicle, the efficiency of the said vehicle and the energy wasted in the charging process. This is referred to as the long tailpipe of electric vehicles.

For mains electricity the emission intensity varies significantly per country and within a particular country it will vary depending on demand,[120] the availability of renewable sources and the efficiency of the fossil fuel-based generation used at a given time.[121] Charging a vehicle using renewable energy yields very low carbon footprint (only that to produce and install the generation system e.g. wind power).

United States
Sources of electricity in the U.S. in 2009.[122]

An EV recharged from the US grid electricity in 2008 emits about 115 grams of CO
per kilometer driven (6.5 oz(CO
)/mi), whereas a conventional US-market gasoline powered car emits 250 g(CO2)/km (14 oz(CO2)/mi) (most from its tailpipe, some from the production and distribution of gasoline).[123]

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) published in 2012 a report with an assessment of average greenhouse gas emissions resulting from charging plug-in car batteries considering the full life-cycle (well-to-wheel analysis) and according to fuel and technology used to generate electric power by region in the U.S. The study used the Nissan Leaf all-electric car to establish the analysis's baseline. The UCS study expressed the results in terms of miles per gallon instead of the conventional unit of grams of carbon dioxide emissions per year. The study found that in areas where electricity is generated from natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric or other renewable sources, the potential of plug-in electric cars to reduce greenhouse emissions is significant. On the other hand, in regions where a high proportion of power is generated from coal, hybrid electric cars produce less CO2 emissions than plug-in electric cars, and the best fuel efficient gasoline-powered subcompact car produces slightly less emissions than a plug-in car. In the worst-case scenario, the study estimated that for a region where all energy is generated from coal, a plug-in electric car would emit greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to a gasoline car rated at a combined city/highway fuel economy of 30 mpg-US (7.8 L/100 km; 36 mpg-imp). In contrast, in a region that is completely reliant on natural gas, the plug-in would be equivalent to a gasoline-powered car rated at 50 mpg-US (4.7 L/100 km; 60 mpg-imp) combined.[124][125]

The study found that for 45% of the U.S. population, a plug-in electric car will generate lower CO2 emissions than a gasoline-powered car capable of a combined fuel economy of 50 mpg-US (4.7 L/100 km; 60 mpg-imp), such as the Toyota Prius. Cities in this group included Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, and Salt Lake City, and the cleanest cities achieved well-to-wheel emissions equivalent to a fuel economy of 79 mpg-US (3.0 L/100 km; 95 mpg-imp). The study also found that for 37% of the population, the electric car emissions will fall in the range of a gasoline-powered car rated at a combined fuel economy between 41 to 50 mpg-US (5.7 to 4.7 L/100 km; 49 to 60 mpg-imp), such as the Honda Civic Hybrid and the Lexus CT200h. Cities in this group include Phoenix, Arizona, Houston, Miami, Columbus, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia. An 18% of the population lives in areas where the power supply is more dependent on burning carbon, and emissions will be equivalent to a car rated at a combined fuel economy between 31 to 40 mpg-US (7.6 to 5.9 L/100 km; 37 to 48 mpg-imp), such as the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus. This group includes Denver, Minneapolis, Saint Louis, Missouri, Detroit, and Oklahoma City.[125][126][127] The study found that there are no regions in the U.S. where plug-in electric cars will have higher greenhouse gas emissions than the average new compact gasoline engine automobile, and the area with the dirtiest power supply produces CO2 emissions equivalent to a gasoline-powered car rated 33 mpg-US (7.1 L/100 km; 40 mpg-imp).[124]

The following table compares well-to-wheels greenhouse gas emissions estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for series production plug-in electric cars from major carmakers available in the U.S. market by April 2012. For comparison purposes, emissions for the average gasoline-powered new car are also included. Total emissions include the emissions associated with the production, transmission and distribution of electricity used to charge the vehicle.[128][129]

Comparison of EPA's full life cycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions
for series production plug-in electric cars available in the U.S. market by April 2012
(Emissions as estimated by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's
fueleconomy.gov website for model years 2011 and 2012)
VehicleEPA rated
All-electric range[130]
EPA rated
combined fuel economy[131][132][133]
Cleaner electric gridsU.S. national
electric mix
Dirtier electric grids
(San Francisco)
Mid-Atlantic South
(Washington, D.C.)
(Des Moines)
Rocky Mountains
Mitsubishi i-MiEV62 mi (100 km)112 mpg-e
(30 kW-hrs/100 miles)
80 g/mi (50 g/km)100 g/mi (62 g/km)160 g/mi (99 g/km)200 g/mi (124 g/km)230 g/mi (143 g/km)270 g/mi (168 g/km)290 g/mi (180 g/km)
Ford Focus Electric76 mi (122 km)105 mpg-e
(32 kW-hrs/100 miles)
80 g/mi (50 g/km)110 g/mi (68 g/km)170 g/mi (106 g/km)210 g/mi (131 g/km)250 g/mi (155 g/km)280 g/mi (174 g/km)310 g/mi (193 g/km)
BMW ActiveE94 mi (151 km)102 mpg-e
(33 kW-hrs/100 miles)
90 g/mi (56 g/km)110 g/mi (68 g/km)180 g/mi (112 g/km)220 g/mi (137 g/km)250 g/mi (155 g/km)290 g/mi (180 g/km)320 g/mi (199 g/km)
Nissan Leaf73 mi (117 km)99 mpg-e
(34 kW-hrs/100 miles)
90 g/mi (56 g/km)120 g/mi (75 g/km)190 g/mi (118 g/km)230 g/mi (143 g/km)260 g/mi (162 g/km)300 g/mi (186 g/km)330 g/mi (205 g/km)
Chevrolet Volt35 mi (56 km)94 mpg-e
(36 kW-hrs/100 miles)
170 g/mi (106 g/km)(1)190 g/mi (118 g/km)(1)230 g/mi (143 g/km)(1)260 g/mi (162 g/km)(1)290 g/mi (180 g/km)(1)310 g/mi (193 g/km)(1)330 g/mi (205 g/km)1)
Smart ED63 mi (101 km)87 mpg-e
(39 kW-hrs/100 miles)
100 g/mi (62 g/km)130 g/mi (81 g/km)210 g/mi (131 g/km)260 g/mi (162 g/km)300 g/mi (186 g/km)350 g/mi (218 g/km)380 g/mi (236 g/km)
Coda88 mi (142 km)73 mpg-e
(46 kW-hrs/100 miles)
120 g/mi (76 g/km)160 g/mi (99 g/km)250 g/mi (155 g/km)300 g/mi (186 g/km)350 g/mi (218 g/km)410 g/mi (255 g/km)440 g/mi (273 g/km)
Average U.S.
new car[134]
Gasoline only22 mpgTotal emissions: 500 g/mi (311 g/km)
Upstream: 100 g/mi (62 g/km) and tailpipe: 400 g/mi (249 g/km)
Note (1) EPA assumed for the Chevrolet Volt that 64% of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle's operation is powered by electricity and the rest is powered from gasoline, and as a result, out of the total emissions shown, 87 g/mi correspond to tailpipe emissions. Tailpipe emissions are zero for all other electric vehicles included, and the emissions shown account upstream GHG emissions.
United Kingdom

A study made in the UK in 2008 concluded that electric vehicles had the potential to cut down carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40%, even taking into account the emissions due to current electricity generation in the UK and emissions relating to the production and disposal of electric vehicles.[135]

The savings are questionable relative to hybrid or diesel cars (according to official British government testing, the most efficient European market cars are well below 115 grams of CO
per kilometer driven, although a study in Scotland gave 149.5gCO
/km as the average for new cars in the UK[136]), but since UK consumers can select their energy suppliers, it also will depend on how 'green' their chosen supplier is in providing energy into the grid.


In a worst-case scenario where incremental electricity demand would be met exclusively with coal, a 2009 study conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature and IZES found that a mid-size EV would emit roughly 200 g(CO2)/km (11 oz(CO2)/mi), compared with an average of 170 g(CO2)/km (9.7 oz(CO2)/mi) for a gasoline-powered compact car.[137] This study concluded that introducing 1 million EV cars to Germany would, in the best-case scenario, only reduce CO
emissions by 0.1%, if nothing is done to upgrade the electricity infrastructure or manage demand.[137]


In France, which has a clean energy grid, CO
emissions from electric car use would be about 12g per kilometer.[138]

Emissions during production

A 2011 report prepared by Ricardo found that hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars generate more carbon emissions during their production than current conventional vehicles, but still have a lower overall carbon footprint over the full life cycle. The initial higher carbon footprint is due mainly to battery production. As an example, the study estimated that 43 percent of production emissions for a mid-size electric car are generated from the battery production.[139]

Environmental impact of manufacturing[edit]

Electric cars are not completely environmentally friendly, and have impacts arising from manufacturing the vehicle. Since battery packs are heavy, manufacturers work to lighten the rest of the vehicle. As a result, electric car components contain many lightweight materials that require a lot of energy to produce and process, such as aluminum and carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers. Electric motors and batteries also add to the energy of electric-car manufacture.[140] Additionally, the magnets in the motors of electric vehicles contain precious metals. In a study released in 2012, a group of MIT researchers calculated that global mining of two rare earth metals, neodymium and dysprosium, would need to increase 700% and 2600%, respectively, over the next 25 years to keep pace with various green-tech plans.[141] Substitute strategies do exist, but deploying them introduces trade-offs in efficiency and cost.[140] The same MIT study noted that the materials used in batteries are also harmful to the environment.[142] Compounds such as lithium, copper, and nickel are mined from the earth and processed in a manner that demands energy and can release toxic components. Regions with poor legislature, mineral exploitation can even further extend risks. Population affected may be exposed to toxic substances through air and groundwater contamination.[140][clarification needed]

A paper published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology named "Comparative environmental life cycle assessment of conventional and electric vehicles" begins by stating that it is important to address concerns of problem-shifting.[143] The study highlighted in particular the toxicity of the electric car's manufacturing process compared to conventional petrol/diesel cars. It concludes that the global warming potential of the process used to make electric cars is twice that of conventional cars. The study also finds that electric cars do not make sense if the electricity they consume is produced predominately by coal-fired power plants.[144]

Acceleration and drivetrain design[edit]

Electric motors can provide high power-to-weight ratios, and batteries can be designed to supply the large currents to support these motors.

Although some electric vehicles have very small motors, 15 kW (20 hp) or less and therefore have modest acceleration, many electric cars have large motors and brisk acceleration. In addition, the relatively constant torque of an electric motor, even at very low speeds tends to increase the acceleration performance of an electric vehicle relative to that of the same rated motor power internal combustion engine. Another early solution was American Motors’ experimental Amitron piggyback system of batteries with one type designed for sustained speeds while a different set boosted acceleration when needed.[145]

Electric vehicles can also use a direct motor-to-wheel configuration which increases the amount of available power. Having multiple motors connected directly to the wheels allows for each of the wheels to be used for both propulsion and as braking systems, thereby increasing traction. In some cases, the motor can be housed directly in the wheel, such as in the Whispering Wheel design, which lowers the vehicle's center of gravity and reduces the number of moving parts.[146][147][148] When not fitted with an axle, differential, or transmission, electric vehicles have less drivetrain rotational inertia. Housing the motor within the wheel can increase the unsprung weight of the wheel, which can have an adverse effect on the handling of the vehicle.[citation needed]


A gearless or single gear design in some EVs eliminates the need for gear shifting, giving such vehicles both smoother acceleration and smoother braking. Because the torque of an electric motor is a function of current, not rotational speed, electric vehicles have a high torque over a larger range of speeds during acceleration, as compared to an internal combustion engine. As there is no delay in developing torque in an EV, EV drivers report generally high satisfaction with acceleration.

The gearless design is the least complex, but high acceleration requires high torque from the motor, which requires high current and results in Joule heating. This is because the internal wiring of the motor has electrical resistance, which dissipates power as heat when a current is put through it, in accordance to Ohm's Law. While the torque of the electric motor is not dependent on its rotational speed, the output power of the motor is the product of both the torque and the rotational speed, which means that more power is lost in proportion to the output power when the motor is turning slowly. In effect, the drive train becomes less efficient the slower the vehicle moves.

In the single gear design, this problem is mitigated by using a gear ratio that allows the motor to turn faster than the wheel, which translates low torque and high rotational speed of the motor into high torque and low rotational speed of the wheels, giving equal or better acceleration without compromising efficiency as much. However, since the motor does have a top speed at which it can operate, the trade-off is lower top speed for the vehicle. If a higher top speed is desired, the trade-off is lower acceleration and lower efficiency at slow speeds.

The use of a multiple-speed transmission allows the vehicle to operate efficiently at both high and low speeds, but comes with more complexity and cost.

For example, the Venturi Fetish delivers supercar acceleration despite a relatively modest 220 kW (295 hp), and top speed of around 160 km/h (100 mph). Some DC-motor-equipped drag racer EVs, have simple two-speed manual transmissions to improve top speed.[149] The Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport can accelerate from 0 to 97 km/h (0 to 60 mph) in 3.7 seconds with a motor rated at 215 kW (288 hp).[150] The Tesla Model S Performance currently holds the world record for the quickest production electric car to do 402 m (14 mi), which it did in 12.37 seconds at 178.3 km/h (110.8 mph).[151] And the Wrightspeed X1 prototype created by Wrightspeed Inc is the worlds fastest street legal electric car to accelerate from 0 to 97 km/h (0 to 60 mph), which it does in 2.9 seconds.[152][153]

Energy efficiency[edit]

Internal combustion engines are relatively inefficient at converting on-board fuel energy to propulsion as most of the energy is wasted as heat. On the other hand, electric motors are more efficient in converting stored energy into driving a vehicle, and electric drive vehicles do not consume energy while at rest or coasting, and some of the energy lost when braking is captured and reused through regenerative braking, which captures as much as one fifth of the energy normally lost during braking.[2][154] Typically, conventional gasoline engines effectively use only 15% of the fuel energy content to move the vehicle or to power accessories, and diesel engines can reach on-board efficiencies of 20%, while electric drive vehicles have on-board efficiency of around 80%.[154]

Production and conversion electric cars typically use 10 to 23 kW·h/100 km (0.17 to 0.37 kW·h/mi).[66][155] Approximately 20% of this power consumption is due to inefficiencies in charging the batteries. Tesla Motors indicates that the vehicle efficiency (including charging inefficiencies) of their lithium-ion battery powered vehicle is 12.7 kW·h/100 km (0.21 kW·h/mi) and the well-to-wheels efficiency (assuming the electricity is generated from natural gas) is 24.4 kW·h/100 km (0.39 kW·h/mi).[156]

Cabin heating and cooling[edit]

Electric vehicles generate very little waste heat and resistance electric heat may have to be used to heat the interior of the vehicle if heat generated from battery charging/discharging cannot be used to heat the interior.

While heating can be simply provided with an electric resistance heater, higher efficiency and integral cooling can be obtained with a reversible heat pump (this is currently implemented in the hybrid Toyota Prius). Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) junction cooling[157] is also attractive for its simplicity — this kind of system is used for example in the Tesla Roadster.

Because electric cars' cabin climate control system does not depend on an internal combustion engine running, to avoid impacting the electric car range some models allow the cabin to be already at the correct temperature at the time the car is next to be used. For example, the Nissan Leaf and the Mistubishi i-MiEV can be pre-heated when the vehicle is plugged in to reduce the impact on range due to cabin heating.[158][159]

Some electric cars, for example the Citroën Berlingo Electrique, use an auxiliary heating system (for example gasoline-fueled units manufactured by Webasto or Eberspächer) but sacrifice "green" and "Zero emissions" credentials. Cabin cooling can be augmented with solar power, most simply and effectively by inducting outside air to avoid extreme heat buildup when the vehicle is closed and parked in the sunlight (such cooling mechanisms are available as aftermarket kits for conventional vehicles). Two models of the 2010 Toyota Prius include this feature as an option.[160]


The safety issues of BEVs are largely dealt with by the international standard ISO 6469. This document is divided in three parts dealing with specific issues:

Risk of fire[edit]

Frontal crash test of a Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric to assess the safety of the battery pack.

Lithium-ion batteries may suffer thermal runaway and cell rupture if overheated or overcharged, and in extreme cases this can lead to combustion.[161] Several plug-in electric vehicle fire incidents have taken place since the introduction of mass-production plug-in electric vehicles in 2008. Most of them have been thermal runaway incidents related to their lithium-ion battery packs, and have involved the Zotye M300 EV, Chevrolet Volt, Fisker Karma, BYD e6, Dodge Ram 1500 Plug-in Hybrid, Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Outlander P-HEV. As of November 2013, four post-crash fires associated with the batteries of all-electric cars—involving one BYD e6 and three Tesla Model S cars—have been reported.[citation needed]

The first modern crash-related fire was reported in China in May 2012, after a high-speed car crashed into a BYD e6 taxi in Shenzhen.[162] The second reported incident occurred in the United States in October 1, 2013, when a Tesla Model S caught fire after the electric car hit metal debris on a highway in Kent, Washington state, and the debris punctured one of 16 modules within the battery pack.[163][164] A second reported fire occurred on October 18, 2013 in Merida, Mexico. In this case the vehicle was being driven at high speed through a roundabout and crashed through a wall and into a tree. On November 6, 2013, a Tesla Model S being driven on Interstate 24 nearMurfreesboro, Tennessee caught fire after it struck a tow hitch on the roadway, causing damage beneath the vehicle.[165]

In the United States, General Motors ran in several cities a training program for firefighters and first responders to demonstrate the sequence of tasks required to safely disable the Chevrolet Volt’s powertrain and its 12 volt electrical system, which controls its high-voltage components, and then proceed to extricate injured occupants. The Volt's high-voltage system is designed to shut down automatically in the event of an airbag deployment, and to detect a loss of communication from an airbag control module.[166][167] GM also made available an Emergency Response Guide for the 2011 Volt for use by emergency responders. The guide also describes methods of disabling the high voltage system and identifies cut zone information.[168] Nissan also published a guide for first responders that details procedures for handling a damaged 2011 Leaf at the scene of an accident, including a manual high-voltage system shutdown, rather than the automatic process built-in the car's safety systems.[169][170]

Vehicle safety[edit]

Great effort is taken to keep the mass of an electric vehicle as low as possible to improve its range and endurance. However, the weight and bulk of the batteries themselves usually makes an EV heavier than a comparable gasoline vehicle, reducing range and leading to longer braking distances; it also has less interior space. However, in a collision, the occupants of a heavy vehicle will, on average, suffer fewer and less serious injuries than the occupants of a lighter vehicle; therefore, the additional weight brings safety benefits[171] despite having a negative effect on the car's performance.[172] An accident in a 2,000 lb (900 kg) vehicle will on average cause about 50% more injuries to its occupants than a 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) vehicle.[173] In a single car accident,[citation needed] and for the other car in a two car accident, the increased mass causes an increase in accelerations and hence an increase in the severity of the accident. Some electric cars use low rolling resistance tires, which typically offer less grip than normal tires.[174][175][176] Many electric cars have a small, light and fragile body, though, and therefore offer inadequate safety protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in America had condemned the use of low speed vehicles and "mini trucks," referred to as neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) when powered by electric motors, on public roads.[177]

Hazard to pedestrians[edit]

At low speeds, electric cars produced less roadway noise as compared to vehicles propelled by internal combustion engines. Blind people or the visually impaired consider the noise of combustion engines a helpful aid while crossing streets, hence electric cars and hybrids could pose an unexpected hazard.[178][179] Tests have shown that this is a valid concern, as vehicles operating in electric mode can be particularly hard to hear below 20 mph (30 km/h) for all types of road users and not only the visually impaired. At higher speeds, the sound created by tire friction and the air displaced by the vehicle start to make sufficient audible noise.[179]

The Government of Japan, the U.S. Congress, and the European Parliament passed legislation to regulate the minimum level of sound for hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles when operating in electric mode, so that blind people and other pedestrians and cyclists can hear them coming and detect from which direction they are approaching.[179][180][181][182] The Nissan Leaf was the first electric car to use Nissan's Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians system, which includes one sound for forward motion and another for reverse.[61][183] As of March 2013, most of the hybrids and plug-in electric cars available in the United States make warning noises using a speaker system. The Tesla Model S is one of the few electric-drive cars without warning sounds, because Tesla Motors is awaiting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration final rule.[184]

Differences in controls[edit]

Presently most EV manufacturers do their best to emulate the driving experience as closely as possible to that of a car with a conventional automatic transmission that motorists are familiar with. Most models therefore have a PRNDL selector traditionally found in cars with automatic transmission despite the underlying mechanical differences. Push buttons are the easiest to implement as all modes are implemented through software on the vehicle's controller.

Even though the motor may be permanently connected to the wheels through a fixed-ratio gear and no parking pawl may be present the modes "P" and "N" will still be provided on the selector. In this case the motor is disabled in "N" and an electrically actuated hand brake provides the "P" mode.

In some cars the motor will spin slowly to provide a small amount of creep in "D", similar to a traditional automatic.[185]

When the foot is lifted from the accelerator of an ICE, engine braking causes the car to slow. An EV would coast under these conditions, and applying mild regenerative braking instead provides a more familiar response. Selecting the L mode will increase this effect for sustained downhill driving, analogous to selecting a lower gear.


Prototypes of 75 watt-hour/kilogram lithium-ion polymer battery. Newer lithium-ion cells can provide up to 130 W·h/kg and last through thousands of charging cycles.

Finding the economic balance of range against performance, energy density, and accumulator type versus cost challenges every EV manufacturer.

While most current highway-speed electric vehicle designs focus on lithium-ion and other lithium-based variants a variety of alternative batteries can also be used. Lithium based batteries are often chosen for their high power and energy density but have a limited shelf-life and cycle lifetime which can significantly increase the running costs of the vehicle. Variants such as Lithium iron phosphate and Lithium-titanate attempt to solve the durability issues with traditional lithium-ion batteries.

Other battery technologies include:

Several battery technologies are also in development such as:

Travel range before recharging[edit]

The range of an electric car depends on the number and type of batteries used. The weight and type of vehicle, and the performance demands of the driver, also have an impact just as they do on the range of traditional vehicles. The range of an electric vehicle conversion depends on the battery type:

Battery swapping[edit]

An alternative to quick recharging is to exchange a discharged battery or battery pack for a fully charged one, saving the delay of waiting for the vehicle's battery to charge. Battery swapping is common in warehouses using electric forklift trucks.[187] The concept of exchangeable battery service was first proposed as early as 1896 in order to overcome the limited operating range of electric cars and trucks.[17] The concept was first put into practice by Hartford Electric Light Company through the GeVeCo battery service and was initially available for electric trucks. Both vehicles and batteries were modified to facilitate a fast battery exchange. The service was provided between 1910 to 1924 and during that period covered more than 6 million miles.[17] A rapid battery replacement system was implemented to keep running 50 electric buses at the 2008 Summer Olympics.[188]

Better Place
Better Place's battery switching station in Israel

The Better Place network was the first modern commercial deployment of the battery switching model. The Renault Fluence Z.E. was the electric car developed with switchable battery technology for use in the Better Place network in operation in Israel and Denmark.[109] The robotic battery-switching operation took five minutes.[189][190] By late 2012 the company began to suffer financial difficulties, and decided to put on hold the roll out in Australia and reduce its non-core activities in North America, as the company decided to concentrate its resources on its two existing markets.[110][191][192]

After implementing the first modern commercial deployment of the battery swapping model in Israel and Denmark, Better Place filed for bankruptcy in Israel in May 2013. The company's financial difficulties were caused by the high investment required to develop the charging and swapping infrastructure, about US$850 million in private capital, and a market penetration significantly lower than originally expected by Shai Agassi, who predicted that 100,000 electric cars would be on Israeli roads by 2010. Less than 1,000 Fluence Z.E. cars were deployed in Israel and around 400 units in Denmark.[111][193][194] Under Better Place's business model, the company owns the batteries, so the court liquidator will have to decide what to do with customers who do not have ownership of the battery and risk being left with a useless car.[195] In July 2013 Better Place was acquired by the Sunrise group which will pay 18 million (US$5 million) for Better Place’s assets in Israel, and 25 million (US$7 million) for its intellectual property, held by Better Place Switzerland.[196]

Panoramic view of Tesla supercharger rapid charging station in Tejon Ranch, California
Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors designed its Model S to allow fast battery swapping.[197] In June 2013, Tesla announced their goal to deploy a battery swapping station in each of its supercharging stations. At a demonstration event Tesla showed that a battery swap operation with the Model S takes just over 90 seconds, about half the time it takes to refill a gasoline-powered car.[198][199]

The first stations are planned to be deployed along Interstate 5 in California where, according to Tesla, a large number of Model S sedans make the San Francisco-Los Angeles trip regularly. These will be followed by the Washington, DC to Boston corridor. Each swapping station will cost US$500,000 and will have about 50 batteries available without requiring reservations. The service would be offered for the price of about 15 US gallons (57 l; 12 imp gal) of gasoline at the current local rate, around US$60 to US$80 at June 2013 prices.[198]

Vehicle-to-grid: uploading and grid buffering[edit]

A Smart grid allows BEVs to provide power to the grid, specifically:


Battery life should be considered when calculating the extended cost of ownership, as all batteries eventually wear out and must be replaced. The rate at which they expire depends on the type of battery technology and how they are used — many types of batteries are damaged by depleting them beyond a certain level. Lithium-ion batteries degrade faster when stored at higher temperatures.


The future of battery electric vehicles depends primarily upon the cost and availability of batteries with high specific energy, power density, and long life, as all other aspects such as motors, motor controllers, and chargers are fairly mature and cost-competitive with internal combustion engine components. Diarmuid O'Connell, VP of Business Development at Tesla Motors, estimates that by the year 2020 30% of the cars driving on the road will be battery electric or plug-in hybrid.[200]

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has predicted that one in 10 cars globally will run on battery power alone by 2020.[201] Additionally a recent report claims that by 2020 electric cars and other green cars will take a third of the total of global car sales.[202]

It is estimated that there are sufficient lithium reserves to power 4 billion electric cars.[203][204]

Other methods of energy storage[edit]

Experimental supercapacitors and flywheel energy storage devices offer comparable storage capacity, faster charging, and lower volatility. They have the potential to overtake batteries as the preferred rechargeable storage for EVs.[205][206] The FIA included their use in its sporting regulations of energy systems for Formula One race vehicles in 2007 (for supercapacitors) and 2009 (for flywheel energy storage devices).

Solar cars[edit]

Solar cars are electric vehicles powered completely or significantly by direct solar energy, usually, through photovoltaic (PV) cells contained in solar panels that convert the sun's energy directly into electric energy.


Charging station at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This station is run by Petrobras and uses solar energy.

Batteries in BEVs must be periodically recharged (see also Replacing, above).

Unlike vehicles powered by fossil fuels, BEVs are most commonly and conveniently charged from the power grid overnight at home, without the inconvenience of having to go to a filling station. Charging can also be done using a street or shop charging station.

The electricity on the grid is in turn generated from a variety of sources; such as coal, hydroelectricity, nuclear and others. Power sources such as roof top photovoltaic solar cell panels, micro hydro or wind may also be used and are promoted because of concerns regarding global warming.

As part of its commitment to environmental sustainability, the Dutch government initiated a plan to establish over 200 recharging stations for electric vehicles across the country by 2015. The rollout will be undertaken by Switzerland-based power and automation company ABB and Dutch startup Fastned, and will aim to provide at least one station every 50 kilometres (31 miles) for the Netherlands' 16 million residents.[207]

Reports emerged in late July 2013 of a significant conflict between the companies responsible for the two types of charging machines. The Japanese-developed CHAdeMO standard is favored by Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Toyota, while the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) International J1772 Combo standard is backed by GM, Ford, Volkswagen, and BMW. Both are direct-current quick-charging systems designed to charge the battery of an electric vehicle to 80 percent in approximately 20 minutes, but the two systems are completely incompatible. In light of an ongoing feud between the two companies, experts in the field warned that the momentum of the electric vehicle market will be severely affected.[208][209] Richard Martin, editorial director for clean technology marketing and consultant firm Navigant Research, stated:

Fast charging, however and whenever it gets built out, is going to be key for the development of a mainstream market for plug-in electric vehicles. The broader conflict between the CHAdeMO and SAE Combo connectors, we see that as a hindrance to the market over the next several years that needs to be worked out.[209]

Newer cars and prototypes are looking at ways of dramatically reducing the charging times for electric cars. The BMW i3 for example, can charge 0-80% of the battery in under 30 minutes in rapid charging mode.[210]

US Charging Standards[edit]

Around 1998 the California Air Resources Board classified levels of charging power that have been codified in title 13 of the California Code of Regulations, the U.S. 1999 National Electrical Code section 625 and SAE International standards.[citation needed] Three standards were developed, termed Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 charging.

LevelOriginal definition[211]Coulomb Technologies' definition[212]Connectors
Level 1AC energy to the vehicle's on-board charger; from the most common U.S. grounded household receptacle, commonly referred to as a 120 volt outlet.120 V AC; 16 A (= 1.92 kW)SAE J1772 (16.8 kW),
NEMA 5-15
Level 2AC energy to the vehicle's on-board charger; 208 - 240 volt, single phase. The maximum current specified is 32 amps (continuous) with a branch circuit breaker rated at 40 amps. Maximum continuous input power is specified as 7.68 kW (= 240V x 32A*).208-240 V AC;
12 A - 80 A (= 2.5 - 19.2 kW)
SAE J1772 (16.8 kW),
IEC 62196 (44 kW),
Magne Charge (Obsolete),
IEC 60309 16 A (3.8 kW)
IEC 62198-2 Type2 same as VDE-AR-E 2623-2-2, also known as the Mennekes connector (43.5 kW)IEC 62198-2 Type3 also known as Scame
Level 3DC energy from an off-board charger; there is no minimum energy requirement but the maximum current specified is 400 amps and 240 kW continuous power supplied.very high voltages (300-600 V DC); very high currents (hundreds of Amperes)Magne Charge (Obsolete)
CHΛdeMO (62.5 kW), SAE J1772 Combo, IEC 62196 Mennekes Combo

.* or potentially 208V x 37 A, out of the strict specification but within circuit breaker and connector/cable power limits. Alternatively, this voltage would impose a lower power rating of 6.7 kW at 32 A.

More recently the term "Level 3" has also been used by the SAE J1772 Standard Committee for a possible future higher-power AC fast charging standard.[213] To distinguish from Level 3 DC fast charging, this would-be standard is written as "Level 3 AC". SAE has not yet approved standards for either AC or DC Level 3 charging.[214]

As of June 2012, some electric cars provide charging options that do not fit within the older California "Level 1, 2, and 3 charging" standard, with its top charging rate of 40 Amps. For example, the Tesla Roadster may be charged at a rate up to 70 Amps (16.8 kW) with a wall-mounted charger.[215]

For comparison in Europe the IEC 61851-1 charging modes are used to classify charging equipment. The provisions of IEC 62196 charging modes for conductive charging of electric vehicles include Mode 1 (max. 16 A / max. 250 V a.c. or 480 V three-phase), Mode 2 (max. 32 A / max. 250 V a.c. or 480 V three-phase), Mode 3 (max. 63A (70A U.S.) / max. 690 V a.c. or three-phase) and Mode 4 (max. 400 A / max. 600 V d.c.).[216]


Most electric cars have used conductive coupling to supply electricity for recharging after the California Air Resources Board settled on the SAE J1772-2001 standard[217] as the charging interface for electric vehicles in California in June 2001.[218] In Europe the ACEA has decided to use the Type 2 connector from the range of IEC_62196 plug types for conductive charging of electric vehicles in the European Union as the Type 1 connector (SAE J1772-2009) does not provide for three-phase charging.[219]

Another approach is inductive charging using a non-conducting "paddle" inserted into a slot in the car. Delco Electronics developed the Magne Charge inductive charging system around 1998 for the General Motors EV1 and it was also used for the Chevrolet S-10 EV and Toyota RAV4 EV vehicles.

Regenerative braking[edit]

Using regenerative braking, a feature which is present on many hybrid electric vehicles, approximately 20% of the energy usually lost in the brakes is recovered to recharge the batteries.[2]

Charging time[edit]

Smart ED charging from a Level 2 station

More electrical power to the car reduces charging time. Power is limited by the capacity of the grid connection, and, for level 1 and 2 charging, by the power rating of the car's on-board charger. A normal household outlet is between 1.5 kW (in the US, Canada, Japan, and other countries with 110 volt supply) to 3 kW (in countries with 230V supply). The main connection to a house may sustain 10, 15 or even 20 kW in addition to "normal" domestic loads—although, it would be unwise to use all the apparent capability—and special wiring can be installed to use this.

As examples of on-board chargers, the Nissan Leaf at launch has a 3.3 kW charger[220] and the Tesla Roadster can accept up to 16.8 kW (240V at 70A) from the High Power Wall Connector.[215] These power numbers are small compared to the effective power delivery rate of an average petrol pump, about 5,000 kW.[citation needed]

Even if the electrical supply power can be increased, most batteries do not accept charge at greater than their charge rate ("1C"), because high charge rates have an adverse effect on the discharge capacities of batteries.[221] Despite these power limitations, plugging in to even the least-powerful conventional home outlet provides more than 15 kilowatt-hours of energy overnight, sufficient to propel most electric cars more than 70 kilometres (43 mi) (see Energy efficiency above).

Hobbyists, conversions, and racing[edit]

Eliica prototype

Hobbyists often build their own EVs by converting existing production cars to run solely on electricity. There is a cottage industry supporting the conversion and construction of BEVs by hobbyists.[222] Universities such as the University of California, Irvine even build their own custom electric or hybrid-electric cars from scratch.

Short-range battery electric vehicles can offer the hobbyist comfort, utility, and quickness, sacrificing only range. Short-range EVs may be built using high-performance lead–acid batteries, using about half the mass needed for a 100 to 130 km (60 to 80 mi) range. The result is a vehicle with about a 50 km (30 mi) range, which, when designed with appropriate weight distribution (40/60 front to rear), does not require power steering, offers exceptional acceleration in the lower end of its operating range, and is freeway capable and legal. But their EVs are expensive due to the higher cost for these higher-performance batteries. By including a manual transmission, short-range EVs can obtain both better performance and greater efficiency than the single-speed EVs developed by major manufacturers. Unlike the converted golf carts used for neighborhood electric vehicles, short-range EVs may be operated on typical suburban throughways (where 60–80 km/h / 35-50 mph speed limits are typical) and can keep up with traffic typical on such roads and the short "slow-lane" on-and-off segments of freeways common in suburban areas.

Faced with chronic fuel shortage on the Gaza Strip, Palestinian electrical engineer Waseem Othman al-Khozendar invented in 2008 a way to convert his car to run on 32 electric batteries. According to al-Khozendar, the batteries can be charged with US$2 worth of electricity to drive from 180 to 240 km (110 to 150 mi). After a 7-hour charge, the car should also be able to run up to a speed of 100 km/h (60 mph).[223][224]

Japanese Professor Hiroshi Shimizu from Faculty of Environmental Information of the Keio University created an electric limousine: the Eliica (Electric Lithium-Ion Car) has eight wheels with electric 55 kW hub motors (8WD) with an output of 470 kW and zero emissions, a top speed of 370 km/h (230 mph), and a maximum range of 320 km (200 mi) provided by lithium-ion batteries.[225] However, current models cost approximately US$300,000, about one third of which is the cost of the batteries.

In 2008, several Chinese manufacturers began marketing lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO
) batteries
directly to hobbyists and vehicle conversion shops. These batteries offered much better power-to-weight ratios allowing vehicle conversions to typically achieve 75 to 150 mi (120 to 240 km) per charge. Prices gradually declined to approximately US$350 per kW·h by mid-2009. As the LiFePO
cells feature life ratings of 3,000 cycles, compared to typical lead acid battery ratings of 300 cycles, the life expectancy of LiFePO
cells is around 10 years. This has led to a resurgence in the number of vehicles converted by individuals. LiFePO
cells do require more expensive battery management and charging systems than lead acid batteries.[citation needed]

Electric drag racing is a sport where electric vehicles start from standstill and attempt the highest possible speed over a short given distance.[226] They sometimes race and usually beat gasoline sports cars.[citation needed] Organizations such as NEDRA keep track of records world wide using certified equipment.

At the Formula Student competition at the Silverstone Circuit in July 2013, the electric powered car of the ETH Zurich won against all cars with internal combustion engines. It is believed to be the first time that an electric vehicle has beaten cars powered by combustion engines in any accredited motorsport competition.[227]

Currently available electric cars[edit]

Highway capable[edit]

The GEM is among the world's top selling neighborhood electric vehicle, with more than 46,000 units sold by April 2013.[228]

As of June 2013, the number of mass production highway-capable all-electric passenger cars available in the market is limited to about 20 models. Most electric vehicles in the world roads are low-speed, low-range neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) or electric quadricycles. Pike Research estimated there were almost 479,000 NEVs on the world roads in 2011.[229] As of November 2012, the top selling NEV is the Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) family of vehicles, with global sales of more than 46,000 units since 1998.[228] The two largest NEV markets in 2011 were the United States, with 14,737 units sold, and France, with 2,231 units.[230] The Renault Twizy all-electric heavy quadricycle, launched in Europe in March 2012 and with global sales of 9,020 units through December 2012,[231] became the best selling plug-in electric vehicle in Europe for 2012.[232] The top selling markets were Germany with 2,413 units, France with 2,232 units, and Italy with 1,545 units sold in 2012.[231]

The Nissan Leaf is the world's best selling highway-capable all-electric car in history, with global sales of 83,000 units through September 2013.[4]

As of June 2013, more than 150,000 highway-capable all-electric passenger cars and light utility vehicles have been sold worldwide since 2008. By mid July 2013 the leading electric vehicle manufacturer is the Renault-Nissan Alliance with global sales of 100,000 all-electric vehicles since December 2010, which includes over 71,000 Nissan Leafs, about 11,000 Renault Twizy heavy quadricycles, almost 10,000 Renault Kangoo Z.E. utility vans, about 5,000 Renault Zoes, and over 3,000 Renault Fluence Z.E. electric cars.[233][234] Ranking second is Mitsubishi Motors with global sales of over 30,000 all-electric vehicles between July 2009 and June 2013, and its all-electric line up includes the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the rebadged Peugeot iOn and Citroën C-Zero, and the Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV utility van and truck.[5][6] Tesla Motors is the third best selling all-electric vehicle manufacturer, with more than 15,000 electric cars sold since February 2008, including almost 2,500 Tesla Roadsters and 12,700 Tesla Model S sold through June 2013.[235][236][7]

Top selling highway-capable electric cars and light
utility vehicles produced since 2008 through September 2013(1)
Nissan Leaf[4]Dec 201083,000Sept 2013
Mitsubishi i-MiEV family[5][6]Jul 2009> 26,000Sept 2013
Tesla Model S[7][8]Jun 201218,200Sept 2013
Renault Kangoo Z.E.[234]Oct 201111,069Sept 2013
Chery QQ3 EV[237][238]Mar 20109,512October 2013
Renault Zoe[234]Dec 20126,605Sept 2013
Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV(2)Dec 20114,972Sept 2013
JAC J3 EV[239][240][241]20104,918June 2013
Smart electric drive(3)2009> 4,300Sept 2013
Renault Fluence Z.E.[234]20113,715Sept 2013
BYD e6[242][243][238]May 20103,220October 2013
Tesla Roadster[244][245]Mar 2008~ 2,500Dec 2012
Bolloré Bluecar[246]Dec 20112,300Sept 2013
Ford Focus Electric[247][248][249]Dec 20112,167Sept 2013
Notes: (1) The REVAi/G-Wiz i and REVA L-ion, with less than 5,000 units sold
between 2001 and 2012[250] is not included because it is considered a heavy
quadricycle or NEV in some countries while a regular electric car in others.
(2) Minicab includes combined sales of van and truck versions.[6]
(3) Smart ED sales includes Germany, U.S., France, the Netherlands, Canada
and Italy.[246][247][248][251][252][253][254][255][256]

The world's top selling highway-capable electric car ever is the Nissan Leaf, released in December 2010, with global sales of 83,000 units delivered through September 2013.[4][257] The Renault Kangoo Z.E. utility van is the leader of the small all-electric van segment with global sales of over 10,000 units delivered by early September 2013. The Kangoo Z.E. is also the best-selling electric vehicle in France, with about 6,000 units sold to business customers through August 2013.[258]

All-electric models scheduled for market launch in 2014 include the Volkswagen e-Golf, Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive, Tesla Model X, and the limited production Detroit Electric SP.01 and Rimac Concept One.[259][260]

Electric cars by country[edit]

As of December 2012, Japan and the United States were the largest highway-capable electric car country markets in the world, followed by several Western European countries and China. Pure electric car sales in 2012 were led by Japan with a 28% market share of global sales, followed by the United States with a 26% share, China with 16%, France with 11%, and Norway with 7%.[9] In Japan, more than 28,000 all-electric cars have been sold through December 2012, with sales led by the Nissan Leaf with about 21,000 units sold since 2010.[261] Around 27,000 all-electric cars have been sold in the U.S. since 2008, and sales are led by the Nissan Leaf, with 19,512 units sold through December 2012.[248][262]

The Opel Ampera was the top selling plug-in electric car in Europe for 2012.[263][264]

Since 2010, a total of 61,256 highway-capable all-electric passenger cars have been sold in Western European countries through September 2013, with yearly sales climbing from 1,614 all-electric cars in 2010,[265] to 11,563 electric cars during 2011,[266] to reach 24,203 units in 2012.[267] During the first nine months of 2013 a total of 23,876 electric cars were sold.[268] The market share of electric cars rose from 0.09% of all new car sales in the region in 2011 to 0.2% in 2012,[266][267] to 0.27% during the first nine months of 2013.[268] As of December 2012, the leading countries in terms of EV penetration of the total auto fleet are Norway with 4 electric car per 1,000 automobiles registered in the country, Estonia with 1 electric car for every 1,000 cars, and the Netherlands with a penetration of 0.6 electric cars per 1,000 registered cars.[269]

The top selling electric cars in the region in 2011 were the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (2,608) followed by its rebadged versions the Peugeot iOn (1,926) and the Citroën C-Zero (1,830).[266][270] The Opel/Vauxhall Ampera was Europe's top selling plug-in electric-drive car in 2012 with 5,210 units representing a market share of 21.5% of the region's electric passenger car segment.[264][270] The Nissan Leaf ranked second with 5,029 electric cars sold for a market share of 20.8%.[270] Plug-in electric car sales during the first nine months of 2013 were led by the Nissan Leaf with 7,343 units, followed by the Renault Zoe with 6,564 units, and the plug-in hybrid version of the Toyota Prius (2.738).[271] Cumulative sales of the plug-in electric drive passenger segment since 2011 through October 2013 are led by the Leaf with 15,833 units,[270][272] the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera with 7,700 units,[273] the Zoe with 7,485 units,[274] and the Prius plug-in with 6,551 units.[275][276]

United States[edit]

The Tesla Model S in the second best selling all-electric car in the U.S. after the Nissan Leaf

As of September 2013, over 60,000 all-electric cars have been sold in the U.S. since 2008,[277] led by the Nissan Leaf, with 35,588 units, followed by the Tesla Model S with 16,251 units, and the Ford Focus Electric with 2,028 units sold through September 2013.[278][279][248][262] Accounting for plug-in hybrid electric cars sold since 2010 (about 80,000),[277] the United States has the largest fleet of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in the world, with over 140,000 highway-capable plug-in electric cars sold through September 2013.[277] A total of 17,800 plug-in electric cars were delivered during 2011,[280] more than 53,000 during 2012,[281] and over 67,700 units during the first nine months of 2013.[279] PEV sales during the first nine months of 2013 represented a 0.58% market share of total new car sales, up from of 0.37% in 2012, and 0.14% in 2011.[282][248]

Historical trend of U.S. plug-in electric vehicle cumulative sales from December 2010 through October 2013.[277][282] Plug-in electric car sales passed the 150,000-unit milestone in October 2013.[283]

The Chevrolet Volt is the top selling plug-in hybrid, with 48,218 units, followed by the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid with 20,724 units, and the Ford C-Max Energi with 6,668 units sold through September 2013.[279][248][262] During the first nine months of 2013 sales were led by the Chevrolet Volt with 16,760 units, followed by the Nissan Leaf with 16,076 cars, and the Tesla Model S with about 13,500 units.[278][279] August 2013 is the best month on record for U.S. plug-in vehicle sales, with more than 11,000 units delivered, representing a market share of 0.76% of new car sales.[284]

California, the largest United States car market, is also the leading plug-in electric-drive market in the country. About 40% of the segment's nationwide sales during 2011 and 2012 were made in California, while the state represents about 10% of all new car sales in the country.[285] From January to May 2013, 52% of American plug-in electric car registrations were concentrated in five metropolitan areas: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and Atlanta.[286]

During 2011, all-electric cars (10,064 sold) oversold plug-in hybrids (7,671 sold), but increased Volt sales, together with the introduction of the Prius PHV and the Ford C-Max Energi, allowed plug-in hybrids to take the lead over pure electric cars during 2012, with 38,584 PHEVs sold versus 14,251 BEVs.[277][287] During the first nine monts of 2013, sales of pure electric cars (35,261) outsold plug-in hybrids (32,718), due to large sales of the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf during 2013.[277][288] During the first half of 2013, all-electric vehicle sales also outsold plug-in hybrids in California. During this period a total of 15,444 new plug-in electric vehicles were sold in the state, with plug-in hybrids representing a market share of 0.7% of new vehicle sales, while battery electric vehicle market share was 1.1%.[289][290]


the Nissan Leaf is the top selling plug-in electric vehicle in Japan

As of September 2013, around 39,000 all-electric cars have been sold in Japan since July 2009.[4][6] The Nissan Leaf is the market leader with over 30,000 units sold since December 2010,[4] followed by the Mitsubishi i MiEV, launched for fleet customers in Japan in late July 2009, with cumulative sales of 8,496 i-MiEVs through September 2013.[6] In addition, almost 5,000 all-electric light utility vehicles have sold through September 2013, including 4,451 Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV utility vans and 521 units of its all-electric mini truck version.[6] When plug-in hybrid sales are accounted for, the Japanese plug-in electric-drive stock rises to 62,590 plug-in electric vehicles, which includes 12,600 Toyota Prius PHVs sold through March 2013,[291] and 5,855 Mitsubishi Outlander P-HEVs sold through September 2013.[6]

During 2012, global sales of pure electric cars were led by Japan with a 28% market share of total sales, followed by the United States with a 26% share. Japan ranked second after the U.S. in terms of its share of plug-in hybrid sales in 2012, with a 12% of global sales.[292] Electric car sales in 2012 represented a market share of 0.16% of total new car sales in the country.[293]


As of March 2013, there were 39,800 electric vehicles in China, up from 27,800 registered through December 2012.[294] About 80% of the country's existing electric vehicle stock is used in public transportation, for both bus and taxi services.[295] A total of 5,579 electric vehicles were sold in China during 2011, including passenger and commercial vehicles.[296] Sales in 2012 reached 12,791 units, which includes 11,375 all-electric vehicles and 1,416 plug-in hybrids, representing 0.07% of the country's total new car sales.[297][298] The top-selling pure electric car in China for 2012 was the Chery QQ3 EV city car, with 5,305 units sold, followed by the JAC J3 EV with 2,485 units, and the BYD e6 with 2,091 cars.[299] Sales during the first six months of 2013 totaled 5,889 units, including 5,114 pure electric vehicles and 775 plug-in hybrids, representing 0.05% of new car sales in the country during this period.[294] As of October 2013, the QQ3 EV continues as the top selling plug-in car, with 4,207 units sold between January and October 2013, followed by the F3DM plug-in hybrid with 1,096 units and BYD e6 with 1,005 units.[238]


The Renault Zoe led electric car sales in France during the first nine months of 2013, and it is the best selling all-electric car accounting for registrations since 2010.

Since January 2010, a total of 24,772 highway-capable all-electric vehicles have been registered in France through September 2013. Of these, 14,807 are electric cars and 9,965 are electric utility vans.[246][300][301][302] All-electric car sales increased from 184 cars in 2010, through 2,630 units 2011, to 5,663 units in 2012.[246][303] Sales of all-electric cars in 2012 captured a market share of 0.3% of new car sales in the country.[304] In addition, 3,651 electric utility vans were registered in 2012, up from 1,683 in 2011, and 980 in 2010; increasing the total of highway-capable pure electric vehicles registered during 2012 to 9,314 units, and making France the leading European BEV market in 2012.[302][305] Also, a total of 666 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which in France are classified as hybrid electric vehicles, were registered during 2012, with sales led by the Toyota Prius PHV, with 413 registrations, and the Opel Ampera with 190.[306]

The Bolloré Bluecar, deployed for the Parisian Autolib'carsharing program, led highway-capable electric car registrations in France in 2012.

During 2012, all-electric car registrations in France were led by the Bolloré Bluecar with 1,543 units, the C-Zero with 1,409, and the iOn with 1,335, together representing 76% of all electric car sales that year.[307] The Renault Kangoo Z.E. was the top selling utility electric vehicle with 2,869 units registered in 2012, representing a market share of 82% of the segment.[302][305] A total of 6,185 Kangoo ZEs have been registered in France through September 2013.[302][308][309] The Renault Twizy electric quadricycle, launched in March 2012, sold 2,232 units during 2012, surpassing the Bolloré Bluecar, and ranking as the second best selling plug-in electric vehicle after the Kangoo Z.E.[231]

During the first nine months of 2013, registrations of pure electric cars reached 6,318 units, led by the Renault Zoewith 4,442 units representing 70.3% of total EV sales. Registrations of all-electric utility vans reached 3,836 units, led by the Renault Kangoo Z.E. with 3,110 units.[300][309] Sales of all-electric cars between January and September 2013 accounted for 0.47% of new car registered in France,[300] up from the 0.22% market penetration of the combined 2011-2012 period.[310] Total registrations of all-electric cars since January 2010 through September 2013 are led by the Renault Zoe, with 4,490 units, followed by the Bolloré Bluecar, with 2,300 units, and the Peugeot iOn, with 2,182 units.[246] Most units of the Bluecar, about 2,000 by September 2013, are allocated for the Autolib' car sharing service in Paris.[311]


A total of 14,902 all-electric vehicles have been registered in Norway through September 2013, including 13,462 all-electric cars and 1,440 quadricycles, such as the Kewet/Buddy and the REVAi. Accounting for about 600 plug-in hybrids, total plug-in electric vehicle registrations rise to 15,502, of which, 14,062 are highway-capable PEVs.[312] Registrations include more than 1,000 used imports.[313] Norway is the country with the largest EV ownership per capita in the world, with Oslo recognized as the EV capital of the world.[314][315] Also, Norway is the only country in the world where electric cars have been listed among its top 10 best selling cars, and the first one to have an electric car topping the new car sales monthly ranking.[313][316][317]

Norway has the largest electric car ownership per capita in the world.[314] Shown (from closest to farthest) aTesla Roadster, a REVAi and a Th!nk City at a free parking and charging station in Oslo.

A total of 2,240 cars were sold in 2011, up from 722 in 2010. Sales in 2011 were led by the Mitsubishi i-MiEV family with 1,477 units including 1,050 i-MiEVs, 217 Peugeot iOns and 210 Citroën C-Zeros, together representing 66% of electric car sales in Norway that year.[318][319] During 2012 a total of 4,679 plug-in electric cars were registered, including 318 plug-in hybrids and 59 electric vans.[320] Plug-in electric-drive car sales in 2012 represented a 3.1% market share of passenger car sales in the country, up from 1.6% in 2011. Registrations in 2012 included 300 used electric vehicles imported, representing 1.0% of total used imports in the country.[320] Sales in 2012 were led by the Nissan Leaf with 2,487 units registered (including 189 used Leafs imported), and representing 53% of PEV sales in that year.[320][316]

The Leaf continued in 2013 as the top selling plug-in electric car, with 3,039 new units sold during the first nine months of 2013.[321] Since September 2011, a total of 5,710 new Leaf cars have been sold in the country through September 2013[316][321] and accounting for used Leaf imported from neighboring countries, a total of 6,929 Leafs have been registered. Norwegian Leaf registration represent 8.3% of the 83,000 Leafs delivered worldwide through September 2013.[4] Retail deliveries of the Tesla Model S began in August 2013,[322] and during its first full month in the market, the Model S was the top selling car in the country, representing a market share of 5.1% of all the new cars sold in September 2013, and becoming the first electric car to top the new car sales ranking in any country.[313][323][324] In October 2013, an electric car was the best selling car in the country for a second month in a row. This time was the Nissan Leaf with 716 units sold, representing a 5.6% of new car sales that month.[317][325]

Government subsidy[edit]

Several countries have established grants and tax credits for the purchase of new electric cars depending on battery size. The U.S. offers a federal income tax credit up to US$7,500,[63] and several states have additional incentives.[326] The U.K. offers a Plug-in Car Grant up to a maximum of GB£5,000 (US$7,600).[327][328] The U.S. government also pledged US$2.4 billion in federal grants for the development of advanced technologies for electric cars and batteries.[329]

As of April 2011, 15 European Union member states provide economic incentives for the purchase of new electrically chargeable vehicles, which consist of tax reductions and exemptions, as well as of bonus payments for buyers of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, and some alternative fuel vehicles.[330][331]

See also[edit]



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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]