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 vehicle. The energy crises of the 1970s and 80s brought a short-lived interest in electric cars, but in the mid-2000s a renewed interest in the production of electric cars took place, due mainly to concerns about rapidly increasing oil prices and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As of July 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, andTesla Model S. As of June 2012, the world’s top-selling highway-capable all-electric cars are the Nissan Leaf, with more than 30,000 units sold worldwide,and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, with global deliveries of 20,000 vehicles, including units rebadged as Peugeot iOn and Citroën C-Zero for 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; reducedgreenhouse 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 volatilty and supply disruption.
Despite their potential benefits, widespread adoption of electric cars faces several hurdles and limitations. As of 2011 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 billionin 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.
An electric vehicle charging station, also called EV charging station, electric recharging point, charging point and EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment), is an element in an infrastructure that supplies electric energy for the recharging of electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric-gasoline vehicles or semi-static and mobile electrical units such as exhibition stands. As of May 2012, the United States has almost 10,000 public charging stations, and Norway has more than 3,200 charging points. As of December 2011, Japan had 800 public quick-charge stations.