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All-Electric Vehicles

Chevrolet Bolt on Highway

All-electric vehicles (EVs) run on electricity only. They are propelled by one or more electric motors powered by rechargeable battery packs. EVs have several advantages over conventional vehicles:

  • Energy efficient. EVs convert about 59%–62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. Conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 17%–21% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels.*
  • Environmentally friendly. EVs emit no tailpipe pollutants, although the power plant producing the electricity may emit them. Electricity from nuclear-, hydro-, solar-, or wind-powered plants causes no air pollutants.
  • Performance benefits. Electric motors provide quiet, smooth operation and stronger acceleration and require less maintenance than internal combustion engines (ICEs).
  • Reduced energy dependence. Electricity is a domestic energy source.
Did you know? The environmental benefits of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles increase if they are powered by electricity from 'green' sources such as solar, wind or small-scale hydroelectricity. Find out more about green power and how you can purchase it in your state.

EVs have some drawbacks compared to gasoline vehicles:

  • Driving range. EVs have a shorter driving range than most conventional vehicles—although EV driving ranges are improving. Most EVs can travel more than 100 miles on a charge, and some can travel in excess of 200 or 300 miles depending on the model.
  • Recharge time. Fully recharging the battery pack can take 3 to 12 hours. Even a "fast charge" to 80% capacity can take 30 min.

Batteries for EVs are designed for extended life, and a study by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory suggest these batteries may last 12 to 15 years in moderate climates and 8 to 12 years in severe climates. However, these batteries are expensive, and replacing them may be costly if they fail.

More Information

Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles

Benefits and Considerations of Electricity as a Vehicle Fuel

Maintenance and Safety of Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles

Batteries for Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicles (EERE electric vehicle resource)

View Data Sources…

EV energy use estimated by ORNL as follows:

  • Electric motor efficiency—including inverter and gear reduction losses—assumed to be 76.4%–80.2%, using estimates from Miller et. al. (SAE 2011-01-0887) and adjusting downward by 4% for parasitic losses.
  • Battery and charger efficiency are assumed to total 81% (roughly 90% each) based in part on estimates from published studies (Chae et. al., 2011; Gautam et. al., 2011).