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Electric vehicles: solution or new problem?


Since electric vehicles (EVs) have been recognized as a technology that reduces local air pollution while improving transport energy security, they have been promoted in many countries. Yet, mainly due to their high costs, especially in the case of pure battery electric vehicles, and a lack of proper infrastructure, the use of EVs is still very limited. In this paper, some of the major barriers and the future challenges are discussed. The current problems are mainly attributed to two categories: (1) the battery performances and costs, as well as battery production including issue of material availability and (2) environmental benefits of EVs depending on the sources used for the electricity generation and their carbon intensity. The major conclusions are that (1) research and development with respect to batteries has by far the highest priority and (2) it has to be ensured that the electricity used in EVs is generated largely from renewable energy sources.

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Fig. 1

(Data source: IEA 2016)

Fig. 2

(Reproduced with permission from Ajanovic and Haas 2016)

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Fig. 5

(Data source: BU 2016)

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(Data source: Avicenne 2011)

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(Data source: BCG 2010)

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(Data source: Statista 2017a)

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(Data source: Statista 2017b)

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(Data source: CEMAC 2016)

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(Data source: TSP 2014)

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  1. 1.

    A battery pack is a set of batteries or individual battery cells. This term is usually used in reference to EVs. Note that a cell is a single unit that converts chemical energy into electrical energy, and a battery is a collection of cells.

  2. 2.

    The starter battery is nearly always lead–acid battery.

  3. 3.

    International Energy Agency.

  4. 4.

    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


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Correspondence to Amela Ajanovic.

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Ajanovic, A., Haas, R. Electric vehicles: solution or new problem?. Environ Dev Sustain 20, 7–22 (2018).

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  • Battery
  • Costs
  • Emissions
  • Lithium