Alternative Fuels Data Center: Electric Vehicles
All-electric vehicles—also referred to as battery electric vehicles (BEVs)—plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) all use electricity to improve vehicle efficiency. In colloquial references, these three vehicle types are sometimes called electric cars, electric vehicles, or simply EVs even though some of these vehicles still use liquid fuels in conjunction with electricity. BEVs and PHEVs are also referred to more specifically as plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). View a short introductory video for more information on electric vehicle technology.
All-electric vehicles, also called battery electric vehicles, have a battery that is charged by plugging the vehicle in to charging equipment. These vehicles always operate in all-electric mode and have typical driving ranges from 150 to 400 miles.
PHEVs are powered by an internal combustion engine and an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery. PHEVs can operate in all-electric (or charge-depleting) mode. To enable operation in all-electric mode, PHEVs require a larger battery, which can be plugged in to an electric power source to charge. To support a driver’s typical daily travel needs, most PHEVs can travel between 20 and 40 miles on electricity alone, and then will operate solely on gasoline, similar to a conventional hybrid.
HEVs are powered by an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors that uses energy stored in a battery. The vehicle is fueled with gasoline to operate the internal combustion engine, and the battery is charged through regenerative braking, not by plugging in.
Tax Credits and Incentives
Some all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles qualify for a $2,500 to $7,500 federal tax credit. Many states also offer additional incentives for purchasing new EVs.
Find tax credits and incentives in your state.
Electric Vehicle Community Readiness
The U.S. Department of Energy funded 16 electric vehicle projects in 24 states and the District of Columbia to help communities prepare for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. Learn more about conducting EV readiness planning.
Electric School Bus Training Series
Schools interested in electric school buses can access a video training series. Each module will cover a different topic, including an introduction to Clean Cities and an electric school bus 101.
Electric Vehicles for Fleets
Electric vehicles can fulfill many daily driving needs, making them a great solution for fleets. Learn about the benefits of electric vehicles for fleets and options for charging infrastructure.
China's new-energy vehicles reach a turning point
China's new-energy vehicle (NEV) industry set records in 2021. The country produced 3.54 million NEVs, including battery-electric cars and plug-in hybrids, and sold 3.52 million of them. Sales were up 181% from 2020 and exceeded the total of the previous three years. In 2021, NEVs made up 15.7% of the country's car market.
The numbers boosted market enthusiasm. Experts predict that NEV sales in China will jump to 5 million to 6 million cars this year, taking 25%-30% of the domestic auto market. China will be by far the world's largest producer and buyer of NEVs.
Electric Vehicles – Analysis
Energy density is key to ensuring that BEVs have sufficient range. The energy density of batteries for EVs has been rising over the past year, and now some of the highest performing battery cells can reach energy densities of over 300 Wh/kg, up from around 100-150 Wh/kg a decade ago – meaning that with the same mass, electric cars can now travel twice as far. This progress has been made thanks to continuous improvement in battery chemistry and cell design. Key examples of this include Tesla’s upcoming 4680 cells and LG Energy Solution’s Ultium cells.
It is not all about energy density, though. Reducing the need for critical metals is also a priority for EV innovation. The past year has seen a doubling in the market share of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathodes, which require no nickel or cobalt. This was in part thanks to innovative cell-to-pack technologies that enable a higher pack density by reducing pack dead weight, but mainly due to automakers switching to LFP to reduce commodity price exposure. Another key development has been the announcement of important supply chain development for sodium-ion batteries by the world’s largest battery manufacturer, CATL. This technology has the potential to completely avoid the use of critical metals. The IEA’s assessment of sodium-ion technology has increased from TRL 3-4 to TRL 6.