Explaining Electric & Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Explaining Electric & Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles (EVs) have a battery instead of a gasoline tank, and an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are a combination of gasoline and electric vehicles, so they have a battery, an electric motor, a gasoline tank, and an internal combustion engine. PHEVs use both gasoline and electricity as fuel sources. More on PHEVs.
Watch the video to learn how electric vehicles and different types of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles work.
Visit EV Myths to learn even more facts about electric vehicles.
EVs produce no tailpipe emissions. While charging the battery may increase pollution at the power plant, total emissions associated with driving EVs are still typically less than those for gasoline cars—particularly if the electricity is generated from renewable energy sources like wind.
PHEVs produce tailpipe emissions when gasoline is being used as a fuel source.
To estimate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with charging and driving an electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle where you live, visit our Greenhouse Gas Emissions for EVs and PHEVs Calculator.
Depending on how far you drive each day, you may be able to meet all your driving needs by plugging in while at home. Most EVs can be charged with a standard 120 V outlet. To charge the vehicle more quickly, you may want to install a dedicated 240 V outlet or charging system. You may also be able to plug in at your workplace, or at one of the growing numbers of public charging stations.
Did you know there are tax credits for All-Electric and Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles? Check out fueleconomy.gov’s tax incentive page. Save money, avoid trips to the gas station, and help the environment. Don’t forget to look for state incentives, too!
The number of miles an EV will travel before the battery needs to be recharged is often less than the distance your gasoline car can travel before being refueled, but typically is still enough to accomplish the average person’s daily driving needs. An electric vehicle’s fuel economy is reported in terms of miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (MPGe). Think of this as being similar to MPG, but instead of presenting miles per gallon of the vehicle’s fuel type, it represents the number of miles the vehicle can go using a quantity of electricity with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline. This allows you to compare an EV with a gasoline vehicle even though electricity is not dispensed or burned in terms of gallons.
PHEVs typically have driving ranges that are comparable to gasoline vehicles. PHEVs have two fuel economy values: one for when the vehicle operates primarily on electricity (listed in terms of MPGe), and one for when the vehicle operates only on gasoline (listed as MPG).
Find the driving range and charge time for EVs and PHEVs on the Fuel Economy and Environment Label or fueleconomy.gov
Note: The EPA estimates, including EV range, are meant to be a general guideline for consumers when comparing vehicles. Just like “your mileage may vary” for gasoline vehicles, your range will vary for EVs. In particular, factors like cold weather, accessory use (such as A/C), and high-speed driving can lower your vehicle’s range significantly.
Visit to get tips on maximizing your electric car’s range in extreme temperatures.
Learn more about the fuel economy label
EVs and PHEVs are now available in multiple vehicle classes. There are currently over 50 EV and PHEV models on the market, and more models are expected to be released in the coming years. Visit fueleconomy.gov for a full list of options. Not all models are available in all 50 states.
A Little More on PHEVs . . .
Some PHEVs operate exclusively, or almost exclusively, on electricity until the battery is nearly empty. Then, gasoline is burned in the engine to provide additional power. Other PHEVs—sometimes called “blended mode” PHEVs—use gasoline and electricity together to power the vehicle while the battery has charge.
New registrations of electric vehicles in Europe
The transport sector is among the largest contributors to EU greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, reducing transport emissions is key to meeting the EU’s climate neutrality objectives.
Recently proposed legislation sets targets to cut CO 2 emissions from cars by 55% and vans by 50% by 2030. It also proposes to completely cut emissions from cars and vans by 2035. A significant increase in the uptake of electric vehicles will be needed to achieve these goals.
Electric cars, which include battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), are gradually penetrating the EU market. There has been a steady increase in the number of new electric car registrations annually, from 600 in 2010 to about 1,061,000 units in 2020, when they accounted for 11% of new registrations. In 2021, electric car registrations surged, accounting for almost 18% of newly registered passenger cars.
BEVs accounted for 9.0% of total new car registrations in 2021, while PHEVs represented 8.8%.
The mass of a BEV stabilised over the last 4 years to an average of 1,600-1,700kg; while PHEVs are slightly heavier, with an average mass of around 1,900kg. In 2021, the average energy consumption of BEVs and PHEVs was around 166kWh/km and 175 kWh/km, respectively. In electric mode, the two types can travel 371km (BEVs)and 58km (PHEVs), respectively.
In 2021 almost 38,000 electric vans were sold in the EU-27, representing 3.1% of the market share and an increase of around 1.0 percentage point from 2020. The majority of electric vans sold were BEVs.
Further growth in Europe’s electric vehicle fleet could help the EU meet emissions reduction targets and ensure progress towards its 2050 objective of being climate neutral.
Non plug-in hybrid electric cars represented 19% of new registrations in 2021, a 7 percentage point increase since 2020. These vehicles combine a conventional internal combustion engine with an electric propulsion system but are exclusively fuelled by conventional fuels. They are not included in the electric cars data presented.
Guide to Chinese Climate Policy
In 2018, roughly 1.1 million electric cars were sold in China—an 80% increase over 2017 sales. (In contrast, total car sales in China fell by roughly 3%.) Roughly 92,000 electric buses were sold. In 2018, 4.2% of the vehicles sold in China were electric.
The growth in electric car sales continued in the first half of 2019, with more than 632,000 units sold—a 50% increase over the same period in 2018. (Total car sales fell 12% as compared to the same period in 2018.) In June 2019, electric car sales reached 8.5% of the Chinese car market—their highest share ever. That figure was in part due to the June 26 subsidy cuts for electric vehicles, leading some buyers to advance their purchases.
As of the end of June 2019, more than 3.5 million electric vehicles were on the roads in China. This was roughly 1% of the Chinese vehicle stock.