In this paper the effects of design parameters on the performance of an electric vehicle are presented. A detailed mathematical model was established using governing vehicle dynamics equations. Ideal energy storage systems were modelled with high order polynomial equations and represented graphically in the form of Ragonne curves. This was followed by the development of a simulation program which was utilized to optimize the design parameters, such as specific energy and mass of the storage system, electric motor operating voltage and electric drive final gear ratio. The effects these parameters had on the objective functions, namely range, acceleration, specific consumption, battery cycle life and cost were investigated. The outlined optimization process is presented in a manner which enables the designer to optimize electric or hybrid electric vehicles. Conclusions were drawn from the simulation and optimization results which would yield the best electric drive system for the vehicle in question.