The concept of EVs is actually quite old, dating back to around 1900. Although fuels won the battle in those days, EVs are returning. Especially driven for their local benefits on the environment, many regions and cities are setting up trials and programs with EVs.
Batteries will be crucial for their success. Battery capacity, lifetime, safety in automotive applications, charging, and system design are all issues that are investigated. Concerning safety fire hazards, associated with the use of lithium, need to be minimized.
New concepts for speed-charging or exchange of batteries may be boosting the market, because they increase the range. Different vehicles require different battery types. Light-weight EVs require batteries with a high energy density (kWh/kg).
EVs are expensive, but that is partly compensated by low energy costs. Due to high petrol taxes, operating costs per mile or kilometer of an EV are relatively low.
An important issue in the future will be the interconnection of large quantities of EVs to the grid. Charging of batteries in off-peak hours could improve the economic efficiency of the power system. Basically, car batteries could even deliver to the grid during peak demand hours, which also improves the efficiency. Regarding coevolution of EVs and renewable energy, see Chapter 8.