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Auteur : Prud'homme Rémy
Date de publication : 25/11/2010
Type : Etude
Thème : Energie et mines
Couverture : France

Résumé/Sommaire :

Electric vehicles are often presented as a green solution to the transport problem. They offer, it is argued, the benefits of the private car without its costs. They make it possible for individuals and families to move around easily, rapidly, comfortably, at any moment in time, which makes them more consumer friendly than public modes of transportation. Yet, unlike classical cars, they do not consume scarce and dwindling fossil fuel resources and do not reject greenhouse gases, nor local pollutants.

The idea is not new, but the record of enthusiastic statements is not encouraging. One century ago, the press was already asserting: the electric car “has long been recognized as the ideal solution” because it “is cleaner and quieter” and “much more economical ( The New York Times, November 2, 1911); and: “prices of electric cars will continue to drop until they are within reach of the average family” ( The Washington Post, Halloween 1915). For many years, however, the electric car remained a dream, or a concept, or a curiosity.

Things might be changing. At the 2010 Paris Motor Show, several automobile companies presented electric vehicles models for mass sales. This makes it possible to go beyond literary and qualitative appraisals of the electric car potential. It gives us access to the (or rather, to some) cost and performance numbers necessary to undertake a quantitative evaluation of the economic and environmental achievements of an electric car.

This paper sets out a methodology, which takes the form of a computerized model, to do that. It uses it to appraise the costs and performance of an electric car, relative to a fuel-powered car. Because of the uncertainties attached to some of the parameters utilized, a sensitivity analysis is conducted to find out how robust are the outcomes of the model. This round of simulations relates to 2010 electric cars, which are likely to evolve over time. The same model can be used to simulate the impacts of important or major changes in vehicle characteristics.

The data used in this paper relates mostly to France. But there are good reasons to expect the analyses conducted and the conclusions arrived at to be significant for most countries. The paper tries to evaluate a new technology, which, by nature, is not country-specific. Vehicles are internationally produced and traded products competing with each other.

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