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 electric vehicles, classified as neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) in the United States, and as electric motorised quadricycles in Europe, 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 carrying solar panels to power it 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.
Thomas Parker built the first practical production electric car in London in 1884, using his own specially designed high-capacity rechargeable batteries. The Flocken Elektrowagen of 1888 by German inventor Andreas Flocken is regarded as the first real electric car of the world. Electric cars were among the preferred methods for automobile propulsion in the late 19th century and early 20th century, providing a level of comfort and ease of operation that could not be achieved by the gasoline cars of the time. The electric vehicle stock peaked at approximately 30,000 vehicles at the turn of the 20th century. Advances in internal combustion engines in the first decade of the 20th century lessened the relative advantages of the electric car. The greater range of gasoline cars, and their much quicker refueling times, made them more popular and encouraged a rapid expansion of petroleum infrastructure, making gasoline easy to find, but what proved decisive was the introduction in 1912 of the electric starter motor which replaced other, often laborious, methods of starting the ICE engine, such as hand-cranking.
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. 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 Altra EV miniwagon, and Toyota RAV4 EV. These cars were eventually withdrawn from the U.S. market.
California electric automaker Tesla Motors began development in 2004 on the Tesla Roadster, which was first delivered to customers in 2008. The Roadster was the first highway legal serial production all-electric car to use lithium-ion battery cells, and the first production all-electric car to travel more than 320 km (200 miles) per charge. Models released to the market between 2010 and December 2016 include the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric, Tesla Model S, BMW ActiveE, Coda, Renault Fluence Z.E., Honda Fit EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, Renault Zoe, Roewe E50, Mahindra e2o, Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500e, Volkswagen e-Up!, BMW i3, BMW Brilliance Zinoro 1E, Kia Soul EV, Volkswagen e-Golf, Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, Venucia e30, BAIC E150 EV, Denza EV, Zotye Zhidou E20, BYD e5, Tesla Model X, Detroit Electric SP.01, BYD Qin EV300, Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Chevrolet Bolt EV.
Cumulative global sales of the Nissan Leaf, the world's all-time top selling highway legal plug-in electric car, passed the 200,000 unit milestone in December 2015, five years after its introduction. The same month, the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the top selling all-electric vehicle manufacturer, passed the milestone of 300,000 electric vehicles sold worldwide. The Tesla Model 3 was unveiled on March 31, 2016 and more than 325,000 reservations were made during the first week since bookings opened, each customer paying a refundable US$1,000 deposit to reserve the car. Cumulative global sales of all-electric cars and vans passed the 1 million unit milestone in September 2016. Global Tesla Model S sales achieved the 150,000 unit milestone in November 2016. Norway achieved the milestone of 100,000 all-electric vehicles registered in December 2016. Global Leaf sales passed 250,000 units in December 2016.
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 cost of their lithium-ion battery pack. Although cheaper alternatives exist, lithium-ion batteries are preferred over other types of batteries because of their high energy per unit mass relative to other electrical energy storage systems. However, battery prices are coming down about 8% per annum with mass production, and are expected to drop further.
Not only is the high purchase price hindering mass transition from gasoline cars to electric cars, but also the continued subsidization of fossil fuels, such as huge tax breaks and financial help in finding and developing oil fields for oil companies, higher allowed pollution for coal-fired power stations owned by oil refineries, as well as unpriced harm resulting from tailpipe emissions. 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.
The electric car company Tesla Motors uses laptop -size cells for the battery packs of its electric cars, which were 3 to 4 times cheaper than dedicated electric car battery packs of other auto makers. Prior to 2012, dedicated battery packs cost about $700–$800 per kilowatt hour, while battery packs using small laptop cells had a cost of about $200 per kilowatt hour. 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 to $190/kWh by 2016. 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.
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 of batteries and higher production volumes will allow plug-in electric vehicles to be more competitive with conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. However, in 2014 manufacturers were already offering battery packs with a cost of about $300/kWh.
According to a study published in February 2016 by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), battery prices fell 65% since 2010, and 35% just in 2015, reaching US$350 per kWh. The study concludes that battery costs are on a trajectory to make electric vehicles without government subsidies as affordable as internal combustion engine cars in most countries by 2022. BNEF projects that by 2040, long-range electric cars will cost less than US$22,000 expressed in 2016 dollars. BNEF expects electric car battery costs to be well below US$120 per kWh by 2030, and to fall further thereafter as new chemistries become available. McKinsey estimates that electric cars are competitive at a battery pack cost of $100/kWh (around 2030), and expects pack costs to be $190/kWh by 2020.
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, batteries and 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.
Electric cars have expensive batteries that must be replaced if they become defective; however, the lifetime of said batteries can be very long (many years). Otherwise, electric cars incur very low maintenance costs, particularly in the case of current lithium-based designs. The documentary film Who Killed the Electric Car? 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. Other advantages of electric cars are that they do not need to be driven to petrol stations and there are often fewer fluids which need to be changed. Electric cars also do not have cooling problems like other vehicles.
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 miles (800 km) per week is estimated to cost US$600 per year in charging costs in Illinois, U.S., as compared to US$2,300 per year in fuel costs for an average new car using regular gasoline.
The EV1 energy use at 60 mph (97 km/h) was about 16.8 kW·h/100 mi (10.4 kW·h/100 km; 205 mpg‑e). The 2011/12 Nissan Leaf uses 21.25 kW·h/100 km (34.20 kW·h/100 mi; 100.6 mpg‑e) according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. 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. According to Nissan, the operating cost of the Leaf in the UK is 1.75 pence per mile (1.09 p/km) when charging at an off-peak electricity rate, while a conventional petrol-powered car costs more than 10 pence per mile (6.21 p/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.
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 as of November 2016, versus EPA rated most fuel efficient plug-in hybrid with long distance range (Chevrolet Volt – second generation), gasoline-electric hybrid car (Toyota Prius Eco - fourth generation), and EPA's average new 2016 vehicle, which has a fuel economy of 25 mpg‑US (9.4 L/100 km; 30 mpg‑imp).
Most of the mileage-related cost of an electric vehicle can be attributed to electricity costs of charging the battery pack, and its potential replacement with age, because an electric vehicle has only around five moving parts in its motor, compared to a gasoline car that has hundreds of parts in its internal combustion engine. 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. 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. 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).
Plug in America did a survey on the service life of the installed battery in the Tesla Roadster. It found that after 100,000 miles = 160,000 km, the battery still had a remaining capacity of 80 to 85 percent. This was regardless of in which climate zone the car is moved. The Tesla Roadster was built and sold between 2008 and 2012. For its 85-kWh batteries in the Tesla Model S Tesla are 8-year warranty with unlimited mileage. The now-defunct company Better Place provided another cost comparison when it anticipated 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. 40 miles (64 km) of driving would initially cost US$3.20 and fall over time to US$0.80.
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."
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 subsidies. 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.
BYD calculates on its website (2015) that a BYD e6 (taxi) achieved with a maturity of 5 years alone in energy costs, so power consumption instead of petrol consumption, a saving of about $74,000.
With the exception of Tesla Motors, almost all new cars in the United States are sold through dealerships, so they play a crucial role in the sales of electric vehicles, and negative attitudes can hinder early adoption of plug-in electric vehicles. Dealers decide which cars they want to stock, and a salesperson can have a big impact on how someone feels about a prospective purchase. Sales people have ample knowledge of internal combustion cars while they do not have time to learn about a technology that represents a fraction of overall sales. As with any new technology, and in the particular case of advanced technology vehicles, retailers are central to ensuring that buyers, especially those switching to a new technology, have the information and support they need to gain the full benefits of adopting this new technology.
There are several reasons for the reluctance of some dealers to sell plug-in electric vehicles. PEVs do not offer car dealers the same profits as gasoline-powered car. Plug-in electric vehicles take more time to sell because of the explaining required, which hurts overall sales and sales people commissions. Electric vehicles also may require less maintenance, resulting in loss of service revenue, and thus undermining the biggest source of dealer profits, their service departments. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), dealers on average make three times as much profit from service as they do from new car sales. However, a NADA spokesman said there was not sufficient data to prove that electric cars would require less maintenance. According to The New York Times, BMW and Nissan are among the companies whose dealers tend to be more enthusiastic and informed, but only about 10% of dealers are knowledgeable on the new technology.
A study conducted at the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS), at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) published in 2014 found that many car dealers are less than enthusiastic about plug-in vehicles. ITS conducted 43 interviews with six automakers and 20 new car dealers selling plug-in vehicles in California’s major metro markets. The study also analyzed national and state-level J.D. Power 2013 Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) study data on customer satisfaction with new car dealerships and Tesla retail stores. The researchers found that buyers of plug-in electric vehicles were significantly less satisfied and rated the dealer purchase experience much lower than buyers of non-premium conventional cars, while Tesla Motors earned industry-high scores. According to the findings, plug-in buyers expect more from dealers than conventional buyers, including product knowledge and support that extends beyond traditional offerings.
In 2014 Consumer Reports published results from a survey conducted with 19 secret shoppers that went to 85 dealerships in four states, making anonymous visits between December 2013 and March 2014. The secret shoppers asked a number of specific questions about cars to test the salespeople’s knowledge about electric cars. The consumer magazine decided to conduct the survey after several consumers who wanted to buy a plug-in car reported to the organization that some dealerships were steering them toward gasoline-powered models. The survey found that not all sales people seemed enthusiastic about making PEV sales; a few outright discouraged it, and one dealer was reluctant to even show a plug-in model despite having one in stock. And many sales people seemed not to have a good understanding of electric-car tax breaks and other incentives or of charging needs and costs. Consumer Reports also found that when it came to answering basic questions, sales people at Chevrolet, Ford, and Nissan dealerships tended to be better informed than those at Honda and Toyota. The survey found that most of the Toyota dealerships visited recommended against buying a Prius Plug-in and suggested buying a standard Prius hybrid instead. Overall, the secret shoppers reported that only 13 dealers “discouraged sale of EV,” with seven of them being in New York. However, at 35 of the 85 dealerships visited, the secret shoppers said sales people recommended buying a gasoline-powered car instead.
The ITS-Davis study also found that a small but influential minority of dealers have introduced new approaches to better meet the needs of plug-in customers. Examples include marketing carpool lane stickers, enrolling buyers in charging networks, and preparing incentive paperwork for customers. Some dealers assign seasoned sales people as plug-in experts, many of whom drive plug-ins themselves to learn and be familiar with the technology and relate the car’s benefits to potential buyers. The study concluded also that carmakers could do much more to support dealers selling PEVs.
Electric cars usually also show significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, depending on the method used for electricity generation to charge the batteries. For example, some battery electric vehicles do not produce CO2 emissions at all, but only if their energy is obtained from sources such as solar, wind, nuclear, or hydropower.
Even when the power is generated using fossil fuels, electric vehicles usually, 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. Researchers in Germany have claimed that while there is some technical superiority of electric propulsion compared with conventional technology that in many countries the effect of electrification of vehicles' fleet emissions will predominantly be due to regulation rather than technology. Indeed, electricity production is submitted to emission quotas, while vehicles' fuel propulsion is not, thus electrification shifts demand from a non-capped sector to a capped sector. This means that the emissions of electrical grids can be expected to improve over time as more wind and solar generation is deployed.
Many countries are introducing CO2 average emissions targets across all cars sold by a manufacturer, with financial penalties on manufacturers that fail to meet these targets. This has created an incentive for manufacturers, especially those selling many heavy or high-performance cars, to introduce electric cars as a means of reducing average fleet CO2 emissions.
Electric cars have several benefits over conventional internal combustion engine automobiles, including a significant reduction of local air pollution, especially in cities, as they do not emit harmful tailpipe pollutants such as particulates (soot), volatile organic compounds, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, ozone, lead, and various oxides of nitrogen. The clean air benefit may only be local because, depending on the source of the electricity used to recharge the batteries, air pollutant emissions may be shifted to the location of the generation plants. This is referred to as the long tailpipe of electric vehicles. The amount of carbon dioxide emitted depends on the emission intensity of the power sources used to charge the vehicle, the efficiency of the said vehicle and the energy wasted in the charging process. For mains electricity the emission intensity varies significantly per country and within a particular country, and on the demand, the availability of renewable sources and the efficiency of the fossil fuel-based generation used at a given time.
Charging a vehicle using renewable energy (e.g., wind power or solar panels) yields very low carbon footprint-only that to produce and install the generation system (see Energy Returned On Energy Invested.) Even on a fossil-fueled grid, it's quite feasible for a household with a solar panel to produce enough energy to account for their electric car usage, thus (on average) cancelling out the emissions of charging the vehicle, whether or not the panel directly charges it. Even when using exclusively grid electricity, introducing EVs comes with a major environmental benefits in most (EU) countries, except those relying on old coal fired power plants. So for example the part of electricity, which is produced with renewable energy is (2014) in Norway 99 percent and in Germany 30 percent.United States
The following table compares tailpipe and upstream CO2 emissions estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for all series production model year 2014 all-electric passenger vehicles available in the U.S. market. Since all-electric cars do not produce tailpipe emissions, for comparison purposes the two most fuel efficient plug-in hybrids and the typical gasoline-powered car are included in the table. Total emissions include the emissions associated with the production and distribution of electricity used to charge the vehicle, and for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, it also includes emissions associated with tailpipe emissions produced from the internal combustion engine. These figures were published by the EPA in October in its 2014 report "Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends."
To account for the upstream CO2 emissions associated with the production and distribution of electricity, and since electricity production in the United States varies significantly from region to region, the EPA considered three scenarios/ranges with the low end scenario corresponding to the California powerplant emissions factor, the middle of the range represented by the national average powerplant emissions factor, and the upper end of the range corresponding to the powerplant emissions factor for the Rocky Mountains. The EPA estimates that the electricity GHG emission factors for various regions of the country vary from 346 g CO2/kWh in California to 986 g CO2/kWh in the Rockies, with a national average of 648 g CO2/kWh. In the case of plug-in hybrids, and since their all-electric range depends on the size of the battery pack, the analysis introduced a utility factor as a projection of the share of miles that will be driven using electricity by an average driver.
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 the fuel 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, or renewable resources such as hydroelectric, 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.
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. 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).
In September 2014, the UCS published an updated analysis of its 2012 report. The 2014 analysis found that 60% of Americans, up from 45% in 2009, live in regions where an all-electric car produce fewer CO2 equivalent emissions per mile than the most efficient hybrid. The UCS study found two reasons for the improvement. First, electric utilities have adopted cleaner sources of electricity to their mix between the two analysis. Second, electric vehicles have become more efficient, as the average 2013 all-electric vehicle used 0.33 kWh per mile (0.21 kWh/km), representing a 5% improvement over 2011 models. Also, some new models are cleaner than the average, such as the BMW i3, which is rated at 0.27 kWh by the EPA. In states with a cleaner mix generation, the gains were larger. The average all-electric car in California went up to 95 mpg‑US (2.5 L/100 km) equivalent from 78 mpg‑US (3.0 L/100 km) in the 2012 study. States with dirtier generation that rely heavily on coal still lag, such as Colorado, where the average BEV only achieves the same emissions as a 34 mpg‑US (6.9 L/100 km; 41 mpg‑imp) gasoline-powered car. The author of the 2014 analysis noted that the benefits are not distributed evenly across the U.S. because electric car adoptions is concentrated in the states with cleaner power.
One criticism to the UCS analysis and several other that have analyze the benefits of PEVs is that these analysis were made using average emissions rates across regions instead of marginal generation at different times of the day. The former approach does not take into account the generation mix within interconnected electricity markets and shifting load profiles throughout the day. An analysis by three economist affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), published in November 2014, developed a methodology to estimate marginal emissions of electricity demand that vary by location and time of day across the United States. The marginal analysis, applied to plug-in electric vehicles, found that the emissions of charging PEVs vary by region and hours of the day. In some regions, such as the Western U.S. and Texas, CO2 emissions per mile from driving PEVs are less than those from driving a hybrid car. However, in other regions, such as the Upper Midwest, charging during the recommended hours of midnight to 4 a.m. implies that PEVs generate more emissions per mile than the average car currently on the road.
The results show a tension between electricity load management and environmental goals as the hours when electricity is the least expensive to produce tend to be the hours with the greatest emissions. This occurs because coal-fired units, which have higher emission rates, are most commonly used to meet base-level and off-peak electricity demand; while natural gas units, which have relatively low emissions rates, are often brought online to meet peak demand. In November 2015, the Union of Concerned Scientists published a new report comparing two battery electric vehicles (BEVs) with similar gasoline vehicles by examining their global warming emissions over their full life-cycle, craddle-to-grave analysis. The two BEVs modeled, midsize and full-size, are based on the two most popular BEV models sold in the United States in 2015, the Nissan LEAF and the Tesla Model S. The study found that all-electric cars representative of those sold today, on average produce less than half the global warming emissions of comparable gasoline-powered vehicles, despite taken into account the higher emissions associated with BEV manufacturing. Considering the regions where the two most popular electric cars are being sold, excess manufacturing emissions are offset within 6 to 16 months of average driving. The study also concluded that driving an average EV results in lower global warming emissions than driving a gasoline car that gets 50 mpg‑US (4.7 L/100 km) in regions covering two-thirds of the U.S. population, up from 45% in 2009. Based on where EVs are being sold in the United States in 2015, the average EV produces global warming emissions equal to a gasoline vehicle with a 68 mpg‑US (3.5 L/100 km) fuel economy rating. The authors identified two main reason for the fact that EV-related emissions have become even lower in many parts of the country since the first study was conducted in 2012. Electricity generation has been getting cleaner, as coal-fired generation has declined while lower-carbon alternatives have increased. In addition, electric cars are becoming more efficient. For example, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt, have undergone improvements to increase their efficiencies compared to the original models launched in 2010, and other even more efficient BEV models, such as the most lightweight and efficient BMW i3, have entered the market.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. 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 CO2 per kilometer driven, although a study in Scotland gave 149.5 gCO2/km as the average for new cars in the UK), 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 contrast to other countries, in the UK a stable part of the electricity is produced by nuclear, coal and gas plants. Therefore, there are only minor differences in the environmental impact over the year.Germany
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. This study concluded that introducing 1 million EV cars to Germany would, in the best-case scenario, only reduce CO2 emissions by 0.1%, if nothing is done to upgrade the electricity infrastructure or manage demand. A more reasonable estimate, relaxing the coal assumption, was provided by Massiani and Weinmann taking into account that the source of energy used for electricity generation would be determined based on the temporal pattern of the additional electricity demand (in other words an increase in electricity consumption at peak hour will activate the marginal technology, while an off peak increase would typically activate other technologies). Their conclusion is that natural gas will provide most of the energy used to reload EV, while renewable energy will not represent more than a few percent of the energy used.
Volkswagen conducted a life-cycle assessment of its electric vehicles certified by an independent inspection agency. The study found that CO2 emissions during the use phase of its all-electric VW e-Golf are 99% lower than those of the Golf 1.2 TSI when powers comes from exclusively hydroelectricity generated in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Accounting for the electric car entire life-cycle, the e-Golf reduces emissions by 61%. When the actual EU-27 electricity mix is considered, the e-Golf emissions are still 26% lower than those of the conventional Golf 1.2 TSI. In 2014 in Germany, 28 percent of whole electricity was renewable energy produced in Germany.France and Belgium
In France and Belgium, which have many nuclear power plants, CO2 emissions from electric car use would be about 12 g/km (19.3 g/mi). Because of the stable nuclear production, the timing of charging electric cars has almost no impact on their environmental footprint.Emissions during production
Several reports have found that hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars generate more carbon emissions during their production than current conventional vehicles. Study of electric car production in Malaysia estimated a compact electric car production release 5,791 kg CO2 per unit against conventional vehicles 4,166 kg CO2, 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 Ricardo study estimated that 43 percent of production emissions for a mid-size electric car are generated from the battery production.
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 aluminium and carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers. Electric motors and batteries also add to the energy of electric-car manufacture. Additionally, the magnets in the motors of many electric vehicles contain rare earth 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. Substitute strategies do exist, but deploying them introduces trade-offs in efficiency and cost. The same MIT study noted that the materials used in batteries are also harmful to the environment. 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. In regions with poor legislature, mineral exploitation can even further extend risks. The local population may be exposed to toxic substances through air and groundwater contamination.
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. 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. However, the study was later corrected by the authors due to them overstating the environmental damage of electric vehicles in the first paper; many of the components of electric vehicles had been incorrectly modelled, and the European power grids were cleaner in many respects than their paper had assumed.
In February 2014, the Automotive Science Group (ASG) published the result of a study conducted to assess the life-cycle of over 1,300 automobiles across nine categories sold in North America. The study found that among advanced automotive technologies, the Nissan Leaf holds the smallest life-cycle environmental footprint of any model year 2014 automobile available in the North American market with minimum four-person occupancy. The study concluded that the increased environmental impacts of manufacturing the battery electric technology is more than offset with increased environmental performance during operational life. For the assessment, the study used the average electricity mix of the U.S. grid in 2014.
Electric motors can provide high power-to-weight ratios, and batteries can be designed to supply the large currents to support these motors. Electric motors have very flat torque curves down to zero speed. For simplicity and reliability, many electric cars use fixed-ratio gearboxes and have no clutch.
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.
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. When not fitted with an axle, differential, or transmission, electric vehicles have less drivetrain rotational inertia.
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. 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). The Tesla Model S P90D currently holds the world record for the quickest production electric car to do 402 m (1⁄4 mi), which it did in 10.9 seconds. And the Wrightspeed X1 prototype created by Wrightspeed Inc was in 2009 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. The electric supercar Rimac Concept One can go from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 2.8 seconds using 811 kW (1,088 hp). The electric supercar Toroidion 1MW Concept can accelerate from 0 to 400 km/h (249 mph) in 11 seconds with 1 MW of power equating to 1341 horsepower.
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. Also energy can get back from shock absorbers of the car. 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%.
Production and conversion electric cars typically use 10 to 23 kW·h/100 km (0.17 to 0.37 kW·h/mi). 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).
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 is also attractive for its simplicity — this kind of system is used for example in the Tesla Roadster.
To avoid draining the battery and thus reducing the range, some models allow the cabin to heated while the car is plugged in. For example, the Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Tesla Model S can be pre-heated while the vehicle is plugged in.
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 for conventional vehicles, in some cases as aftermarket kits). Two models of the 2010 Toyota Prius include this feature as an option.
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:On-board electrical energy storage, i.e. the battery
Functional safety means and protection against failures
Protection of persons against electrical hazards.
Lithium-ion batteries may suffer thermal runaway and cell rupture if overheated or overcharged, and in extreme cases this can lead to combustion. 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.
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. The second reported incident occurred in the United States on October 1, 2013, when a Tesla Model S caught fire over ten minutes 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. 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. The fire broke out many minutes after the driver exited the vehicle. On November 6, 2013, a Tesla Model S being driven on Interstate 24 near Murfreesboro, Tennessee caught fire after it struck a tow hitch on the roadway, causing damage beneath the vehicle.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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 despite having a negative effect on the car's performance. They also use up interior space if packaged ineffectively. If stored under the passenger cell, not only is this not the case, they also lower the vehicles's center of gravity, increasing driving stability, thereby lowering the risk of an accident through loss of control. 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. In a single car accident, 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. 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. Mindful of this, several companies (Tesla Motors, BMW) have succeeded in keeping the body light, while making it very strong.
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. 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.
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. 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. As of January 2014, most of the hybrids and plug-in electric and hybrids available in the United States, Japan and Europe make warning noises using a speaker system. The Tesla Model S is one of the few electric cars without warning sounds, because Tesla Motors will await until regulations are enacted. Volkswagen and BMW also decided to add artificial sounds to their electric drive cars only when required by regulation.
Several anti-noise and electric car advocates have opposed the introduction of artificial sounds as warning for pedestrians, as they argue that the proposed system will only increase noise pollution.. Added to this, such an introduction is based on vehicle type and not actual noise level, a concern regarding ICE vehicles which themselves are becoming quieter.
On-board electrical systems generate enough interference that some manufacturers have removed AM radios from their vehicles due to poor reception.
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.
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, but applying mild regenerative braking instead provides a more familiar response and recharges the battery somewhat. Selecting the L mode will increase this effect for sustained downhill driving, analogous to selecting a lower gear. These features also reduce the use of the conventional brakes, significantly reducing wear and tear and maintenance costs as well as improving vehicle range.
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 of traditional lithium-ion batteries.
Other battery types include lead acid batteries which are still the most used form of power for most of the electric vehicles used today. The initial construction costs are significantly lower than for other battery types, but the power to weight ratio is poorer than other designs, Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) which are somewhat heavier and less efficient than lithium ion, but also cheaper. Several other battery chemistries are in development such as zinc-air battery which could be much lighter, and liquid batteries that might be rapidly refilled, rather than recharged, are also under development.
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. Range may also significantly be reduced in cold weather. The list of electric cars currently available has a column with range information for electric cars sold worldwide.The Tesla Roadster (build 2008-2012) can travel 245 mi (394 km) per charge;
Tesla Model S with 85 kWh battery has a range of 265 mi (426 km). Tesla Model S is build since 2012. Price for the car is around US$80,000.
Tesla Model S with 90 kWh battery and dual motors has a range of 294 mi (473 km). This Tesla Model S has been build since 2014. Price for the car is around US$82,000.
Tesla Model X with 90 kWh battery and dual motors has a range of 257 mi (414 km). Tesla Model X has been build since 2015. Price for the car is around US$88,000.
The supercar Rimac Concept One with 82 kWh battery has a range of 311 mi (501 km). The car has been build since 2013.
The pure electric car BYD e6 with 60 kWh battery has a range of 186 mi (299 km).
The bestseller Nissan Leaf model year 2016 with 30kWh battery has a range of 107 mi (172 km).
Urban cars like the Renault Twizy and Volkswagen XL1 have a 5 - 6 kWh battery and a range of 50 – 100 km.
Electric cars are virtually universally fitted with an expected range display. This may take into account many factors, including battery charge, the recent average power use, the ambient temperature, driving style, air conditioning system, route topography etc. to come up with an estimated driving range. However, since factors can vary over the route, the estimate can vary from the actual achieved range. People can thus be concerned that they would run out of energy from their battery before reaching their destination, a worry known as range anxiety. The display allows the driver able to make informed choices about driving speed and whether to, perhaps briefly, stop at a charging point en route to ensure that they have enough charge that they arrive at their destination successfully. Some roadside assistance organizations offer charge trucks to reload empty electric cars.
A study in 2016 stated that 87% of US vehicle-days can be met by current affordable electric cars.
Most cars with internal combustion engines can be considered to have indefinite range, as they can be refueled very quickly. Electric cars typically have less maximum range on one charge than fossil fueled cars can travel on a full tank, and they can take considerable time to recharge. However, they can be charged at home overnight, which fossil fueled cars cannot. 71% of all car drivers in America drive less than 40 miles (64 km) per day, and require only a relatively quick topping up.
As examples of on-board chargers, the Nissan Leaf at launch had a 3.3 kW charger, and the Tesla Roadster can accept up to 16.8 kW (240 V at 70 A) from the High Power Wall Connector. These charging rates are slow compared with the effective power delivery rate of an average petrol pump, about 5,000 kW.
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 Fast Charging stations with high-speed charging capability from three-phase industrial outlets so that consumers could recharge the battery of their electric vehicle to 80 percent in about 30 minutes (for example Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Renault Zoe, BMW i3 etc.). 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 drinking or eating; this gives the car a chance to be charged.
As of December 2013, Estonia is the first and only country that had deployed an EV charging network with nationwide coverage, with fast chargers available along highways at a minimum distance of between 40 to 60 km (25 to 37 mi), and a higher density in urban areas. 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. The EV Project will deploy charge infrastructure in 16 cities and major metropolitan areas in six states. 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.
The Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X can be fast charged from a proprietary DC rapid-charging station that provides up to 135 kW of power, giving 85 kWh vehicles an additional 180 mi (290 km) of range in about 30 minutes.
Most electric cars can be recharged to 80 percent in about 30 minutes (for example Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Renault Zoe, BMW i3 etc.) In most cases it happens with DC.
According to the manufacturer BYD the lithium iron phosphate battery of the electric car e6 is charged at a fast charging station within 15 minutes to 80%, after 40 minutes at 100%.
Another way to extend the limited range of electric vehicles is by battery swapping. An EV can 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.
Tesla Motors designed its Model S to allow fast battery swapping. 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. 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.
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.
BMW i is offering a built-in gasoline-powered range extender engine as an option for its BMW i3 all-electric car. The range-extender option will cost an additional US$3,850 in the United States, an additional €4,710 (~ US$6,300) in France, and €4,490 (~ US$6,000) in the Netherlands.
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 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, when they are rapidly charged, and when they are fully charged. Many users set their cars to charge to 80% for their daily charging; which is usually enough for daily mileage, only charging them to 100% for longer journeys.
Although there are times when batteries do fail the electric vehicles' batteries are designed to last for the expected life of the vehicle. The failure rate of some electric vehicles batteries already on the road is as low as 0.003%. There are also high mileage warranties on electric vehicle batteries. Several manufactures offer up to eight year and one hundred thousand mile warranties on the batteries alone.
A full replacement battery is relatively costly. With technological advances there are now recycle options available ("Maintenance and Safety of Electric Vehicles"), and a battery that is no longer capable of delivering sufficient range nevertheless has significant trade-in value.
Nissan stated in 2015 that thus far only 0.01 percent of batteries had to be replaced because of failures or problems and then only because of externally inflicted damage. There are few vehicles that have already covered more than 200,000 km (124,274 mi) anyway. These have no problems with the battery.Lithium availability
Many electric cars use a lithium-ion battery and an electric motor which uses rare earth elements. The demand for lithium, heavy metals, and other specific elements (such as neodymium, boron and cobalt) required for the batteries and powertrain is expected to grow significantly due to the future sales increase of plug-in electric vehicles in the mid and long term. Some of the largest world reserves of lithium and other rare metals are located in countries with strong resource nationalism, unstable governments or hostility to U.S. interests, raising concerns about the risk of replacing dependence on foreign oil with a new dependence on hostile countries to supply strategic materials. It is estimated that there are sufficient lithium reserves to power 4 billion electric cars.Other methods of energy storage
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. 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
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.Electrified Road
In March 2016 Toyohashi University of Technology and Taisei Corp of Japan unveiled the first electrical car in the world that would be able to run without a battery. The electric car receives its charge from an electrified road. The test was made on electrified road in Toyohashi, in the Aichi Prefecture.
Batteries in BEVs must be periodically recharged (see also Replacing, above). Unlike vehicles powered directly 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, garage 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 photovoltaic solar cell panels, micro hydro or wind may also be used and are promoted because of concerns regarding global warming.
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 230 V 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 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 was undertaken by Switzerland-based power and automation company ABB and Dutch startup Fastned, and aims to provide at least one station every 50 kilometres (31 miles) for the Netherlands' 16 million residents.
There are several 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 incompatible. Unless the two companies cooperate, experts have warned that the momentum of the electric vehicle market will be restricted. 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.
Research continues on ways of 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. The superchargers developed by Tesla Motors provided up to 130 kW of charging, allowing a 50% charge in 20 minutes. Considering the size of the battery, that translated to approx. 212 km of range.
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. Four standards were developed, termed AC Level 1, AC Level 2, AC Level 3 charging, and Combo Charging System (CCS).
* or potentially 208 V × 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. 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.
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 A. For example, the Tesla Roadster may be charged at a rate up to 70 A (16.8 kW) with a wall-mounted charger.
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 AC. or 480 V three-phase), Mode 2 (max. 32 A / max. 250 V AC or 480 V three-phase), Mode 3 (max. 63 A (70 A U.S.) / max. 690 V AC or three-phase) and Mode 4 (max. 400 A / max. 600 V DC).
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 as the charging interface for electric vehicles in California in June 2001. 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.
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.
A Smart grid allows BEVs to provide power to the grid, specifically:During peak load periods, when the cost of electricity can be very high. These vehicles can then be recharged during off-peak hours at cheaper rates while helping to absorb excess night time generation. Here the batteries in the vehicles serve as a distributed storage system to buffer power.
During blackouts, as an emergency backup supply.
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. 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).
In 2008, several Chinese manufacturers began marketing lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO
4) 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
4 cells feature life ratings of 3,000 cycles, compared to typical lead acid battery ratings of 300 cycles, the life expectancy of LiFePO
4 cells is around 10 years. LiFePO
4 cells require more expensive battery management and charging systems than lead acid batteries.
Electric drag racing is a sport where electric vehicles start from standstill and attempt the highest possible speed over a short given distance. They sometimes race and usually beat gasoline sports cars. Organizations such as NEDRA keep track of records worldwide 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.
Formula E, officially the FIA Formula E Championship, is a class of auto racing, sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), and is the highest class of competition for one-make, single-seater, electrically powered racing cars. The series was conceived in 2012, and the inaugural championship started in Beijing on 13 September 2014.
In 2015, an electric car won all places of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Also in that year the second place on all classes was won by an electric car. Already in 2014, electric cars had won second and third place.
In January 2017, a pure electric car participated in the Paris-Dakar Rally and completed the entire route of 9,000 km (5,600 mi) through Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. The vehicle had been specially designed and built for the race. The car had a 250 kW engine (340 hp) and a 150 kWh battery. The battery consisted of several modules. Each module could be charged separately by power cable to speed up the charging process.
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. 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.
Until the 2010s, most electric vehicles were low-speed, low-range neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) or electric quadricycles, with an estimated stock of 479,000 NEVs on the world roads in 2011. As of July 2006, there were between 60,000 and 76,000 low-speed battery-powered vehicles in use in the United States. The two largest NEV markets in 2011 were the United States, with 14,737 units sold, and France, with 2,231 units. As of October 2015, the GEM neighborhood electric vehicle was the market leader in North America, with global sales of more than 50,000 units since 1998. As of December 2016, global sales of the Renault Twizy heavy quadricycle, a popular model in Europe, totaled 19,342 units.
Sales of this low-speed small electric cars experienced considerable growth in China between 2012 and 2015 due to their affordability and flexibility because they can be driven without a driver license. Most of these small electric cars are popular in small cities, but are expanding to larger cities. A total of 200,000 low-speed small electric cars were sold in the country in 2013, most of which were powered by lead-acid batteries. These electric vehicles are not considered by the government as new energy vehicles due to safety and environmental concerns, and consequently, do not enjoy the same purchase benefits as highway legal plug-in electric cars. In 2015, sales of low-speed small electric passenger vehicles totaled more than 600,000 units in China, and more than 700,000 units during the first ten months of 2016.
As of December 2015, there were over 30 models of highway-capable all-electric passenger cars and utility vans available in the market for retail sales. The global stock of light-duty all-electric vehicles totaled 739,810 units, out of a global stock of 1.257 million light-duty plug-in electric vehicles on the road at the end of 2015. The global ratio between all-electrics (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) has consistently been 60:40 between 2014 and the first half of 2016, mainly due to the large all-electric market in China. In the U.S. and Europe, the ratio is approaching a 50:50 split. Cumulative global sales of all-electric cars and vans passed the 1 million unit milestone in September 2016.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance is the world's leading all-electric vehicle manufacturer. The Alliance reached sales of 424,797 all-electric vehicles delivered globally at the end of 2016, including those manufactured by Mitsubishi Motors, now part of the Alliance. The Alliance, including Mitsubishi Motors i-Miev series, sold globally 94,265 all-electric vehicles in 2016. Nissan global electric vehicle sales passed 275,000 units in December 2016. The Nissan Leaf was the world's top selling plug-in car in 2013 and 2014. Renault global electric vehicle sales passed the 100,000 unit milestone in September 2016. In December 2014, Nissan announced that Leaf owners have accumulated together 1 billion kilometers (620 million miles) driven. This amount of electric miles translates into saving 180 million kilograms of CO2 emissions by driving an electric car in comparison to travelling with a gasoline-powered car. In December 2016, Nissan reported that Leaf owners worldwide achieved the milestone of 3 billion kilometers (1.9 billion miles) driven collectively through November 2016.
As of December 2016, Tesla Motors ranks second with more than 186,000 electric cars worldwide since delivery of its first Tesla Roadster in 2008. Its Model S has been the world's best selling plug-in electric car for two years in a row, 2015 and 2016. In September 2016, combined sales of Tesla Motors models totaled over 13,000 units worldwide, setting the best monthly plug-in sales volume on record ever, by any automaker of plug-in cars. In early October 2016, Tesla reported that combined miles driven by its three models have accumulated 3 billion electric miles (4.8 billion km) traveled. The first billion mark was recorded in June 2015 and the second billion in April 2016.
BMW is the third best selling all-electric vehicle manufacturer with more than 65,000 i3s sold through December 2016, including the REx variant. Next is Mitsubishi Motors with global sales of about 50,000 all-electric vehicles between July 2009 and June 2015, including the rebadged variants Peugeot iOn and Citroën C-Zero sold in Europe; and over 7,000 Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV all-electric utility vans and trucks sold in Japan through December 2015.
The world's all-time top selling highway legal electric car is the Nissan Leaf, released in December 2010, with global sales of more than 250,000 units through December 2016. The Tesla Model S ranks second with global sales of over 158,000 cars delivered as of December 2016. The Renault Kangoo Z.E. utility van is the leader of the light-duty all-electric segment with global sales of 25,205 units through December 2016. The following table list the best-selling highway-capable all-electric cars with cumulative global sales of around or more than 20,000 units since their inception through December 2016:
As of December 2016, more than two million highway legal plug-in electric passenger cars and light utility vehicles (PEVs) have been sold worldwide. The stock of plug-in electric cars represented 0.15% of the 1.4 billion motor vehicles on the world's roads by the end of 2016, up from 0.1% in 2015. Sales of plug-in electric vehicles achieved the one million milestone in September 2015, almost twice as fast as hybrid electric vehicles (HEV). While it took four years and 10 months for the PEV segment to reach one-million sales, it took more than around nine years and a few months for HEVs to reach its first million sales. When global sales are broken down by type of powertrain, all-electric cars have oversold plug-in hybrids, with pure electrics capturing 61% of the global stock of 2 million light-duty plug-ins on the world's roads by the end of 2016.
The global stock of plug-in electric vehicles between 2005 and 2009 consisted exclusively of all-electric cars, totaling about 1,700 units in 2005, and almost 6,000 in 2009. The plug-in stock rose to about 12,500 units in 2010, of which, only about 350 vehicles were plug-in hybrids. By comparison, during the Golden Age of the electric car at the beginning of the 20th century, the EV stock peaked at approximately 30,000 vehicles. After the introduction of the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt in late December 2010, the first mass-production plug-in cars by major carmakers, plug-in car sales grew to about 50,000 units in 2011, and climbed to over 315,000 units in 2014, up 48% from 2013. The all-electric segment followed a similar growth trend, with over 39,000 units sold in 2011, jumped to 58,000 in 2012, and totaled more than 112,000 units in 2013. Global sales totaled over 190,000 light-duty all-electric vehicles in 2014.
In five years, global sales of highway legal light-duty plug-in electric vehicles have increased more than ten-fold, totaling more than 550,000 units in 2015, of which, almost 329,000 were all-electric vehicles (59.8%). Plug-in sales in 2015 increased about 80% from 2014, driven mainly by China and Europe. Both markets passed in 2015 the U.S. as the largest plug-in electric car markets in terms of total annual sales, with China ranking as the world's best-selling plug-in electric passenger car country market in 2015. Global sales of light-duty plug-in vehicles totaled about 775,000 units in 2016, with China leading annual sales for the second year running, contributing with 43% of global sales. During 2016 China also overtook both Europe and the United States in terms of cumulative plug-in car sales, and at the end of 2016, China had the world's largest stock of light-duty plug-in vehicles, with about 645,000 plug-in cars. Global sales of light-duty plug-in vehicle achieved a 0.86% market share of total new car sales in 2016, up from 0.62% in 2015 and 0.38% in 2014.
As of December 2015, China was the country with the largest stock of all-electric cars with 225,720 vehicles on the roads, representing 30.5% of the global stock. The United States ranked second with 210,330 cars, representing 28.4% of the global stock. Japan ranked third with 70,930 units, followed by Norway with 60,650 units, and France with 45,170. When all segments of the plug-in electric vehicle market are accounted for, China is the world's leader with 951,447 new energy vehicle ssold between January 2011 and December 2016. These figures include heavy-duty commercial vehicles such buses and sanitation trucks. As of December 2015, the global stock of plug-in electric buses was estimated to be about 173,000 units, almost entirely deployed in China, the world's largest electric bus market. Of these, almost 150,000 are all-electric buses.
As of December 2015, over 425,000 plug-in electric passenger cars and vans had been registered in Europe, making the continent the world's largest plug-in regional market at the time. Of these, 97,687 all-electric cars and vans were registered in 2015, up from 65,199 in 2014. As of December 2015, sales in the European light-duty plug-in electric segment were led by the Netherlands, Norway and France. As of December 2015, almost 25% of the European stock was on the roads in the Nordic countries, with over 100,000 registered plug-in electric cars. As of December 2015, France ranked as the largest European market for light-duty all-electric commercial vehicles or utility vans, accounting for nearly half of all vans sold in the European Union. The French market share of all-electric utility vans reached a market share of 1.22% of new vans registered in 2014, and 1.30% in 2015.
More than 212,000 light-duty plug-in electric passenger cars and vans were registered in Europe in 2016, raising the European light-duty stock of plug-in vehicles to 637,500 units, and representing 31.4% of cumulative global sales at the end of 2016, the second largest after China. As of December 2016, European sales of plug-in cars and vans are led by Norway with over 135,000 units registered, followed by the Netherlands with more than 113,000 units, and France with over 108,000. Norway was the top selling plug-in country market in Europe in 2016 with 45,492 plug-in cars and vans registered, surpassing the Netherlands, Europe’s top market in 2015.
As of December 2016, cumulative sales in the United States totaled 570,187 highway legal plug-in electric cars since the market launch of the Tesla Roadster in 2008, of which, 157,181 were sold in 2016, up 37.6% from 2015 (114,248). California is the largest U.S. car market, and accounts for approximately 48% percent of cumulative plug-in sales in the American market from 2011 to June 2016, and also accounts for about 50% of nationwide all-electric car sales and 47% of total plug-in hybrid sales. The other nine states that follow California's Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulations have accounted for another 10% of cumulative plug-in car sales in the U.S. during the same period. California's plug-in stock totaled about 270,000 units at the end of 2016. Plug-in electric cars represented about 0.5% of the passenger fleet on the Californian roads by September 2015. Until December 2014 California had more plug-in electric vehicles than any other country, and by the end of 2016 it would rank second after China. California's overall plug-in market share has remained at about 3% statewide light-duty vehicle sales for 2015 and the first half of 2016, and its market share in 2015 was 4.7 times higher than the U.S. as a whole.
Norway, with a population of about 5.2 million, is the country with the highest plug-in electric car ownership per capita in the world. As of July 2016, Norway had a concentration of 21.5 registered plug-in cars per 1,000 people, 14.2 times higher than the U.S. In March 2014, Norway became the first country where over 1 in every 100 passenger cars on the roads is a plug-in electric. The segment's market penetration reached 2% in March 2015, passed 3% in December 2015, and achieved 5% at the end of 2016. Norway also has the world's largest plug-in electric segment market share of total new car sales, growing from 5.6% in 2013, to 13.8% in 2014, 22.4% in 2015, and rose to 29.1% in 2016. In 2015 nine countries or autonomous territories achieved plug-in electric car sales with a market share equal or higher than 1% of total new car sales, up from six in 2014. The nine countries are Norway (22.39%), the Netherlands (9.74%), Hong Kong (4.84%), Iceland (2.93%), Sweden (2.62%), Denmark (2.29%), Switzerland (1.98%), France (1.2%), and the UK (1.1%). In 2015 the European plug-in passenger car market share passed the one percent mark (1.41%) for the first time.
The following table presents the top 10 countries, and selected regional markets or autonomous territories according to their PEV market share of total new car sales between 2015 and 2013.
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, and several states have additional incentives. The UK offers a Plug-in Car Grant up to a maximum of GB£4,500 (US$5,929). The U.S. government also pledged US$2.4 billion in federal grants for the development of advanced technologies for electric cars and batteries.
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.