Electric passenger cars currently cost $5,000 to $6,000 more for their owners to buy and operate than an equivalent fossil fuel car over the vehicle’s lifetime, according to a new study by the Paris-based International Transport Forum (ITF).
But because of the different operating requirement, an electric delivery van costs is likely to cost as much as $5,000 less to own and operate when compared to a similar van running on gasoline or diesel, the same study found.
The study also shows that:
- The costs of reducing CO2 emissions by promoting electric cars, even with low-carbon sources of electricity, remain high.
- In those cases where electric cars already compare favorably to fossil-fuelled vehicles, subsidies may be superfluous.
Electric vehicles have gathered increased interest in recent years as concerns about energy security, climate change and air pollution have motivated governments and manufacturers to consider energy alternatives.
Moreover, the market for electric vehicles is already substantial and larger than many analysts estimate.
Recent estimates put the global electric vehicle fleet at over 120 million units. However, that figure is largely based on the massive acceptance of electric bicycles and scooters in China. By comparison, the most popular electric car models achieved global sales of approximately 44 000 units in 2011.
Nonetheless, proponents expect that to grow substantially in 2012 and beyond. Nissan alone hopes to near that figure this year with the Leaf model and believes it can go substantially beyond once it launches production of the battery-electric vehicle in the U.S. this coming December. General Motors had also hoped to match that figure in 2012 with its Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera plug-ins, though sales have gotten off to a slower start than anticipated.
But the trend is upward, nonetheless, reflecting the fact that the current generation of electric vehicles represents a significant improvement over previous ones. Nonetheless, electric vehicles remain more expensive than their fossil-fuelled equivalents and may need government assistance to trigger wide-spread uptake.
In line with strategic de-carbonization goals, governments around the worldhave been providing significant research and development funding and, in many cases, direct subsidies, according to the ITF.
The ITF’s figures match other recent studies which have also suggested that the big market for electric vehicles could come on the commercial, rather than retail side, at least initially. Among the companies moving to electric power are delivery firms like UPS and Federal Express, as well as GE, the industrial giant planning to replace half of its worldwide transportation fleet with battery vehicles.