Everything you need to know about electric cars - Arval


Everything you need to know about electric cars - Arval

Everything you need to

know about electric cars

In association with the Corporate Vehicle Observatory France


Everything you need to

know about electric cars

In association with the Corporate Vehicle Observatory France

© Arval 2010. All rights reserved. It is forbidden to reproduce or distribute the contents of this booklet by any means whatsoever, whether in whole or in

part, without the prior written authorisation of Arval. Such action constitutes an infringement of rights for which penalties are provided under chapter 1,

section 2 of the law concerning copyright of 30/06/1994.

Stéphane Verwilghen

In times when the environment is obviously becoming increasingly important for consumers

and companies as well as for the government, the electric vehicle is no longer only a possibility

but has meanwhile become a certainty. The offer from car manufacturers should

expand very quickly, particularly after 2011, in all regions of the world. Some experts

estimate that by 2020, electric vehicles will account for 10% of the total vehicle sales.

This heralds a new era in which the car will become greener but which will also introduce

a new use and new expectations of the car.

• The new technologies that have been tested and improved promise to widen the scope

of use of electricity in vehicles.

• The higher purchase price will be compensated by an exploitation cost that is 3 to

4 times lower.

• The electric vehicles will also bring about a transformation of the electricity distribution

network and, in addition, company car parks will be equipped with charging points.

• Although there may still be a few challenges ahead before we can switch from hybrids to

all electric vehicles, it is clear that the pace is set for a new way of looking at car mobility!

The Arval Group, a reference in long­term rental throughout Europe, has set up partnerships

with several car manufacturers to prepare for the arrival of these electric cars.

Why? Because currently in Europe, more than 40% of vehicle purchases are made by

companies. And most of them have opted to have their fleet financed and managed by

a long­term rental. The companies and the sector for long­term rental will undoubtedly

have a precursory role to play in the introduction of electric cars.

Being Arval, we are convinced that:

• the purchase of electric cars will initially be done by companies before it will spread to

the general public ;

• the operational leasing sector, experts in TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), will help companies

to determine to whom, when and where they could introduce electric vehicles ;

• these vehicles are designed to run between 500.000 and 1 million kilometres, which will

make operational leasing contracts of over 6 years completely realistic.

We believe that, in a first stage, these changes should affect commercial vehicles primarily

used in the city and over short distances (

Table of contents

Context 5

Electric power, a profound change in the automotive industry 6

Short history of developments in the 1990s 8

Categories of hybrid and electric vehicles 12

Micro hybrids, the Stop­Start function 14

Mild hybrids, a powerful electric motor 16

Parallel hybrids 18

Rechargeable or plug­in hybrids 20

“All electric” vehicles 22

Electric cars, ideally suited to urban life 28

Electric quadricycles, with or without a driver’s license 30

Electric commercial vehicles, a segment in its own right 34

Powertrain technology 36

Electric currents, from socket to engine 42

Filling up 44

Carbon emission figures for electric and hybrid vehicles 46

Short and medium­term prospects 48

Vehicles available in 2010 50

Comparison table: weight/power/price per type of battery 51

4 www.arval.be


Internal combustion cars in the light of rising petrol prices and pollution

A rapid change in the automobile market is underway. Increasing economic and environmental pressure is leading

drivers to use less polluting, less petrol­hungry cars with lower running costs.

This revolution in the market is due to several factors:

• First factor: the inexorable rise in the price of fossil fuels linked with dwindling supplies. Whereas there was a

sudden decrease in demand linked to the global economic crisis, this situation will not last. Fossil fuel prices will begin

their inexorable rise again.

• Second factor: climate change. Emissions of polluting gases and the greenhouse effect are changing the atmosphere’s

self­protection system.

• Third factor: the consequences of this pollution on human health. Particles of pollutants from the combustion of

fossil fuels are a danger to man.

Restrictive measures for motorists

We have entered a critical era, a turning point with profound changes to come. We will have to take restrictive or

even drastic measures in response to the dangers we face.

Our economic and political decision makers are aware of the drawbacks and polluting nature of combustion engine

emissions, and have begun to make decisions.

These include speed limits in peak periods of fine particles (smog alarm), traffic restrictions in towns, speed limits and

urban toll in certain large European cities.

Solutions for urban traffic: electric and hybrid cars

Everything you need to know about electric cars

Today, given current technical and economic realities, to provide a sustainable answer to environmental problems, the

most efficient vehicle for short journeys and for urban and suburban traffic is the electric car.

Electric propulsion is gaining rapid ground in the car industry. Following years of R&D the automotive industry is

now making use of the advantages of electric propulsion. These advantages include energy efficiency, high levels of

efficiency of engines, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reliability and silence.


Since the 1990s, following increased environmental and

economic pressure, we have seen a significant change: electric

motors have become more and more common in cars,

not only to drive luxury features like sunroofs, seats, rear

view mirrors and air­conditioning, but to propel the cars.

We are no longer surprised to see saloon cars such as the

Toyota Prius gliding silently through town. Several thousand

French drivers, mainly institution and company employees,

have been driving more than 5,000 “all electric” 106, Saxo

and Berlingo cars produced by PSA between 1995 and


People in La Rochelle, France are familiar with “EVs”

(Electic Vehicles). For the past ten years the town has had

a pool of about 50 self-service electric cars available at

seven centres. All over Europe, Asia and the USA, bold and

innovative development programmes are turning experiments

into practical applications. “Concept cars” and prototypes

give rise to mass­produced models, and electric

power is being standardised and extended.



Electric power,

a profound change in the

automotive industry

All categories and all segments of the market are being

transformed. A multitude of new players in the electric

vehicle industry are appearing, including large investors,

specialised research departments, new battery start­up

companies and innovative small manufacturers.

All this activity has extended the range of supply and accelerated

the demand for existing models. Every quarter

of a year sees a batch of new products on the market,

from micro urban vehicles to standard saloon cars, and

from light commercial vans to medium­weight goods


The rapid spread of electric engines

The trend towards electrification has accelerated since

the year 2000, with the search for more efficient internal

combustion engines with a view to reducing emissions

of greenhouse gases and lowering fuel consumption. To

lower fuel consumption electric motors were added to

“assist” the combustion engine, giving rise to the first

“hybrid” cars.

The Toyota Prius I in 1997 and Honda Insight in 1999,

followed by the IMA Civic, were the pioneers of this new

technology on the global market. These hybrid cars, like

the electric cars produced by small manufacturers, have

one of the main advantages of electric motors, which

is high energy efficiency. It is an undeniable fact that

modern electric motors perform much more efficiently

than combustion engines, whether the latter be petrol

or diesel driven, or use gas (such as LPG and CNG).

Energy efficiency to speed up change

In optimal conditions, combustion engines have a maximum

efficiency* of around 35% for petrol driven cars and

around 40% for diesels.

As a general rule, cars are used for short journeys in urban

areas in far from optimal running conditions, which further

reduce energy efficiency to levels of only 15% to 20%.

By contrast, the efficiency of electric motors is over 80%

and may reach 90%. The power electronics that control

them are also highly efficient (nearly 100%).

Moreover, electric motors have other advantages: they

are reliable, cheap, need little maintenance and are light.

They produce tremendous torque as soon as the

engine is started and have a very wide range of speeds,

which in most cases makes transmission simpler. Electric

Everything you need to know about electric cars

motors are fed by high-performance batteries. These are

the vehicle’s “energy reservoir” and have given rise to

profound technological and economic changes.

The automotive industry, aware of these changes, is manufacturing

an increasing number of electric motors to drive

a new generation of vehicles available on the market.

* The energy efficiency of an engine is calculated as a percentage

of energy produced. In any engine, varying amounts of

the energy used is transformed into heat. An efficiency of 15 to

20% means that 80 to 85% of the energy consumed by the

engine is wasted and is not used to propel the vehicle. In terms

of fuel consumption this means that out of a 50 litre tank of

fuel only eight to ten litres are used to propel the vehicle. The

rest is turned into heat and wasted in the internal running of

the engine.



Electric vehicles of all times

Short history of developments

in the 1990s

The history of electric vehicles is as old as the history of the

car itself. Ever since the beginning of the last century, electricity

has been used to drive vehicles. Now EVs are hot news

after a period of neglect, but they are not entirely new. In

the 1990s much attention was given to the possible future

of electric vehicles, both by manufacturers and users.

Some major car manufacturers claimed to show an

interest in EVs and studied ways of marketing them on a

large scale as well as strategic concepts. The true intentions

of these large manufacturers were revealed when

those projects were suddenly abandoned for somewhat

obscure and confused reasons.


USA – General Motors’ EV1

In the early 1990s the State of California set up the

"California Air Resources Board" and brought in a range

of laws intended to reduce air pollution. One of the

measures adopted stated that from 1998 on, 2% of

vehicles marketed in the State should be emission­free,

rising to 5% in 2001 and 10% by 2003.

This objective forced manufacturers to start production of

electric vehicles. Ford built 1,500 electric Ranger pick-up

trucks intended for commercial use and bought up a small

Norwegian manufacturer of electric town cars, Think. A

few hundred two­seater cars, called Think 1, were sold

then. Toyota transformed 4x4 RAV4s into RAV4 EV, and

GM suddenly launched a superb electric car, the EV1.

EV1 reserved to California

EV1 was a highly aerodynamic two­seater aluminium

coupé that had a range of 160 km on a single

charge at a maximum speed of 130 km/h, which was

quite remarkable in 1998. The EV1, which had many

of the features of a standard American saloon car (airconditioning

and stereo system) was not sold but rented

for three years to customers selected by GM’s marketing

department. More than 5,000 Californians applied

for a car, but only 800 contracts were honoured. The

signatories undertook, in spite of laws in force at the

time, to return their EV1 at the end of the three­year

contract, with no possibility of buying the car from the

manufacturer when the contract expired. In this way

GM’s bosses reserved the right to take the EV1s off the

road, which they did in 2001. The team that had worked

on the project was disbanded and all EV1s returned at

the end of the contracts were stored temporarily in the

Arizona desert.

Pressed by a group of drivers who wanted another EV1,

the GM management decided to destroy the cars. All

the EV1s were crushed instead of being recycled as had

originally been announced. Only a few rare EV1s remain,

in museums or owned by associations who managed to

keep them. The reasons given by GM for withdrawing its

electric cars from circulation were the same that were

given by Ford and Toyota who simultaneously stopped

marketing the Ranger EV and RAV4 EV: the law in California

had changed, and with it the necessity to market

emission­free cars.

2001: The USA gives up electric cars

The California Air Resources Board had indeed changed

its policies as a result of intense lobbying by oil producers

and car manufacturers. In 2004, governor Schwarzenegger

launched the “California Hydrogen Highways Network“

project. Now the priority of the State of California is the

building of a network of hydrogen highways and experiments

with hydrogen­powered fuel cell vehicles, a project

that cannot become a commercial reality for many years

to come. In this way American car manufacturers and oil

producers have managed to delay the advent of electric

cars on their market for a few years.

Everything you need to know about electric cars

France ­ Next, a prototype hybrid car designed

by Renault

In 1995, two years before Toyota launched its Prius I,

Renault unveiled a highly innovative “concept car”

named Next.

Next is a prototype hybrid vehicle, a research tool. The

vehicle is a five­door, five­seater saloon car with three

front seats and two back seats. Its body design foreshadowed

that of the Avantime and the Scenic. Driven

by a three cylinder 750 cm 3 petrol engine, pollution­free

and equipped with a catalytic converter and regulated

fuel injection. Next is a clean vehicle ahead of its time.

The small combustion engine with a capacity similar to a

1980s motorbike engine, is coupled with two per manent

magnet DC electric motors requiring no mainte nance that

run on three­phase current. A computer controls it all.

The vehicle loads 120 kg of nickel­cadmium batteries

lying flat under the floor of the car boot. Next is both

safe and very light; the car on the road weighs 875 kg.

Shock absorption is provided by structures at the front

and back. The central aluminium structure of the car,

made of carbon, has exceptional mechanical resistance.

When starting and up to 40 km/h, NEXT runs in electric

mode. Then the combustion engine takes over, at the same

time recharging the batteries. When accelerating or going

uphill the electric motors assist the combustion engine.

Why the Next programme was stopped: an

unsolved mystery

Renault argued at the time that a standard car produces

80% of its emissions during the first kilometre over a

four­kilometre journey. Next is one of Renault’s answers

to the problems of urban traffic. A half baked answer if

ever there was one, for Next was never marketed by the

French manufacturer. Adopting a very different strategy

than the Japanese manufacturers Toyota and Honda,

who foresaw the popularity of hybrid cars, Renault stopped

developing along that line.

The Next project was abandoned, shelved in the filing

cabinets of the Guyancourt Technocentre, leaving the

field open to more farsighted manufacturers.


PSA Peugeot­Citroën – the leading European

manufacturer of electric vehicles in the 1990s

The Sochaux based group claims to be the leading European

manufacturer of electric vehicles. They are right: the figures

are there to prove it. More than 5,000 electric vehicles

left the Peugeot and Citroën assembly lines between1990

and 2001.

• Sequence of events that enabled PSA to achieve this

first place

- As early as 1990, 250 electric C15 and C25 cars were

produced for the car pools of companies and organisations.

­ In 1991, the electric Citella prototype was presented

as a fun light (790 kg) modular and high performance

(110 km/h) car.

This prototype, which was intended to give the vehicle a

dynamic and pleasing image, was never marketed.

­ In 1993, an experiment was launched in La Rochelle.

Fifty local citizens were invited to be guinea pigs by driving

electric AX cars around the town.

- 1995, the electric AX car was marketed to private

individuals. More than 500 of the cars were produced

between 1995 and 1997.

­ 1997, launch of the electric Peugeot 106 and its

Citroën twin, the electric Saxo.

­ 1998, launch of the electric Peugeot Partner and

Citroën Berlingo, both designed on an identical basis.



More than 5,000 cars belonging to one of these four

models, the 106, Saxo, Berlingo and Partner, were produced

and sold mostly to large companies and institutions

in France. EDF bought 1,500 of them, the French Post

Office 530; other major customers were French Railways,

ports, airports, oil refineries and town councils. In the

same year Paris opened a network of recharging points for

EVs, and many other French towns followed suit.

• What suddenly made electric cars so popular?

­ French laws on air pollution have since 1999 forced some

bodies such as territorial associations and public corporations

to replace 20% of their pools with clean vehicles,

whether they be electric, CNG or LPG. ADEME* subsidises

the purchase of EVs, and the cars are exempt from tax.

­ The performance of EVs was attractive for daily use

over short distances. With a maximum speed of 90

km/h, a range of 60 to 90 km without recharging, good

acceleration (0 to 50 km/h in under 9 seconds), the EVs

produced by PSA were perceived to be real cars. The

vehicles were silent, comfortable, and required little

maintenance and users found little fault with them.

­ The high performance technology of the batteries used

in these cars were a direct product of the aero space

industry. The batteries, produced by the equipment

manufacturer SAFT, built of 6v – 100 Ah nickel­ cadmium

monobloc cells have proven to be very reliable.

The theoretical life span of 1,500 cycles of these batteries

has been confirmed, and many vehicles are still on

the road equipped with their original batteries.

• Why did the PSA group decide to stop production

in 2002?

The then president of PSA, Jean­Marie Folz, said: ”We are

stopping because the all electric saloon car is not the best

product, or the best example of an electric vehicle”. This

statement was not very convincing at a time when

demand was rising, and just as manufacturers were

promising new technologies for producing even more

efficient batteries.

Citella © Citroën

Other reasons seem more likely:

­ The manufacturers’ distribution network was not

geared to taking on an entirely new technology like all

electric cars. Servicing a 106 or a Berlingo only involves

checking the batteries and maybe topping up the water

level or checking the brakes and tyres. An electric motor

requires no maintenance, no adjustments, no oil changes,

no replacement of air, oil or petrol filters, injectors or

sparking plugs, not to mention occasional changes

of exhaust pipes or belts. Reduced after sales services

means less business turnover for the manufacturer and

his network.

­ The technology of the NiCd (nickel­cadmium) batteries

used at the time were subjected to strict European legislation

in 2002. The use of cadmium, which is highly toxic

in all forms, is strictly regulated. Peugeot had been working

on alternative solutions together with SAFT in the

context of the VEDELIC programme**. As early as 2002

the P4 prototype, an electric Peugeot 106, had a range

of 210 km without a recharge in normal conditions and

a maximum speed of 120 km/h. The P4 uses lithium­ion

(Li­ion) type batteries instead of nickel­cadmium (NiCd)

batteries. The reason for which PSA gave up research in

this very strategic area remains unexplained.

­ There is a real risk of fierce competition for a major

manufacturer between combustion and electric vehicles

even within the manufacturers’ own range. In 2001,

shortly before announcing their decision to stop production

of EVs, the PSA Peugeot Citroën managers had

decided to built a giant factory at Kolin in the Czech

Everything you need to know about electric cars

Republic to produce urban micro cars in partnership

with Toyota. This factory now produces 107 as well

as Citroën C1 and Toyota Aygo cars which have been

marketed since 2005. All three cars are driven by engines

supplied by Toyota. These are admittedly modern combustion

engines, but they still require standard after

sales services.

* French agency for environment and energy control

** VEDELIC programme: 1995- 2000, development of new battery

and traction chain technology



Honda Insight 2009 © Honda Motors

Micro hybrids

Categories of

hybrid and electric vehicles

The micro hybrid, or Stop­Start solution is the lowest

level of hybridisation. It is a reversible system that fills

the role of starter and generator in a standard car. The

combustion engine is turned off automatically when the

car stops, and is started again automatically

when the driver declutches.

Mild hybrids

Mild hybrids are a step up in hybridisation from micro

hybrids. The Stop­Start function is of course still there,

but with the addition of joint combustion and electric

propulsion, both engines working together to drive the

vehicle. The electric motor delivers its torque to help

starting and restarting, and the electricity generated


produced in generator mode is stored in specific batteries.

Mild hybrids are also able to store energy during braking.

In this case the system works in generator mode and

develops resistance which adds to the engine brake.

Parallel hybrids

Parallel hybrids are the best known of hybrid vehicles

because they are the most common. The power of the

combustion engine and electric motor is joint, as in mild

hybrids. Moreover, these cars are able to run entirely on

electricity when starting, at low speeds and when parking.

The batteries have enough capacity to cover short

journeys of a few kilometres without using the combustion


Rechargeable, or plug­in hybrids

Plug­in hybrids are an improved version of parallel

hybrids using more powerful batteries. Plug­in or

rechargeable hybrids are ones that can be recharged

from an electrical mains supply, enabling it to be used

on a daily basis in the same way as an electric car.

“All electric” vehicles

The category of all electric vehicles includes many different

designs from micro urban cars to vans. Their energy

source is electricity, and they work on rechargeable

batteries, like laptop computers, portable electric tools,

wireless telephone, etc.

Everything you need to know about electric cars

The development of these vehicles is closely linked to

the progress made in the last ten years in methods of

storage of electric energy. There are great expectations

of these vehicles from consumers who wish to reduce

their dependence on CO2 emitting energy. They are now

reaching technological maturity, and are soon becoming

available on a wide scale.

Prototype QUICC © DuraCar



How they work

Micro hybrids are standard cars powered by a combustion

engine equipped with a Stop-Start function. The Stop-

Start function temporarily turns the engine off whenever

the car stops. This system reduces fuel consumption in urban

traffic (during stops at traffic lights, traffic jams, etc.)

by about 10% in urban traffic, by 6% in normal mixed

conditions, and up to 16% in dense traffic. The technology

involved is quite simple: an alternator acting as

starter, an electronic command system and a battery.


Micro hybrids,

the Stop-Start function

Système micro hybrid Stars de Valeo © Valeo

The more sophisticated systems can store energy during

deceleration in a new type of capacitor called supercapacitor.

This new generation will not only store energy

when braking, but will provide extra torque to the engine.

The Citroën C3 was the first car fitted with this innovation

in 2004, followed by the C2. This technological advance

was the achievement of the equipment manufacturer

Valeo, which first developed the Stop-Start system.

Micro hybrids in 2009

Other car manufacturers now produce vehicles equipped

with similar systems developed by the major equipment

manufacturers. Bosch supplies the BMW group for their

Mini and BMW among other 1 series, as well as the South

Korean manufacturer Kia for its Cee’d. The MHD (Micro

Hybrid Diesel) Smart, and Mercedes A Class are fitted, like

Citroën’s cars, with Valeo’s Stars micro hybrid system.

Fiat relies on its usual supplier Magneti Marelli

for the Stop-Start system on its 500. The firm has

announced that its Panda and Punto models will be

marketed soon with a Stop­Start solution. Toyota has

added a micro Auris to its range, and Renault, which

had for a while opted out of the competition, is now

focussing its strategy on micro hybrids.

Everything you need to know about electric cars

The road ahead is clear: we are now heading for

mass micro hybridisation

Alice de Bauer, Renault’s environmental policy manager,

has declared the company’s intention of incorporating

the Stop­Start system in all cars in the Renault

range by about 2010. Speaking on behalf of his own

company, Pascal Hénault, research manager at PSA, has

announced that the Stop­Start system will be included

in all Peugeot and Citroën cars as soon as possible.

The PSA group plans to sell one million vehicles fitted

with the Stop­Start system in 2011 and over 1.6 million

vehicles of this kind in 2012.



How they work

Mild hybrids,

a powerful electric motor

This category, also known as semi hybrids, first appeared in

cars produced by Honda, who pioneered the technology.

Two engines: a combustion engine and an electric motor,

work jointly. The electric motor provides extra power

when starting and accelerating, but does not power the

car on its own. The electric energy, which is produced

continuously or during deceleration, is stored in a more

powerful battery pack than the simple batteries used for

starting in micro hybrids. A computer coupled to many

sensors controls the distribution of power of the two

engines and torque in real time. When driving in urban

traffic the system works in the same way as Stop­Start.

The amount of fuel saved in comparison with standard

cars naturally varies according to driving conditions, but

ranges between 10 and 20% in urban traffic.

Three generations since 1999

Honda has marketed three successive generations of

hybrid cars fitted with its IMA (Integrated Motor Assist)

technology in Europe since 1999. Seldom seen, these


Mild hybrid Honda Civic © Honda Motors

cars were not as popular as the Toyota models. However,

Honda hopes to catch up with its main rival with the 2009

launch of two more competitive cars in terms of price and

performance: the IMA Civic and IMA Insight.

Other manufacturers followed Honda’s lead in mild

hybrids. The German giant Daimler is going to market a

prestige car in mid 2009, the Mercedes­Benz S400 Blue­


Several new cars in the Mercedes range using this technology

developed by a partnership between BMW and

Daimler have been announced.

BMW’s mild hybrid technology is called ActiveHybrid


The supplier of both the German manufacturers is the

equipment manufacture Continental for the electric

motors and command electronics, in association with the

battery producer Johnson Controls Saft.

Mild hybrid Honda Insight 2009 © Honda Motors



Toyota Prius II © Toyota

How they work

Parallel hybrids

Parallel hybrids are the best known and most common

hybrid vehicles, mainly thanks to the world’s first

manufacturer of these cars, Toyota. As in mild hybrids,

a combustion engine is linked to an electric motor. The

difference lies in the greater power of the electric motor

that is able to power the car on its own with the combustion

engine switched off over short distances.

Parallel hybrids run in electric mode when starting, at low

speeds, in traffic jams and while parking.

This involves a more powerful battery than those of mild

hybrids, a special kind of transmission and a very efficient

command computer.

The transmission systems used in vehicles marketed so far

are of the “CVT” (Continuous Variable Transmission) type,

a system that enables both motors to run at the most

efficient speeds.

The engineers who design this type of car seek above all

to increase the torque, which means increased flexibility


and acceleration of a small, low emission engine instead

of the usual engine/gearbox assembly.

Reduction of fuel consumption and emissions of


Fuel consumption is greatly reduced in these, by between

10 and 50% according to driving conditions, with the

most spectacular gains being made in urban traffic.

The reduction in CO2 emissions is proportional with the

reduction in fuel consumption thanks to the high energy

efficiency of parallel hybrids. A hybrid saloon car of the

M2 segment (Laguna, 406, C5, Avensis, etc.), like the

Prius, emits as much CO2 as a very small urban car such

as the C1, 107 or Aygo, and performs better than the

cleanest Clio.

If one compares the emissions of saloon cars of the

same category as the Prius over 20,000 km, the latter

emits one ton less CO2 into the atmosphere. As to

other pollutants such as nitrogen oxide (Nox) and hy­

drocarbons (HC), emissions are lower than in any other

petrol powered car. Emissions of solid particles, a major

drawback of diesel engines, are reduced to zero. This is

where the superiority of hybrid propulsion really shows.

Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive: the reference car in


The first hybrid car marketed to the general public, and

that in a few short years became THE absolute reference

car, owed its success to a technological innovation, the

Toyota “Hybrid Synergy Drive“.

This exclusive system, which comes in several versions, is

used first in Toyota cars: the Prius all over the world, and

in Highlander and Camry cars in North America.

It is also used in cars made by the Japanese manufacturer’s

subsidiaries, including Lexus, which markets the RX

400 h, GS 450 h and LS 600 h.

Other manufacturers use Toyota technology to produce

hybrid cars under licence. This is the case of Nissan,

which sells Altima hybrids in North America.

Ford uses Toyota patents for its Escape 4x4 hybrid, as

does FAW (First Automotive Works) in the framework of

a joint venture in the Chinese market.

The strategy adopted by Toyota, which protected its

inventions with over 1,000 patents, is paying off.

More than ten years after the commercial launch of the

first parallel hybrid car, no other manufacturer has managed

to overcome the barriers set up by the Japanese

giant. Yet this considerable technological advance was

not recognised as such when the Prius I was launched

in 1997.

From Prius I to Prius III – a worldwide success

• Prius I – the pioneer

It is a remarkable fact that except for a very few specialists

monitoring technological advances, the launch of

the Prius I in 1997 went almost completely unnoticed.

At its commercial launches in Europe and in the USA,

the car received a very tepid welcome in the specialised

press and in the automotive world in general.

Everything you need to know about electric cars

Journalists found its body design old fashioned and

clumsy, its performances inadequate and its reduced

fuel consumption did not appear to interest anyone but

a few well informed users.

This did not deter Toyota from producing 124,000 of

these cars in the next five years and to go on investing

in the technical developments needed for the second


• Prius II – over a million cars sold

The Prius II began its career in 2003 in the USA and in

early 2004 in Europe, and was better received than the

first version. Its advantages, highlighted by increasing

awareness of the threat caused by global warming, won

this new car real interest by the general public.

To reassure potential buyers and remove doubts about

the car’s reliability, Toyota issued a specific eight­year or

160,000­km guarantee for the whole hybrid part.

It was voted Car of the Year in 2005 by the 58 motoring

journalists (from 22 countries) on the Car of the Year

jury. That is how the Prius went from being a technological

curiosity to commercial phenomenon. More than

a million Prius were sold in five years, making it by far

the most widely sold electric/hybrid car of all time.

• Prius III - Confirmation of Toyota’s technological


The Prius III, first shown at the Detroit Auto Show in

2009, takes the hybrid technology of its forerunners to

new heights. While Toyota’s competitors plan to enter

the market starting in 2010, Toyota has entrenched

itself as world leader and has brought yet another major

change. As in the past, the manufacturer’s research

department has protected its new inventions with a

whole lot of new patents and hopes to produce a million

hybrid vehicles a year between 2010 and 2013. The car

includes many improvements aimed at further reducing

fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, with more torque

for the engines, an improved air penetration coefficient,

extra weight, optimised battery management, low

consumption air­conditioning and ventilation powered

by solar panels on the roof.



Prototypes as early as 2004


or plug­in hybrids

The first modern plug­in hybrids were thought up in

the R&D department of a start­up company based in

California. The next step had to be to demonstrate that

the technology was now mature enough and the time

was ripe for production by producing a prototype that

would get the whole world talking. That was done back

in 2004 by engineers at EnergyCS in association with Valence

Technology, a Texan producer of lithium batteries.

EnergyCS (Energy Control Systems Engineering Inc.) had

already developed a very specific know­how in the field

of electronics for the running of Li­ion battery packs

for cars. They began with a simple question: how to increase

the performance of the electric power of a Toyota

Prius? The answer was to replace the original batteries

by much more powerful ones and thus gives the car a

range of 50 km without a recharge.


Plug­in hybrid prototype as viewed on Toyota Prius realised by EnergyCS, USA

It is true that the autonomy of a Prius in purely electric

mode is rather low, being only about three or four km.

The American designers exploited this weak point, taking

advantage of Toyota’s lack of initiative in the matter.

They transformed two Prius cars, equipping them with

a lithium battery pack of their own design, and created

quite a stir when they presented them at the EVS 21* in

Monaco in May 2005.

The concept gains ground

Three factors thrust plug­in hybrids to centre stage:

­ a strong demand from consumers dissatisfied with the

performance of existing hybrids;

­ the reduced cost of batteries, increased performance

and proof of their reliability;


­ the advent of major manufacturers on the market –

General Motors with its Volt, Toyota with its own plugin

Prius, Ford, VW and others, which promised a rapid

rise in battery production capacity.

To meet a strong demand in North America, some

companies turned to providing approved kits ready to

be installed. These have been marketed since 2008 by

Hymotion, a subsidiary of the battery manufacturer

A123Systems who also produce the integrators for the

system developed by EnergyCS.

In Europe, EDF ­ in partnership with Toyota ­ became

the promoter of plug­in hybrids. Tests have been carried

out on a few plug­in Prius cars in France and in

England. General Motors announced the launch of its

Volt concept car starting in 2011 in several versions all

over the world.

Everything you need to know about electric cars

In China the manufacturer BYD, which makes its own

batteries, markets models called “Dual Mode“, the F3

and F6 DM. BYD thus became the first manufacturer in

the world to supply mass­produced plug­in hybrid cars

under the very nose of the world’s leading companies.

*EVS (Electric Vehicle Symposium ) are yearly international forums

for researchers and specialists in the electric car industry. They

are organised by the World Electric Vehicle Association (WEVA).

EVS 24 was held in Norway in May 2009. www.evs24.org



How they work

“All electric” vehicles

In electric vehicles the parts making up the powertrain

are arranged in the same way as in combustion vehicles.

The energy stored on board is transformed by an engine

and then used to power the wheels. The main difference

lies in the simplicity of this powertrain compared with

its combustion counterpart. It consists only of:

­ an energy reservoir consisting of a set of batteries;

­ one or more electric engines;

­ an electronic/IT command unit;

­ cables to connect them all.

The “peripheral” parts of a combustion engine have all

gone, including water, fuel and oil and injection pumps.

There is no filter, no exhaust system or sparking plugs.

Turbo­compressor? Not needed. The transmission is

simplified: no clutch or gearbox. The electric motors

that power modern vehicles were derived from industrial

motors. They are very simple to use and incomparably

reliable. These engines, designed to run continuously for

years without any maintenance, only require occasional



Nissan FEV­II ­ Li­ion batteries © Nissan

This mechanical simplicity leaves developers free to devote

all their time to optimising energy consumption

and ease of use. Many options are being studied with

this in mind.*

Electric “concept cars” are hot news

Emission free cars are certainly drawing crowds to the

world’s automobile trade fairs. The major manufacturers

have understood this, and are using ZEVs (Zero Emission

Vehicle) to show off their designers’ and engineers’


Since the 1990s, many electric concept cars have excited

the imaginations of potential consumers and taken

up much space in the motoring press. But showing cars

that cannot yet be bought by drivers inevitably causes

them to be perceived as products of the future, rather

like unrealistic dreams, which is far from the truth, as

many of these products are much more accessible than

the major manufacturers would have one believe. It is

true that some advanced concept cars never went into


• 1995 – Nissan’s FEV-II Concept

When it was first shown at the Tokyo Motor Show in

1995 the FEV-II was already equipped with experimental

Li-ion batteries which gave the car a range three times

greater than cars fitted with lead accumulators at the

time. This was one of the very first public appearances

of a car equipped with this type of high performance


• 1996 – Peugeot’s Tulip

Tulip is an acronym of “Transport Urbain Libre Individuel

et Public” (“individual and public free urban transport”).

The system was presented PSA Peugeot Citroën, VIA GTI

and Cegelec in 1996. Tulip provides its members with selfservice

two-seater vehicles at a number of centres around

the city. Members are given a personal remote-control

handset that enables them to borrow a vehicle for as long

as they choose by entering a confidential personal code.

Another advantage of Tulip is that the cars are equipped

with an interactive guiding system that gives the driver

useful information about routes and traffic conditions, a

forerunner of today’s GPS. This 2.20 m long and 1.40 m

wide car has the handling qualities and liveliness (0 to

50 km/h in 8 seconds with a maximum speed of 75 km/h)

that make it a pleasure to drive in town. It is built of an

assemblage of five main parts that ensures strength and

safety. The Tulip’s parts and materials can be recycled.

• 2007 – Nissan’s Mixim

The Mixim is clearly targeted at young drivers. Nissan’s

engineers started from the premise that the young today

are less and less interested in cars. Mixim is lighter than a

Micra or a Twingo, and the interior design is inspired by the

world of video games. The car is a lively three-seater, but

has four driving wheels powered by two engines, one at the

front and the other at the back. The Mixim is an interactive

car with a top speed of 180 km/h and a range of 250 km

thanks to its lamellar lithium-ion batteries.

The Mixim was shown all over the world after its first

official presentation at the Frankfurt motor show in 2007.

Practically all the media commented on its futuristic image

without mentioning the fact that the car will never be


Everything you need to know about electric cars

Z.E. Concept Renault © Renault

• 2008 - Renault’s Z.E. Concept

At the Paris Motor Show in 2008 the fluorescent Z.E. (“zero

emission”) concept car drew quite a lot of attention. An

“all electric” car featuring as the main exhibit on Renault’s

stand was a novelty but not much of a surprise.

Since 1997 the Renault/Nissan group has made frequent

announcements and set up partnerships to build an electric

car, as in the case of Israel, Portugal and Norway in

the context of agreements with the Better Place project.

Renault/Nissan has undertaken to supply electric cars to

Better Place customers starting in 2011. Whereas everyone

expected to see at the Paris Motor Show in 2008

a real, high performance electric car that would soon be

available, Renault chose to show an unavailable “concept

car”. True, the Z.E. Concept has some attractive technical

features such as an insulated body with heat-absorbing

paint and solar panels on the roof, but the car remains a

study project and is not intended for production.

Experimental fleets

It is a clear sign that we are rapidly moving towards sales

on a much greater scale that some manufacturers are

undertaking experiments using several hundred vehicles.

*See the chapter on powertrain technology.


Smart EV © Smart - Groupe Daimler

The aim is to test consumers’ reactions and the technology

in real conditions. These experiments, in most cases

undertaken in partnership with energy providers, are

carried out in limited geographical areas.

• Mitsubishi’s “i MiEV“ tested since 2007 in Japan

The Mitsubishi “i“ is a town car intended exclusively for

the Japanese market. It is a small car, 3.4 m long, with

four doors and four seats. The “i“ is versatile, designed

with an adaptable chassis to enable it to be converted

into an electric car. Its engine is in the centre of the

car, lying flat under the passenger space in the raised

floor. The electric version of the “i”, the MiEV (Mitsubishi

innovative Electric Vehicle) weighs 1,080 kg and

has a top speed of 130 km/h. According to the manufacturer

it has a range of 130 or 160 km depending

on the batteries fitted. Mitsubishi has developed a rapid

charger (20 minutes) at a specific charging point

in addition to the onboard charger. This development

was made in partnership with the energy providers who

tested the MiEVs. About 20 cars are owned by Chugoku

Electric Power and Kyushu Electric Power, the Japanese

companies involved in the project. When the tests in



Japan proved conclusive Mitsubishi extended them in

the USA in 2008. There, Southern California Edison (SCE)

and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) have been

entrusted with testing about thirty vehicles. These tests

will enable Mitsubishi to gather a wealth of information

about the cars in real conditions and also to decide

whether to market them in the United States. The car

will be launched on the European market in December

2010, with a production of 2,000 MiEVs.

• The Smart EV in Europe

The Smart EV is in some ways a return to basics. The

designers of the Smart, previously called Swatchmobile,

had originally designed an electric version of the micro

town car in 1996. The vehicle was judged too futuristic,

and was not retained by the Smart management for mass


It was not until 2005 that the first electric Smart made

its appearance. A British company, Zytek, made the

conversion and presented its prototypes at many motor

shows before they managed to interest Daimler group,

the owners of Smart. The electric version develops 30 kW,

enabling it to accelerate from 0 to 50 km/h in 6.5 seconds,

with a top speed of 110 km/h. It has a range of about

120 km without a recharge. About one hundred Smart cars

were produced and delivered to companies in Britain for

a first phase of tests begun in late 2007. Another batch of

one hundred cars is being built for a second series of tests

in Berlin. For this venture Daimler has gone into partnership

with the energy producer RWE AG. In the framework

of the “e-mobility Berlin”, 500 recharging points will be

installed in company premises, on private property and

in public parking lots. The initiative is supported by the

German federal government. Smart EV is also the subject

of a similar project in Italy. The cities of Rome, Milan and

Pisa are all involved. The energy partner there is Enel Spa;

more than 400 recharging points will be installed in the

three cities to feed about 100 Smart EVs.

• An electric Mini in the USA

In the United States one category of EV is quite popular:

converted vehicles. It’s very simple: just take a combustion

car in good condition, or better still a new one, take out

everything that is not needed to convert it to electricity,

and replace the engine by a high efficiency electric motor

and new generation batteries. The rules of approval and

registration being simpler than in Europe makes these

conversions easy, and hundreds of converted electric cars

are now on the road in America. Businesses have entered

this field, and one of them, EV Innovations (formerly

Hybrid Technologies), has gradually established itself

as a specialist. The founders of this company produced

a fleet of electric PT Cruisers (made by Chrysler) used

as taxis in New York and have also made a spectacular

conversion of a Mini car. This Mini, powered by Li-ion

batteries has achieved high performances; it has a range

of 150 km and has a top speed of 130 km/h.

In response to the interest shown in EV Innovation’s

Mini E, BMW the USA decided to start production of 500

cars to be let to volunteer experimenters. The states involved

are New York, New Jersey and California.

Top of the range EVs

These cars are way out of most people’s reach and one

seldom sees them on the road. Nevertheless there are

Everything you need to know about electric cars

such things as top of the range electric cars, and they

receive a lot of media attention. Their manufacturers

market them in the usual way by appealing to a market

of rich buyers. The main appeal of these electric sports

cars already on the market is the many innovations in

their designs, such as advanced aerodynamics, computer

driven energy management, wheel motors, etc. The cars

are produced on a small scale, with care, almost like custom-built

items, with long waiting lists and high rates.

These cars have a special image, being made by small

manufacturers or start-up companies.

• The Venturi Fetish

Venturi was a small manufacturer of sports cars specialised

in the GT category. Following successes at the 24 hours race

at Le Mans and in Formula 1 racing, the company got into

severe financial difficulty. Faced with closure, the company

was bought by an industrialist from Monaco, Gildo

Pallanca Pastor. The new owner switched to the production

of electric cars and thus gave the company a new lease

of life. In 2004, Venturi exhibited an entirely new car, the

Fetish, and with it a new segment of the car market: electric

sports cars. The Fetish concept is completely different

from that of other sports cars, as it is the batteries and

not the engine that are the focus of the car’s technological

value and its performance. The Fetish is built entirely of

carbon fibre. Its unique hull and chassis contains the batteries

within the structure itself. The motor, ideally placed in

the centre of the back, powers the car from 0 to 100 km/h

in less than five seconds. Fetish can run for 250 km before

a rapid complete recharge in one hour (under three-phase

30 kW) or in three hours from a standard socket. This superb

car can be purchased to order in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Monte

Carlo, Paris, London and Dubai for 297,000 € VAT excluded.

It takes four months to build.

• Tesla Motors - California

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian inventor and engineer

specialised in electrics who settled in the United States.

When he died in 1943 he was regarded as one of the

greatest scientist in the history of technology. He took out

more than 900 patents (most of which were taken up by

Thomas Edison) in new methods of energy conversion.


His theories of electric energy led him to design alternating

current, of which he was one of the pioneers. The

makers of a new high performance electric car together

with marketing and new technology experts chose the

name Tesla Motors in honour of one of the founding

fathers of electric power. Tesla Motors was founded by

a group of wealthy entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley in

California. Elon and Kimbal Musk had earlier founded

Zip2 and Paypal, while their partner Steve Westly was

one of the creators of eBay. They appointed Lotus

Engineering in England to design and produce a modern

electric sports roadster. The car has been in production

in Britain since 2007 on Tesla’s behalf, and the

final assembly of the electrical components is done in


The batteries designed by Tesla use the lithium-ion

technology and are housed between the motor and the

passenger space. They give the car a range of 300 km.

The Tesla is available in Europe, where one has to pay

99,000 € VAT excluded to become the proud owner of

this car that powers its 1,150 kg from 0 to 100 km/h in

four seconds.



Venturi Fetish © © Venturi

Everything you need to know about electric cars


Elbil Buddy © Elbil Norge


Electric cars,

ideally suited to urban life


© Think

Traffic movement restrictions, which used to be limited

to historic city centres and targeted heavy vehicles, are

now increasingly widespread in most European towns.

Driving and parking space, taken up by vehicles unsuited to

urban use such as large 4x4s, has reached saturation point.

Aware of this problem, local councils are adopting

policies aimed at encouraging the use of vehicles that

take up less space and reduce pollution. Microcars are

one of the obvious solutions to easing traffic flow in

towns.The average distance covered by urban drivers in

a day is only about 20 kilometres. These facts all favour

the use of small electric urban cars, and open up a large

market for them. This new market, which has so far

been ignored by the major car manufacturers, is being

developed by some new enterprising and imaginative


Norway – a pioneer of small electric urban cars

Scandinavia has a harsh climate with long winters;

temperatures remain below freezing for long periods,

which causes problems when using car batteries. It was

to meet the needs of the Scandinavian market that the

first commercial electric cars were produced in Norway,

and there are now several hundred of these cars on the

road in northern Europe.

­ The first of these manufacturers, Elbil Norge, has been

producing a two­seater since 1991. Five generations of

their “Buddy“ cars have appeared since then, and more than

1,000 cars have rolled off the assembly lines. This very basic,

2.44 m long microcar is often used as a family’s second car

in Norway. It has a maximum speed of 80 km/h and can run

for 60 to 80 km without a recharge of its lead battery.

Usine Think ­ Aurskog ­ Norvège © Planète Verte

A version powered by a Li­ion battery has been available

since 2008, making it possible to drive for 120 to 140 km

before a recharge. Elbil Norge does not export cars to the

rest of Europe, as its current yearly production capacity of

five to six cars a week is absorbed by the local market.

­ The second Norwegian manufacturer to market electric

cars was Think, a company that is better known because it

has marketed its products outside Norway. Think is also a

larger company, with a factory that can produce 5,000 cars

a year. Think has had a turbulent recent history. Founded in

1990 under the name Pivco, it was bought by Ford in 1999.

Ford had intended it to be a subsidiary specialised in electric

cars. Pivco was renamed Think, and its cars were marketed

in a low­key way in California for two years before Ford

suddenly abandoned the project in 2003. It was a change in

Californian law that put an end to Ford’s ambitions. Think,

with its brand new production unit financed by Ford, was

sold then to a group of investors who decided to restart


In 2007 Think launched its new model “City”, this time a

proper car, the production process of which was overseen

by Porsche Consulting. The Think City’s roadworthiness and

safety specifications are similar to those of combustion

vehicles of the same category, including crash tests, airbags,

ABS brakes, heated windscreen, sun roof, MP3 + USB stereo

and Bluetooth. Its appearance resembles a small modern

urban car with 2 seats + 2 children. It runs on peripheral

highways at a speed of 100 km/h and can cover 150 to

180 km with a complete battery charge.



Electric quadricycles,

with or without a driver’s license

European legislation allows two categories of fourwheeled

vehicles on the roads, both of which are suitable

for electric power.

These are light and heavy quadricycles:

­ Light quadricycles are vehicles with an unladen mass of

under 350 kg, powered by an engine that develops a maximum

power of 4 kW and with a maximum speed of 45 km/h.

They come under the same category as mopeds and autocycles

and may be driven with or without a driver’s license

according to the laws in different European countries.

­ Heavy quadricycles are vehicles with an unladen mass

of under 400 kg for vehicles used to transport people,

or 550 kg for goods vehicles, with an engine that develops

a maximum power of 15 kW. They come into the

same category as motor tricycles and motorbikes. Their

speed limit is 80 km/h. Light electric vehicles, which are

designed for short distance travel, are either adaptations


Reva EV © Reva India

of combustion powered models or specifically designed

to be electrically powered.

Italy – an innovator in this sector

Another major European player in the development

of electric cars was Italy, where local regulations ban

combustion powered vehicles in some historic city


As early as 2004 - 2005 small series of electric cars not

requiring driving licenses came on the market from some of

the many small­scale production lines in Italy. Start Lab and

Maranello 4Cycle are two such manufacturers. They

sell electric quadricycles with a range of 40 to 100 km

depending on the type of battery used. Ideally suited to

towns, these vehicles can dodge in and out of traffic and

park in a space only 2.70 m long.

Indian competitors

The Indian automotive market offers huge opportunities

to local manufacturers. After distributing or imitating

foreign built vehicles, these companies later invested in

developing vehicles suited to local demand.

This gave rise to the production of many low-cost light

vehicles, including the Nano, built by Tata, a standard

car powered by a small two-cylinder engine of the kind

used in the Citroën 2CV.

Another manufacturer, smaller than Tata, who began

operations in 2002, started production of a mini electric

car, the Reva. The car is a two-seater with an extra

single smaller seat at the back. About 3,500 Revas

have been produced, both for the Indian market and for

export. More than a thousand Revas are on the streets

of London, where this small electric vehicle is exempted

from the congestion charge. The basic version, fed by

lead accumulators and with a range of 50 km, is soon

to be backed up by a Li-ion version.

The switch of “No driver’s licence” micro cars to

electric power

It was thanks to Mr. Ian Clifford, a Canadian entre preneur,

that the first electric version of a micro car for which

no driver’s licence is required was produced in 2005. The

car is based on a combustion model pro duced in France.

Zenn (Zero Emission No Noise), which has been marketed

since 2006 in North America Feelgood Cars, is

derived from the Microcar MC1 and MC2 models. The

cars are delivered by the French manufacturer* without

motors, which are then assembled in Canada. Five hundred

of these micro cars have been produced so far. The

car is fitted with European standard safety equipment,

including shock absorbing engine support, retracting

seat belts and airbag.

Zenn has set the example and French manufacturers of

very small cars are now also turning to electric engines.

At the request of its British distributor for London in

2007, Aixam/Mega has converted one of its leading

models, the City, to electricity. Its range is 60 km with

a top speed of 60 km/h, and has been bought by a few

London drivers.

Everything you need to know about electric cars

EVs targeted at vertical applications

Research departments are turning their attention to

vehicles designed for particular purposes. Examples

of these niche cars have been given us by two players

specialised in electric cars, Venturi and Matra.

• Venturi Eclectic

The know-how acquired by Venturi during the design

and production of its high performance Fetish was used

to diversify its business. Since the company is based in

Monaco, Venturi has naturally designed a new car designed

for use in southern climates. Eclectic seemed almost

as strange as a UFO in the automotive landscape when

it was first shown. The Venturi stand at the International

Motor Show in 2006 exhibited the Eclectic wired to a

solar panel system and a wind turbine. Keen interest by

the public in the first version encouraged Venturi to go

ahead and mass produce the car. The driver’s seat and

controls are in the centre of the passenger space and

the raised seats give the driver and two passengers good

unobstructed views in all directions. Production is due

to begin in a brand new factory in France. The factory

is built to advanced environmental standards and will in

the long term be able to assemble 3,000 light vehicles

a year.

Matra GEM © Matra MS

*Microcar, after having been a subsidiary of the Beneteau

group, was bought up by Ligier.


• Matra GEM

Matra Manufacturing Services, a subsidiary of the

Lagardère group, has decided to switch its business to

EVs. Matra MS, which originally designed the Espace for

Renault, is developing a range of electrically assisted

motorbikes and has turned to an American partner to

produce four­wheeled vehicles. GEM, Global Electric

Motorcars, a subsidiary of Daimler Chrysler, has developed

a range of light and heavy quadricycles designed for

university campuses, leisure parks and the vast American

golf courses. GEM vehicles are also used on US army

bases to carry personnel. 30,000 GEMs have come off the

assembly lines since they were first marketed in 2000.



Venturi Eclectic © Venturi

The vehicles are assembled in the Matra MS factory in

France. This is the factory in which the Espace cars were

built until Renault decided to produce them on its own

assembly lines. Matra MS has adapted GEM vehicles to

comply with European regulations.

They come in several versions in certain countries,

including two­seaters, four­seaters and an ultra­light

version. All vehicles in the range can run for about 50 km

before a recharge and the speed is limited to 45 km/h.

Matra GEM © Matra MS



Electric commercial vehicles,

a segment in its own right

The full range of electric commercial vehicles covers small

vehicles that do not require a driver’s license through

all categories up to heavy goods vehicles with payloads

of up to 7.5 tons. Many different types of bodywork are

available, from chassis­cabs to vans, microbuses, cages and

designs for other specific uses.

The technologies involved are similar to those used in other

EVs, but with different dimensions, such as more powerful

battery packs, high efficiency motors, or electronically

controlled regulation and loads. With few exceptions, all

goods that need to be transported in towns can be carried

by electric vehicles. Some small vans can carry pallets, and

fork­lift versions can carry large loads.

There are also electric minibuses, and these can be equipped

to carry disabled people. Vehicles like these have a

very positive image, and demonstrate the commitment

of authorities, institutions and corporations to implement

strategies for sustainable development.


Contemporary milk float in Liverpool © all rights reserved

Electric delivery vehicles – a British tradition

The use of new electric goods vehicles follows on from a

practice that has long existed in Great Britain. Ever since

the 1950s and 60s, the British have been used to seeing

their fresh milk and other dairy produce delivered in the

morning on a uniquely British vehicle, the “milk float”.

These vehicles, which were designed to be reliable, very

long lasting and able to move silently and without producing

any pollution, are a national institution that have

long made electric delivery vehicles a daily part of life

there. Some of these milk floats that were first put into

service 30 years ago are still on the road today, which

shows just how hard wearing EVs can be. The original

idea, which was “to produce a virtually indestructible

vehicle”, has been applied right up to the present, enabling

the manufacturers of those milk floats to specialise

in electric power and to expand their range of products.

Smith Electric Vehicles is one of the British manufac

turers. The company, founded in 1920, can claim to be

the world’s leading producer of electric goods vehicles.

Several thousand of their four­wheeled vehicles are on

the roads all over the world.

Smith’s current range includes a 7.5 ton payload vehicle

launched in 2006 followed by a 3.5 ton model produced

in 2007, and a third one marketed in Britain in 2008, a

small 2.3 ton van. All types of bodywork are available.

New urban logistics services

In urban transport the characteristics of journeys are

well known to users. These data enable them to plan

distances and routes and to choose the appropriate riskfree

type of electric goods vehicle. A vehicle such as the

Modec, which has a range of up to 160 km and carries

a payload of two tons, shows that it is quite possible

to replace many diesel vehicles by electric heavy goods

vehicles. Modec was designed in the the United Kingdom

by a company set up for the purpose in 2005. This

small truck was designed from the start to be powered

by electricity. Since production began in the spring of

2007, it has been adopted by many British businesses

for their working fleets. In only one year more than a

hundred electric goods vehicles have been delivered by

Modec to clients such as Tesco, UPS, Network Rail and

Hildon mineral water.

People­carriers in town centres

The chosen policy of many town councils to limit motor

traffic and noise and atmospheric pollution in historic

town centres has lead to the use of light electric

people­carriers. Used as shuttles or on regular transport

routes, these vehicles have been an increasing success.

From the tiny Porter manufactured by Piaggio to the

22 seat microbus produced by Gruau, a complete range

of electric passenger vehicles is now available on the

European market.

Electric commercial vehicles in response to international


At the instigation of the French Post Office, which is

Everything you need to know about electric cars

Electric microbus from

Gruau © Planète Verte

heading an European project, major consultations have

been in progress since 2006. The European post offices

intend to convert a large part of their fleets to electric

vehicles. This market, which will amount to over 10,000

vehicles by 2011, has given an extra boost to makers of

electric vehicles. Moreover, like the post office, many

other large corporations are planning to equip themselves

with electric vehicles.

In the last few years new small and medium sized manufacturers

have started producing EVs based on combustion

engine models. Platforms are supplied by Fiat or by

PSA in some cases, or are imported from Asia for those

who aim to produce cheap models. The mileage range of

vehicles available in 2009 varies from 50 to 90 km in the

case of ones fitted with lead accumulators, and from 80

to 140 km for those using Li­ion batteries.

To give a few examples of marketed or available models

in 2009: a Fiorino and a Doblo produced by Micro­Vett

in Italy; a latest generation Berlingo designed by Venturi

in Monaco; single or double cab chassis vehicles as well

as nine­seater minivans made in the Netherlands by a

new French firm, Electric­Road.



New technologies and industrial investments

The many new players in the market have created a

strong demand for specific components of powertrains.

Ever since 2004 - 2005 a considerable increase of investment

in R&D has been made in this emerging industrial

sector. These developments preceded pre­industrialisation

phases and since 2008 mass production has been

underway in the most advanced industrial units.

New components have entered the fray, including nanometric

scale materials for battery electrodes, supercondensers,

electronics directly incorporated in motors and composite

materials to make vehicles lighter. These kinds of innovation

are now in production and are available to designers.

Powertrain technology

Nanometric particles of Lithium titanate. Such particles coat the anode of batteries produced by Altairnano, a company based in Nevada in the USA.

1 μm = 1micrometre = 0, 001 millimetre


A vital component of the powertrain: the

energy storage unit

The energy storage unit has two vital functions, as

energy reservoir and as energy recuperator.

­ The reservoir function is provided by batteries of

different kinds. The basic principle has been the same

for many years and remains very simple: accumulator

cells are connected and assembled in a sealed container

– the battery. To provide the necessary power, batteries

are grouped in one or more packs housed in various

parts of the vehicle.

­ The energy recuperation function is a more recent

development. It consists in storing energy produced by

the engine in “generator” mode during deceleration. For

the system to be efficient it must have accumulators

accepting high currents from the engine. Few battery

technologies make this possible. The most efficient components

for this function are supercondensers. Because

they can charge and discharge in just a few seconds

they play the role of energy buffer between the engine

and the battery. Supercondensers are now out of the

research laboratories and are being produced on a large

scales by firms like Maxwell and Batscap, a subsidiary of

the Bolloré group.

Range extenders

The solutions for increasing the mileage range of an electric

vehicle are few but simple: increasing the capacity of the

batteries, recuperating energy during deceleration, careful

driving, or recharging the batteries while on the road. The

latter option, using a small electric generator, has not received

much attention from manufacturers until now.

Renault did try out this solution on about thirty Kangoo

Electro­Road cars in 2002 ­ 2003. This was an electric

Kangoo using NiCd batteries recharged by a small auxiliary

motor called a “range extender”. The principle can

in theory be used in any electric vehicle providing it has

enough space to house the auxiliary engine.

Everything you need to know about electric cars

Maxwell supercondensers

© Maxwell

Very powerful and long­lasting batteries

To appreciate the progress made in just a few years in

batteries designed for electric vehicles one must grasp a

few basic technical notions.

• Power

The power of a battery is determined by the amount of

electric energy it contains in one litre or in one kilogramme.

Two units of measurement are used: Watt hour per

litre (Wh/l) and Watt hour per kilogramme (Wh/kg). EV

technicians also use another notion of power, the Watt

per kilogramme (W/kg), which determines the maximal

instant power supplied by a battery or battery pack.

• Lifespan

Another key criterion in comparing battery performance

is their lifespan. This is because a battery’s performance

decreases with time and some technologies are more

long­lasting than others. The criterion used is the number

of cycles, or times they can be recharged and discharged,

or in other words the number of times one can

“fill up” before having to change the batteries.



Comparison chart of existing technologies

Since the first EVs were distributed in the 1990s batteries

have undergone considerable technological progress.

Given a similar weight and size, the amount of electric

energy produced has been multiplied by factors of three

to five.


As a direct result of this the mileage range has leapt

to 100 km per charge in all electric cars and 40 to

60 km in rechargeable hybrids. The lifespan of batteries,

another vital factor, has reached 1,500 cycles in

the case of four of the available technologies. Translated

in terms of practical results for users, this means

that battery packs can now deliver considerable mileage

before they have to be changed. In the hypothetical

case of a battery pack designed to run for

100 km per recharge, a realistic figure for current technology

would be that the pack only needs to be replaced

every 150,000 km.

The various technologies used

The batteries used in electric and hybrid vehicles are

classed as traction batteries, also known as power


Six different technologies are in open competition to

equip electric vehicles. This diversity provides designers

with a wide range of choices.

• Lead/Acid - Pb

These are the simplest in design and the easiest to

manu facture. Production procedures are well known,

and manufacturers are busy improving them to compete

with the other technologies. They are heavy and not very

powerful, but have the advantage of being cheap.

• Nickel-Cadmium - NiCd

Often been used in the last 15 or so years in portable

appliances, they were the type chosen by PSA for the

106 and other Saxo cars. They have two drawbacks,

a “memory effect” that sometimes requires regular

deep discharging, and strict European regulations

governing the use of cadmium. They are very long­

lasting, but are now little used in electric cars.

• Nickel Metal Hydride - NiMH

These batteries were first used in cordless tools and in

telephones. They propelled the General Motors EV1 before

being chosen by Toyota for its hybrid cars. NiMH

batteries are now standard in hybrid cars. They have

been marketed since 1990 and have a large energy

density and low sensitivity to memory effect.

• Lithium and derived products

Several technologies are used in the lithium family of

batteries. They are the kind most often used in portable

electronic appliances and are increasingly used in EVs.

Their main advantage is high energy density (twice to five

times higher than in NiMH batteries, for instance) and are

not subject to memory effect. The different categories of

the lithium family of batteries are as follows:

­ Lithium­ion ­ Li­ion – the most commonly used type in

low power mobile communication applications.

­ Lithium Polymer ­ LiPo – lighter than Li­ion, and also

easier to use.

­ Lithium­phosphate­ LiFePO4 ­ one of the major advances

of the last five years. They combine the advantages of

Li­ion and LiPo batteries and have a long lifespan.

­ Lithium Metal Polymer ­ LMP – these run at an internal

temperature of about 85°C. This technology is in the

process of development promoted by the Bolloré group.

Manufacture has already begun.

• Zebra batteries

This is a rather one­off technology, as it is used by only

one manufacturer. It uses molten sodium chloroaluminate

and its internal temperature is 250°C.

• Nickel-Zinc - NiZn

These are considered to be the new generation of batteries

and are still being developed. They are similar to

Li­ion batteries in terms of performance and should be

considerably cheaper.

Johnson Controls­Saft , Nersac factory. Quality control during the installation of electrodes. © Saft­Didier Cocatrix

Everything you need to know about electric cars

A great increase in battery production capacity

Since the EV1 with its NiMH batteries and since the 106

and Saxo cars with their NiCd batteries at the end of

the 1990s, the manufacture of battery packs for EVs has

moved from experimental stages to mass production. The

advent of lithium cell technology sparked an enormous

growth in production capacity. To meet the demand

in batteries for the “personal mobility* ” industry, the

electronic giants set up automated production chains.

Their factories produce tens of millions of units a year

and their manufacturing processes have been adapted to

produce larger and larger batteries of the kind needed to

power electric vehicles. The world leaders in this sector

are in Asia, three in South Korea, five in Japan and about

ten in China. All these manufacturers produce batteries

for electric vehicles and they are preparing to increase

production within the next two years.

In the USA, 14 companies have united under the banner

“National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Battery

Cell Manufacture“. Their aim is to open giant production

units to supply the North American market.

New production units are also being set up in Europe.

One of these, built in France, is the result of a 15 million

Euro investment made by the Franco­American joint

venture Johnson Controls­Saft. The factory produces

Li­ion batteries for electric and hybrid cars made by Ford

and Daimler among others.

*Mobile telephones, laptop computers, MP3 players, GPS,

electrically assisted bicycles, etc.


Another major investment in Europe, amounting to over

30 million Euros, was that made in 2008 by the Evonik

group in partnership with Daimler to set up a joint subsidiary

for the production of Li­Tec batteries.

Alliances in all directions among major manufacturers

After years of expectation it looks as though the major car

manufacturers have finally turned their strategy towards

electric cars. To acquire the necessary know­how in batteries,

a vital part of any EV, they had to set up partnerships

with those manufacturers who had the skills and capacity

for production, the giants of electronics and new generation

batteries. Indeed now it is the batteries, and not the

engine, that lie at the core of an electric vehicle’s value. To

ensure against any problem with future supplies the major

car manufacturers formed partnerships with established

electric energy specialists.

• Toyota signed a partnership with the Matsushita group to

create Panasonic EV Energy. This new company also supplies

Lexus, Honda, Ford and Mercury.

• Nissan set up a subsidiary with the NEC group, a giant in

the field of networks and micro­electronics, called Automotive

Energy Supply Corp. The company’s main business is the

production of Li­ion batteries for cars.

• GS Yuasa Corp, another specialist in Li-ion batteries,

signed two agreements, one with Mitsubishi in 2007 to

create Lithium Energy Japan, and the other with Honda in

late 2008.

• The Volkswagen group chose Sanyo as its partner for the

production of future Audi hybrids. For their supply of Li­ion

batteries VW signed an agreement with Toshiba.

• General Motors made its arrangements for the supply of

batteries for its future Volt car. The supplier is the Korean

giant LG Chem through its subsidiary US Compact Power. LG

Chem already supplies packs for the prototypes. Later GM

will produce batteries in its own factory using components

supplied by LG Chem.



Recycling batteries

Problems caused by used batteries are directly linked to

recycling organisation and efficiency. The cost and supply

of raw materials also make it absolutely essential to

recycle worn­out batteries.

It is the manufacturers and importers who have the responsibility

of informing users and of providing a recycling

service. They are assisted in this by organisations

set up according to the type of battery to be processed.

Companies specialised in collecting and recycling dead

batteries already exist for the following types: Lead,

NiCd, NiMH and Li­ion. The collection of lead batteries

is done at a national level through salvage specialists,

garages, at waste sorting units and at car centres. For

the other types of battery, including NiCd, NiMH and

Li­ion, specific organisations have been set up to process

accumulators from computers, mobile phones, etc.

The considerable volumes generated, and therefore to

be recycled, have led to the setting up of specialised

companies or services. The specialists in Belgium are:

Revatech, Indaver, SNAM, Campine and Umicore. Used

Zebra batteries are taken back and processed directly by

the manufacturer.

Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt desert in the world. It lies at the southern edge of the altiplano and contains several million tons of lithium.

© ESA ­ European Space Agency ­ Envisat ­ May 2008

Geographic origin of raw materials

The meteoric growth of means of production of batteries

involves a proportionate increase in the amounts of raw

materials needed. Reserves of these materials, including

nickel, cobalt, lithium and zinc, among others, exist

in large quantities around the world. The geographic

distribution of sources of these materials, which is

quite different from that of fossil fuels such as oil or

gas, means that the economic maps of the world have

to be redrawn. Other states have consequently become

producers of strategic raw materials, which has greatly

benefitted their balance of trade. Reserves of cobalt are

owned by the Republic of Congo, Australia and Cuba.

The largest nickel mines are in Australia, Cuba, France

(New Caledonia), Russia and South Africa. Australia,

China, Peru, Kazakhstan, the United States, Mexico and

Canada own the world’s reserves of zinc. At the present

rate of consumption, reserves will last for ± 43 years in

the case of nickel, ± 95 years for cobalt and about 20

years for zinc.

Enough lithium to supply battery producers

Lithium is a special case. Traces of lithium exist in the

world’s oceans, but are hard to exploit profitably. Lithium

is also found in deposits of pegmatites (magmatic rock),

in some clays and in salt deserts. The largest of these salt

deserts are in South America, in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia,

as well as in China and Tibet. One of these, which has

so far not been mined, is in Bolivia, the “Salar de Uyuni”,

the largest salt desert in the world, covering 10,582 km 2 .

Industrial groups such as Mitsubishi and Sumimoto in

Japan and the French group Bolloré have approached the

Bolivian government with proposals to mine this enormous

reserve. The world’s resources of lithium, as estimated

by USGS (U.S. Geological Survey), amount to about

4.1 million tons, which would make it possible to produce

several tens of millions of battery packs for EVs without

any major difficulty in supply.

Source of data: usgs.gov


42 www.arval.be

Electric currents,

from socket to engine

The technical features of electric vehicles are described

in terms of electrotechnical units of measurement.

These units of measurement, which are different from

those used for combustion engines, may be difficult to

understand. A few points need to be understood in order

to decipher the technical specifications of EVs.

Charging batteries and connecting to a mains


EV batteries can be recharged from European standard

mains supply sockets. In Belgium mains electricity is 230

Volts (V) and delivers a maximum intensity of 20 or 32

amperes (A). 20 A sockets are standard, 32 A sockets being

reserved for appliances with heavy consumptions such as

ovens or electric burners. The maximum power* delivered is

expressed in Watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). The duration of

use expressed in hours generates consumption expressed in

Watts per hour (Wh) or in kiloWatt per hour (kWh). The time

it takes to recharge a battery depends on the way they are

constructed and the technology used. Lead batteries take

a long time to charge (six to ten hours), whereas the most

recent types such as NiCd, Li-ion or Zebra batteries can be

recharged in four to eight hours. Electricity consumption

is calculated according to the type of charger fitted in the

vehicle. For example a light EV equipped with a 1,500 W

charger will consume between 7 and 12 kWh for a complete

charge. The variation is determined by the capacity of the


Battery capacity

The capacity of a battery is expressed in Ampere-hours

(Ah); this is the amount of electricity the battery can

supply. Depending on the voltage, the energy stored is

measured by the following formula:

Ah x V = Wh (or kWh).

For example, a 210 Ah battery pack under 48 Volts supplies

10 kWh, whereas another 210 Ah pack under 72

Volts supplies 15 kWh.

In practical terms the power loaded determines the vehicle’s

mileage range depending on the power of the engine,

the vehicle’s weight and the nature of the journey.

Everything you need to know about electric cars

Engine power

The power of an engine is expressed in kW. Figures given

as a general rule express nominal power, for example

4 kW for light quadricycles and a range of 8 to 30 kW

for EVs. In some cases manufacturers also give the engine’s

peak power. This is a maximum value that lasts for

a few seconds during starting or when going uphill. In

all cases the engine’s power is regulated by an electronic

variator which in turn is commanded by the accelerator


Consumption per kilometre

The way to compare the electricity consumption of EVs

of a same category is to calculate the consumption per

kilometre driven. This is expressed in Wh per kilometre

or kWh per kilometre. Electricity consumption depends

of course on the weight of the vehicle, its payload, the

nature of the journey and average speed. Consumption

values are therefore expressed in ranges. These are around

0.08 to 0.15 kWh/km for vehicles in the quadricycle

category and vary between 0.10 and 0.25 in minicars.

A simple extrapolation for 100 km makes it possible to

compare the energy consumption of electric vehicles with

that of combustion engine vehicles. Urban electric cars,

from the smallest to the highest performers, consume

8 to 20 kWh over 100 km. This means that batteries charged

at the “daylight hours” (average rate) rate will cost 0.8 to

2 €/100 km. Batteries charged at night during “off hours”

rate will vary between 0.5 and 1.15 €/100 km.

* The calculation formula is W = V x A,

i.e. 230 x 20 = 4,600 W or 4.6 kW for a standard 20A socket.

1 kW = 1,000 W.



Filling up

Electricity is available almost everywhere. This fact

is a major advantage for the development of electric

vehicles. Added to that is the fact that an ordinary

mains socket is all that is needed. Plug in an extension

lead and the car is recharged in just the same way as

we already recharge everyday appliances such as mobile

telep hones, laptop computers or a cordless electric drill.

Recharging times vary according to the type of battery

used. Lead batteries take a long time to charge (six to

eight hours), whereas the most recent types of battery

can be charged in five to six hours. Rapid recharges, which

take one to two hours, partial recharges, top­up charges

are also possible with these technologies. Provided that

one has the right sort of charger and access to industrial

type mains sockets.


Recharging a vehicle in public areas and at work

Charging points have been designed to withstand the

hazards entailed by installing them outdoors in public


In France for example, one sees more of these charging

points in areas reserved for electric cars in parking lots.

About 200 public charging points, each with several sockets,

were installed in France in the late 1990s. There are about

one hundred in Paris.

In early 2009 the government launched a vast national

programme to develop charging points that involves car

manufacturers, energy suppliers, local authorities, builders

and managers of public areas. The objective is to create a

charging infrastructure (in homes, in workplaces, on public

roads and also rapid charging points) to serve several tens of

thousands of electric vehicles by 2012.

This infrastructure is fairly simple to build, as the work

required to install the points is light, indeed much lighter

than the work required to build filling stations selling petrol,

diesel or hydrogen.

The Better Place project

In late 2007 Shai Agassi, a wealthy entrepreneur in the

IT sector, announced the creation of Better Place. This

start­up venture has benefited from an investment of

over 200 million dollars to organise the setting up of

networks of recharging points for electric cars. His aim

is to remove one of the obstacles to electric cars being

adopted by the general public.

Shai Agassi is an unusual person. He left his job as

manager of the multinational company SAP to found

Better Place. His assessment is unequivocal: the automotive

industry is undergoing profound change and

is moving from the present model, the 1.0 Car based

on the combustion engine to the 2.0 Car that runs on

renewable energy.

By the end of 2008, Better Place had achieved a series of

impressive results, including:

­ A partnership with the Israeli government and

Renault­Nissan for the building of a recharging infra­

structure covering the whole of Israel. Israel will thus

be the first country in the world to build a national

network for electric cars.

­ The signature of an agreement with Dong Energy in

Denmark and an investment of 103 million Euros for the

installation of a nationwide network.

­ Better Place is associated with the Japanese automotive

giants and with the ministry of the environment

to develop a network of ultra rapid charging points in

Japan. The system rests on a simple principle: the battery

Everything you need to know about electric cars

Future Better Place charging station © Better Place

packs are interchangeable, so it will only take a few

minutes to change batteries before driving off again.

­ A charging network in Australia exclusively using

renewable energies.

­ The Irish government plans to have 10% of road

vehicles replaced by electric ones by 2020. To this end

it has invested one million dollars in an experimental

project with Better Place.

­ In North America, Ontario in Canada and California

in the USA have chosen Better Place as partner to build

their recharging networks.

The rapid success of Better Place can be reproduced

everywhere, because it is based on a simple principle:

cars remain parked on average 23 out of every 24 hours;

it should be possible to recharge cars wherever they are


Scooter Vectrix on an electromotive terminal

© Elektromotive Ltd



Carbon emission figures

for electric and hybrid vehicles

It is a fact that electric and hybrid vehicles emit less CO2

into the atmosphere at the local level: zero emissions

in the case of all electric cars and the lowest emission

in each category for hybrid cars. These are undeniable

advantages anyway, but when one adds the the consequences

of global CO2 emissions from “well­to­wheel”

for fuels derived from oil, the advantage of electric

engines over combustion engines is much greater still.

Well­to­wheel efficiency

Global counts of “well­to­wheel” emissions take into

account the CO2 emitted during energy production,

transport (of crude oil from oil wells to storage facilities),

during refining etc. as well as the CO2 emitted by

the vehicle itself.

In the case of electric vehicles it is necessary to quantify

the CO2 emitted during the production of electricity.

This varies according to the form of initial energy used.

Electricity produced using renewable sources of energy

(hydropower, wind turbines, solar panels, biomass fuel,

etc.) has low levels of emissions. Electricity produced

in power stations using gas, fuel or coal on the other

hand results in high levels of emissions of CO2. Electricity

produced in nuclear power stations occupies a position

somewhere in between that produced by renewable

energies and fossil fuel energy. Global counts therefore

vary according to country and the form of energy used

to produce electricity. The notion of “energy mix” is

used to compare the CO2 emissions from one country


to another. That for Western Europe (figure 1) shows

how much – more than 51% - electricity is still being

produced using fossil fuels.

Belgium’s energy mix (figure 2) consists largely of

nuclear energy. The energy that is generated using

fossil fuels, represents more than 35% of the electricity

production. The calculation of energy efficiency in terms

of “well­to­wheel” provided by ADEME (figure 3) show

the overwhelming superiority of electrically powered

vehicles over ones using other sources of energy.

The increase in fleets of electric vehicles and

renewable energy sources

The progress achieved in terms of efficiency and

profi tability in the field of renewable energy, particularly

wind turbines and solar panels, have led to an

exponential growth of production capacity all over

Europe. Europe’s objectives in developing renewable

energy up to 2020 will continue to grow in this sector.

For example energy production from wind turbines was

56,000 MW in 2007, and will rise to 89,000 MW in 2010.

The objective set by the latest European directives is

180,000 MW by 2020.

The trend is similar for energy produced by solar panels.

The 4,700 MWc capacity of installations in 2007 is

projected to rise to 13,500 MWc in 2010. Expected

increased sales of electric vehicles in the next few

years is synchronous with the development of low CO2

emissions energy production.

Figure 1­ Western Europe (Source EurObserv’ER 2007)

Structure of electricity production - 2007

Structure of electricity production - 2007

Geothermal 0,3%

Wind 3,1%

Biomass 2,5%

Solar 0,1%

Non­renewable waste 0,6%

Hydraulic 15,7%

Nuclear 26,2%

Fossil 51,3%

Figure 2­ Belgium (Source: FPS, Economy, SME, self­employed and energy)

Nuclear 54%

Geothermal, solar, wind,… 0,8%

Renewable energy 4,20%

Fossil 38,9%

Hydraulic 0,4%

Hydro-electric 1,5%

Figure 3 ­ "From well­to­wheel" (Source ADEME)

Everything you need to know about electric cars



Short and medium­term


This change in the automotive landscape is set to continue,

driven by many government programmes and thanks to the

advent on the market of a host of new vehicles in addition to

the existing range. Major initiatives involving energy producers,

government authorities, the world of research, consumers and

battery and car manufacturers are emerging in many parts of

the world. The quantities involved, from a few thousand to a

few million units, show that we are seeing a real change of

scale in the market for electric and hybrid vehicles. The impact

of some state programmes on production capacity is going to

open the way to new players on the international market.

Colossal means in Asia

China plans to supply its internal market with a high percentage

of electric and hybrid vehicles. Following the launch

in 2007 of a vast research and development programme called

“Initiative 863” involving universities, research institutes

and manufacturers, the Chinese government organised a

large scale demonstration programme in 2008. This programme

involves thousands of vehicles and the building

of a recharging infrastructure for EVs in the larger Chinese

cities. To follow this up large funding has been set aside to

build a vast network of electric recharging points to match

the scale of the country.


In Japan, the prime minister’s office announced that

by 2020 half the vehicles marketed in the country will

be powered by energy sources other than fossil fuels.

Japan encourages the use of EVs by means of substantial

grants and converting the fleets or large corporations

to electricity. The same is to be done with the Japanese

post office’s 21,000 vehicles. The government supports

a programme to install hundreds of recharging points

involving industrial manufacturers, energy producers,

builders and battery suppliers.

New players and established manufacturers

Every year manufacturers, whether new players or old

established corporations, announce more and more new

vehicles to go soon into production. For the USA, the

world’s single greatest market, the big Detroit manufacturers

GM, Ford and Chrysler are preparing their switch

to electric and hybrid cars.

• General Motors has attracted the most media attention

since 2007 with their announcement of the Volt project,

plug­in hybrid cars that are to be manufactured on a large

scale starting in 2010, first in the USA under the Chevrolet

brand and then in Europe by their subsidiary Opel.

• Ford’s “electrification” plan centres on three new products:

­ an electric commercial vehicle which will be available

in the US in 2010;

­ a small electric car for the general public designed in

partnership with the Canadian equipment manufacturer


­ a range of new generation hybrid cars (including one

plug­in) from 2012.

• Chrysler has come up with a new product in the US,

the Chrysler ENVI. The group is to launch a new range

of electric vehicles in the USA in 2010. The technology

uses the internal combustion engine to recharge the


• Still in the USA, a new manufacturer, Fisker Automotive

has raised more than $ 60 million in capital to build a

top of the range sports car, the Fisker Karma. This is a

high performance plug­in hybrid with a top speed of

200 km/h and an acceleration of 0 to100 km/h in under

six seconds.

In Europe, new players in the industry have set out to

compete with the large groups who do not plan to enter

the market before 2011 or 2012.


The PSA group presented many diesel hybrid prototypes

from 2006 on, including the 307, 308 and C4, before

deciding not to go ahead with them. The latest of those

prototypes, the Peugeot Prologue HYmotion, should

have been the basis for a 3008 Hybrid4 in 2011, but the

date has been postponed to 2013. For all electric cars

PSA approached Mitsubishi with a view to marketing a

model derived from the iMIEV around 2010.

• Renault/Nissan alliance

The group is planning to produce demonstration vehicles

for their validation fleets before the end of 2009.

The first country involved is Israel in the context of

the Better Place project. Mass production of a Mégane

type saloon and a model derived from the Kangoo is

planned for 2011. A new mass produced all electric car

is announced for 2012. It might resemble a concept car

presented by Nuvu at the Paris Motor Show in Paris in


Everything you need to know about electric cars

• Bolloré

Electric cars designed by the Bolloré group have been

shown at European motor shows since 2005. These

shows and many articles in the press generated a real

interest among the general public. After working with

the demonstrator, developed with the help of engineers

at Espace Développement (the designers of the

Renault Espace), the Bolloré group turned to the Italian

coachbuilder Pininfarina to produce Bluecar, a five­door

five­seater electric saloon car.

• FAM Automobiles

This French company is a subcontractor to car manufacturers.

Specialised in the mass production of LPG kits and

conversions of mass produced cars to four wheel drive,

FAM turned in 2008 to designing an electric urban car,

the F­City. F­City was designed to be a self­service urban

mobility tool that does not require a driver’s licence. This

compact car is only 2.5 m long and 1.6 m wide. Its top

speed will be around 65 km/h, and it will have a range of

60 to 80 km depending on driving conditions.

• DuraCar

This start­up venture based in the Netherlands is

concentrating on a single model, an urban and suburban

commercial vehicle called Quicc. The aim is to release

a fully electric minivan by 2010. DuraCar relies for this

project on the production facilities of the German group

Karmann, a German sub­contractor to the automotive


• Think

In addition to the Think City, production of which began

in Norway, Think’s Scandinavian engineers have designed

an all electric five door saloon car. Think Ox was designed

to be produced in several different versions.


Parallel hybrids

BMW X 6 Hybrid April 2010

Lexus GS 450 H already available

RX 400 H already available

LS 600 H already available

Toyota Prius already available

Auris June 2010

Mild hybrids

Honda CivicHybrid already available

Insight Hybrid already available

Mercedes S400 H already available

BMW Serie 7 Hybrid April 2010

Peugeot 3008 Hybrid September 2010



Vehicles available in 2010

Electric cars

Opel Ampera 2010

Citroen C­zero December 2010

Daihatsu Move December 2010

Fiat Doblo electric already available

Nissan Leaf 2010

Peugeot Ion December 2010

Renault Kangoo 2010

Mitsubishi iMiev December 2010

Type of technology Pb NiCd NiMH Li-ion LiPo LiFePO 4 Zebra NiZn

Wh/kg (weight) 40 60 80 160 200 200 120 80

Wh/l (volume) 75 150 250 270 300 220 181 140

Number of cycles 400 1,400 1,200 1,250 1,800 1,500 1,100 1,000

Power pack 10kWh

kWh/kg 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.16 0.2 0.2 0.12 0.08

Weight in kg

Lifetime in kilometres

250 167 125 62,5 50 50 83 125

Base 140 km per charge 56,000 196,000 168,000 175,000 252,000 210,000 154,000 140,000

Hypothesis 1 - 2009

Comparison table: weight/power/price

Everything you need to know about electric cars

Price per kWh 450 1 200 1,400 1,600 1,750 1,600 1,250 n/a

Price pack 10 kWh 4,500 12,000 14,000 16,000 17,500 16,000 12,500 n/a

Price per km 0.080 0.061 0.083 0.091 0.069 0.076 0.081 n/a

Hypothesis 2- Estimation for the end of 2010

Price per kWh 450 1,200 1,300 1,400 1,550 1,500 1,100 n/a

Price pack 10kWh 4,500 12,000 13,000 14,000 15,500 15,000 11,000 n/a

Price per km 0.080 0.061 0.077 0.080 0.062 0.071 0.071 n/a


Philippe BRENDEL

Electric vehicles set to boost mobility

Consumers’ and manufacturers’ decision makers’ expectations and behaviour are

changing rapidly under the combined influence of several factors, including:

• The rise in energy prices in 2008, which has made people realise that the

world’s reserves of oil will be exhausted sooner or later, and that this form

of energy will inevitably become more expensive.

• The rising cost of raw materials and awareness these too are not in inexhaustible


• Growing awareness that global warming is a real threat, and that we cannot

go on doing nothing about it.

• Urban traffic congestion and the increasing frustration of just getting

around town.

• Awareness campaigns organised by persuasive and charismatic speakers like

Al Gore and Yann Arthus Bertrand.

Although we are still far from seeing 100% of decision makers wanting to

convert their companies into producing less harmful forms of transport,

there is already a huge groundswell of environmental issues within the public

opinion and some manufacturers and public authorities are already planning


For example easy availability of multiple purpose vehicles for use on a shortterm

basis (e.g. a van used for moving furniture or for other family needs a

few weeks a year) would leave more room for smaller, less polluting cars that

meet drivers’ daily needs. For family holidays, or for driving longer distances,

drivers could resort then to short-term vehicle hire, to car sharing or to combinations

of various forms of transport (e.g. train + car).

Electric vehicles are well suited to meeting the needs of our now largely

urban or suburban population, and considering all the other advantages

attached to this type of vehicle this is likely to accelerate change. An electric

vehicle means silence, no pollution, flexibility and an answer to daily travel,

which mostly involves journeys of less than 40 km. Naturally all this will mean

changing our habits, we will have to remember to recharge our cars more

often than we used to refill them with petrol, but how satisfying!

It is safe to bet that in twenty years time we will be wondering how we ever

managed to put up with the noise and stench of today’s internal combustion

powered traffic.

Philippe Brendel


Observatoire du Véhicule d’Entreprise France

Arval shall not be held liable for any decision made on the basis of any information contained in this booklet, nor

for the use that may be made thereof by you or third parties. Some of the models described in this brochure are not

available on the Belgian market.

January 2010

This document has been printed on FSC certified paper.

Verdunstraat 742 – 1130 Brussel

Tel.: +32 (0)2 240 01 99 – www.arval.be

Photo cover : © Renault

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