The Basics

An electric vehicle (EV) is any car, truck, bus, or van that is partially or fully propelled by an electric motor that receives power from on-board batteries rather than using conventional fuels like gasoline and diesel. Electricity is stored in the battery, which must be recharged periodically through plugging the vehicle into outside power sources. This can include electricity from the utility grid, or stationary renewable resources like solar cells.

Manufacturers currently offer numerous EVs, including electric cars, light trucks, service vans, and buses. While availability is limited to specific geographic areas, the Electric Vehicle Association of America estimates that over 4,800 electric cars and light trucks have been delivered to consumers over the last four years. Technology initially developed for electric vehicles is now used in gasoline powered hybrid vehicles that use electric motor assisted propulsion and regenerative braking.

Types of Electric Vehicles

There are three different models of electric vehicles: Hybrid (HEVs), Plug-in Hybrid (PHEVs), and All electric (EVs)

1. Hybrid (HEVs)

HEVs use both an internal combustion engine and a battery to power an electric motor. HEVs cannot be plugged into the grid to be charged, rather the electricity in the battery is generated from the internal combustion engine and regenerative breaking.

2.Plug-In Hybrid (PHEVs)

PHEVs use both a battery to power an electric motor and conventional fuel to power an internal combustion engine. To charge the battery one must use regenerative breaking, an internal combustion engine, or plug the vehicle into the grid. Unlike the HEV, Plug in Hybrids are able to be plugged into the grid to charge the battery. When the battery is depleted the internal combustion is used, otherwise the primary source of fuel is electricity. The vehicles normally run on the battery for 10-40 miles before the internal combustion engine is used.

3. All Electric Vehicles (EVs)

EV’s are completely electric and use electrical energy stored in a battery to power their motors. To charge the battery one must use regenerative breaking or plug the vehicle into the grid at a charging station. Battery sizes are typically very large to produce further traveling capacities on a single charge. A fully charged EV has a range of 70-90 miles, depending on driving conditions and habits.

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV’s) are used for short distances like that of everyday commutes, light hauling, delivery, and have limited speeds of around 35 mph.


Cost Savings

Ecologically Friendly

Energy Independence

Promote Sustainably

The prices associated with diesel and gasoline are much higher than that of electricity. An electric vehicle also has reduced maintenance costs with fewer moving parts and fluids to change.

Diesel and gasoline produce many harmful pollutants. Electric vehicles do not produce any emissions while driving on electricity. If renewable energy is used to charge the vehicle it is truly emissions free.

Rather than relying on imported fuel, electric vehicles offer energy independence while using domestic energy sources. The costs associated with importation will no longer be needed to be accounted for.

Using electric vehicles advances sustainable initiatives. The introduction of these vehicles promotes the installation of renewable energy, reduces peak energy demand, and increases the adoption of more EV’s.


While there is zero tailpipe emissions, there is inherent pollution associated with upstream construction of the vehicle. This indicates that the vehicle is not completely net zero. Electric vehicles also tend to have a smaller mileage range and can take longer to charge/ fill up than conventional vehicles. Electric vehicles also tend to have higher purchasing prices, but with the implementation of federal and state incentives, cheaper fuel costs, and lower maintenance costs this can be offset.

Further Resources

The Department of Energy (DOE) offers an in depth analysis of electric vehicles.

Plug-In NC offers a variety of information regarding electric vehicles. Specific content related to the adoption of electric vehicles in North Carolina is also provided.

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