Influence of vehicle use

Electric and combustion vehicles have different ecological strengths and weaknesses. The efficiency benefits of electric vehicles become apparent, primarily in urban areas where their small range is not a serious disadvantage.

Electric vehicles which are used chiefly in urban areas can generate additional efficiency benefits compared to use for an average driving profile (see illustration). This is primarily because they usually use only a fraction of their maximum motor power in urban areas. This is a particularly inefficient operating mode for combustion vehicles. By contrast, electric vehicles are highly efficient across a wide performance range.

However, this efficiency disadvantage for combustion engines is less on motorway journeys, and the specific energy requirements of the vehicle per kilometre are relatively high. The achievable range for battery vehicles is well below average during motorway journeys.


The climate impact of battery-powered vehicles per km compared to petrol and diesel vehicles in different road categories. (IFEU 2017)

The result of this is that urban usage profiles are the preferred usage areas for battery vehicles during the initial phase, both from the user’s perspective and from an environmental viewpoint. The environmental benefit is particularly significant if higher mileages are targeted at the same time, as this better offsets the increased manufacturing burden. For example, this is the case in urban fleet applications (e.g. delivery traffic) and car-sharing vehicles.