Publication Detail

Electric Vehicles: Performance, Life-Cycle Costs, Emissions, and Recharging Requirements


Journal Article

Suggested Citation:
DeLuchi, Mark A., Michael Q. Wang, Daniel Sperling (1989) Electric Vehicles: Performance, Life-Cycle Costs, Emissions, and Recharging Requirements. Transportation Research Part A 23 (3), 255 - 278

Electric vehicles (EV) are periodically promoted as quiet, pollution-free alternatives to gasoline vehicles. They have failed each time because of inferior performance and high costs. In this paper, we conduct an updated and detailed evaluation of the performance, costs, environmental impacts, and recharging requirements of electric vehicles. We find that considerable progress has been made in EV battery and powertrain technology since the last surge of interest in EVs in the 1970s. If the development of high-performance batteries continues as expected, advanced electric vehicles could have an urban range of over 150 miles and acceleration comparable to that provided by internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). And if optimistic battery cost, life, and performance goals are achieved, mass-produced EVs will have lower life-cycle costs than comparable conventional gasoline vehicles. EVs will reduce emissions per mile of HC, CO, and NOx, compared to stringently controlled ICEVs. By the turn of the century, electric passenger vehicles could be viable as second cars in multicar households and in other limited markets. If an economical form of fast recharging is developed, the potential role of EVs will be much larger. No longer does successful commercialization depend on technical breakthroughs.