An electric car is an automobile that is propelled by one or more electric motors, using electrical energy stored in batteries or another energy storage device.
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 curb greenhouse gas emissions.
As of April 2012, series production models available in some countries include the Tesla Roadster, REVAi, Buddy, Mitsubishi i MiEV, Tazzari Zero, Nissan Leaf, Smart ED, Wheego Whip LiFe, Mia electric, BYD e6, Bolloré Bluecar, Renault Fluence Z.E., Ford Focus Electric, BMW ActiveE, and Coda. The Leaf, with more than 27,000 units sold worldwide through March 2012, and the i-MiEV, with global sales of more than 17,000 units through October 2011, are the world''s top-selling highway-capable electric cars.
Electric cars have several potential benefits compared to conventional internal combustion automobiles, including a significant reduction of urban air pollution, as they do not emit harmful tailpipe pollutants from the onboard source of power at the point of operation (zero tail pipe emissions); reduced greenhouse 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 their vulnerability to price shocks and supply disruption. Also for many developing countries, and particularly for the poorest in Africa, high oil prices have an adverse impact on their balance of payments, hindering their economic growth.
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 billion in 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.