Why electric vehicles?

Electric cars and trucks are powered by electricity, which as an energy source is cleaner and cheaper than oil. Even when the electricity comes from the dirtiest coal-dominated grid, electric vehicles (EVs) still produce less global warming pollution than their conventional counterparts, and with fewer tailpipe emissions (or none at all).

Electric vehicles are practical too: 42 percent of US households could use a battery-electric or plug-in electric vehicle. Doing so would save drivers billions in fuel costs and greatly reduce the amount of global warming pollution we emit.

In fact, widespread adoption of electric cars and trucks could save 1.5 million barrels of oil a day by 2035. To get there, we need smart government policies that incentivize investment in clean vehicle technology—helping move America toward a cleaner, safer, Half the Oil future.

Listen to Jimmy O'Dea talk about heavy duty electric vehicles on the Got Science? Podcast:

Learn more:

How electric cars and trucks work

A vehicle assembly line

Photo: Wolfgang Rattay

The term “electric vehicle” refers to a wide range of cars and trucks, big and small. These include hybrid-electric, plug-in electric, and battery electric vehicles, as well as fuel cell technologies.

Hybrids, or hybrid-electric vehicles, combine a combustion engine with an electric motor and battery to reduce fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions. Hybrids that can't be charged by an outlet aren't considered EVs. Learn more about how hybrids work >

Plug-in hybrids are hybrids that can be plugged-in and charged for short-range travel on battery power alone. The gas engine kicks in on longer trips when the battery reaches the end of its range. Learn more about how plug-in vehicles work >

Battery electric cars run entirely on battery power, producing zero tailpipe emissions. They are recharged from an electrical outlet; current models have a range of 60 to more than 200 miles on a full charge. Learn more about how battery electrics work >

Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen gas to power an electric motor. Virtually no emissions are produced if the hydrogen comes from renewable energy sources. Learn more about how fuel cells and fuel cell vehicles work >

Learn more:

Top Five Reasons to Choose an Electric Car >

Do Electric Vehicles Work in Cold Temperatures? >

Electric Vehicle Charging: Types, Time, Cost and Savings >

Electric Vehicle Battery: Materials, Cost, Lifespan >

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