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Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Basics

Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are an alternative form of transportation that hold promise for reducing our dependence on petroleum-based fuel. Using vehicles like these in our daily activities can reduce the amount of gasoline we burn and help to significantly reduce tailpipe emissions.


PEVs are quieter than gasoline-powered vehicles, emit fewer greenhouse gases, and are almost three times more energy-efficient. Below are other benefits PEVs offer.

Financial Benefits

PEVs cost less to drive and less to maintain.

  • Lower operational costs – The estimated cost of electricity needed to power a PEV is equivalent to or less than one dollar per gallon of gasoline.
  • Lower maintenance costs – PEVs have fewer moving parts than gas-powered vehicles which mean fewer parts to repair.

Environmental Benefits

PEVs produce less air, water, ground, and noise pollution.

  • Zero operating emissions – The emissions associated with PEVs come from power plants generating electricity to charge the batteries and not from tailpipe emissions.
  • Overall reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – CO2 is the principal gas associated with global warming.
  • Reduced pollution to oceans, rivers, and ground water – Decreased use of petroleum gasoline and motor oil means fewer spills.
  • Relief from urban noise pollution – Electric motors are quiet as well as clean.

Plug-In Electric Vehicle Options

There is a wide array of plug-in electric vehicles for you to explore given the number of technology and battery management systems currently on the market or arriving soon.

Battery Electric Vehicle

Battery Electric Vehicles use electricity stored in rechargeable batteries for fuel, replacing gasoline, diesel and other types of combustible fuels.

  • Electric motors propel the vehicle.
  • To charge the battery, the vehicle needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet or charging device.
  • Recharging time varies with the type and capacity of the battery and the output capacity of your electrical outlet.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)

A PHEV is a conventional hybrid car with a larger, more powerful battery that can be charged with a standard electric plug.

There are two types of PHEV. The first kind of vehicle is propelled by the electric motor and a small gasoline engine (ex: Prius). The second kind, some times referred to as an Extended Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) is propelled by the electric motor only. The ICE kicks in when the battery charge is low and powers a generator that recharges the battery while driving.

  • Charge the battery at any standard outlet 120V
  • When fully charged, an E-REV can make local trips of 20–40 miles without using a drop of gas.
  • On longer trips, the engine kicks in to recharge the battery while in driving conditions once the battery is near empty.
  • Get 100 miles per gallon of gas during a typical commute, in addition to the electricity you use.
  • Cut your driving costs from 8-20 cents per mile (the typical cost of fueling a gas-powered car) to 2-4 cents per mile.

Fuel Cell Vehicles

A Fuel Cell Vehicle is an electric vehicle that uses a fuel cell instead of a battery to power the vehicle.

  • The fuel cell vehicle carries a supply of hydrogen that is converted to electricity.
  • Combining hydrogen fuel with air produces electricity without any form of combustion.
  • Water and heat are the only emissions produced when hydrogen is used as the fuel source.
  • Unlike a battery, a fuel cell does not run down or require recharging. It operates as long as hydrogen is supplied.

Which PEV is Best for Me?

Similar to selecting a gasoline-powered car, choosing the PEV that’s best for you depends on a number of different factors including your driving habits and personal preference.

  • The range a PEV can drive on a single charge varies greatly – anywhere from 40 to 350 miles.
  • The PEV manufacturer can tell you the expected driving distance of the vehicle.
  • Your driving habits, road conditions, and your car's battery size determine the actual range.
  • Where you drive and how you'll charge your vehicle can help you decide which PEV will meet your needs.

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