Electrically-powered vehicles offer the promise of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas associated with climate change, as well as reducing toxic emissions and smog levels in urban areas. Alongside these benefits, they can also help to reduce the global demand for oil amidst concerns regarding the extent of the world' s oil reserves; the capacity of the oil industry to extract and refine sufficient quantities of petroleum fuels; and the vulnerability of many countries to external control of their oil supply.
With these factors in mind to varying degrees, the governments of many countries have introduced regulations to reduce the volumes of CO2 and toxic pollutants emitted by industry and transportation, and are providing incentives that encourage the use of more fuel-efficient vehicles. These measures, along with the volatility of petroleum fuel prices during recent years, are influencing consumer preferences and encouraging investment by OEMs and automotive industry suppliers to develop battery and other technologies that can be used to power electric vehicles (EV) and a range of hybrid vehicle configurations that combine electric and internal combustion engine (ICE) or fuel cell power.
Working against these initiatives are several challenges including the cost of battery packs, the lack of an extensive recharging infrastructure and the limited range of most current EVs between battery recharges, which, of course also applies to range-extended EVs and other plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEV) that can operate at times in electric-only mode. Despite these barriers, however, a wide variety of EVs are being developed by major OEMs and a growing list of new niche manufacturers. Alongside this, PHEVs are now arriving in the market and attracting considerable media attention. Fuel cell vehicles, on the other hand, are not expected to be in mass-market volumes for many years because of the problems of cost, fuel supply and refuelling infrastructure.
This report examines the current situation with respect to EV and PHEV models that are already in, or about to be launched into, the market. It also examines the market drivers and barriers, and the enabling technologies that are contributing to the current progress towards introducing a substantial fleet of electrically-powered vehicles onto the world' s roads during the next few years. Throughout, EV will be used to designate a battery-only EV and ‘range-extended EV’ (REEV) will be used for series hybrid-electric vehicles (HEV) that have significant electric-only range and carry an ICE-powered generator for recharging the batteries. ‘Hybrid’ will be used to designate parallel HEVs - those that can operate on either an ICE or an electric motor alone, or a combination of both - that do not have larger batteries and plug-in recharging capability. PHEV will be used at times for both range-extended and parallel HEVs that have a large battery pack to enable extended electric-only operation and plug-in recharging capability.