A battery electric vehicle (BEV), battery-only electric vehicle (BOEV), full electric vehicle (FEV) or all-electric vehicle is a type of electric vehicle (EV) that uses chemical energy stored in rechargeable battery packs. BEVs use electric motors and motor controllers instead of internal combustion engines (ICEs) for propulsion. They derive all power from battery packs and thus have no internal combustion engine, fuel cell, or fuel tank. BEVs include - but are not limited to[3][4] - motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, skateboards, rail cars, watercraft, forklifts, buses, trucks, and cars.

Cumulative global sales of highway-capable light-duty pure electric car vehicles passed the one million unit milestone in September 2016.[5] As of December 2016, the world's top selling highway legal all-electric car in history is the Nissan Leaf with global sales of over 250,000 units, followed by the Tesla Model S with more than 158,000 units delivered worldwide.[1][2]


Vehicles using both electric motors and internal combustion engines are examples of hybrid electric vehicles, and are not considered pure or all-electric vehicles because they cannot be externally charged (operate in charge-sustaining mode) and instead they are continually recharged with power from the internal combustion engine and regenerative braking.[6]

Hybrid vehicles with batteries that can be charged externally to displace some or all of their internal combustion engine power and gasoline fuel are called plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and run as BEVs during their charge-depleting mode. PHEVs with a series powertrain are also called range-extended electric vehicles (REEVs), such as the Chevrolet Volt and Fisker Karma.

Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are a subcategory of electric vehicles that includes battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles, (PHEVs), and electric vehicle conversions of hybrid electric vehicles and conventional internal combustion engine vehicles.[6][7]

In China, plug-in electric vehicles, together with hybrid electric vehicles are called new energy vehicles (NEVs).[8] However, in the United States, neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) are battery electric vehicles that are legally limited to roads with posted speed limits no higher than 45 miles per hour (72 km/h), are usually built to have a top speed of 30 miles per hour (48 km/h), and have a maximum loaded weight of 3,000 lbs.[9]

Vehicles by type

The concept of battery electric vehicles is to use charged batteries on board vehicles for propulsion. Battery electric cars are becoming more and more attractive with the advancement of new battery technology (Lithium Ion) that have higher power and energy density (i.e., greater possible acceleration and more range with fewer batteries) and higher oil prices.[10]

BEVs include automobiles, light trucks, and neighborhood electric vehicles.


Electric bus

A battery-electric minibus in St Helens, England

Chattanooga, Tennessee operates nine zero-fare electric buses, which have been in operation since 1992 and have carried 11.3 million passengers and covered a distance of 3,100,000 kilometres (1,900,000 mi), they were made locally by Advanced Vehicle Systems. Two of these buses were used for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.[11][12]

Beginning in the summer of 2000, Hong Kong Airport began operating a 16-passenger Mitsubishi Rosa electric shuttle bus, and in the fall of 2000, New York City began testing a 66-passenger battery-powered school bus, an all-electric version of the Blue Bird TC/2000.[13] A similar bus was operated in Napa Valley, California for 14 months ending in April, 2004.[14]

The 2008 Beijing Olympics used a fleet of 50 electric buses, which have a range of 130 km (81 mi) with the air conditioning on. They use Lithium-ion batteries, and consume about 1 kW⋅h/mi (0.62 kW⋅h/km; 2.2 MJ/km). The buses were designed by the Beijing Institute of Technology and built by the Jinghua Coach.[15] The batteries are replaced with fully charged ones at the recharging station to allow 24-hour operation of the buses.[16]

In France, the electric bus phenomenon is in development, but some buses are already operating in numerous cities.[17] PVI, a medium-sized company located in the Paris region, is one of the leaders of the market with its brand Gepebus (offering Oreos 2X and Oreos 4X).[18]

In the United States, the first battery-electric, fast-charge bus has been in operation in Pomona, California since September 2010 at Foothill Transit. The Proterra EcoRide BE35 uses lithium-titanate batteries and is able to fast-charge in less than 10 minutes.[19]

In 2014, the first production model all-electric school bus was delivered to the Kings Canyon Unified School District in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The bus was one of four the district ordered. This battery electric school bus, which has 4 sodium nickel batteries, is the first modern electric school bus approved for student transportation by any state.[20]

The first all-electric school bus in the state of California pausing outside the California capitol building in Sacramento.

The same technology is used to power the Mountain View Community Shuttles. This technology was supported by the California Energy Commission, and the shuttle program is being supported by Google.[21]

Thunder Sky

Thunder Sky (based in Hong Kong) builds lithium-ion batteries used in submarines and has three models of electric buses, the 10/21 passenger EV-6700 with a range of 280 km (170 mi) under 20 mins quick-charge, the EV-2009 city buses, and the 43 passenger EV-2008 highway bus, which has a range of 300 km (190 mi) under quick-charge (20 mins to 80 percent), and 350 km (220 mi) under full charge (25 mins). The buses will also be built in the United States and Finland.[22]

Free Tindo

Tindo is an all-electric bus from Adelaide, Australia. The Tindo (aboriginal word for sun) is made by Designline International[23] in New Zealand and gets its electricity from a solar PV system on Adelaide's central bus station. Rides are zero-fare as part of Adelaide's public transport system.[24]

First Fast-Charge, Battery-Electric Transit Bus

Proterra's EcoRide BE35 transit bus, called the Ecoliner by Foothill Transit in West Covina, California, is a heavy duty, fast charge, battery-electric bus. Proterra's ProDrive drive-system uses a UQM motor and regenerative braking that captures 90 percent of the available energy and returns it to the TerraVolt energy storage system, which in turn increases the total distance the bus can drive by 31–35 percent. It can travel 30–40 miles on a single charge, is up to 600 percent more fuel-efficient than a typical diesel or CNG bus, and produces 44 percent less carbon than CNG.[25]

Electric trucks

For most of the 20th century, the majority of the world's battery electric road vehicles were British milk floats.[26]

Electric vans

In March 2012, Smith Electric Vehicles announced the release of the Newton Step-Van, an all-electric, zero-emission vehicle built on the versatile Newton platform that features a walk-in body produced by Indiana-based Utilimaster.[27]

Electric cars

A battery-powered electric car is an automobile which is propelled by electric motors.

Although electric cars often give good acceleration and have generally acceptable top speed, the lower specific energy of production batteries available in 2015 compared with carbon-based fuels means that electric cars need batteries that are fairly large fraction of the vehicle mass but still often give relatively low range between charges. Recharging can also take significant lengths of time. For journeys within a single battery charge, rather than long journeys, electric cars are practical forms of transportation and can be recharged overnight.

Comparison of EPA-rated range for model year 2016 and 2017 electric cars rated up until July 2017. Tesla vehicles included are the variants with the longest and shortest range for each model.[28][29]

Electric cars have the potential of significantly reducing city pollution by having zero tail pipe emissions.[30][31][32] Vehicle greenhouse gas savings depend on how the electricity is generated.[33][34] With the current US energy mix, using an electric car would result in a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.[35][36][37][38] Given the current energy mixes in other countries, it has been predicted that such emissions would decrease by 40 percent in the UK,[39] 19 percent in China,[40] and as little as 1 percent in Germany.[41][42][not in citation given]

Electric cars are expected to have a major impact in the auto industry[43][44] given advantages in city pollution, less dependence on oil, and expected rise in gasoline prices.[45][46][47] World governments are pledging billions to fund development of electric vehicles and their components. The US has pledged US$2.4 billion in federal grants for electric cars and batteries.[48] China has announced it will provide US$15 billion to initiate an electric car industry.[49]

Cumulative global sales of highway-capable battery electric cars and vans passed the 1 million unit milestone in September 2016.[5] The Renault-Nissan Alliance is the leading all-electric vehicle manufacturer. The Alliance achieved the sales milestone of 350,000 all-electric vehicles delivered globally in August 2016.[50] Ranking second is Tesla Motors with over 139,000 electric cars sold between 2008 and June 2016.[51][52]

Global sales of the Tesla Model S, the world's second best selling all-electric car in history, achieved the 150,000 unit milestone in November 2016.[53]

As of December 2016, the world's top selling highway capable all-electric car in history is the Nissan Leaf, released in December 2010, with global sales of more than 250,000 units, followed by the Tesla Model S with more than 158,000 units delivered worldwide.[1] Ranking next are the BMW i with about 65,500 units, and the Renault Zoe with 61,205 units, both through December 2016.[2] Until June 2016 the Mitsubishi i-MiEV family ranked fifth with about 37,600 units delivered globally.[54] The Renault Kangoo Z.E. utility van is the leader of the light-duty all-electric segment with global sales of 25,205 units through December 2016.[55]

Formula E is a fully electric international single seater championship. The series was conceived in 2012, and the inaugural championship started in Beijing on 13 September 2014. The series is sanctioned by the FIA. Alejandro Agag is the current CEO of Formula E.

The Formula E championship is currently contested by ten teams with two drivers each (after the withdrawal of Team Trulli, there are temporarily only nine teams competing). Racing generally takes place on temporary city-center street circuits which are approximately 2 to 3.4 km (1.2 to 2.1 mi) long. Currently, only the Mexico City ePrix takes place on a road course, a modified version of the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

Environmental benefits of the use of electric vehicles

Electric vehicles produce no GHG emissions, at the tailpipe. So they are considered 'green' because they have no emissions in the place where they are used. However, battery electric vehicles can be considered Zero emission engines only locally, because they produce GHG in the power plants where electricity is generated. The two factors driving these GHG emissions of Battery Electric Vehicles are:

  • the Carbon intensity of the electricity used to recharge the Electric Vehicle (commonly expressed in grams of CO2 per kWh)
  • the consumption of the specific vehicle (in kilometers/kWh)

The Carbon Intensity of electricity can largely vary, depending on the electricity mix of the geographic region where electricity is consumed (a Country with high shares of renewables in his electricity mix will have a low C.I.). In the European Union, in 2013, the Carbon Intensity had a strong geographic variability, but in almost all the Member States Electric vehicles were "greener" than conventional ones. On average, Electric car saved 50%-60% compared to diesel and gasoline fuelled engines. Moreover, the de-carbonisation process is constantly reducing the GHG emissions due to the use of Electric Vehicles. In the European Union, on average, between 2009 and 2013 there was a reduction of the electricity Carbon Intensity of 17% [56]. In a Life-cycle assessment perspective, considering the GHG necessary to build the battery and its end-of-life, the GHG savings are 10-13% lower. [57]

Special-purpose vehicles

Electric vehicles for the disabled, in Årdalstangen, Norway
Electric vehicles for disabled people in Årdalstangen, Norway

Special-purpose vehicles come in a wide range of types, ranging from relatively common ones such as golf carts, things like electric golf trolleys, milk floats, all-terrain vehicles, neighborhood electric vehicles, and a wide range of other devices. Certain manufacturers specialize in electric-powered "in plant" work machines.

Electric motorcycles, scooters and rickshaws

Three-wheeled vehicles include electric rickshaws, a powered variant of the cycle rickshaw. The large-scale adoption of electric two-wheelers can reduce traffic noise and road congestion but may necessitate adaptations of the existing urban infrastructure and safety regulations.[58]

Electric bicycles

An e-bike in China. Here the rider is not using the pedals.
Pedelecs from the Call a Bike bicycle hire scheme in Berlin.

China has experienced an explosive growth of sales of non-assisted e-bikes including scooter type, with annual sales jumping from 56,000 units in 1998 to over 21 million in 2008,[59] and reaching an estimated 120 million e-bikes on the road in early 2010. China is the world's leading manufacturer of e-bikes, with 22.2 million units produced in 2009. One of the biggest manufacturers of E-bikes in the world is Geoby.

Personal transporters

An increasing variety of personal transporters are being manufactured, including the one-wheeled self-balancing unicycles, self-balancing scooters, electric kick scooters, and electric skateboards.

Electric boats

Several battery electric ships operate throughout the world, some for business. Electric ferries are being operated and constructed.[60]


Fuel use in vehicle designs
Vehicle type Fuel used
All-petroleum vehicle Most use of petroleum
Regular hybrid electric vehicle Less use of petroleum, but unable to be plugged in
Plug-in hybrid vehicle Residual use of petroleum. More use of electricity
All-electric vehicle Most use of electricity


Electric cars have traditionally used series wound DC motors, a form of brushed DC electric motor. Separately excited and permanent magnet are just two of the types of DC motors available. More recent electric vehicles have made use of a variety of AC motor types, as these are simpler to build and have no brushes that can wear out. These are usually induction motors or brushless AC electric motors which use permanent magnets. There are several variations of the permanent magnet motor which offer simpler drive schemes and/or lower cost including the brushless DC electric motor.

Motor controllers

The motor controller regulates the power to the motor, supplying either variable pulse width DC or variable frequency variable amplitude AC, depending on the motor type, DC or AC.


Battery technology has developed from lead-acid batteries in the 19th Century which was too heavy for most types of vehicles to lithium batteries.

See also


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  2. ^ a b c Cobb, Jeff (2017-01-31). "Tesla Model S Is World's Best-Selling Plug-in Car For Second Year In A Row". HybridCars.com. Retrieved 2017-01-31.  See also detailed 2016 sales and cumulative global sales in the two graphs.
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Further reading

External links