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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Electric Vehicles: Performances, Life Cycle Costs, Emissions, and Recharging Requirements


Electric vehicles (EV) are periodically promoted as quiet, pollution-free alternatives  gasoline vehicles. They have failed each time because of inferior performance and high costs. In this paper, we conduct an updated and detailed evaluation of the performance, costs, environmental impacts, and recharging requirements of electric vehicles. We find that considerable progress has been made in EV battery and powertrain technology since the last surge of interest in EVs in the 1970s. If the development of high-performance batteries continues as expected, advanced electric vehicles could have an urban range of over 150 miles and acceleration comparable to that provided by internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). And if optimistic battery cost, life, and performance goals are achieved, massproduced EVs will have lower life-cycle costs than comparable conventional gasoline vehicles. EVs will reduce emissions per mile of HC, CO. and NO,, compared to stringently controlled ICEVs. By the turn of the century, electric passenger vehicles could be viable as second cars in multicar households and in other limited markets. If an economical form of fast recharging is developed, the potential role of EVs will be much larger. No longer does successful commercialization depend on technical breakthroughs

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