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There are no quick fixes to long-term energy challenges. To find solutions, governments and industry benefit from sharing resources and accelerating results. For this reason the IEA enables independent groups of experts - the Energy Technology Initiatives, or ETIs1.

Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

Charging station for public access, short-term hire of electric vehicles (Paris, France).*

Charging ahead with electric vehicles

Policy context
Fully electric and hybrid electric vehicles could significantly reduce CO2 emissions in the transport sector. In addition, electric vehicles have the capacity to enable intelligent electricity grid management by filling the gap between electricity produced from intermittent renewable sources and consumer demand. Framework policies aimed at providing incentives for automobile manufacturers, consumers, municipalities and electricity networks, combined with continued R&D to reduce the costs of batteries will lead to successful deployment of electric vehicles.

The aim of the ETI focusingon hybrid and electric vehicles (HEV) is to provide governments, local authorities, large users and industries with objective information on electric and hybrid vehicles and their effects on energy efficiency and the environment. This is accomplished through collaborative, pre-competitive research projects and related topics and to investigate the need for further research in promising areas. There are currently 18 Contracting Parties.

Widespread acceptance of battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) will require overcoming several obstacles. Infrastructure investments, charging interoperability and urban planning are key issues. Achieving successful implementation will require cooperation between public and private stakeholders in a multitude of sectors. And one size will not fit all.

While longer recharging is a prerequisite for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), for EVs there is a greater need for public infrastructure to recharge away from work places and residences, and interoperability at all charge points, including quick-charging.

As a result, three recent studies are addressing these important challenges: Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), a study of the HEV; Quick Charging Technology, a study of the HEV; and the EV City Casebook, an Electric Vehicles Initiative study to which the HEV provided significant contributions.

The PHEV study underlines the important role of fuel prices to the business case for EVs. However, further R&D is needed to develop the next generation of batteries and lower production costs. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with ranges of 15 km to 50 km were found to be the most cost-effective in terms of converting electricity to kilometres travelled.

Case studies of electric vehicle deployment compare the networks, charging points and the incentives used to expand EV networks in 13 cities and three regions worldwide. The report concludes that increasing industry participation, cross-border standardisation, interoperability between charging stations and data collection will be needed. The Treaty of Vaals1 is highlighted as best practice in this regard.

A new HEV study, E-Mobility and Business Models, will examine the drivers of growth in EV markets and charging infrastructure, and the role of investments in EVs and infrastructure in creating opportunities for economic growth. The Paris public service plan for short-term EV hire, Autolib, is leading the way. The plan has expanded to many cities in the Paris region. 

1. A collaboration agreement between seven European organisations that allows "e-roaming" between countries and regions.  

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons. Appeared p.34 IEA Journal No. 4.

Current projects

  • Accelerated testing procedures for lithium-ion battery ageing
  • E-mobility business models
  • Electrochemical systems
  • Electric vehicle ecosystems
  • Life-cycle assessments
  • Market deployment of hybrid and electric vehicles: lessons learned
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
  • Quick charging technology
  • System optimisation and vehicle integration 

For more information:


1.Information or material of the IEA Energy Technology Initiatives, or ETIs (formally organised under the auspices of an Implementing Agreement), including information or material published on this website, does not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or of the IEA’s individual Member countries. The IEA does not make any representation or warranty (express or implied) in respect of such information (including as to its completeness, accuracy or non-infringement) and shall not be held liable for any use of, or reliance on, such information.