Electricity is one of the more widely known alternative fuels. It can power cars, trucks, buses and maybe one day airplanes. Vehicles typically operate off energy from the electric grid which is stored in a battery.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)
Hybrids are more efficient by getting power from both an internal combustion engine and a battery. You don’t have to plug in to charge the battery, it charges itself while you’re driving through regenerative braking, which stores captured energy in the vehicle’s battery. You never drive on the battery alone – it just makes your drive more fuel-efficient, especially if you’re in a lot of stop-and-go traffic.
The major benefits are higher mpg and lower fuel costs. There are typically no government incentives to purchase hybrids. There are also no environmental benefits because you will still have emissions from the internal combustion engine.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)
Plug-in hybrids have both an internal combustion engine and a battery. While the hybrid car’s battery and engine are connected, the plug-in hybrid’s systems operate separately. There is both a gas tank filled with gasoline at the pump, and a plug to fill the battery with electricity at your home or other charging station.
PHEVs can rely on just the battery in most cases, avoiding tailpipe emissions and having many of the benefits of fully electric cars. But if your battery’s charge is low, the internal combustion engine can be turned on and the car can run on gasoline. Most PHEVs are eligible for federal tax incentives that can reduce their relatively higher upfront costs. The amount of that tax incentive will depend on the size of the battery. Some utilities also offer discounts for charging.
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
BEVs are powered solely by battery and have zero tailpipe emissions. The electricity you use to charge your EV may be produced by using some fossil fuels depending on the specific generating station that supplies your home or charging station locations. Some electric utilities in our region use natural gas and solar energy in power generation as well as fossil fuels. Home solar power can also be used to charge.
Driving ranges depend on models and battery size, but some new low-cost EV models can go more than 250 miles on a single charge. Since these vehicles are fully electric, they will qualify for the full amount of most tax incentives. In addition, powering a car with electricity is much less expensive than using gasoline because EVs convert energy to movement more efficiently than their fossil-fuel counterparts.
EV battery technologies continue to evolve. Federal regulations require EV battery warranties to be at least eight years or 100,000 miles. Some manufactures have more extensive warranties. Check out recent developments below and watch this space for updates.
Learn how power is generated and what incentives are provided by utilities in our region.