5 things you should know about electric cars


To cut emissions, last year, the European Union adopted a law to make all new cars and vans sold in Europe zero-emission from 2035.

Already in 2023, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were the most popular alternative to petrol and diesel cars, representing more than 14.6% of all new cars sold in the EU. Plug-in hybrid electric cars represented another 7.7%. So, over 1 in 5 new cars sold in Europe can now be charged electrically.

Here are the 5 top things you should know about battery electric cars:

  1. Battery electric cars have a lower environmental footprint than conventional cars
    • They don’t have exhaust pipes and don’t emit gases when running, which is better both for the climate and air quality.
    • They are more energy efficient because they consume less than one third of the energy consumed per km by equivalent conventional cars. This is because combustion engines waste a significant part of their energy through heat loss. Electric motors in BEVs have efficiency values above 90%, whereas combustion engines in similar sized vehicles rarely exceed 40%.
    • The electricity used to power BEVs is increasingly produced from clean, renewable sources of energy such as solar or wind, which means such vehicles cause fewer greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, thanks to the rise in renewable energy, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per unit of electricity produced in the EU has already halved between 1990 and 2023, and we can expect emissions to decrease even further in the future.
    • Greenhouse gas emissions over the full lifetime of electric cars (from the extraction of raw materials to the manufacture of the vehicle and battery and the recycling phase at the end of vehicle’s life) are significantly lower than for equivalent conventional cars running on fossil fuels. In 2020, a Commission study confirmed that the average EU lifecycle climate impact of a lower-medium range BEV was around 45% of that of a gasoline car and 53% of that of a diesel car.
    • Battery electric vehicles produce far less noise, drastically reducing noise pollution, which impacts both humans and wildlife. Did you know that in the EU, about 95 million people are exposed to harmful levels of road traffic noise?
  2. Batteries are increasingly efficient, sustainably sourced and recyclable
    • Thanks to research and technological progress, the performance of batteries is improving. Batteries are already capable of withstanding several thousand charging/discharging cycles, making them last longer.
    • New generations of batteries which require less raw material are being rapidly developed. And the EU is investing in research and production of such batteries. Current batteries typically include lithium and graphite, and can also include nickel, cobalt and/or manganese.
    • The EU is taking action to make batteries and vehicles more sustainable, with new rules on sourcing raw materials, which go hand in hand with increased efforts to mitigate any adverse impacts, both within the EU and in third countries with respect to labour rights, human rights and environmental protection. The EU also has rules on recycling batteries and raw materials needed for battery production. Additionally, the Commission has also proposed rules on end-of-life vehicles and their components to prevent and limit waste.
  3. Battery electric cars’ driving range continues to increase and the recharging network across the EU is growing
    • Battery electric cars’ range is more than enough for daily commutes. In 2022, 57% of battery electric cars on the market had a driving range of over 385 km with just a single charge, and a further 34% had a range between 235 and 384 km. So over 90% of BEVs can take you over 235km on one charge. This value has been consistently increasing over time. It means you could drive from Brussels to Amsterdam, from Genoa to Cannes, from Riga to Tartu or from Budapest to Bratislava in a single charge!
    • The network of recharging points is rapidly expanding, thanks also to new EU legislation. The number of publicly accessible recharging points in the EU more than doubled between 2021 and 2023, to around 630,000, with plenty of charging slots available for EV drivers. Member States have agreed to make sure charging infrastructure keeps growing in line with the electric vehicle fleet in the future. Driving electric cars across the EU will become even easier from 2025 onwards, when recharging points must be installed every 60 km along major transport routes.
    • Charging is becoming easier and faster. The average recharging speed has more than tripled since 2011. With ‘ fast chargers’, the average recharging speed is more than 100 km per 10 min. Close to 13% of the EU’s publicly accessible recharging points are already fast chargers. Furthermore, all public chargers will be available to both subscribers and ad hoc users, with the option to pay with credit cards or smartphones.
  4. Battery electric cars are cheaper to run than equivalent conventional cars
    • When comparing costs, it’s important to keep in mind that electric cars consume less energy and have lower maintenance needs than conventional cars. As a result, the total cost of an electric car is lower than an equivalent conventional car over the lifetime of the vehicle.
    • According to BloombergNEF, battery electric vehicles are expected to become cheaper to purchase than comparable conventional cars in Europe between 2025 and 2028, depending on the type of vehicle. Decreases in battery prices, new affordable car models, and a growing mid-range and second-hand market are all factors expected to drive down prices.
    • Several EU Member States have put in place purchase incentives to support buyers, and the EU Recovery and Resilience Plan is helping to fund some of these schemes.
    • Battery electric cars come with lower maintenance needs, fewer moving parts, no oil circuits, no clutch, substantially less brake wear due to regenerative brakes, etc. Say goodbye to those messy oil changes!
  5. Battery electric cars are safe to drive and charge
    • They are subject to the same safety requirements as conventional cars, in particular for passive safety (protection of vehicle occupant; seat belts, airbags and vehicle structure) and active safety (systems preventing an accident; anti-lock brakes, traction control system, electronic stability programme).
    • Battery electric cars must also meet additional requirements that are specific to their electrical systems. For instance, their batteries are extensively tested and must meet standards to prevent potential risks (such as fire or leakage). You should still drive safely though, as with any car!

There you have it: 5 strong arguments to address some of the myths and doubts about the EU’s zero emissions cars policy. The EU is helping to make driving an electrifying experience in every sense of the word. By ditching fossil fuels and embracing clean, green energy, zero emission vehicles can protect your health, save the planet… and save your pocket. Europe is ready to move into a climate-friendly, reliable, affordable, and safe future.

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