Why EV?

Energy efficiency and energy savings

In-depth studies show that, all figures being equivalent, taking into account the energy efficiency at both production and distribution level, the consumption figures are as follows:


conventional cars

electric vehicles


fuel consumption / 100 km

electricity equivalent

electricity consumption


8,5 l gasoline

909 Wh / km

488 Wh / km


12 l gasoline

1283 Wh / km

600 Wh / km

small lorry

16 l diesel

1910 Wh / km

1000 Wh / k

Table 1:
Average consumption of conventional cars and electric vehicles [1]

[1] G. Maggetto, P. Van den Bossche and J. Van Mierlo, CITELEC report "Force electrique en Wallonie: les vehicules electriques et hybrides en Wallonie, une solution ecologique durable pour la circulation urbaine"

These figures show that electric cars, vans or small lories, respectively consume 54%, 47% and 52% of the primary energy needed by internal combustion vehicles. It is clear that electric vehicles are much more energy efficient. This advantage will increase when it will be possible to recharge vehicles by connecting them directly to electricity production sources with a total output efficiency exceeding 50% (plants with combined gas/steam cycle, fuel cells, buffer batteries, etc.).

Taking into account an average mileage of 10000 km per year, which is the standard figure for vehicles in urban areas, the energy savings obtained by replacing conventional cars by electric vehicles are:


energy savings [kWh / year per vehicle]

energy savings converted into fuel volumes [l / year per vehicle]







small lorry



Table 2: Energy and fuel savings due to electric vehicles

When regenerative braking is applied, kinetic energy can be recuperated and sent to the batteries. This can lead to an economy of about 10%.

Other benefits 


The introduction of EVs leads to a significant decrease of pollutants in the atmosphere. Taken into account indirect emissions from energy production, we can compare the emission values for each type of car.Figure 5 shows emission values as the total sum of operation-related emissions and emissions associated with final energy supply for Europe in the year 2000, for conventional cars (petrol, diesel and compressed natural gas) and electric cars. Figure 6 shows the CO 2 emissions from the engine and those associated with final energy supply, for European cities.


Figure 5: Vehicle emissions in Europe, 2002 [2]

Figure 6: Energy-related CO 2 emissions [2]

[2] UNIPEDE 1998 Report

From these tables it is clear that EVs pollute less for almost all pollutants. Only for sulphur dioxide, the figure remains larger, because of the number of sulphurous coal plants. This is becoming more and more controlled, and the part associated with electric vehicles is actually rather marginal compared to other polluters. However, this figure should decrease substantially thanks to the improvement in emission control and the use of natural gas in the next few years. The global ecological impact is firmly positive.

In figure 6 we see EVs produce less than half as much CO 2 as the other drive variants.

Moreover, most of inner city movements are very short. So thermal engines remain in general rather cold, which means that emissions are higher and that efficiency is low. Catalyst converters only work properly at a sufficiently high temperature after some kilometres.

In brief, low pollution by EVs is due to the higher efficiency of electric plants. Emissions from EVs are located outside the cities and it is easier to control emissions of one electricity plant than to control thousands of vehicles exhaust pipes.

It is clear that EVs have an important role to play in the reduction of CO 2 emissions to avoid climate change and in the targets that have been defined in the Kyoto Protocol.

Thermal engines are always rotating, even during a stop. EV motors, on the contrary, are stopped each time the vehicle stops. In traffic jams and at traffic lights EVs neither emit nor consume anything, except for auxiliaries such as lighting and radio.


The use of EVs will contribute to a stronger European independence regarding energy supplies,because the market share of diesel and petrol, which are oil products, will become smaller.


Traffic noise is making the atmosphere of modern cities quite unbearable. Thousands of combustion-engined vehicles are generating an annoying background noise which degrades quality of life in cities.

The electric vehicle is virtually silent and allows to rediscover the beauty of a moment of silence and quietness. What about living "windows opened" in the very city centre ?


Most of the air pollution in today's European cities is caused by automotive traffic. Particularly in adverse climatic conditions, traffic generated emissions are degrading air quality up to the point where the physical health of the citizens is directly threatened. Several cities already had to recur to drastic traffic restrictions.

Electric vehicle stands for clean air as iit is effectively zero-emission at its point of use. Furthermore, the emissions due to the generation of electricity are significantly lower than the corresponding vehicle emissions, due to the high efficiency of today's power stations.

Mobility and congestion

Today's urban traffic is grinding to a halt. Thousands of passenger cars and lorries are stuck in traffic jams which become worse and worse, leading to loss of time and energy, as well as extra pollution.

The electric vehicle is ideally suited to be integrated in new traffic management concepts, such as automatic rent-a-car systems and goods distribution centres, which emphasise the complementarity of transport modes and which contribute to the relief of traffic congestion.

Cultural Heritage

Our European cities have a history of many centuries and can be rightly proud of an unique cultural and architectural heritage. This century however, they have been aggressively invaded by the motor car which through its emissions and through the traffic problems it causes, is forming a real threat to their conservation.

The electric vehicle, through its respect for the environment, allows the integration of traffic in sensitive historic areas.

Innovation and technological developments in the field

All car manufacturers have a very well developed research policy concerning battery, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles. An important number of auxiliary industries are also deeply involved. The component industry (e.g. battery and electronics manufactures) has a key role to play as well as universities and other R & D institutes. Electricity suppliers are also very interested as there is huge potential for their market.

Todays, manufacturers have concept cars which clearly indicate what tomorrow's electric will be like. These vehicles will integrate electric power from the very start of vehicle conception through design to materials chosen. Parallely, continuous research on sophisticated electronic management systems and new generation of batteries allow an increased range.

However, it is commonly agreed that pure electric vehicles are a sustainable alternative for commuters and low mileage drivers. In this specific context they have a large potential for niche markets such as city delivery vans, busses or vehicles designed for a specific task (e.g. airports, warehouses, postal services, ...).

Hybrid vehicles appear to be the medium term solution and the logical way to reduce the energy consumption of today's conventional cars.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric vehicles is a kind of combination between pure electric cars and hybrids. They have in fact a connection to the grid allowing overnight charging as well as a lager battery enabling the vehicle to run full electric on a long distance, like for example in city centre. It results lower environmental impact and reduced dependence on foreign oil sources.

Finally, fuel cell vehicles are expected to be the future, offering greatest benefits over future internal combustion engines while offering the same performance. The price and infrastructure problems remain big challenges.