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An electric car is an automobile that is propelled by one or more electric motors, using energy stored in rechargeable batteries. The first practical electric cars were produced in the 1880s. Electric cars were popular in the late 19th century and early 20th century, until advances in internal combustion engines, electric starters in particular, and mass production of cheaper petrol (gasoline) and diesel vehicles led to a decline in the use of electric drive vehicles.
From 2008, a renaissance in electric vehicle manufacturing occurred due to advances in batteries, and the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve urban air quality. Charging an electric car can be done at a variety of charging stations, these charging stations can be installed in both houses and public areas.
Several countries have established government incentives for plug-in electric vehicles, tax credits, subsidies, and other non-monetary incentives, and long term policies to promote the adoption electric vehicles. Compared with internal combustion engine cars, electric cars are quieter, have no tailpipe emissions, and lower emissions in general.
The Tesla Model 3 was the world's best selling EV from 2018 to 2019 and had a maximum electric range of 500 km (310 miles) according to the EPA. The Model 3 became the world's all-time best selling electric car by early 2020.
As of December 2019[update], the global stock of pure electric passenger cars totaled 4.8 million units, representing two-thirds of all plug-in passenger cars in use. Over half (54%) of the world’s all-electric car fleet was in China in 2019. Despite the rapid growth experienced, the global stock of plug-in electric cars represented just about 1 out of every 250 vehicles (0.40%) on the world's roads by the end of 2018.
The plug-in car market is shifting towards fully electric battery vehicles, as the global ratio between annual sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) rose from 56:44 in 2012, to 60:40 in 2015, and 74:26 in 2019.
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 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 typically 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, but may also refer to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).
The invention of the first model electric predecessor vehicle is attributed to various people. In 1828, the Hungarian Ányos Jedlik invented an early type of electric motor, and created a small model car powered by his new motor. Between 1832 and 1839, the Scot Robert Anderson built a crude electric-powered carriage, powered by non-rechargeable primary power cells. In 1834, Vermont blacksmith Thomas Davenport built a similar contraption which operated on a short, circular, electrified track. The following year, in 1835, Professor Sibrandus Stratingh of Groningen (The Netherlands) and his assistant Christopher Becker from Germany also created a small-scale electric car, powered by non-rechargeable primary cells.
Other prototypes of electric cars were probably built before, but it was not until the batteries were improved by French inventors Gaston Planté (in 1865) and Camille Faure (in 1881) that electric cars really took off.
In 1884, over 20 years before the Ford Model T, Thomas Parker built a practical production electric car in Wolverhampton using his own specially designed high-capacity rechargeable batteries, although the only documentation is a photograph from 1895 (see below). The Flocken Elektrowagen of 1888 was designed by German inventor Andreas Flocken and is regarded as the first real electric car. 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.
In 1897, electric cars found their first commercial use as taxis in Britain and the US. In London, Walter Bersey's electric cabs were the first self-propelled vehicles for hire at a time when cabs were horse-drawn. In New York City, a fleet of twelve hansom cabs and one brougham, based on the design of the Electrobat II, were part of a project funded in part by the Electric Storage Battery Company of Philadelphia. During the 20th century, the main manufacturers of electric vehicles in the US were Anthony Electric, Baker, Columbia, Anderson, Edison, Riker, Milburn, Bailey Electric, Detroit Electric and others. Unlike gasoline-powered vehicles, the electric ones were less noisy, and did not require gear changes.
Advances in internal combustion engines (ICE) in the first decade of the 20th century lessened the relative advantages of the electric car. Their much quicker refueling times, and cheaper production costs, made them more popular. However, a decisive moment was the introduction in 1912 of the electric starter motor that replaced other, often laborious, methods of starting the ICE, such as hand-cranking.
Six electric cars held the land speed record. The last of them was the rocket-shaped La Jamais Contente, driven by Camille Jenatzy, which broke the 100 km/h (62 mph) speed barrier by reaching a top speed of 105.88 km/h (65.79 mph) on 29 April 1899.
Modern electric cars
The emergence of metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) technology led to the development of modern electric road vehicles. The MOSFET (MOS field-effect transistor, or MOS transistor), invented by Mohamed M. Atalla and Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs in 1959, led to the development of the power MOSFET by Hitachi in 1969, and the single-chip microprocessor by Federico Faggin, Marcian Hoff, Masatoshi Shima and Stanley Mazor at Intel in 1971. The power MOSFET and the microcontroller, a type of single-chip microprocessor, led to significant advances in electric automobile technology. MOSFET power converters allowed operation at much higher switching frequencies, made it easier to drive, reduced power losses, and significantly reduced prices, while single-chip microcontrollers could manage all aspects of the drive control and had the capacity for battery management. Another important technology that enabled modern highway-capable electric cars is the lithium-ion battery, invented by John Goodenough, Rachid Yazami and Akira Yoshino in the 1980s, which was responsible for the development of electric cars capable of long-distance travel.
In the early 1990s, 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. Both US Electricar and Solectria produced 3-phase AC Geo-bodied electric cars with the support of GM, Hughes, and Delco. These early cars were eventually withdrawn from the U.S. market.
California electric automaker Tesla Motors began development in 2004 on what would become the Tesla Roadster (2008), which was first delivered to customers in 2008. The Roadster was the first highway legal 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. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV, launched in 2009 in Japan, was the first highway legal series production electric car, and also the first all-electric car to sell more than 10,000 units, including the models badged in Europe as Citroën C-Zero and Peugeot iOn. The record, officially registered by Guinness World Records, was reached in February 2011. Several months later, the Nissan Leaf, launched in 2010, surpassed the i MiEV as the all-time best selling all-electric car.
Tesla global sales passed 250,000 units in September 2017. The Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance achieved the milestone of 500,000 electric vehicles sold in October 2017. Tesla sold its 200,000th Model S in the fourth quarter of 2017. Global Leaf sales passed 300,000 units in January 2018, keeping its record as the world's top selling plug-in electric car ever. Tesla delivered its 100,000th Model 3 in October 2018.
Many countries have set goals to ban the sales of gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles in the future, notably: Norway by 2025, Denmark by 2030, China by 2030, India by 2030, Germany by 2030, France by 2040, and Britain by 2040 or 2050. Similarly, more cities around the world have begun transitioning public transportation towards electric vehicles than previously was the case.
As of June 2019[update], the Nissan Leaf listed as the best-selling highway-capable electric car ever with more than 400,000 units sold worldwide, followed by the Tesla Model S with 263,500 units as of December 2018[update]. which have EPA-rated ranges reaching up to 243 km (151 miles) and 600 km (370 miles) respectively. In July 2019, US-based Motor Trend magazine awarded the fully electric Tesla Model S as the "ultimate car of the year".
As of March 2020[update], the Tesla Model 3 is the world's all-time best-selling electric car, with more than 500,000 units delivered. Nissan reported Leaf global sales totaling 450,000 units in January 2020.
Total cost of ownership
As of 2019[update], electric cars are less expensive to run than comparable internal combustion engine cars due to the lower cost of maintenance and energy, but cost more to buy new. However, Matthew Debord states, "the cost-of-ownership analysis has to be seen as somewhat unpredictable today, mainly because ... we don’t know how much it will ultimately cost to replace batteries on ageing EVs."
The greater the distance driven per year, the more likely the total cost of ownership for an electric car will be less than for an equivalent ICE car. However, this may only be achievable for EVs with adequate battery temperature regulation, which is critical for battery longevity. It also varies by country depending on the taxes and subsidies on different types of energy and car, and in some countries it may vary by city, as different cities within the country have different charges for entering the city with the same type of car; for example, the UK city of London charges ICE cars more than Birmingham does.
When designing an electric vehicle, manufacturers may find that for low production, converting existing platforms may be cheaper as development cost is lower, however, for higher production, a dedicated platform may be preferred to optimize design, and cost.
Almost 80% of electric vehicles in the U.S. are leased, while the lease rate for the country's entire fleet is about 30%. In early 2018, electric compact cars of 2014 are worth 23 percent of their original sticker price, as comparable cars with combustion engines worth 41 percent.
According to a study done in 2018, examining only fuel costs, the average fueling cost of an electric vehicle in the United States is $485 per year, as opposed to an internal combustion engine's $1,117 per year. Estimated gasoline costs varied from $993 in Alabama to $1,509 in Hawaii. Electric costs varied from $372 in Washington to $1,106 in Hawaii.
Electric cars have several benefits over conventional internal combustion engine automobiles, including a significant reduction of local air pollution, as they do not directly emit pollutants such as particulates (soot), volatile organic compounds, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, ozone, lead, and various oxides of nitrogen.
Depending on the production process and the source of the electricity to charge the vehicle, emissions may be partly shifted from cities to the material transportation, production plants and generation plants. The amount of carbon dioxide emitted depends on the emissions of the electricity source, and the efficiency of the vehicle. For electricity from the grid, the emissions vary significantly depending on your region, the availability of renewable sources and the efficiency of the fossil fuel-based generation used.
The same is true of ICE vehicles. The sourcing of fossil fuels (oil well to tank) causes further damage and use of resources during the extraction and refinement processes, including high amounts of electricity.
The cost of installing charging infrastructure has been estimated to be repaid by health cost savings in less than 3 years.
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.
The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (March 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
It is estimated that there are sufficient lithium reserves to power 4 billion electric cars. Most electric cars use a lithium-ion battery and an electric motor that uses rare-earth elements. The demand for lithium, heavy metals, and other 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 various overseas interests, raising concerns about the risk of replacing dependence on foreign oil with a new dependence on hostile countries to supply strategic materials.
Acceleration and drivetrain design
Electric motors can provide high power-to-weight ratios, batteries can be designed to supply the currents needed to support these motors. Electric motors have flat torque curve down to zero speed. For simplicity and reliability, many electric cars use fixed-ratio gearboxes and have no clutch.
Many electric cars have higher acceleration than average internal combustion cars, largely due to reduced drivetrain frictional losses, and the more quickly available torque of an electric motor. However Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) may have a low acceleration due to their relatively weak motors.
Electric vehicles can also use a direct motor-to-wheel configuration that increases the available power. Having motors connected directly to each wheel simplifies using the motor for both propulsion and braking, increasing traction.[failed verification] Electric vehicles that lack an axle, differential, or transmission can have less drive-train inertia.
For example, the Venturi Fetish delivers supercar acceleration despite a relatively modest 220 kW (300 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 2008 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). Tesla Model S P100D (Performance / 100kWh / 4-wheel drive) is capable of 2.28 seconds for 0–60 mph at a price of $140,000. As of May 2017[update], the P100D is the second quickest production car ever built, taking only 0.08 seconds longer for 0–97 km/h (0–60 mph), compared to a $847,975 Porsche 918 Spyder. The concept electric supercar Rimac Concept One claims it can go from 0–97 km/h (0–60 mph) in 2.5 seconds. Tesla claims the upcoming Tesla Roadster could go 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 1.9 seconds.
Internal combustion engines have thermodynamic limits on efficiency, expressed as fraction of energy used to propel the vehicle compared to energy produced by burning fuel. 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 efficiency of 20%, while electric vehicles have efficiencies of 69-72%, when counted against stored chemical energy, or around 59-62%, when counted against required energy to recharge.
Electric motors are more efficient than internal combustion engines in converting stored energy into driving a vehicle. However, they are not equally efficient at all speeds. To allow for this, some cars with dual electric motors have one electric motor with a gear optimised for city speeds and the second electric motor with a gear optimised for highway speeds. The electronics select the motor that has the best efficiency for the current speed and acceleration. Regenerative braking, which is most common in electric vehicles, can recover as much as one fifth of the energy normally lost during braking. Efficiency increases when renewable electricity is used
Cabin heating and cooling
While heating can be provided with an electric resistance heater, higher efficiency and integral cooling can be obtained with a reversible heat pump. PTC junction cooling is also attractive for its simplicity — this kind of system is used, for example, in the 2008 Tesla Roadster.
To avoid using part of the battery's energy for heating and thus reducing the range, some models allow the cabin to be heated while the car is plugged in. For example, the Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Renault Zoe and the Tesla Model S and 3 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 external batteries and USB fans or coolers, or by automatically allowing outside air to flow through the car when parked. 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
Risk of fire
Like their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts, electric vehicle batteries can catch fire after a crash or mechanical failure. Plug-in electric vehicle fire incidents have occurred, albeit less per mile than ICE vehicles. 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 1 October 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 third reported fire occurred on 18 October 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 several minutes after the driver exited the vehicle.
In the United States, General Motors ran in several cities a training program for firefighters and first responders to demonstrate how to safely disable the Chevrolet Volt's powertrain and its 12 volt electrical system. 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.
The weight of the batteries themselves usually makes an EV heavier than a comparable gasoline vehicle, 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 (to the occupant) despite having a negative effect on the car's performance. Depending on where the battery is located, it may lower the center of gravity, increasing driving stability, 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.
Some electric cars use low rolling resistance tires, which typically offer less grip than normal tires. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in America had condemned the use of low speed vehicles and "mini trucks," called NEVs when powered by electric motors, on public roads. Mindful of this, several companies (Tesla Motors, BMW, and Uniti) have succeeded in keeping the body light, while making it very strong.
As of 2018[update], most electric cars have similar driving controls to that of a car with a conventional automatic transmission. 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" are often still 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 an internal combustion vehicle's accelerator is released, it may slow by engine braking depending on the type of transmission, and mode. An EV would coast when the accelerator is similarly released, but it may be equipped with regenerative braking that mimics a familiar response of slowing the vehicle and also recharging the battery to an extent. Regenerative braking systems also decrease the use of the conventional brakes similarly as engine braking would in an internal combustion vehicle, reducing brake wear and maintenance costs.
Lithium-based batteries are often used for their high power and energy density, although they eventually wear out. Other battery types, such as nickel metal hydride (NiMH), which have a poorer power-to-weight ratio than lithium ion, but are cheaper. Batteries with different chemical compositions are in development such as zinc-air battery that could be much lighter.
The range of an electric car depends on the number and type of batteries used, and as with all vehicles, the weight and type of vehicle, performance requirements, and the weather.
The reported range of production electric vehicles in 2017 ranged from 100 km (60 miles) (Renault Twizy) to 540 km (340 miles) (Tesla Model S 100D). Real-world range tests conducted by What Car in early 2019 found that the highest real-world range was 417 km (259 miles) (Hyundai Kona).
The majority of electric cars are fitted with a display of expected range. This may take into account many factors of how the vehicle is being used, and what the battery is powering. However, since factors can vary over the route, the estimate can vary from the actual achieved range. The display allows the driver to make informed choices about driving speed and whether to stop at a charging point en route. Some roadside assistance organizations offer charge trucks to recharge electric cars in case of emergency.
This section needs to be updated.March 2019)(
Compared to fossil fuel vehicles, the need for charging using public infrastructure is diminished because of the opportunities for home charging; vehicles can be plugged in and begin each day with a full charge, assuming the home charging station can charge quickly enough. An overnight charge of 8 hours using a 120-volt AC outlet will provide around 65 km (40 miles) of range, while a 240-volt AC outlet will provide approximately 290 km (180 miles).
Charging an electric vehicle using public charging stations takes longer than refueling a fossil fuel vehicle. The speed at which a vehicle can recharge depends on the charging station's charging speed and the vehicle's own capacity to receive a charge. Connecting a vehicle that can accommodate very fast charging to a charging station with a very high rate of charge can refill the vehicle's battery to 80% in 15 minutes. Vehicles and charging stations with slower charging speeds may take as long as an hour to refill a battery to 80%. As with a mobile phone, the final 20% takes longer because the systems slow down to fill the battery safely and avoid damaging it.
Electric vehicle charging plugs are not yet universal throughout the world. Europe uses the CCS standard, while CHAdeMO is used in Japan, and a GB/T standard is used in China. The United States has no de facto standard, with a mix of CCS, Tesla Superchargers, and CHAdeMO charging stations. However vehicles using one type of plug are generally able to charge at other types of charging stations with the use of plug adapters.
Range extender option
Some electric cars, such as the BMW i3 have a variant with an optional small petrol/gasoline range extender. The system is intended as an emergency backup to extend range to the next recharging location, and not for long-distance travel.
The range-extender option of the BMW i3 was designed to meet the California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulation for an auxiliary power unit (APU) called REx. According to rules adopted in March 2012 by CARB, the 2014 BMW i3 with a REx unit fitted was the first car ever to qualify as a range-extended battery-electric vehicle or "BEVx".
As with all lithium-ion batteries, electric vehicle batteries may degrade over long periods of time, especially if they are frequently overcharged, however, this may take at least several years before being noticeable.
However, 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. The vehicles that had already covered more than 200,000 km (124,274 mi), have no problems with the battery.
- Autonomous park-and-charge
Volkswagen, in collaboration with six partners, is developing an EU research project that is focused on automating the parking and charging of electric vehicles. The objective of this project is to develop a smart car system that allows for autonomous driving in designated areas (e.g. valet parking, park and ride) and can offer advanced driver support in urban environments. Tesla has shown interest in making an arm that automatically charges their vehicles.
- 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, usually used to charge a battery.
Electric vehicle charging patents
Qualcomm, Hyundai, Ford, and Mitsubishi are the top patent holders of the close to 800 electric vehicle charging patents filed between 2014 and 2017. A majority of patents on electric vehicle charging were filed in Japan between 2014 and 2017. It is followed by the US and then by China.
Battery electric vehicles are most commonly charged from the power grid overnight at the owner's house, provided they have their own 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.
Charging stations can have a variety of different speeds of charging, with slower charging being more common for houses, and more powerful charging stations on public roads and areas for trips. The BMW i3 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 300-mile charge in about an hour.
Most electric cars have used conductive coupling to supply electricity for recharging after CARB 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 that was also used for the Chevrolet S-10 EV and Toyota RAV4 EV vehicles.
Vehicle-to-grid: uploading and grid buffering
During peak load periods, when the cost of generation can be very high, electric vehicles could contribute energy to the grid. 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.
Currently available electric cars
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, as of December 2018[update], there were almost 180 models of highway-capable all-electric passenger cars and utility vans available for retail sales globally.
Tesla became the world's leading electric vehicle manufacturer in December 2019, with cumulative global sales of over 900,000 all-electric cars since 2008. Tesla listed as the world's top selling plug-in electric car manufacturer both in 2018 and 2019, and both times as a brand and by automotive group. Its Model S was the world's top selling plug-in electric car in 2015 and 2016, and its Model 3 was the world's best selling plug-in electric car in 2018 and 2019. The Tesla Model 3 surpassed the Leaf in early 2020 to become the world's best selling electric car ever, with more than 500,000 sold by March 2020. Tesla produced its 1 millionth electric car in March 2020, becoming the first auto manufacturing to achieved such milestone.
As of December 2019[update], the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance is one of the world's leading all-electric vehicle manufacturer. Since 2010, the Alliance's global all-electric vehicle sales totaled over 800,000 light-duty electric vehicles through December 2019, including those manufactured by Mitsubishi Motors, now part of the Alliance. Nissan leads global sales within the Alliance, with about 500,000 cars and vans sold by April 2020, followed by the Groupe Renault with more than 273,550 electric vehicles sold worldwide through December 2019, including its Twizy heavy quadricycle. Mitsubishi's only all-electric vehicle is the i-MiEV, with global sales of over 50,000 units by March 2015, accounting for all variants of the i-MiEV, including the two minicab versions sold in Japan.
The Alliance best selling Nissan Leaf was the world's top selling plug-in electric car in 2013 and 2014. Until 2019, the Nissan Leaf was the world's all-time top selling highway legal electric car with global sales of almost 450,000 units by the end of 2019. The Renault Kangoo Z.E. utility van is the European leader of the light-duty all-electric segment with global sales of 50,836 units through March 2020.
Other leading electric vehicles manufacturers are BAIC Motor, with 480,000 units sold, SAIC Motor with 314,000 units, and Geely with 228,700, all cumulative sales in China as of December 2019[update]. BMW is also a leading plug-in car manufacturer, with over 500,000 plug-in electric cars sold globally by December 2019, but its electrified vehicle lineup only includes one all-electric model, the BMW i3, with 165,000 units delivered up to January 2020, including the REx variants.
The following table lists the all-time best-selling highway-capable all-electric cars with cumulative global sales of around or more than 150,000 units since their inception through March 2020:
|Tesla Model 3||Jul 2017||~525,000||300,000||Mar 2020|||
|Nissan Leaf||Dec 2010||450,000||69,800||Dec 2019|||
|Tesla Model S||Jun 2012||~291,000(2)||~28,000||Dec 2019|||
|Renault Zoe||Dec 2012||203,000||48,269||Mar 2020|||
|BAIC EC-Series||Dec 2016||200,200(3)||27,350||Dec 2019|||
|BAIC EU-Series||2016||180,400(3)||111,100||Dec 2019|||
|BMW i3||Nov 2013||165,000(4)||41,800||Jan 2020|||
|Tesla Model X||Sep 2015||~160,000(2)||~39,000||Dec 2019|||
(1) Vehicles are considered highway-capable if able to achieve at least a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).
(2) Tesla began reporting combined sales of the Model S and X since 1Q 2019. Sales for each model in 2019 are estimates from
the source provided (EV Sales) which tracks monthly sales by country. The estimated combined total for Model S/X (67,000)
adds up close enough to Tesla's combined reported deliveries for 2019 (66,771).
(3) Sales in main China only. (4) BMW i3 sales includes the REx variant (split is not available).
Retrofitted electric vehicles
Any car can be converted to an electric vehicle using plug and play kits of making custom solutions. The conversion of internal combustion engine cars to electric cars is called Retrofitted Electric Vehicles.
Electric cars by country
Global sales of highway legal plug-in electric passenger cars and light utility vehicles achieved the one million milestone in September 2015, almost twice as fast as hybrid electric vehicles (HEV). Cumulative global sales of light-duty all-electric vehicles reached one million units in September 2016. Global sales of plug-in passenger cars passed 2 million in December 2016, the 3 million mark in November 2017, the 5 million milestone in December 2018, and totaled 7.2 million units in December 2019. Despite the rapid growth experienced, the global stock of plug-in electric cars represented just about 1 out of every 250 vehicles (0.40%) on the world's roads by the end of 2018.
As of December 2019[update], the global stock of pure electric passenger cars totaled 4.79 million units, representing two-thirds of all plug-in passenger cars on the world's roads. China has the largest all-electric car fleet in use, with 2.58 million at the end of 2019, more than half (53.9%) of the world’s electric car stock. In addition, there were almost 378,000 electric light commercial vehicles in use by the end of 2019, mainly in China and Europe.
All-electric cars have oversold plug-in hybrids for several years, and by the end of 2019, the plug-in market continues to shift towards fully electric battery vehicles. The global ratio between annual sales of battery BEVs and PHEVs went from 56:44 in 2012, to 60:40 in 2015, and rose to 69:31 in 2018, and to 74:26 in 2019.
Government policies and incentives
Several national, provincial, and local governments around the world have introduced policies to support the mass market adoption of plug-in electric vehicles. A variety of policies have been established to provide financial support to consumers and manufacturers; non-monetary incentives; subsidies for the deployment of charging infrastructure; and long term regulations with specific targets.
Financial incentives for consumers are aim to make electric car purchase price competitive with conventional cars due to the higher up front cost of electric vehicles. There are one-time purchase incentives depending on battery size, such as grants and tax credits, exemptions from import duties, and other fiscal incentives; exemptions from road tolls and congestion charges; and exemption of registration and annual fees.
|Norway (100% ZEV sales)||2025|
|Netherlands (100% ZEV sales)|
|Canada (100% ZEV sales)|
|Germany (100% ZEV sales)||2050|
|U.S. (only 10 ZEV states)|
|Japan (100% HEV/PHEV/ZEV sales)|
The U.S. offers a federal income tax credit up to US$7,500. The UK offers a Plug-in Car Grant up to a maximum of GB£4,500 (US$5,929). France introduced a bonus-malus CO
2 based tax that penalize fossil-fuel vehicle sales. As of 2020[update], monetary incentives are also available in several European Union member states, China, Norway, some provinces in Canada, South Korea, India, and other countries.
Among the non-monetary incentives there are several perks such allowing plug-in vehicles access to bus lanes and high-occupancy vehicle lanes, free parking and free charging. In addition, in some countries or cities that restrict private car ownership (purchase quota system for new vehicles), or have implemented permanent driving restrictions (no-drive days), the schemes often exclude electric vehicles from the restrictions to promote their adoption.
Some government have also established long term regulatory signals with specific targets such as ZEV mandates, national or regional CO
2 emissions regulations, stringent fuel economy standards, and the phase out of internal combustion engine vehicle sales. For example, Norway set a national goal that by 2025 all new car sales should be zero emission vehicles (battery electric or hydrogen).
EV plans from major manufacturers
Volkswagen plans 27 electric vehicles by 2022, on a dedicated EV platform dubbed "Modular Electric Toolkit" and initialed as MEB. Ford will use Volkswagen's Modular Electric Toolkit to design and build its own fully electric vehicles starting in 2023.
Toyota has developed a global EV platform named e-TNGA that can accommodate a three-row SUV, sporty sedan, small crossover or a boxy compact. Toyota and Subaru will release a new EV on a shared platform. It will be about the size of a Subaru Forester or Toyota RAV4.
As of March 2019, BMW plans 12 all electric vehicles by 2025, using a fifth-generation electric powertrain architecture, which will save weight and cost and increase capacity. BMW has ordered €10 billion worth of battery cells valid from 2021 through 2030.
In January 2019, GM announced that it plans to make Cadillac its lead electric vehicle brand starting in 2021. GM's "BEV3" next-generation electric vehicle platform is designed to be flexible for use in many different vehicle types, such as front, rear and all-wheel drive configurations.
Ford is planning to release an electric F-150 in the 2021 time frame. The Ford Mustang Mach-E, is an electric crossover and with the extended battery range will reach 340 km (210 miles) and up to 480 km (300 miles) if equipped with the rear wheel drive option.
In January 2019 and updated in April, a Reuters analysis of 29 global automakers concluded that automakers are planning on spending $300 billion over the next 5 to 10 years on electric cars, with 45% of that investment projected to occur in China.
Psychological barriers to adoption
For the past century, most people have driven internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, making them feel common, familiar, and low risk. Even though EV technology has been around for over a century and modern EVs have been on the market for decades, multiple studies show that various psychological factors impair EV adoption.
Gary L. Brase's 2019 study found that the dominant fear hindering EV adoption was range anxiety. ICE car drivers are accustomed to going on trips without having to plan refueling stops, and may worry that an EV will lack the range to reach their destination or the closest charging station. Range anxiety has been shown to diminish among drivers who have gained familiarity and experience with EVs.
Brase's study also found that people view driving an EV as an action taken by those with "stronger attitudes in favor of environmental and energy security" or by those that are "attracted to the novelty and status associated with being among the first to adopt new technology". Thus, people may be resistant to EV ownership if they do not consider themselves environmentalists or early adopters of new technology, or do not want others to think of them in this way.
The perceived value associated with driving an EV can also differ by gender. In a 2019 survey conducted in Norway, it was found that people believe women drive EVs for sustainability purposes while men drive EVs for the new technology. The thought process behind this stereotype is that "big and expensive cars are driven by men, while women drive smaller, less valuable cars". Since the reasons behind adopting EVs have a gendered component, it can be argued that some fear driving an EV will result in a disconnect between their gender identity and how they are perceived by others.
- Electric aircraft
- Electric boat
- Electric bus
- Electric car energy efficiency
- Electric motorcycles and scooters
- Electric motorsport
- Electric vehicle warning sounds
- Battery electric vehicle
- Formula E
- List of electric cars currently available
- Phase-out of fossil fuel vehicles
- Solar car
- Vehicle electrification
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