Plug-in Electric Vehicle Basics
Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), which include both plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and all-electric vehicles, use electricity as either their primary fuel or to improve efficiency.
Commonly Used PEV Terms
All-electric vehicle (AEV) – A vehicle with plug-in capability; driving energy comes entirely from its battery.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) – A vehicle with plug-in capability; driving energy can come from either its battery or a liquid fuel like gasoline, diesel, or biofuels.
Plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) – Any vehicle with plug-in capability. This includes AEVs and PHEVs.
Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) – A vehicle that has an electric drive system and battery but does not have plug-in capability; driving energy comes only from liquid fuel.
- FuelEconomy.gov's Plug-in Hybrids section and Electric Vehicles section provide non-technical overviews.
- The Alternative Fuels Data Center provides more in-depth information on plug-in vehicles and electricity as a transportation fuel.
PEVs have a number of advantages when compared to conventional vehicles, including low operating costs, convenience of home charging, and low maintenance costs. Driving on electricity is cheaper than driving on gasoline—generally comparable to roughly $1 per gallon of gasoline equivalent. In addition, PEVs offer drivers quiet operation, instant torque, and responsive performance.
- The AFDC's Cost Calculator can help you compare the lifetime costs of plug-in vehicles to other alternative fuel and conventional vehicles.
Because they mainly rely on electricity, PEVs use little or no petroleum and produce no or significantly fewer tailpipe emissions than conventional vehicles. Reductions in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions depend on the source of the electricity, but can be close to zero if using renewable energy.
- Find what the greenhouse gas lifecycle emissions would be for an PEV in your geographic area.
Many drivers will fuel up at home, using a residential charger. However, there are more than 5,000 public chargers now available across the country.
- Find chargers near you or on a route with the Alternative Fuel Station Locator.
Although the initial purchase price of a plug-in vehicle is higher than that of a comparable conventional vehicle, there are incentives to help reduce this cost to consumers.