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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An electric car or electric vehicle (EV) is a passenger automobile that is propelled by an electric traction motor, using electrical energy as the primary source of propulsion. The term normally refers to a plug-in electric vehicle, typically a battery electric vehicle (BEV), which only uses energy stored in on-board battery packs, but broadly may also include plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), range-extended electric vehicle (REEV) and fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), which can convert electric power from other fuels via a generator or a fuel cell.

Compared to conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, electric cars are quieter, more responsive, have superior energy conversion efficiency and no exhaust emissions, as well as a lower overall carbon footprint from manufacturing to end of life[1][2] (even when a power plant supplying the electricity might add to its emissions). Due to the superior efficiency of electric motors, electric cars also generate less waste heat, thus reducing the need for engine cooling systems that are often large, complicated and maintenance-prone in ICE vehicles.

The electric vehicle battery typically needs to be plugged into a mains electricity power supply for recharging in order to maximize the cruising range. Recharging an electric car can be done at different kinds of charging stations; these charging stations can be installed in private homes, parking garages and public areas.[3] There are also research and development in other technologies such as battery swapping and inductive charging. As the recharging infrastructures (especially those with fast chargers) are still in its relative infancy, range anxiety and time cost are frequent psychological obstacles against electric cars during consumer purchasing decisions.

Worldwide, 10 million plug-in electric cars were sold in 2022, a total of 14% of new car sales,[4] up from 9% in 2021. Many countries have established government incentives for plug-in electric vehicles, tax credits, subsidies, and other non-monetary incentives while several countries have legislated to phase-out sales of fossil fuel cars,[5][6] to reduce air pollution and limit climate change.[7][8] EVs are expected to account for nearly one-fifth of global car sales in 2023, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).[9]

China currently has the largest stock of electric vehicles in the world, with cumulative sales of 5.5 million units through December 2020,[10] although these figures also include heavy-duty commercial vehicles such as buses, garbage trucks and sanitation vehicles, and only accounts for vehicles manufactured in China.[11][12][13][14][15][16] In the United States and the European Union, as of 2020, the total cost of ownership of recent electric vehicles is cheaper than that of equivalent ICE cars, due to lower fueling and maintenance costs.[17][18]

In 2023 the Tesla Model Y became the world's best selling car.[19] The Tesla Model 3 became the world's all-time best-selling electric car in early 2020,[20] and in June 2021 became the first electric car to pass 1 million global sales.[21] Together with other emerging automotive technologies such as autonomous driving, connected vehicles and shared mobility, electric cars form a future mobility vision called Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared (ACES) Mobility.[22][page needed]

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The term "electric car" typically refers specifically to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or all-electric cars, a type of electric vehicle (EV) that has an onboard rechargeable battery pack that can be plugged in and charged from the electric grid, and the electricity stored on the vehicle is the only energy source that provide propulsion for the wheels. The term generally refers to highway-capable automobiles, but there are also low-speed electric vehicles with limitations in terms of weight, power and maximum speed that are allowed to travel on public roads. The latter are classified as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) in the United States,[23] and as electric motorised quadricycles in Europe.[24]


Early developments

Robert Anderson is often credited with inventing the first electric car some time between 1832 and 1839.[25]

The following experimental electric cars appeared during the 1880s:

Electricity was among the preferred methods for automobile propulsion in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, providing a level of comfort and an ease of operation that could not be achieved by the gasoline-driven cars of the time.[34] The electric vehicle fleet peaked at approximately 30,000 vehicles at the turn of the 20th century.[35]

In 1897, electric cars first found commercial use as taxis in Britain and in the United States. In London, Walter Bersey's electric cabs were the first self-propelled vehicles for hire at a time when cabs were horse-drawn.[36] In New York City, a fleet of twelve hansom cabs and one brougham, based on the design of the Electrobat II, formed part of a project funded in part by the Electric Storage Battery Company of Philadelphia.[37] During the 20th century, the main manufacturers of electric vehicles in the United States included Anthony Electric, Baker, Columbia, Anderson, Edison, Riker, Milburn, Bailey Electric, and Detroit Electric. Their electric vehicles were quieter than gasoline-powered ones, and did not require gear changes.[38][39]

Six electric cars held the land speed record in the 19th century.[40] 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) in 1899.

Electric cars remained popular until advances in internal-combustion engine (ICE) cars and mass production of cheaper gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles, especially the Ford Model T, led to a decline.[33] ICE cars' much quicker refueling times and cheaper production-costs made them more popular. However, a decisive moment came with the introduction in 1912 of the electric starter motor[41] that replaced other, often laborious, methods of starting the ICE, such as hand-cranking.

Modern electric cars

In the early 1990s the California Air Resources Board (CARB) began a push for more fuel-efficient, lower-emissions vehicles, with the ultimate goal of a move to zero-emissions vehicles such as electric vehicles.[44][45] In response, automakers developed electric models. These early cars were eventually withdrawn from the U.S. market, because of a massive campaign by the US automakers to discredit the idea of electric cars.[46]

California electric-auto maker Tesla Motors began development in 2004 of what would become the Tesla Roadster, 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.[47]

Better Place, a venture-backed company based in Palo Alto, California, but steered from Israel, developed and sold battery charging and battery swapping services for electric cars. The company was publicly launched on 29 October 2007 and announced deployment of electric vehicle networks in Israel, Denmark and Hawaii in 2008 and 2009. The company planned to deploy the infrastructure on a country-by-country basis. In January 2008, Better Place announced a memorandum of understanding with Renault-Nissan to build the world's first Electric Recharge Grid Operator (ERGO) model for Israel. Under the agreement, Better Place would build the electric recharge grid and Renault-Nissan would provide the electric vehicles. Better Place filed for bankruptcy in Israel in May 2013. The company's financial difficulties were caused by mismanagement, wasteful efforts to establish toeholds and run pilots in too many countries, the high investment required to develop the charging and swapping infrastructure, and a market penetration far lower than originally predicted.[48]

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV, launched in 2009 in Japan, was the first highway-legal series production electric car,[49] and also the first all-electric car to sell more than 10,000 units. Several months later, the Nissan Leaf, launched in 2010, surpassed the i MiEV as the best selling all-electric car at that time.[50]

Starting in 2008, a renaissance in electric vehicle manufacturing occurred due to advances in batteries, and the desire to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and to improve urban air quality.[51] During the 2010s, the electric vehicle industry in China expanded rapidly with government support.[52] Several automakers marked up the prices of their electric vehicles in anticipation of the subsidy adjustments, including Tesla, Volkswagen and Guangzhou-based GAC Group, which counts Fiat, Honda, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, and Toyota as foreign partners.[53]

In July 2019 US-based Motor Trend magazine awarded the fully-electric Tesla Model S the title "ultimate car of the year".[54] In March 2020 the Tesla Model 3 passed the Nissan Leaf to become the world's all-time best-selling electric car, with more than 500,000 units delivered;[20] it reached the milestone of 1 million global sales in June 2021.[21]

The global stock of both plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) has grown steadily since the 2010s.[55]
Sales of passenger electric vehicles (EVs) indicate a trend away from gas-powered vehicles.[56]

In the third quarter of 2021, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation reported that sales of electric vehicles had reached six percent of all US light-duty automotive sales, the highest volume of EV sales ever recorded at 187,000 vehicles. This was an 11% sales increase, as opposed to a 1.3% increase in gasoline and diesel-powered units. The report indicated that California was the US leader in EV with nearly 40% of US purchases, followed by Florida – 6%, Texas – 5% and New York 4.4%.[57]

Electric companies from the Middle East have been designing electric cars. Oman's Mays Motors have developed the Mays i E1 which is expected to begin production in 2023. Built from carbon fibre, it has a range of about 560 km (350 miles) and can accelerate from 0–130 km/h (0–80 mph) in about 4 secs.[58] In Turkey, the EV company Togg is starting production of its electric vehicles. Batteries will be created in a joint venture with the Chinese company Farasis Energy.[59]


Manufacturing cost

The most expensive part of an electric car is its battery. The price decreased from €605 per kWh in 2010, to €170 in 2017, to €100 in 2019.[60][61] 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.[62]

Total cost of ownership

In the EU and US, but not yet China, the total cost of ownership of recent electric cars is cheaper than that of equivalent gasoline cars, due to lower fueling and maintenance costs.[17][18][63] A 2024 Consumer Reports analysis of 29 car brands found Tesla was the least expensive to maintain; Tesla was the only all-electric brand included.[64]

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.[65] The break-even distance varies by country depending on the taxes, subsidies, and different costs of energy. In some countries the comparison may vary by city, as a type of car may have different charges to enter different cities; for example, in England, London charges ICE cars more than Birmingham does.[66]

Purchase cost

Several national and local governments have established EV incentives to reduce the purchase price of electric cars and other plug-ins.[67][68][69][70]

As of 2020, the electric vehicle battery is more than a quarter of the total cost of the car.[71] Purchase prices are expected to drop below those of new ICE cars when battery costs fall below US$100 per kWh, which is forecast to be in the mid-2020s.[72][73]

Leasing or subscriptions are popular in some countries,[74][75] depending somewhat on national taxes and subsidies,[76] and end of lease cars are expanding the second hand market.[77]

In a June 2022 report by AlixPartners, the cost for raw materials on an average EV rose from $3,381 in March 2020 to $8,255 in May 2022. The cost increase voice is attributed mainly to lithium, nickel, and cobalt.[78]

Running costs

Electricity almost always costs less than gasoline per kilometer travelled, but the price of electricity often varies depending on where and what time of day the car is charged.[79][80] Cost savings are also affected by the price of gasoline which can vary by location.[81]

Environmental aspects

The Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is one of the largest known lithium reserves in the world.[82][83]

Electric cars have several benefits when replacing ICE cars, including a significant reduction of local air pollution, as they do not emit exhaust pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, ozone, lead, and various oxides of nitrogen.[84] Similar to ICE vehicles, electric cars emit particulates from tyre and brake wear[85] which may damage health,[86] although regenerative braking in electric cars means less brake dust.[87] More research is needed on non-exhaust particulates.[88] The sourcing of fossil fuels (oil well to gasoline tank) causes further damage as well as use of resources during the extraction and refinement processes.

Depending on the production process and the source of the electricity to charge the vehicle, emissions may be partly shifted from cities to the plants that generate electricity and produce the car as well as to the transportation of material.[44] 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 life-cycle emissions vary depending on the proportion of coal-fired power, but are always less than ICE cars.[89]

The cost of installing charging infrastructure has been estimated to be repaid by health cost savings in less than three years.[90] According to a 2020 study, balancing lithium supply and demand for the rest of the century will require good recycling systems, vehicle-to-grid integration, and lower lithium intensity of transportation.[91]

Some activists and journalists have raised concerns over the perceived lack of impact of electric cars in solving the climate change crisis[92] compared to other, less popularized methods.[93] These concerns have largely centered around the existence of less carbon-intensive and more efficient forms of transportation such as active mobility,[94] mass transit and e-scooters and the continuation of a system designed for cars first.[95]

Public opinion

A 2022 climate survey highlighting European, American, and Chinese car buying preferences.[96]

A 2022 survey found that 33% of car buyers in Europe will opt for a petrol or diesel car when purchasing a new vehicle. 67% of the respondents mentioned opting for the hybrid or electric version.[97][98] More specifically, it found that electric cars are only preferred by 28% of Europeans, making them the least preferred type of vehicle. 39% of Europeans tend to prefer hybrid vehicles, while 33% prefer petrol or diesel vehicles.[97][99]

44% Chinese car buyers, on the other hand, are the most likely to buy an electric car, while 38% of Americans would opt for a hybrid car, 33% would prefer petrol or diesel, while only 29% would go for an electric car.[97][100]

Specifically for the EU, 47% of car buyers over 65 years old are likely to purchase a hybrid vehicle, while 31% of younger respondents do not consider hybrid vehicles a good option. 35% would rather opt for a petrol or diesel vehicle, and 24% for an electric car instead of a hybrid.[97][101]

In the EU, only 13% of the total population do not plan on owning a vehicle at all.[97]


Acceleration and drivetrain design

Typical "skateboard" layout with the battery as floor and a motor at one or both axles

Electric motors can provide high power-to-weight ratios. Batteries can be designed to supply the electrical current needed to support these motors. Electric motors have a flat torque curve down to zero speed. For simplicity and reliability, most electric cars use fixed-ratio gearboxes and have no clutch.

Many electric cars have faster acceleration than average ICE cars, largely due to reduced drivetrain frictional losses and the more quickly-available torque of an electric motor.[102] However, NEVs may have a low acceleration due to their relatively weak motors.

Electric vehicles can also use a motor in each wheel hub or next to the wheels; this is rare but claimed to be safer.[103] Electric vehicles that lack an axle, differential, or transmission can have less drivetrain inertia. Some direct current motor-equipped drag racer EVs have simple two-speed manual transmissions to improve top speed.[104] 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 will go 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 1.9 seconds.[105]

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency of electric cars in towns and on motorways according to the DoE

Internal combustion engines have thermodynamic limits on efficiency, expressed as a 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; diesel engines can reach on-board efficiency of 20%; electric vehicles convert over 77% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels.[106][107][108]

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.[109] Regenerative braking, which is most common in electric vehicles, can recover as much as one fifth of the energy normally lost during braking.[44][107]

Cabin heating and cooling

Combustion powered cars harness waste heat from the engine to provide cabin heating, but this option is not available in an electric vehicle. While heating can be provided with an electric resistance heater, higher efficiency and integral cooling can be obtained with a reversible heat pump, such as on the Nissan Leaf.[110] PTC junction cooling[111] 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 Tesla cars can be pre-heated while the vehicle is plugged in.[112][113][114]

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.[115]


Side impact test of a Tesla Model X

The safety issues of BEVs are largely dealt with by the international standard ISO 6469. This document is divided into three parts dealing with specific issues:

  • On-board electrical energy storage, i.e. the battery[116]
  • Functional safety means and protection against failures[117]
  • Protection of persons against electrical hazards[118]

Research published in the British Medical Journal in 2024 indicates that between 2013 and 2017 in the United Kingdom, electric cars killed pedestrians at twice the rate of petrol or diesel vehicles because "they are less audible to pedestrians in urban areas".[119] Jurisdictions have passed laws requiring electric vehicles to be manufactured with sound generators.[119]


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, while increasing harm to others.[120] On average, an accident will cause about 50% more injuries to the occupants of a 2,000 lb (900 kg) vehicle than those in a 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) vehicle.[121] Heavier cars are more dangerous to people outside the car if they hit a pedestrian or another vehicle.[122]


The battery in skateboard configuration lowers the center of gravity, increasing driving stability, lowering the risk of an accident through loss of control.[123] If there is a separate motor near or in each wheel, this is claimed to be safer due to better handling.[124]

Risk of fire

Like their ICE counterparts, electric vehicle batteries can catch fire after a crash or mechanical failure.[125] Plug-in electric vehicle fire incidents have occurred, albeit fewer per distance traveled than ICE vehicles.[126] Some cars' high-voltage systems are designed to shut down automatically in the event of an airbag deployment,[127][128] and in case of failure firefighters may be trained for manual high-voltage system shutdown.[129][130] Much more water may be required than for ICE car fires and a thermal imaging camera is recommended to warn of possible re-ignition of battery fires.[131][132]


As of 2018, 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 transmission car.[133]

When an internal combustion vehicle's accelerator is released, it may slow by engine braking, depending on the type of transmission and mode. EVs are usually equipped with regenerative braking that slows the vehicle and recharges the battery somewhat.[134] Regenerative braking systems also decrease the use of the conventional brakes (similar to engine braking in an ICE vehicle), reducing brake wear and maintenance costs.


Nissan Leaf battery pack

Lithium-ion-based batteries are often used for their high power and energy density.[135] Batteries with different chemical compositions are becoming more widely used, such as lithium iron phosphate which is not dependent on nickel and cobalt so can be used to make cheaper batteries and thus cheaper cars.[136]


Comparison of EPA-rated range for model year 2020 electric cars rated up until January 2020.
Comparison of EPA-rated range for model year 2020 electric cars rated up until January 2020[137]

The range of an electric car depends on the number and type of batteries used, and (as with all vehicles), the aerodynamics, weight and type of vehicle, performance requirements, and the weather.[138] Cars marketed for mainly city use are often manufactured with a short range battery to keep them small and light.[139]

Most electric cars are fitted with a display of the expected range. This may take into account 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 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.[140]



Most electric cars use a wired connection to supply electricity for recharging. Electric vehicle charging plugs are not universal throughout the world. However vehicles using one type of plug are generally able to charge at other types of charging stations through the use of plug adapters.[141]

The Type 2 connector is the most common type of plug, but different versions are used in China and Europe.[142][143]

The Type 1 (also called SAE J1772) connector is common in North America[144][145] but rare elsewhere, as it does not support three-phase charging.[146]

Wireless charging, either for stationary cars or as an electric road,[147] is less common as of 2021, but is used in some cities for taxis.[148][149]

Home charging

Electric cars are usually charged overnight from a home charging station; sometimes known as a charging point, wallbox charger, or simply a charger; in a garage or on the outside of a house.[150][151] As of 2021 typical home chargers are 7 kW, but not all include smart charging.[150] 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.[152] Charging from a standard outlet is also possible but very slow.

Public charging

Charging station at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This station is run by Petrobras and uses solar energy.

Public charging stations are almost always faster than home chargers,[153] with many supplying direct current to avoid the bottleneck of going through the car's AC to DC converter,[154] as of 2021 the fastest being 350 kW.[155]

Combined Charging System (CCS) is the most widespread charging standard,[143] whereas the GB/T 27930 standard is used in China, and CHAdeMO in Japan. The United States has no de facto standard, with a mix of CCS, Tesla Superchargers, and CHAdeMO charging stations.

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. As of 2021 some cars are 400-volt and some 800-volt.[156] 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.[157] Vehicles and charging stations with slower charging speeds may take as long as two hours 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.

A battery swapping station operated by Nio

Some companies are building battery swapping stations, to substantially reduce the effective time to recharge.[158][159] Some electric cars (for example, the BMW i3) have an optional 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.[160]

Electric roads

Electric road technologies which power and charge electric vehicles while driving were assessed in Sweden from 2013.[161]: 12  The assessment was scheduled to conclude in 2022.[162] The first standard for electrical equipment on board a vehicle powered by a rail electric road system (ERS), CENELEC Technical Standard 50717, has been approved in late 2022.[163] Following standards, encompassing "full interoperability" and a "unified and interoperable solution" for ground-level power supply, are scheduled to be published by the end 2024, detailing complete "specifications for communication and power supply through conductive rails embedded in the road".[164][165] The first permanent electric road in Sweden is planned to be completed by 2026[166] on a section of the E20 route between Hallsberg and Örebro, followed by an expansion of further 3000 kilometers of electric roads by 2045.[167] A working group of the French Ministry of Ecology considers ground-level power supply technologies the most likely candidate for electric roads,[168] and recommended adopting a European electric road standard formulated with Sweden, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, and others.[169] France plans to invest 30 to 40 billion euro by 2035 in an electric road system spanning 8,800 kilometers that recharges electric cars, buses and trucks while driving. Two tenders for assessment of electric road technologies are expected to be announced by 2023.[168]

Vehicle-to-grid: uploading and grid buffering

During peak load periods, when the cost of generation can be very high, electric vehicles with vehicle-to-grid capabilities 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. The batteries in the vehicles serve as a distributed storage system to buffer power.[170]


As with all lithium-ion batteries, electric vehicle batteries may degrade over long periods of time, especially if they are frequently charged to 100%; however, this may take at least several years before being noticeable.[171] A typical warranty is 8 years or 100,000 mi (160,000 km),[172] but they usually last much longer, perhaps 15 to 20 years in the car and then more years in another use.[173]

Currently available electric cars

Sales of electric cars

Tesla became the world's leading electric vehicle manufacturer in December 2019.[174][175] Its Model S was the world's top selling plug-in electric car in 2015 and 2016,[176][177] its Model 3 has been the world's best selling plug-in electric car for four consecutive years, from 2018 to 2021, and the Model Y was the top selling plug-in car in 2022.[178][179][180][181][182] The Tesla Model 3 surpassed the Leaf in early 2020 to become the world's cumulative best selling electric car.[20] Tesla produced its 1 millionth electric car in March 2020, becoming the first auto manufacturer to do so,[183] and in June 2021, the Model 3 became the first electric car to pass 1 million sales.[21] Tesla has been listed as the world's top selling plug-in electric car manufacturer, both as a brand and by automotive group for four years running, from 2018 to 2021.[179][184][185][186][180] At the end of 2021, Tesla's global cumulative sales since 2012 totaled 2.3 million units,[187] with 936,222 of those delivered in 2021.[188]

BYD Auto is another leading electric vehicle manufacturer, with the majority of its sales coming from China. From 2018 to 2023, BYD produced nearly 3.18 million purely plug-in electric car, with 1,574,822 of those were produced in 2023 alone.[189] In the fourth quarter of 2023, BYD surpassed Tesla as the top-selling electric vehicle manufacturer by selling 526,409 battery electric cars, while Tesla delivered 484,507 vehicles.[190][191]

As of December 2021, the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance listed as one of major all-electric vehicle manufacturers, with global all-electric vehicle sales totaling over 1 million light-duty electric vehicles, including those manufactured by Mitsubishi Motors since 2009.[192][193] Nissan leads global sales within the Alliance, with 1 million cars and vans sold by July 2023,[194] followed by the Groupe Renault with more than 397,000 electric vehicles sold worldwide through December 2020, including its Twizy heavy quadricycle.[195] As of July 2023, global sales totaled over 650,000 units since inception.[194]

Other leading electric vehicles manufacturers are GAC Aion (part of GAC Group, with 962,385 cumulative sales as of December 2023),[196] SAIC Motor with 1,838,000 units (as of July 2023), Geely, and Volkswagen.[197][198][199][200][201]

The following table lists the all-time best-selling highway-capable all-electric cars with cumulative global sales of over 250,000 units:

All-time top-selling highway-capable(1) all-electric passenger car nameplates
Company Model Image Market launch Lifetime global sales Total sales through Annual global sales Status Ref

Tesla, Inc.
Tesla Model Y
2020-03 ~2.49 million 2023-12 1,211,601 (2023) In production [178][179][202][203][204][205]

Tesla, Inc.
Tesla Model 3
2017-07 ~2.06 million 2023-12 529,287 (2023) In production [178][179][206][202][205]

Wuling Hongguang Mini EV
2020-07 1,218,640 2023-12 118,834 (2023) In production [178][179][202][207][208]

Nissan Leaf
2010-12 ~650,000 2023-07 64,201 (2021) In production [179][194]

BYD Yuan Plus / Atto 3
2022-02 614,260 2023-12 412,202 (2023) In production [208][209]

BYD Dolphin
2021-08 602,434 2023-12 367,419 (2023) In production [178][202][210][211]

GAC Group
Aion S
2019-05 485,369 2023-12 222,227 (2023) In production [178][179][202][212][213][209]

2016-03 454,157 2023-12 154,774 (2023) In production [209][208][214][215][216]

Renault Zoe
2012-12 413,975 2023-06 15,706 (2023) Ceased production [195][217][218][219]

Volkswagen ID.4
2020-09 493,219 2023-12 192,686 (2023) In production [178][179][220][205]

GAC Group
Aion Y
2021-04 383,350 2023-12 229,555 (2023) In production [209][208][214]

2020-03 367,129 2023-12 106,502 (2023) In production [209][208][214][215]

Tesla, Inc.
Tesla Model S
2012-06 ~363,900 2022-12 ~35,000 (2022) In production [221]

Chery eQ1
2017-03 338,051 2023-12 29,744 (2023) In production [222][223][224]

Hyundai Kona Electric
2018-05 329,643 2023-12 70,871 (2023) In production [225]

Volkswagen ID.3
2019-11 325,770 2023-12 139,268 (2023) In production [226][227][228][205]

Hyundai Ioniq 5
2021-03 280,430 2023-12 114,988 (2023) In production [225]

BYD Seagull
2023-04 280,217 2023-12 280,217 (2023) In production [211]
(1) Vehicles are considered highway-capable if able to achieve at least a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).

Electric cars by country

In the year of 2021, the total number of electric cars on the world's roads went to about 16.5 million. The sales of electric cars in the first quarter of 2022 went up to 2 million.[229] 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.

All-electric cars have oversold plug-in hybrids since 2012.[230][181][182]

Annual sales of plug-in electric passenger cars in the world's top markets between 2011 and 2022[231][232][233][234][235][236][237][238]
Evolution of the ratio between global sales of BEVs and PHEVs between 2011 and 2022[230][181][182][239][240]

Government policies and incentives

A dedicated electric car free charging and parking lot in Oslo
Four out of ten Europeans interviewed for the European Investment Bank climate survey thought subsidies for electric cars should be a priority to fight climate change.

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; electric vehicle charging stations in buildings; and long-term regulations with specific targets.[231][241][242]

Timeline of national targets
for full ICE phase out or
100% ZEV car sales[231][243]
Selected countries Year
Norway (100% ZEV sales) 2025
Denmark 2030
Netherlands (100% ZEV sales)
United Kingdom (100% ZEV sales) 2035
France 2040
Canada (100% ZEV sales)
Germany (100% ZEV sales) 2050
U.S. (10 ZEV states)
Japan (100% HEV/PHEV/ZEV sales)

Financial incentives for consumers are aiming to make electric car purchase price competitive with conventional cars due to the higher upfront cost of electric vehicles. Depending on battery size, there are one-time purchase incentives such as grants and tax credits; exemptions from import duties; exemptions from road tolls and congestion charges; and exemption of registration and annual fees.

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.[241] Some countries or cities that restrict private car ownership (for example, a purchase quota system for new vehicles), or have implemented permanent driving restrictions (for example, no-drive days), have these schemes exclude electric vehicles to promote their adoption.[244][245][246][247][248][249] Several countries, including England and India, are introducing regulations that require electric vehicle charging stations in certain buildings.[242][250][251]

Some government have also established long term regulatory signals with specific targets such as zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandates, national or regional CO2 emission regulations, stringent fuel economy standards, and the phase out of internal combustion engine vehicle sales.[231][241] For example, Norway set a national goal that by 2025 all new car sales should be ZEVs (battery electric or hydrogen).[252][253] While these incentives aim to facilitate a quicker transition from internal combustion cars, they have been criticized by some economists for creating excess deadweight loss in the electric car market, which may partially counteract environmental gains.[254][255][256]

EV plans from major manufacturers

Electric vehicles (EVs) have gained significant traction as an integral component of the global automotive landscape in recent years. Major automakers from around the world have adopted EVs as a critical component of their strategic plans, indicating a paradigm shift toward sustainable transportation.

As of Manufacturer Investment Investment
# EVs Year
2020-11 Volkswagen $86 billion 2025 27 2022 Plans 27 electric vehicles by 2022, on a dedicated EV platform dubbed "Modular Electric Toolkit" and initialed as MEB.[257] In November 2020 it announced the intention to invest $86 billion in the following five years, aimed at developing EVs and increasing its share in the EV market. Total capital expenditure will include "digital factories", automotive software and self-driving cars.[258]
2020-11 GM $27 billion 30 2035


Announced that it is boosting its EV and self-driving investment from $20 billion to $27 billion, and it currently plans to have 30 EVs on the market by the end of 2025 (including: the Hummer EV; the Cadillac Lyriq SUV; Buick, GMC, and Chevrolet EVs; and a Chevy compact crossover EV).[260] CEO Barra said 40% of the vehicles GM will offer in the United States will be battery electric vehicles by the end of 2025.[261] 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.[262]
2019-01 Mercedes $23 billion 2030 10 2022 Plans to increase their electric car manufacturing to 50% in global sales by 2030.[263]
2019-07 Ford $29 billion


2025 Will use Volkswagen's Modular Electric Toolkit ("MEB") to design and build its own fully electric vehicles starting in 2023.[265] The Ford Mustang Mach-E is an electric crossover that will reach up to 480 km (300 miles).[266] Ford is planning to release an electric F-150 in the 2021 time frame.[267][268]
2019-03 BMW 12 2025 Plans 12 all electric vehicles by 2025, using a fifth-generation electric powertrain architecture, which will save weight and cost and increase capacity.[269] BMW has ordered €10 billion worth of battery cells for the period from 2021 through 2030.[270][271][272]
2020-01 Hyundai 23 2025 Announced that it plans 23 pure electric cars by 2025.[273] Hyundai will announce its next generation electric vehicle platform, named e-GMP, in 2021.[274]
2019-06 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.[275] Toyota and Subaru will release a new EV on a shared platform;[276] it will be about the size of a Toyota RAV4 or a Subaru Forester.
2019-04 29 automakers $300 billion 2029 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.[277]
2020-10 Fiat Launched its new electric version of the New 500 for sale in Europe starting in early 2021.[278][279]
2020-11 Nissan Announced the intention to sell only electric and hybrid cars in China from 2025, introducing nine new models. Nissan other plans includes manufacturing, by 2035, half zero-emission vehicles and half gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles.[280] In 2018 Infiniti, the luxury brand of Nissan, announced that by 2021 all newly introduced vehicles will be electric or hybrid.[281]
2020-12 Audi €35 billion 2021–2025 20 2025 30 new electrified models by 2025, of which 20 PEV.[282] By 2030–2035, Audi intends to offer just electric vehicles.[283]


Total global EV sales in 2030 were predicted to reach 31.1 million by Deloitte.[284] The International Energy Agency predicted that the total global stock of EVs would reach almost 145 million by 2030 under current policies, or 230 million if Sustainable Development policies were adopted.[285]

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