Other than lower emissions, less air and noise pollution and reduced reliance on non-renewable energy sources, electric car users enjoy a quieter and smoother drive and say the engines are more reliable than petroleum-powered internal combustion equivalents.
Another benefit is electric vehicles can be charged from home if one has a suitable inlet and are economical to run in countries where electricity is cheap.
However, electric cars are expensive to run compared with similar small or medium-sized gas vehicles and there is a limited choice of brands and styles available. Prices for mass-market EVs such as the Ford Focus Electric and 2016 edition of the Nissan Leaf start at around $29,0000 in the U.S., according to the car companies' websites.
By comparison, the starting price for a new, conventionally-fueled Ford Focus is around $17,225 and a Nissan Versa Sedan sells from $11,990.
"Generous subsidies and tax breaks are playing a role in supporting demand, but overall adoption rates are constrained by factors such as relatively low real-world driving ranges (i.e. issues with battery storage and density), limited model availability and, most importantly, high costs compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. The latter has been amplified by the collapse in the crude oil price in 2015," Charlie Thomas, head of strategy at Jupiter, a U.K. boutique asset management firm, said in a report last week.
Europe's most popular electric cars by year-to-date sales:
- Nissan Leaf: 6,168
- Renault Zoe: 5,578
- Tesla Model S: 3,378
- Volkswagen e-Gold: 2,228
- BMW i3: 1,567
Source: European Alternative Fuels Observatory