Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and all-electric vehicles (EVs)—also called electric drive vehicles collectively—use electricity either as their primary fuel or to improve the efficiency of conventional vehicle designs.
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are powered by an internal combustion engine or other propulsion source that can be run on conventional or alternative fuel and an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery. HEVs combine the benefits of high fuel economy and low emissions with the power and range of conventional vehicles.
A wide variety of hybrid electric vehicles is currently available. Although HEVs are often more expensive than similar conventional vehicles, some cost may be recovered through fuel savings or state incentives.
All-electric vehicles (EVs) use a battery to store the electrical energy that powers the motor. EVs are sometimes referred to as battery electric vehicles (BEVs). EV batteries are charged by plugging the vehicle into an electric power source. Although most U.S. electricity production contributes to air pollution, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency categorizes all-electric vehicles as zero-emission vehicles because they produce no direct exhaust or emissions. Because EVs use no other fuel, widespread use of these vehicles could dramatically reduce petroleum consumption.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) use batteries to power an electric motor and use another fuel, such as gasoline or diesel, to power an internal combustion engine or other propulsion source. Using electricity from the grid to run the vehicle some or all of the time reduces operating costs and petroleum consumption, relative to conventional vehicles. PHEVs might also produce lower levels of emissions, depending on the electricity source.