The rise of electric cars across the world

Published 2021-10-18 18:21:33
Electric charging point in car park - Credit: Pixabay

Experts in the motor vehicle industry believe that electric vehicle (EV) sales are on the path to surpass petrol and diesel vehicles in the near future as more people become more enamoured with EVs and prices drop. However, there are challenges to be met first before we live in a totally EV utopia.

Electric cars are well and truly here to stay as almost all major car manufacturers develop newer technology to make electric cars cheaper, efficient and eco-friendly.

Types of electric vehicles available

  • hybrid-electric vehicles (HEV): these vehicles have internal combustion engines and single or multiple electric motors that require a battery.
  • plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV): are similar to the hybrid-electric option but they have a much larger battery that is charged by plugging into the grid and can therefore travel further than the hybrid type.
  • battery electric vehicles (BEV): are fully powered by electric motors which are powered by batteries that can be charged when plugged into the grid. This option is completely zero-emission.

How the world is responding to EVs

We have chosen to explain in more details how some major capitals are responding to (and promoting) the use of electric cars.


The Mayor of London has devised a transport strategy to improve the air quality in this bustling city (see our article on the low emission zone ULEZ) and the aim is to have a zero carbon transport network by the year 2050. The strategy includes eliminating most polluting vehicles and encouraging other cleaner ways to travel. By switching to a zero-emission vehicle users can save money on fuel costs, reduce harmful vehicle emissions and help clean up London's air.

By 2019, London's rapid charging network surpassed other cities like New York, Madrid and Amsterdam.

Motorists are incentivised by dangling financial benefits, such as:

  • Waiving the Congestion Charge for vehicles that qualify as zero emission.
  • Grants are offered to owners of plug-in vehicles.
  • Vehicle taxes are either waived or reduced depending on the type of EV you have.
  • Businesses operating EVs are eligible for tax incentives.
  • Parking is free or discounted for EVs that meet certain criteria.

Charging stations:

There are also zero emission car rentals available in London to further the zero emission cause.


Paris has a similar incentive scheme where subsidies of up to €6000 are approved for people who purchase low or zero emission motor vehicles in an effort to ramp up the decrease of toxic fumes from combustion engines. This grant is limited to one per person and the amount varies relative to the cost of the EV.

Residents in metro areas can receive a grant if they buy their own vehicle or choose to rent one.

At the moment there are a total of 652 charging stations (433 Belib’) for electric cars in Paris (to which should be added the charging points of the old Autolib' car-sharing program that should be re-activated in the suburbs, as the Paris City Council has already done for the capital). The city council plans to accelerate the pace and offer 1,800 charging points available by the end of 2021.

The United States

The current administration has committed colossal investment in EV charging infrastructure and EV related industries.

In April of this year the government unveiled its strategy to achieve clean transport in the near future. It includes various grants and subsidies for charging infrastructure, charger-related research and development, making public chargers available in public parking spaces and along major highways.

In March the US recorded a little over 100 000 public chargers available to facilitate operating an EV conveniently in most major parts of the country.

The Middle East

Even though this part of the world has cheap fossil fuels, countries in the region have committed to encouraging cleaner transport. Certain countries have already outlined policies and incentives to grow the EV market.

Dubai has introduced 200 Tesla EVs as part of their taxi fleet and has invested in building numerous charging stations in the city.

Sharjah has contributed by introducing semi-electric vehicles to their waste management fleets.

Some of the unique challenges in the area:

  • Charging stations have to be weather resistant against searing summer temperatures, frequent dust storms
  • Developing solar panels for charging stations to take advantage of the solar energy market
  • Improving the electrical load and capacity of the electricity grid

There are currently 71 charging stations for electric cars in Dubai.


The number of EV charging stations in Japan is only about 18,000, which translates to about only 60% of the number of petrol stations. However, many of these EV charging stations are out of service due to age and are lacking in rural areas. There are many areas where there are no charging stations available within a 70km radius. Infrastructure requires expansion and depends largely on government subsidies which have been decreasing steadily.

Challenges for Japan:

  • Costly repairs to chargers.
  • Decreasing government budget for EV chargers.
  • EV chargers' lifespan is significantly decreased in high-use areas.

Pros and Cons of EVs


  1. Zero emissions mean no toxic fumes are belched into the atmosphere resulting in cleaner air and slowing down climate change.
  2. Financial incentives from some governments to purchase EVs.
  3. Relatively low running costs.  The EV can be charged overnight and be ready to use during the daytime. The electricity at night is cheaper than the day.
  4. Less maintenance on the car compared to combustion engines (in the case of fully electric motors).
  5. There are tax benefits because some models qualify for free road tax.
  6. The noise of the combustion engine is absent which increases the comfort level while driving.
  7. The power of the EV is sufficient for most driving purposes.


  1. Charging points: you have to plan every trip meticulously so that you have a charging point available, especially on long journeys.
  2. Charging times: users have to get accustomed to the time it takes to fully charge the EV and factor that into their travel time.
  3. Battery range: how far you can get on one charge can be an obstacle to people buying EVs. Batteries available at the moment can cover about 150-200 miles, but car manufacturers are innovating newer batteries to cover 300 miles between charges.
  4. EV purchase prices are still quite high compared to other types of vehicles.
  5. Quality of driving experience differs very much from a combustion engine. This will only bother petrol-heads who want to drive for the sheer joy of it.
  6. Expensive battery replacement: battery life is currently expected to be about ten years and replacement battery packs are expensive.
  7. Electricity costs: charging the EV during peak hours can add to your electricity bill.

Criticisms of the EV

There are emissions from most production lines, even the manufacturer of EVs and the batteries required to power them. Right now these emissions are higher than for the production of combustion engines. However, that discrepancy is quickly (between 6 to 18 months) addressed by the savings that are made using electricity rather than petrol (and provided electricity production is made from renewable sources or nuclear!). Governments should set and enforce strict standards for emissions on the EV manufacturing industry to prevent further environmental damage. As EV production increases and technology improves there will be means of minimising manufacturing emission and better recycling of used batteries.

EV manufacturers should also be transparent and held accountable for their environmental impact and human right standards. Raw materials should be sourced in an ethical and sustainable way.

In addition, electric vehicles are only zero-emission as long as they use renewable electricity. In some countries like China and Poland, the electricity to recharge the EV is derived entirely from coal. These countries have to invest in renewable energy to decrease their dependence on fossil fuels.

Critics also say that EVs are too expensive but battery prices are gradually decreasing as EV manufacture picks up speed.

Share your experience, participate in the discussion and leave comments in our forum HERE.

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Author: KashGo
Expat Mum in the Desert and content writer for

For other discussions, advice, question, point of view, get together, etc...: please use the forum.

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