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Battery electric vehicles or BEVs are electric vehicles whose main energy storage is in the chemical energy of batteries. BEVs are the most common form of what is defined by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as zero emission (ZEV) passenger automobiles, because they produce no emissions while being driven. The electrical energy carried onboard a BEV to power the motors is obtained from a variety of battery chemistries arranged into battery packs. For additional range genset trailers or pusher trailers are sometimes used, forming a type of hybrid vehicle. Batteries used in electric vehicles include "flooded" lead-acid, absorbed glass mat, NiCd, nickel metal hydride, Li-ion, Li-poly and zinc-air batteries and the Molten salt battery.

While hybrid vehicles apply many of the technical advances first developed for BEVs, they are not considered BEVs. Of interest to BEV developers, however, is the fact that hybrid vehicles are advancing the state of the art (in cost/performance ratios) of batteries, electric motors, chargers, and motor controllers, which may bode well for the future of both pure electric vehicles and the so called "plug-in hybrid".

Venturi Fetish - a limited production electric car capable of reaching 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds


BEVs were among the earliest automobiles, and before the preeminence of powerful, but polluting internal combustion engines, electric automobiles held many vehicle land speed and distance records in the early 1900s. Most notable was perhaps breaking of the 100 km/h (62.5 mph) speed barrier by Camille Jenatzy on April 29, 1899 in his rocket-like EV named La Jamais Contente. It reached a top speed of 105.88 km/h (65.79 mph)

BEVs were produced by Anthony Electric, Baker Electric, Detroit Electric, and others during the first part of the 20th century and actually out-sold gasoline-powered vehicles at one point in time. Due to technological limitations and the lack of transistor-based electric technology, the top speed of these early production electric vehicles was limited to approximately 20 miles per hour. They were successfully sold as town cars to upper class customers and often marketed as suitable vehicles for women drivers due to their cleanliness, lack of noise and ease of operation.

Some feel that the introduction of the electric starter by Cadillac in 1913, which simplified the difficult and sometimes dangerous task of starting the internal combustion engine, was the downfall of the electric vehicle, as 1912 may have been the pinnacle year for BEVs. Still others point out that it was radiators, in use as early as 1895 by Panhard-Levassor in their Systeme Panhard design [1], which allowed engines to keep cool enough to run for more than a few minutes, before which they had to stop and cool down at horse troughs along with the steamers to replenish their water supply. The truth may be that EV's had fallen out of favor over the mass produced Ford Model-T which went into production four years earlier in 1908. [2] Ultimately, technological advances in internal-combustion powered cars advanced beyond that of their electric powered competitors, resulting in the superior performance and practicality of gasoline powered cars. By the late 1930s the early electric automobile industry had completely disappeared, with battery-electric traction being limited to niche application such as industrial vehicles.

The 1947 invention of the point-contact transistor marked the beginning of a new era for electric technology. Within a decade, Henney Coachworks had joined forces with National Union Electric Company (makers of Exide Batteries) to produce the first modern electric car based around transistor technology. The Henney Kilowatt was produced in 36 volt and 72 volt configurations. The 72 volt models had a top speed approaching 60 miles per hour (96 km/h) and could travel nearly 60 miles on a full charge. Despite the improved practicality of the Henney Kilowatt over previous electric cars, the cost of production exceeded the price that consumers were willing to pay for the Henney Kilowatt and production was ended by 1961.


Production and conversion battery electric vehicles typically achieve 0.3 to 0.5 kWh per mile (0.2 to 0.3 kWh/km). [3] [4] Nearly half of this power consumption is due to inefficiencies in charging the batteries. The U.S. fleet average of 23 mpg of gasoline is equivalent to 1.58 kWh/mi and the 70 mpg Insight gets 0.52 kWh/mi (assuming 36.4 kWh per U.S. gallon of gasoline), so battery electric cars vehicles are relatively efficient. When comparisons are made for the total energy cycle, the efficiency figures for BEVs drop, but such calculations are not commonly offered for ICE vehicles (e.g. the loss of efficiency from energy used to produce specialized fuels such as gasoline as compared to the raw energy available from crude oil or natural gas.

CO2 emission comparisons [5] are one good indication of the current grid-mix vs gasoline consumption. Such comparisons include production, transmission, charging, and vehicle losses. The CO2 emissions can improve for BEVs through the use of sustainable grid or local resources but are essentially fixed for gasoline vehicles. Unfortunately the EV1, Ranger EV, EVPlus, and other production vehicles are missing from this site.

  • RAV4-EV vs Gas RAV4
    • 2000 Toyota RAV4-EV 4.1 short tons CO2 (104 mpg)
    • 2000 Toyota RAV4 2wd 7.2 short tons CO2 (26 mpg)
  • Other BEVs
    • 2000 Nissan Altra EV 3.5 short tons CO2
    • 2000 Nissan Altra EV 3.5 short tons CO2
    • 2002 Toyota RAV4-EV 3.8 short tons CO2
    • 2002 Ford Explorer 7.8 short tons CO2 (USPS)
  • Hybrids
    • 2000 Honda Insight 3.0 short tons CO2
    • 2001 Honda Insight 3.1 short tons CO2
    • 2005 Toyota Prius 3.5 short tons CO2
    • 2005 Ford Escape H 2x 5.8 short tons CO2
    • 2005 Ford Escape H 4x 6.2 short tons CO2
  • Standard ICE vehicles
    • 2005 Dodge Neon 2.0L 6.0 short tons CO2
    • 2005 Ford Escape 4x 8.0 short tons CO2
    • 2005 GMC Envoy XUV 4x 11.7 short tons CO2

It is important to study the full effect of any vehicle design, especially when promoted as better than the status quo. The goal may be to look at overall efficiency only or it may be the total environmental impact, since environmental damage reduction is often the goal behind alternative vehicle efforts. Many factors must be considered when making an overall comparison of total environmental impact. The most comprehensive comparison is known as a cradle-to-grave or lifecycle analysis. The analysis considers all inputs including original production and fuel sources and all outputs and end products including emissions and disposal. The varying amounts and types of outputs and inputs vary in their environmental effects and are difficult to directly compare. For example, are the environmental effects of nickel or cadmium contamination from a battery production facility less than those of hydrocarbon emissions or from petroleum refining? If so, how much, or how much of each would be equivalent? Similar types of questions would need to be resolved for each input and output in order to make a comparison.

A large lifecycle input difference is that the electric vehicle requires electricity instead of a liquid fuel. The advantage of the electric vehicle is that the electricity can be provided by renewable energy. However, if the electricity is produced from fossil fuel sources (as most electricity currently is) the advantage of the electric vehicle is reduced, or nearly eliminated. [6] Thus utilizing and developing additional renewable energy sources is required for electric vehicles to further reduce their net emissions.

The input for electric vehicle production that differs from internal combustion types is primarily in the large battery. Modern batteries as used in hybrids and BEVs have been tested to out-live the vehicle they are tested in. Tested batteries as used by toyota have shown only minimal degradation in performance after 150,000 miles. BEVs do not require an ICE engine, support systems or related maintenance, so they should be more reliable and require less maintenance. Although BEVs are not common, there are related markets which require advances in battery technology, such as mobile phones, laptops, forklifts and hybrid electric vehicles. Improvements to battery technology for any of these other markets will make BEVs more practical too.

Aerodynamic drag has a big impact on efficiency as the speed of the vehicle increases.


Many of today's electric vehicles are capable of acceleration performance which exceeds that of conventional gasoline powered vehicles. Electric vehicles can utilize a direct motor to wheel configuration which increases the power deliverability to the wheels. Having multiple motors connected directly to the wheels allows for each of the wheels to be used for both propulsion and as braking systems, thereby increasing traction. In some cases, the motor can be housed directly in the wheel, such as in the Whispering Wheel design, which lowers the center of gravity and reduces the number of moving parts. When not fitted with an axle, differential or transmission, many electric vehicles have greater torque availability, which goes directly to accelerating the wheels. A gearless or single gear design in some electric vehicles eliminates the need for gear shifting, giving the newer electric vehicles both smoother acceleration and braking. This also allows higher torque at wide rpm levels. For example, the Venturi Fetish delivers supercar acceleration despite having a relatively modest 300 horsepower. Its top speed is only around 100 mph, however. Some electric vehicles, such as some DC motor-equipped drag racers, have simple two-speed transmissions to improve top speed [7][8]. Larger vehicles, such as electric trains and land speed record vehicles, overcome this speed barrier by dramatically increasing the wattage of their power system.


There are no currently available technologies which can provide all of the energy required for the life of a BEV car. This means that all BEV cars must be refuelled by periodic charging of the batteries.

BEVs most commonly charge from the power grid, which is in turn generated from a variety of domestic resources — primarily Hydroelectricity, coal, natural gas, and nuclear. Home power such as roof top photovoltaic (solar cell) panels, microhydro or wind can also be used. Electricity can also be supplied with traditional fuels via a generator. Although not strictly a BEV, the Ford Reflex concept car incorporates solar cells into its exterior to help power its hybrid powertrain.


According to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) [9], half the cars in the U.S. are driven just 40 km (25 miles) a day or less. A plug-in vehicle with even a 20-mile range could reduce petroleum fuel consumption by about 60 percent.

The range of a BEV depends greatly on the number and type of batteries used. The weight and type of vehicle also has an impact just as it does on the mileage of traditional vehicles. Conversions usually use lead-acid batteries because they are the most available and inexpensive, such conversions generally have 20 to 50 miles (30 to 80 km) of range and are built to satisfy the drivers' individual needs. Production EVs with lead-acid batteries are capable of up to 80 miles (130 km) per charge. NiMH chemistries have high energy density and can deliver up to 120 miles (200 km) of range. Lithium ion equipped EVs have been claimed in press releases to have 250-300 miles (400-500 km) of range per charge[10]. EVs can also use pusher trailers or genset trailers in order to function as a hybrid vehicle for occasions when unlimited range is desired without the additional weight during normal short range use. The vehicle becomes an internal combustion vehicle when utilizing the trailer, but it allows the greater range that may be needed for limited times while making the advantages of the BEV available for most shorter trips.

In practice most vehicle journeys of all kinds are quite short, the majority being under 30 km (20 mi) per day. Thus, a BEV that can do 60 km (40 mi) in a day is quite practical for most trips for most users, and a substantial additional range can be added for commuters where charging facilities are available at the destination.

Battery charging vs. battery replacing

The charging time is limited primarily by the capacity of the grid connection. A normal household outlet is between 1.5 kW in the US to 3 kW in the rest of the world (countries with 240 V supply). The main connection to a house might be able to sustain 10 kW, and special wiring can be installed to use this. At this higher power level charging even a small, 7 kWh (14–28 mi) pack, would probably require one hour. Compare this to the effective power delivery rate of an average petro pump, about 5,000 kW. Even if the supply power can be increased, most batteries do not accept charge at greater than their 'charge rate' C1.

Some recent handheld device battery designs by Toshiba [11] are claimed to be capable of accepting an 80% charge in as little as 60 seconds. Scaling this specific power characteristic up to the same 7 kWh EV pack would result in the need for a peak of 336 kW of power from some source for those 60 seconds. It is not clear that such batteries will work directly in BEVs as heat build-up may make them unsafe.

Most people do not require fast recharging because they have enough time (6 to 8 hours) during the work day or overnight to refuel. As the charging does not require attention it takes a few seconds for an owner to plug in and unplug their vehicle. Many BEV drivers prefer refueling at home, avoiding the inconvenience of visiting a petro-station. Some workplaces provide special parking bays for electric vehicles with charging equipment provided.

The charging power can be connected to the car in two ways:

  • The first is a direct electrical connection known as conductive coupling. This might be as simple as a mains lead into a weather proof socket through to special high capacity cables with connectors to protect the user from high voltages.
  • The second approach is known as inductive coupling. A special 'paddle' is inserted into a slot on the car. The paddle is one winding of a transformer, while the other is built into the car. When the paddle is inserted it completes a magnetic circuit which provides power to the battery pack. The major advantage of this approach is that there is no possibility of electrocution as there are no exposed conductors although interlocks can make conductive coupling nearly as safe. Conductive coupling equipment is lower in cost and much more efficient due to a vastly lower component count.

An alternative to recharge is to replace. Uncharged standardized electric car batteries (i.e. the de facto Zebra standard batteries) can be replaced by charged ones in the fuel stations, car shops or similar places. This replacement can be automatic or manual.

Battery life

Individual batteries are usually arranged into large battery packs of various voltage and ampere-hour capacity products to give the required energy capacities. Battery life must be considered when calculating cost of operation, as all batteries wear out and must be replaced. The rate at which they expire depends on a number of factors.

New scientific and empirical evidence from running individual EV conversions shows that most of these negative factors linked to batteries connected in series for traction application can be mitigated with good DC/DC based Battery Management System, thermo insulation/venting, and proper care. That also includes selecting a well balanced mix of components oriented towards specific performance properties, i.e. range, speed. For instance a recombination type of lead-acid battery with C1 hour discharge rate about 120Ah (equals to 220Ah C20 "marketing rating") should be used accordingly. Therefore the EV overall consumption of particular low/mid voltage vehicle should not often exceed in this example 80-100% of this C1 hours rating — this applies for more advanced battery chemistries like Li-ion with slightly higher discharges C3-C5 as well. In this particular example, longevity of the lead-acid battery pack will be preserved by not discharging it in a prolonged or continuous regime above 120Ah currents.

The depth of discharge (DOD) is the recommended proportion of the total available energy storage for which that battery will achieve its rated cycles. Deep cycle lead-acid batteries generally should not be discharged below 50% capacity. More modern formulations can survive deeper cycles.

Austria Solar 1991 (courtesy

In real world use some fleet RAV4-EVs have exceeded 100,000 miles (160,000 km) with little degradation in their daily range[12]. Jay Leno's 1909 Baker Electric still operates on its original edison cells. Battery replacement costs may be partially or fully offset by the lack of regular maintenance such as oil and filter changes and by greater reliability due to fewer moving parts.

Critics claim that batteries pose a serious environmental hazard requiring significant disposal or recycling costs. Some of the chemicals used in the manufacture of advanced batteries such as Li-ion, Li ion polymer and zinc-air are hazardous and potentially environmentally damaging. While these technologies are developed for small markets this is not a concern, but if production was to be scaled to match current car demand the risks might become unacceptable.

Supporters counter with the fact that traditional car batteries are one of the most successful recycling programs and that widespread use of battery electric vehicles would require the implementation of similar recycling regulations. More modern formulations also tend to use lighter, more biologically remediable elements such as iron, lithium, carbon and zinc. In particular, moving away from the heavy metals cadmium and chromium makes disposal less critical.

It is also not clear that batteries pose any greater risk than is currently accepted for fossil fuel based transport. Petrol and diesel powered transportation cause significant environmental damage in the form of spills, smog and distillation byproducts.


Firefighters and rescue personnel receive special training to deal with the higher voltages encountered in electric and hybrid gas-electric vehicle accidents.


The future of battery electric vehicles depends primarily upon the availability of batteries with high energy densities, power density, long life, and reasonable cost as all other aspects such as motors, motor controllers, and chargers are fairly mature and cost competitive with ICE components.

The most likely future for BEVs currently appears to be the incremental improvements needed for hybrids. Hybrid EVs are a smaller step from purely ICE driven cars, yet share much of the same core technology as true BEVs. As hybrids become more refined, battery life, capacity and energy density will improve and the combustion engine used less (particular with PHEV). At some point it may become economic for hybrids to be sold without their ICE, finally leading to BEVs being commonplace.

Alternatively, if fuel cells make a breakthrough neither BEVs nor hybrids will be required. More likely fuel cells will replace the ICE in hybrid designs, providing a large energy density, whilst a more traditional battery pack provides the required power density.

Li-ion, Li-poly and zinc-air batteries have demonstrated energy densities high enough to deliver range and recharge times comparable to conventional vehicles. Their greater cost has discouraged use in commercial BEVs, but as production increases for other markets BEVs will no doubt use them.

Flywheel energy storage is a completely different form of electrical energy storage. It shares a lot with battery technologies and both batteries and flywheels are used in the same applications. Recent advances in materials and electronic control makes a flywheel 'BEV' a strong possibility. There have been prototype electric locomotives using flywheel storage.

Supercapacitor technology has not had the energy density per volume needed to be a small vehicle's primary energy storage but

Fan's arguments

The greatest fans of BEVs are those who have obtained or built and used them. This is a self-selected group because BEVs have not been promoted by the major manufacturers in the United States, so their enthusiasm may be misleading. Owners of conventional gasoline vehicles, once given the chance to live with a BEV often leave their gasoline cars sitting in the driveway. Spouses, luke warm when the vehicle is purchased often take over the vehicle from the purchaser once they use it. Fans point out the following:

  • People can take responsibility for their own energy production with renewables. This will reduce dependence on foreign oil and large scale coal mining. Many electric vehicle owners and operators express great satisfaction in this aspect of electric vehicle use, even while acknowledging that this use can have only little effect on these matters unless adopted more widely and produced in greater quantities.
  • Battery electric vehicles are quieter than ICE powered vehicles.
  • BEVs do not produce noxious fumes around the car.
  • If packs were mass-produced the charging time could be decreased by swapping the pack over with the charger. (This is not practical currently as the battery packs are far too heavy to handle without special tools)

Skeptic's arguments

Skeptics of the viability of BEV's fall into two groups, one arguing on "conventional" practical grounds and the other on practical grounds (often termed as idealistic) regarding the various problems of the car, in addition to tailpipe emissions. The former group points, among other issues, to the limited driving range available today between fillings. The other group ponders the future of the car as a transport solution for even mnore widesread global adoption, noting that the issues of traffic jams, noise pollution, total life-cycle pollution, energy expenditure and the health toll of a sedentary lifestyle, will not be solved by zero-emission vehicles.


Stockpile of crushed EV1s

In the USA, some EV fans have accused the three major domestic manufacturers, General Motors, Chrysler Corporation and Ford Motor Company of deliberately sabotaging their own electric vehicle efforts through several methods: failing to market, failing to produce appropriate vehicles, failing to satisfy demand, and using lease-only programs with prohibitions against end of lease purchase. By these actions they have managed to terminate their BEV development and marketing programs despite operators' offers of purchase and assumption of maintenance liabilities. They also point to the Chrysler "golf cart" program as an insult to the marketplace and to mandates, accusing Chrysler of intentionally failing to produce a vehicle usable in mixed traffic conditions. The manufacturers, in their own defense, have responded that they only make what the public wants. EV fans point out that this response is the same argument used by GM to justify the intensively promoted 11 mpg 6500 lb (2,950 kg) Hummer H2 SUV. Of the various BEVs marketed by the "Big Three", only the General Motors EV1 (manufactured by GM) and the Th!nk City (imported and marketed by Ford) came close to being appropriate configurations for a mass market. However, at the end of their programs GM destroyed its fleet, despite offers to purchase them by their drivers. Ford's Norwegian-built "Th!nk" fleet was covered by a three-year exemption to the standard U.S. Motor Vehicle Safety laws, after which time Ford had planned to dismantle and recycle its fleet; the company was, however, persuaded by activists to not destroy its fleet but return them to Norway and sell them as used vehicles. Ford also sold a few lead-acid battery Ranger EVs, and some fleet purchase Chevrolet S-10 EV pickups are being refurbished and sold on the secondary market.

The three major American motor companies have almost exclusively promoted their electric cars in the American market, where gas is comparatively cheap, and virtually ignored the European market, where gas is significantly more expensive. This can be seen as avoiding the market. Because of the much higher fuel costs, the latent demand for electric vehicles would presumably be higher in Europe, and the outcome of increased BEV sales, in turn, be more certain.

Educational literature (for children) is still available that teaches that lead-acid batteries cannot store enough energy to make an electric vehicle practical. In itself true, this statement is a lie through omission, as it ignores more advanced battery designs.

Both Honda and Toyota also manufactured electric only vehicles. Honda followed the lead of the other majors and terminated their lease-only programs. Toyota offered vehicles for both sale and lease. While Toyota has terminated manufacture of new vehicles it continues to support those manufactured. It is actually possible to see a RAV-4 EV on the road but this is indeed a rare sight.

A film on the subject, directed by former EV1 owner and activist Chris Paine, entitled Who Killed the Electric Car? premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2006, and is scheduled to premiere theatrically in June.

United States

1912 Detroit Electric

The United States produced many electric automobiles, such as the Detroit Electric, during the early 20th century, but production dropped to insignificant numbers with the triumph of gasoline powered internal combustion engine vehicles in the 1920s. A minor resurgence of interest in electric cars occurred in the late 1950s and early 1960s when Henney Coachworks built a limited run of their first (and only) electric car - the Henney Kilowatt. Even though the Henney Kilowatt never reached mass production numbers, the transistor-based electric technology developed for the Kilowatt paved the way for modern EVs.

In recent years, electric vehicles have been promoted through the use of tax credits. In California, the California Air Resources Board attempted to set a quota for the use of electric cars, but this was withdrawn after complaints by auto manufacturers that the quotas were economically unfeasible due to a lack of consumer demand. However, many believe this complaint to be unwarranted due to the claim that there were thousands waiting to purchase or lease electric cars from companies such as General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler in which these companies refused to meet that demand despite their production capability. Others note that the original electric car leases were at reduced cost and the program could not be expected to draw the high volumes required without selling or renting the cars at a financial loss. Since the California program was designed by the California Air Resources Board to reduce air pollution and not to promote electric vehicles, the zero emissions requirement in California was replaced by a combination requirement of a tiny number of zero-emissions vehicles (to promote research and development) and a much larger number of partial zero-emissions vehicles (PZEVs), which is an administrative designation for an super ultra low emissions vehicle (SULEV), which emits pollution of about ten percent of that of an ordinary low emissions vehicle.

Outside the United States

In London, electrically powered vehicles are one of the categories of vehicle exempted from the congestion charge. This is also true in all of Norway, where zero-emission vehicles are also allowed to use the bus lane. In most cities of the United Kingdom low speed electric milk floats (milk trucks) are used for the home delivery of fresh milk.

Production vehicles

Recent or current production battery electric vehicles sold or leased to fleets include:

Photo Model Tech MPC Manufactured Units Recharge
Max         Speed Price Available in   Notes
Tzero thumb.jpg AC Propulsion tzero       4           Very fast two-seat sportster prototype
  Anthony Electric                    
  Arton Birdie                    
  Baker Electric                    
  Bertone Blitz                    
  Citroën Berlingo Electrique NiCd [email protected] mph         £5,[email protected]/2007 UK   Suppliers Search UK ebay,
  Chevrolet S10 EV                   Some sold to fleets, available on secondary market as refurbished vehicles) S-10 with EV1 powertrain, over 100 produced only 45 sold to private owners and survived. Currently only EVbones in Mesa AZ restores and converts to NiMH battery packs. 2005
  Chrysler TEVan                   (1993-1995) and Second Generation EPIC (1998-200?)
  Commuter Cars Tango                   Narrow, fast two seater (fore and aft.) Now accepting pre-orders in the US.
  Corbin Sparrow                   Three-wheeled, highway capable single-seat vehicle
  Detroit Electric                   (1907-1939)
  Elcat                   (1985-2002, almost all vehicles in second-hand use)
  Fiat Panda                   Swis, Italy (2006).
  Ford Ranger EV                   (1998-2003) some sold, most leased.
Several hundred produced for lease only, almost all recovered and most destroyed.
Ford has announced reconditioning and sale of a limited quantity to former leaseholders by lottery
  General Motors EV1                   Gen 1 (1996-1997), Gen II (1999-2003)
(Over a thousand produced for lease only, all recovered and most destroyed)
  Global Electric Motorcars, LLC. GEM                   Quite common in Davis, California.
  Henney Kilowatt                   (1958-1960) The first modern (transistor-based) electric car, capable of highway speeds of up to 60mph and outfitted with modern hydraulic brakes. Fewer than 100 of them were produced before production was discontinued in 1960.
  Honda EV Plus                   (199?-1999)
(Several hundred produced for lease only, all recovered and most destroyed)
  Hyundai SantaFe EV                   Currently testing fast charge in Hawaii 2005
  [ Hybrid Tech & Mullen LiX-75 ]                   Announced in 2006, lithium-powered eco-sports car, estimated to be sold at $124,900
  Maranello 4cycle                   Italiano
  Nissan Altra                   Lithium-powered hatchback; never offered (even by lease) to consumers
  Porsche 550 Spyder replica electric conversion                    
  Peugeot 106 EV                    
  Peugeot Partner                    
  Pivco City Bee                    
  Renault EV Kangoo NiCd 60 miles     0-95% in 4 hours
(3.5kw) on board
60 mph 25000 Euro excl. VAT in France Oct 2003     Has air-bags.

See datasheet and Renault Publication Mar 10, 2003
French Website (English Version)

  Renault Twingo - Swiss, Italy (2006).                    
  REVA           40 mph       India-built city car now also sold in England as the "G-Whiz"
  Sebring-Vanguard Citicar                    
  Sinclair C5                    
  Solectria Force                   (Conversion, not currently in production)
  Tesla Motors                   See their website also Business Week May 8, 2006
  Think City                   Norwegian import by Ford, lease only, all recovered and returned to Norway
  Toyota RAV4 EV NiHi             US
(Not UK)
  Rare, some leased and sold on U.S. East and west coast, out of production, Toyota supported and agreed to stop crushing.
  Toyota Force                    
  TWIKE                   Three-wheeled EV with pedal assist option. Produced in Germany.
  Universal Electric Vehicle Corporation Electrum series Spyder, Com V-3                    
Venturi Fetish Thumb.jpg Venturi Fétish Li 250 km (combined use).     1 hour (30 kW 3-phase)
3 hours (standard)
100 mph €355k

(approx. US$460k),

VAT included
    Marketed as the world's first electric sports two-seater.
0-60 mph 4.5 seconds
  Zap[13]                   Imports to the USA in 2006 from China the Xebra electric car, an economy priced, enclosed three-wheel electric vehicle.
  Zebra Model Z roadster                   Formerly Renaissance Tropica
  Zytec Lotus Elise                    
  Phoenix motorcars                   See their website based in Ojai, CA, makes an electric car modeled on a 1930's Ford roadster and an electic pickup truck/SUV.

Self Build


Recent prototype EVs include:

Production announcements

  • Venturi "Fetish" sports car to use AC propulsion components [18] (Flash animation with music background)
  • AC propulsion announces plans to convert Toyota Scion xA and xB vehicles[19] (items 8 and 9).
  • Mitsubishi, a Japanese automobile manufacturer, announced on May 11 2005 that it will mass-produce its MIEV (Mitsubishi In-wheel Electric Vehicle.) Test fleets are to arrive in 2006 and production models should be available in 2008. [20]. The first test car, revealed to be Colt EV, is expected to have a range of 93 miles using lithium-ion batteries and in-wheel electric motors. The target price of a MIEV should be around US$19,000. No export decision has yet been made. [21].
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle are being developed by calcars, Edrive Systems, and Hymotion. They take a Toyota Prius, add more battery capacity and modify the controller. Then they can get 250 mpg by plugging in at home for a small light charge each night. Edrive and Hymotion recently announced plans to modify other hybrid models, including the Ford Escape.
  • SVE (Société de Véhicules Électric, a company formed by the French Dasseault and Heuliez group) announced they will produce the Cleanova II (French only), based on the Kangoo. It will be available in pre-mass-production in 2007 and mass-production in 2008. The system exists in two versions: all electric (200km autonomy) and rechargeable hybrid (500km autonomy). The system include an electric engine developed by TM4 a subsidiary of Hydro-Quebec, from Quebec Canada who developed also since 20 years an electric wheel motor.

Hobbyists, research, and racing

There is a minor industry supporting the conversion and building of BEVs by hobbyists. Some designers point out that a specific type of electric vehicle offers comfort, utility and quickness, sacrificing only range. This is called a short range electric vehicle. This type may be built using high performance lead–acid batteries, but of only about half the mass that would be expected to obtain a 60 to 80 mile (100 to 130 km) range. The result is a vehicle with about a thirty mile (50 km) range, but 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, is freeway capable and legal, and costs less to build and maintain. By including a manual transmission this type of vehicle can obtain both better performance and higher efficiency than the single speed types developed by the major manufactures. Unlike the converted golf carts used for neighborhood electric vehicles, these may be operated on typical suburban throughways (40 to 45 mph or 60 or 70 km/h speed limits are typical) and can keep up with traffic typical to these roads and to the short on and off segments of freeways that are common in suburban areas.

Aside from production electric cars, often hobbyists build their own EVs by converting existing production cars to run solely on electricity. Some even drag race them as members of NEDRA. Universities such as the University of California, Irvine even go so far as to build their own custom electric or hybrid-electric cars from scratch.

A non-profit program "CalCars"[22] at the University of California, Davis, is attempting to convert a hybrid Toyota Prius automobile to operate as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) through the installation of additional batteries and software modifications. Such a vehicle will operate as would a pure electric for short trips, taking its power from household and workplace rechargers. For longer trips the vehicle will operate as it does at present—as a "strong" hybrid vehicle. A prototype (using sealed lead-acid batteries) is undergoing tests. It is expected that a production conversion would use a more advanced battery. (Advanced batteries are under development and soon for production in the support of hybrid vehicles.) They are currently soliciting donations of additional vehicles and funds for this project.

Battery electric vehicles are also highly popular in quarter mile (400 m) racing. The National Electric Drag Racing Association regularly holds electric car races and often competes them successfully against exotics such as the Dodge Viper.

Eliica prototype
  • Japanese Prof. Dr. Hiroshi Shimizu from Faculty of Environmental Information of the Keio University created the limousine of the future: the Eliica (Electric Lithium Ion Car) has 8 wheels with electric 55 kW hub motors (8WD) with an output of 470 kW and zero emissions. With a top speed of 190 km/h and a maximum reach of 320 km provided by lithium-ion-batteries. See the video at [23]
  • German Umweltbrief [24] want to convert an old-timer car into full electric drive with 4 wheel hub motors; a retro car for the 21th century called electro4. This drive is nearly free of abrasion and maintenance and very reliable. Further advantages are optimal capability of acceleration and best traction through individual control of the wheels. Also the power is generated in the place where its used. Gearbox, kardan shaft and drive shaft become unnecessary, which means less weight. Even an old car can get a torque of 1000 N·m. This 4WD is very silent. There is no vibration and no motor cold-running, the full energy is available immediately. Also small cars can get this system. All is combinable with anti-block system, anti-slip system, stability system, etc., climate control with a/c, heating/cabin, pre-conditioning etc. [25]

See also


  • US patent 772571, Hiram Stevens Maxim, Electric motor vehicle
  • US patent 594805, H. S. Maxim, Motor vehicle
  • US patent 523354, E. E. Keller, Electrically Propelled Preambulator


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