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An electric car (also battery electric car or all-electric car) is a plug-in electric automobile that is propelled by one or more electric motors, using energy typically stored in rechargeable batteries.

From 2008, a renaissance in electric vehicle manufacturing occurred due to advances in batteries, illnesses and deaths from air pollution, and the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Several national and local governments have established tax credits, subsidies, and other incentives to promote the introduction and adoption in the mass market of new electric vehicles, often depending on battery size, their electric range and purchase price. The current maximum tax credit allowed by the US Government is US$7,500 per car. Compared with internal combustion engine cars, electric cars are quieter, have no tailpipe emissions, and lower emissions in general.[Charging an electric car can be done at a variety of charging stations, these charging stations can be installed in both houses and public areas. The two all-time best selling electric cars, the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S, have EPA-rated ranges reaching up to 151 mi (243 km) and 335 mi (539 km) respectively. The Leaf is the best-selling highway-capable electric car ever with more than 400,000 units sold globally by March 2019, followed by the Tesla Model S with 263,500 units sold worldwide by December 2018.

As of December 2018, there were about 5.3 million light-duty all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in use around the world. Despite the rapid growth experienced, the global stock of plug-in electric cars represented just about 1 out of every 250 vehicles (0.40%) on the world's roads by the end of 2018. The plug-in car market is shifting towards fully electric battery vehicles, as the global ratio between annual sales of battery BEVs and PHEVs went from 56:44 in 2012, to 60:40 in 2015, and rose to 69:31 in 2018.

Electric cars are a variety of electric vehicle (EV). The term "electric vehicle" refers to any vehicle that uses electric motors for propulsion, while "electric car" generally refers to highway-capable automobiles powered by electricity. Low-speed electric vehicles, classified as neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) in the United States, and as electric motorised quadricycles in Europe, are plug-in electric-powered microcars or city cars with limitations in terms of weight, power and maximum speed that are allowed to travel on public roads and city streets up to a certain posted speed limit, which varies by country.

While an electric car's power source is not explicitly an on-board battery, electric cars with motors powered by other energy sources are typically referred to by a different name. An electric car carrying solar panels to power it is a solar car, and an electric car powered by a gasoline generator is a form of hybrid car. Thus, an electric car that derives its power from an on-board battery pack is a form of battery electric vehicle (BEV). Most often, the term "electric car" is used to refer to battery electric vehicles, but may also refer to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).

As of 2019, electric cars are less expensive to run than comparable internal combustion engine cars due to the lower cost of repairs and energy, but cost significantly more to initially buy.

Thus in general the more kilometers driven per year the more likely it is that the total cost of ownership of an electric car will be less than that of an equivalent ICE car. However this distance varies by country depending on the taxes and subsidies on different types of energy and car, and in some countries it may vary by city as different cities within the country have different charges for entering the city with the same type of car, for example in the UK London charges more than Birmingham.

Several national and local governments have established incentives to reduce the purchase price of electric cars and other plug-ins.

When designing an electric vehicle, manufacturers may find that for low production, converting existing platforms may be cheaper as development cost is lower, however, for higher production, a dedicated platform may be preferred to optimize design, and cost.

Almost 80% of electric vehicles in the U.S. are leased, while the lease rate for the country's entire fleet is about 30%. In early 2018, electric compact cars of 2014 are worth 23 percent of their original sticker price, as comparable cars with combustion engines worth 41 percent.

Batteries play a significant cost when designing an electric vehicle, for example; Tesla Motors uses batteries that cost around $200 per kilowatt hour.

Internal combustion engines have thermodynamic limits on efficiency, expressed as fraction of energy used to propel the vehicle compared to energy produced by burning fuel. Gasoline engines effectively use only 15% of the fuel energy content to move the vehicle or to power accessories, and diesel engines can reach on-board efficiency of 20%, while electric vehicles have on-board efficiency of over 90%, when counted against stored chemical energy, or around 80%, when counted against required energy to recharge.

Electric motors are more efficient than internal combustion engines in converting stored energy into driving a vehicle. Regenerative braking, which is most common in electric vehicles, can recover as much as one fifth of the energy normally lost during braking.

Production and conversion electric cars typically use 10 to 23 kW·h/100 km (0.17 to 0.37 kW·h/mi).[87][88] Approximately 20% of this power consumption is due to inefficiencies in charging the batteries. Tesla Motors indicates that the vehicle efficiency (including charging inefficiencies) of their lithium-ion battery powered vehicle is 12.7 kW·h/100 km (0.21 kW·h/mi) and the well-to-wheels efficiency (if the electricity is generated from natural gas) is 24.4 kW·h/100 km (0.39 kW·h/mi). It increases when renewable electricity is used

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