What are electric vehicles?

Plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) help address many modern transportation challenges while being less expensive to operate and better performing than many gasoline vehicles. EVs dramatically lower overall emissions of harmful pollutants, including greenhouse gases. They require less general maintenance and less or no petroleum, save money, and reduce vulnerability to volatile oil prices.

Plug-in electric vehicles are typically either pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Both types of vehicle store energy from the electricity grid in on-board batteries that power an electric motor, providing propulsion.

  • BEVs—like the Chevy Bolt, Nissan LEAF, or any Tesla vehicle—use an electric drivetrain and can often travel hundreds of miles before re-charging
  • PHEVs—like the Chevy Volt, Kia Niro PHEV, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, or Toyota Prius Prime—can often travel 20 to 50 miles on battery power for everyday commutes, while retaining the use of a downsized internal combustion (gasoline) engine to travel longer distances when needed. All PHEVs are also approved to use E15, a lower carbon fuel blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline

Why are electric vehicles Clean Air Choice® options?

Depending on the model, EVs can reduce pollution by 90% or more compared with the cleanest conventional vehicles today.

All-electric vehicles produce zero direct emissions to help improve air quality, especially in urban areas. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), when operating on gasoline, produce evaporative emissions from the fuel system as well as tailpipe emissions. However, because most PHEVs are more efficient than comparable conventional vehicles, they still produce fewer tailpipe emissions even while running on gasoline.

It’s important to consider sources of electricity to power EVs. Advancements in renewable energy technology, such as wind and solar, are making sources of electricity more environmentally friendly. As our electrical grid becomes cleaner, so do EVs.

The full life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of an EV depend on the mix of fuels used by the local power utility for electricity generation. EVs will almost always be cleaner than gasoline-powered vehicles. Electric engines are more efficient than combustion engines, lowering both emissions and fuel costs. Cost is about 2 to 3 cents per mile for electricity.


What are other benefits?

  • Cost. When you consider purchase price and operating costs over the life of the vehicle, EVs are often less expensive to own due to lower fuel and maintenance costs
  • Performance. A plug-in vehicle delivers instantaneous torque and quiet acceleration
  • Availability. Dozens of EV models are now available and new ones are being introduced each year, including a growing number of trucks and SUVs

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