Get up to speed on electric vehicles

How EVs work

It’s electric

A plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) or battery electric vehicle (BEV) stores electricity in an internal traction battery pack, otherwise known as a rechargeable battery. The battery powers the electric traction motor, which turns the wheels. When the battery is low, just plug the vehicle into a charging station to recharge.

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) has an electric and gas powertrain. It uses an internal combustion engine to power the vehicle as a backup to the vehicle’s battery.

Types of EVs

There’s an electric vehicle for every lifestyle

Choose an electric vehicle (EV) that’s right for you!

  Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs)


Battery-powered electric motor
Internal combustion engine and battery-powered electric motor Internal combustion engine and battery-powered electric motor
Plugs into an electric power source

Plugs into an electric power source and uses gasoline
Battery charged by braking and does not plug in to receive power
300+ miles on one charge
50 miles in all-electric mode and up to 500 total miles before refueling Offers better fuel economy than a traditional gas-powered vehicle
Electricity only
Electricity or gas Electricity or gas

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) rely on gas engines to keep the batteries charged as you drive. HEVs use gas and electricity interchangeably to maximize fuel efficiency. The hybrid vehicle switches between the electric engine when operating at lower speeds and the gas engine when operating at higher speeds.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), also known as plug-in hybrids, have a larger battery capacity than HEVs, which allows them to plug in to a power source to charge the battery. Unlike a hybrid electric vehicle that uses electric and gas engines interchangeably depending on speed, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle runs primarily on its electric motor. When the electric motor depletes, the gasoline engine takes over.

Most PHEVs are light-duty passenger cars, but there are also commercial vehicles, vans, utility trucks, buses, trains, motorcycles, scooters and military vehicles. Several manufacturers have released SUVs and pickup trucks.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) run solely on electricity. They receive their energy by plugging into a power source such as an electric vehicle charging station or a charger installed in your home. A BEV uses a battery to store electric energy that powers the motor and vehicle.

Depending on the type of vehicle, battery electric vehicles can travel more than 300 miles on one charge. The range on BEVs continues to increase as technology improves.

Check out the Electric Power Research Institute’s "Consumer Guide to Electric Vehicles".pdf to learn more about EVs in today’s market.

Why consider an EV?

woman behind the wheel of an EV

EVs are for everyone

The automotive industry is moving toward more sustainable transportation options such as electric vehicles (EVs). Vehicle manufacturers like Ford, GM and Nissan have invested billions of dollars into electric vehicle research and development. Organizations, governments and businesses worldwide have pledged to produce cleaner, more sustainable technology.

Aside from the auto industry’s shift to electrification, driving electric provides benefits for all drivers.

  • Drive farther. You can travel more than 500 miles in a plug-in hybrid electric without refueling or charging your vehicle. Battery electric vehicles are achieving more than 300 miles on one charge. That number continues to grow as technology advances.
  • Save money. On average, it costs about $1.20 for an equivalent gallon of gas to charge an EV. Click here to learn how much it costs to fuel an EV in your state.

    In addition, having fewer parts under the hood decreases maintenance costs. Say goodbye to oil changes with your BEV! Save even more with federal tax incentives. Click here to learn which vehicles are eligible and watch as more used EVs become available.
  • Charge at home, at work and in the community. Chargers are becoming more common every day. You can find them at homes and multi-family dwellings, at businesses and in communities, so it’s easy to fuel up wherever you are.
  • Make an environmental impact. There are no tailpipe emissions when a car runs on electricity. That helps everyone live cleaner and healthier lives.

There are more than 50 different types of light-duty electric vehicles on the market today, including sedans, SUVs, pickup trucks and minivans.

Whether you’re interested in a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or a battery electric vehicle, you can choose one that works best for your lifestyle.

Check out the Electric Power Research Institute’s "Consumer Guide to Electric Vehicles".pdf or the US Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center to learn more about EVs in today’s market.

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