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Electric Vehicles
at a Glance

Hybrid Electric Vehicles: HEVs are powered by conventional or alternative fuels as well as electrical energy stored in a battery. The battery is charged through regenerative braking and the internal combustion engine or other propulsion source and is not plugged in to charge. 

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles: PHEVs are powered by conventional or alternative fuels and electrical energy stored in a battery. The vehicle can be plugged into an electric power source to charge the battery in addition to using regenerative braking and the internal combustion engine or other propulsion source. 

All-Electric Vehicles: A battery stores the electrical energy that powers the motor. EV batteries are charged by plugging the vehicle into an electric power source. 

Source: Department of Energy (OCT 2011)

Electric Vehicle Technologies

The U.S. Department of Energy is a fabulous resource for everything from the basics to in-depth analysis of energy efficiency and renewable energy. We've curated a selection of articles for you.

Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles

 Hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles use electricity as their primary fuel or to improve the efficiency of conventional vehicle designs. This new generation of vehicles, often called electric drive vehicles, can be divided into three categories: hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and all-electric vehicles (EVs). Together, they have great potential to reduce U.S. petroleum use. 

Hybrid Electric Vehicles

 HEVs are powered by an internal combustion engine or other propulsion source that runs on conventional or alternative fuel and an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery. The extra power provided by the electric motor allows for a smaller engine, resulting in better fuel economy without sacrificing performance. HEVs combine the benefits of high fuel economy and low emissions with the power and range of conventional vehicles. 

HEVs do not require a plug to charge the battery; instead, they charge using regenerative braking and the internal combustion engine. They capture energy normally lost during braking by using the electric motor as a generator, storing the captured energy in the battery. The energy from the battery provides extra power during acceleration and auxiliary power when idling. 

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

 PHEVs are powered by conventional fuels and by electrical energy stored in a battery. Using electricity from the grid to charge the battery some of the time costs less and reduces petroleum consumption compared with conventional vehicles. PHEVs can also reduce emissions, depending on the electricity source. 

PHEVs have an internal combustion engine or other propulsion source and an electric motor, which uses energy stored in a battery. PHEVs have larger battery packs than HEVs, making it possible to drive using only electric power (about 10 to 40 miles in current models). This is commonly referred to as the all-electric range of the vehicle. 

PHEV batteries can be charged several ways: by an outside electric power source, by the internal combustion engine, or through regenerative braking. If a PHEV is never plugged in to charge, its fuel economy will be about the same as that of a similarly sized HEV. If the vehicle is fully charged and then driven a shorter distance than its all-electric range, it is possible to use electric power only. 

All-Electric Vehicles

 EVs use a battery to store the electrical energy that powers the motor. EV batteries are charged by plugging the vehicle into an electric power source. Although electricity production may contribute to air pollution, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers EVs to be zero-emission vehicles because their motors produce no exhaust or emissions. Since EVs use no other fuel, they help reduce petroleum consumption. 

Currently available EVs have the same range per charge as most conventional vehicles have per tank of gas. EV manufacturers typically target an average range of 300 miles. (Source: Bloomberg article; "US Electric Cars Set Record with Almost 300 mile Average Range" March 9, 2023). According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, 100 miles is sufficient for more than 90% of all household vehicle trips in the United States. 

Light-duty HEV, PHEV, and EV models are currently available from a number of auto manufacturers, with additional models expected to be released in coming years. There are also a variety of medium- and heavy-duty options available. For up-to-date information on available vehicle models, refer to the Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center’s (AFDC) Electric Vehicle Availability page (www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/vehicles/electric_availability.html) and FuelEconomy.gov. 

Source: Department of Energy (OCT 2011)

How are EV and PHEV batteries charged?

Charging EVs and PHEVs requires plugging the vehicle into charging equipment, also called electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). Charging times vary based on how depleted the battery is, how much energy it holds, and the type of battery and EVSE. The charging time for a fully depleted battery can range from 30 minutes to more than 20 hours, depending on the vehicle and the type of charging equipment used. Because charging an EV or PHEV takes significantly longer than fueling a conventional vehicle at a gas station, most EVSE will be available in locations where vehicles park for extended periods, including residences, workplaces, and parking garages. The table above presents several EVSE options.

Modern charging equipment and vehicles are designed with standard connectors and plug receptacles, so drivers do not need to worry about whether their vehicles are compatible with charging equipment. Utilities are also working to upgrade local distribution infrastructure in neighborhoods with higher EV and PHEV concentrations to handle increased electricity demand and ensure uninterrupted service.

To locate EVSE in your area, see the Alternative Fueling Station Locator (www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/locator/stations). 

Source: Department of Energy (OCT 2011)

All-Electric Vehicle Basics

An all-electric vehicle (EV) uses a battery to store the electrical energy that powers the motor.
 

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EV batteries are charged by plugging the vehicle into an electric power source. They are also equipped with regenerative braking systems to capture the kinetic energy normally lost during braking and store it in the battery.

EVs are far more efficient than conventional vehicles and produce no tailpipe emissions. They also typically require less maintenance because the battery, motor, and associated electronics require little to no regular upkeep. Plus, electric vehicles experience less brake wear thanks to regenerative braking and have fewer moving parts and fluids to change relative to conventional vehicles.

Source: https://www.nrel.gov/research/transportation-all-electric.html

How do maintenance requirements compare to those of conventional vehicles?

Because HEVs and PHEVs have internal combustion engines, their maintenance requirements are comparable to conventional vehicles. The electrical system (battery, motor, and associated electronics) doesn’t require the same scheduled maintenance. Due to the use of regenerative braking, brake systems on these vehicles typically last longer than those on conventional vehicles.

EVs typically require less maintenance than conventional vehicles because:

• They have fewer moving parts

• Regenerative braking reduces brake wear

 

• Their electrical systems don’t require frequent maintenance.

Source: Department of Energy (OCT 2011)

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