An electric car is an automobile that is propelled by one electric motor or more, using electrical energy stored in batteries or another energy storage device. Electric motors give electric cars instant torque, creating strong and smooth acceleration.
Electric cars were popular in the late 19th century and early 20th century, until advances in internal combustion engine technology and mass production of cheaper gasoline vehicles led to a decline in the use of electric drive vehicles. The energy crises of the 1970s and '80s brought a short-lived interest in electric cars, though those cars did not reach mass marketing as today's electric cars experience it. Since the mid-2000s, the production of electric cars is experiencing a renaissance due to advances in battery and power management technologies and concerns about increasingly volatile oil prices and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As of December 2012, series production highway-capable models available in some countries include the Tesla Roadster, REVAi, Buddy, Mitsubishi i MiEV, Nissan Leaf, Smart ED, Wheego Whip LiFe, Mia electric, BYD e6, Bolloré Bluecar, Renault Fluence Z.E., Ford Focus Electric, BMW ActiveE, Coda, Tesla Model S, and Honda Fit EV. The world's top-selling highway-capable all-electric cars are the Nissan Leaf, with 46,000 units sold worldwide by December 2012, and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, with global sales of more than 18,000 vehicles through September 2012, including more than 6,500 units rebadged as Peugeot iOn and Citroën C-Zero and sold in the European market.
Electric cars have several benefits compared to conventional internal combustion engine automobiles, including a significant reduction of local air pollution, as they have no tailpipe, and therefore do not emit harmful tailpipe pollutants from the onboard source of power at the point of operation; reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the onboard source of power, depending on the fuel and technology used for electricity generation to charge the batteries; and 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.
Despite their potential benefits, widespread adoption of electric cars faces several hurdles and limitations. As of 2010, electric cars are significantly more expensive than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles due to the additional cost of their lithium-ion battery pack. However, battery prices are coming down with mass production and expected to drop further. Other factors discouraging the adoption of electric cars are the lack of public and private recharging infrastructure and the driver's fear of the batteries running out of energy before reaching their destination (range anxiety) due to the limited range of existing electric cars. Several governments have established policies and economic incentives to overcome existing barriers, to promote the sales of electric cars, and to fund further development of electric vehicles, more cost-effective battery technology and their components. The U.S. has pledged US$2.4 billion in federal grants for electric cars and batteries. China has announced it will provide US$15 billion to initiate an electric car industry within its borders. 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.
Famous quotes containing the words electric and/or car:
“Wisdom is like electricity. There is no permanently wise man, but men capable of wisdom, who, being put into certain company, or other favorable conditions, become wise for a short time, as glasses rubbed acquire electric power for a while.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”
—P.J. (Patrick Jake)