Electric vehicles (EVs) are propelled by an electric motor (or motors) powered by rechargeable battery packs. EVs have several advantages over vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs):
- Energy efficient. Electric vehicles convert about 59–62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels—conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 17–21% of the energy stored in petrol to power at the wheels. (UCLAN 2009)*
- Environmentally friendly. EVs emit no exhaust pollutants, however, the power plant producing the electricity may emit them. Electricity from nuclear-, hydro-, solar-, or wind-powered plants causes no air pollution.
- Performance benefits. Electric motors provide quiet, smooth operation and stronger acceleration and require less maintenance than ICEs.
- Reduce energy dependence. Electricity is a domestic energy source.
EVs do, however, face significant battery-related challenges:
- Driving range. Most EVs can only go about 100–200 miles before recharging—internal combustion vehicles can go over 300 miles before refueling.
- Recharge time. Fully recharging the battery pack can take 4 to 8 hours. Even a “quick charge” to 80% capacity can take 30 min.
- Battery cost: The large battery packs are expensive and may need to be replaced one or more times.
- Bulk & weight: Battery packs are heavy and take up considerable vehicle space.
However, researchers are working on improved battery technologies to increase driving range and decrease recharging time, weight, and cost. These factors will ultimately determine the future of EVs.