Basics & Benefits
Plug-In electric vehicles (PEVs) are an alternative form of transportation that holds promise for reducing our dependence on petroleum-based fuel.
What is a PEV?
A plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) is a vehicle that can be plugged into an electrical outlet or charging device to recharge its battery. PEVs are a subset of electric vehicles (EVs), which is the general term for vehicles that use electricity to generate movement.
In today’s market, PEVs are further classified based on the role electricity plays in powering the vehicle:
A battery electric vehicle (BEV) is fueled only by electricity, essentially replacing gasoline, diesel and other types of combustible fuels. In other words, a BEV uses absolutely no combustible fuel or combustion engine. It is purely electric, utilizing an electric motor to propel itself. A BEV must plug in to a power source to recharge its battery.
Examples: Nissan Leaf, Tesla Motors Model S
A Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) is a vehicle that uses both gasoline (stored in a gas tank) and electricity (stored in a battery). A Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) is simply an HEV with the added ability to recharge its battery by plugging into an outlet or charger.
PHEVs can be categorized by the way they manage their gasoline and electricity:
- A parallel hybrid uses both a combustion engine and an electric motor to deliver power to the wheels. The use of these two forms of power varies from car to car: the vehicle can be powered by just the electric motor, just the combustion engine, or a combination of both depending on driving conditions.
Examples: Toyota Prius Plug-In, Ford Fusion Hybrid
- A series hybrid is directly powered only by the electric motor. The combustion engine is only used to recharge the battery, acting as an electric generator that converts gasoline to electricity. The three are aligned in-series: the combustion engine, then the electric motor, then the wheels. The market has commonly termed this as an Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) because of its similarity to an all-electric BEV, with the exception of using gasoline to “extend” its range.
Example: Chevrolet Volt
Which PEV is best for me?
Similar to selecting a gasoline-powered car, choosing the PEV that’s best for you depends on a number of different factors including your driving habits and personal preference. Here are some things to consider:
- Total Range: How far will you travel? The total range of current PEVs varies greatly – anywhere from 40 to 350 miles.
- Gasoline Use: How much gasoline do you want to use? The battery capacity of a PEV determines how far you can go without using a drop of gasoline.
- Charging: Where will you charge? Where you drive and how you'll charge your vehicle can help you decide which PEV will meet your needs.
What are the benefits of owning a PEV?
PEVs reduce the amount of gasoline we burn, produce much less noise than gasoline-powered, and are less costly to maintain, among many other benefits.
- Reduced Operating Emissions: The emissions associated with the electric drivetrain of PEVs come from power plants generating electricity to charge the batteries and not from tailpipe emissions.
- Reduced Overall Emissions: From well to wheel, less carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced from emissions. CO2 is the principal gas associated with global warming.
- Water Quality Preservation: Decreased use of petroleum gasoline and motor oil means fewer spills and pollution to oceans, rivers, and ground water.
- Reduced Noise: In addition to being cleaner, PEVs are quieter than gasoline-powered vehicles, resulting in less noise pollution.
- Laws & Incentives: California has adopted several laws to accommodate the use of PEVs, including the qualification of select PEVs to use the HOV lane. CA Laws & Incentives
- Reduced Driving Noise: PEVs produce much less noise than gasoline-powered vehicles while driving, resulting in a quieter ride.
- Safety: To date, findings have shown that several EV features maximize safety. For example, EVs tend to have a lower center of gravity that makes them less likely to roll over, EVs have less potential for major fires or explosions, and the body construction and durability of EVs enhance vehicle safety in a collision.
- Lower Operational Costs: The estimated cost of electricity needed to power a PEV is about one-third of the cost of gasoline.
- Lower Maintenance Costs: The electrical components of PEVs require little to no regular maintenance due to far less moving parts. In hybrids, this leads to less wear and tear of gasoline components.
- Rebates & Tax Credits: Many government agencies and local and regional entities offer rebates and tax credits, upwards of $7500, to encourage the adoption of PEVs. CA Laws & Incentives
More EV Information
Learn about residential and non-residential electric vehicle (EV) charging options. And, why charging your vehicle with clean energy from PG&E can be good for the environment.
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