Electric driving - Evaluating transitions based on system options

23-02-2009 | Publication

Large-scale use of electric vehicles could drastically reduce CO2 emissions, especially if more electricity would be generated by sustainable energy. Moreover, using electric vehicles would diminish city noise pollution. Obstacles currently consist of the high priced batteries, their relatively long rercharging times, the maximum range of electric vehicles and the lack of charging facilities.

Electric driving; an attractive challenge

Over the past years, electric driving has become more and more attractive because of the development of better batteries. Driving electric vehicles could drastically reduce CO2 emissions, especially if more electricity would be generated by using sustainable energy. As most passenger cars are not used at night, this is the ideal time for charging their batteries. This would be cost-effective because, at that time, there is a surplus of generating capacity, and wind energy could also be used more effectively. Moreover, consumers will be able to drive clean and quiet vehicles at costs that seem surmountable in the future.

At least two obstacles still need to be overcome. The first of which is the current maximum range of electric vehicles of around a few hundred kilometres. Battery producers and universities are working hard on the development of batteries that could be charged within 5 to 10 minutes at EV fast-charge stations. This limited range would not be a drawback for the so-called plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), which can run on both fossil fuel and electric power, and are expected to come onto the market in the near future. However, these plug-in hybrids reduce less CO2 and carry slightly higher costs. The second obstacle is the need for a standardised European network of charging stations, and electrical outlets near residences and at commercial and public parking facilities.

This report shows the challenges facing the government and the business community of utilising the benefits of electric driving and of overcoming the obstacles.