Energy 101: Electric Vehicles

This edition of Energy 101 highlights the benefits of electric vehicles, including improved fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, and lower maintenance costs.

For more information on electric vehicles from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, visit the Vehicle Technologies Program website:

You might be interested in

Comment (171)

  1. I think it's really important to help both natural gas cars and EVs. In the long run as batteries get cheaper, EVs will be perfect for short commute, but for longer trips, busses and trucks people will use natural gas

  2. I think more people need to focus on the "comfort" aspect. The environmental benefits of EVs have gotten a lot of attention (and for good reason) but these arguments fall on a lot of deaf ears. To get through to these people, we need to focus on something else… economics is one angle, EV performance and comfort is another. I don't see the EV experience being harped on nearly as much as it should be! They don't call it the "EV smile" for nothing!

  3. The only problems with these Ev's is electricity and the toxic waste and when the batteries are no longer any good which was a 10 yr rating last time i checked. You may not need gas but the majority of the united states electricity still comes from coal burning power plants (not much better) while a small portion is solar wind and hydro. I think we are headed in the right direction but need refinement so as to reach a real solution.

  4. Yes, but the internal combustion engine is very inefficient compared to the electric motor. It uses 1/5th of the energy to travel the same mile. And petroleum takes considerable electric power to refine, which is not always considered properly. Oil and gas-powered power plants are more efficient because they use less refined petroleum fuel oils and run at a constant maximally efficient rpm, rather the changing load and torque milieu of the automobile, tremendously increasing efficiency.

  5. The electric car pollutes about 3 times less than a gasoline car. Oil refineries and tanker trucks pollute more than your car does when it burns the stuff. Lots of pollution is created before the gasoline ever gets delivered to the gas station and pumped into your car. The amount of electricity used at the oil refinery to produce 1 gallon of gasoline can drive an electric car 10 miles.

  6. Electricity is 4 times cheaper than gasoline. That's why I bought an electric car. I spend $200 less per month since I started using electricity instead of gasoline. I still have a gasoline car, but I only use it for long trips.

  7. I didn't say the EV doesn't use coal power. Of course it does. Even with that it pollutes 3x less than the gas car+refinery+tanker truck pollution. It doesn't need to go 300 miles to be useful. I drive one every day and it's not inconvenient. Like it or not electric cars are coming. People are tired of being Exxon's bitch.

  8. That still doesn't justify the excessive cost that working people can't afford: I bought my 2 story house for less then the price of two of these electric shoe-boxes! Why should a motor and battery cost more then a gas engine and transmission? Also, what happens when the $10,000 batteries wear out? I drive my cars at least 5 yrs and have been driving my Astro for 12 so the cost of replacing batteries would be horrible. Get rid of the tax credits and prices would drop $10,000

  9. Electric cars are overpriced, but people are still motivated to buy them because of the much lower fuel cost and it doesn't use gasoline. Before you could buy one at an auto dealer, people were spending $10K to $20K to convert gasoline cars to electric. Society wants alternatives to gasoline and that's the primary motivation. Not necessarily return on investment.

  10. Sorry to break it to you but the only way an electric vehicle will even be close to helping this environment is if your power grid get all its power from a renewable source (common practical ones out right now are wind-turbines and hydroelectric dams) but those area are SO remote or SO FEW that the benefits do not out weigh the loss.

  11. Guys, don't buy electric cars. If there is anything to learn from the past decades is that large companies will take advantage of the public's fears/insecurities to make money. This is absolutely no acception.

  12. Since our dirty coal fired power plants spewing pollution at night and the energy consumption at the lowest point, we are wasting energy for nothing. Instead we can recharge millions of EV either for commuting or storage for use since the night rate is the cheapest rate of electricity you can pay.

  13. Remember the Ford Model T? that was when gas powered cars were in their infancy and look what we can produce after 80 years. EV's are in their infancy and with modern science in 20 years they could be just as good/even better than today's gas cars. Further development in renewable energy we are finding more efficient ways to charge them. If 'anti-everything' Romney wins its good bye America, we will not become oil dependent under that turd, he hasn't got the IQ to understand Climate Change!

  14. I have a chevy VOLT.
    I knew that I will not save money on the short term.
    although I do LOVE to drive by the gas station and not really care how much its gone up.
    Its been almost 3 months and I still have the same gas the car came with when I drove it off the lot.
    my electric bill went up ($17×3)$17 (but saved over $300 in gas)

  15. Don't hate just because you can't afford one.
    If I may ask. What is your education level?
    I am a lowly maintenance mechanic/electrician and I own a VOLT.
    saved money for 2 years so I could afford it.

  16. I have been driving an Astro van for 12 yrs that gets 17 MPG. I have spend
    $12,500 on gas these 12 yrs (I keep track) which is still less then the
    $15,000 extra you pay for a tiny electric toy car! I can carry 8 people
    where these toys carry 'maybe' 4 people.

    An electric will need new batteries every few years at a cost of thousand
    of dollars. Electrics make NO SENSE from a dollar standpoint or from a
    comfort standpoint. You run your heater during the winter and it will eat
    up that battery.

  17. But you STILL paid an extra $15,000 over the same car with a gas engine!

    $15,000 will buy at least 10 yrs worth of gas!

    The $7,500 tax rebate is nothing but a welfare handout to the "rich" who blow money for these 'cars'! I am SICK of paying higher taxes so others can get rebates.

  18. Only because they are poor. An increasing amount of Chinese and Indians are purchasing vehicles. "Hinduism" is a religion, not a race of people.


    I SPENT almost $20000 in the past 7 years driving a fairly efficient IMPALA (avg 27 MPG)
    And actually, I paid 25k more than a comparable $19000 cruze.
    Yes, one of the reasons I bought it was cuz of the $7500 FEDERAL CREDIT.
    so it will be $17500 come april.
    As an industrial mechanic/electrician I can afford it, thanks to my education level.
    My next car will be a TESLA, this one is $105,000.

  20. Well yes, because not everyone in India is Hindu. There is Christians,Muslims, Atheists,etc. They are just Indians, plain and simple. The "Indians" in The U.S are actually called "Native Americans". "Indian" here in North America was a slang coined by Columbus because he was trying to get to India.

  21. so I wasn't wrong, and neither were you. happy now?
    anyways, bikes have been and will be for our lifetimes, the cheapest, CLEANEST mode of transportation. (powered by the user)
    My grandpa rode one for as long as I can recall.

  22. In terms of what you called them, you were wrong. You weren't wrong about most people in China and India using Bikes.

    I agree, they are the cleanest and most effective ways of combating carbon the moment. We should always strive to find new ways to be more eco-friendly, while also more effectively transporting items.(Transporting large shipments via bikes or walking, simply isn't plausible).

  23. YOu paid $105,000 for battery and motor? I didn't pay that for my 2 story house (paid cash)!!!!!!!!!!!!! ANYONE that pays more then $20,000 for a car and drives it less then 10 yrs is a FOOL and you just won first prize!

    That tax credit is nothing but a WELFARE HANDOUT as was the $8,000 handout to buy a house or "energy credits"! Why should I pay more taxes so you FOOLS can throw away your money? ALL TAX CREDITS SHOULD BE WIPED OUT! You should pay your FAIR SHARE of taxes!

  24. It should cost a lot less to build an electric car; the car companies are ripping us off. GM says it costs $80,000 to build the VOLT; what kind of fools do they think we are?

    blah blah blah
    blah blah blah
    All u ever write is to whine, complain, and make retarded arguments.
    keep your old azz astro van.
    I will keep my VOLT. (37 MPG vs 17 u claim ur monster gets, which I highly doubt)

  26. My power comes from hydro and nuke plants.
    I have no NEED for van, such as yours.
    I travel with my 2 daughters. (BTW, they love this car, especially my oldest, since it will be hers)
    My VOLT can travel the same 600 miles, on 16g vs ur 36g, (saving ±$75), granted I must refuel, but I have to stop anyway, kids get hungry and restless.
    By the time I NEED a vehicle with a higher seating capacity I will buy one.
    It WILL be an electric vehicle, more that likely, a TESLA

  27. By "refuel" you mean waste HOURS waiting for it to charge! I can travel 600 miles NON-STOP with 7 passengers and my 'cost per year' is FAR LESS then an electric car because I didn't overspend by $15,000 or more!

    Nuke power plants are FAR MORE dangerous then coal; all we need is one accident (earthquake?) and MILLIONS could die from radiation! The Gulf oil spill was bad but could be cleaned up; a nuke accident can make millions of acres unlivable for CENTURIES. Less Nukes; more Coal!

  28. no, this just shows how ignorant you are.
    refueling is as simple as refilling my TINY 9 gallon GASOLINE tank and travelling another 300 miles.
    You might be able to travel twice as long as I can without stopping. BY HAVING A TANK 4 TIMES AS LARGE.
    Cry me a river.

  29. And as I said: I HAVE NO NEED to seat more than 3.

    Questions: Do you still use incandescent light bulbs? Wood burning stove?
    or have you upgraded to CFL or LED lighting? Do you even know what these are?

  30. LEDs are like electric cars; their cost is 10 times what it should be and the payback would take 50 years!!! I grew up with wood stoves (which are very environmentally friendly!!) I do use CLF bulbs but also thing there's nothing wrong with incandescent bulbs and the government has no more right to ban the then they do to ban coal or large size drinks!!!!

    The extra $15,000 you WASTED on your under-powered toy car would buy gas for YEARS! Wait until you have to replace a $10,000 battery!

  31. In 2011, an article in Forbes magazine counted the cost of an electric vehicle, saying, "At $0.11/KWH for electricity and $4.00 per gallon for gasoline, you would have to drive the Nissan Leaf 164,000 miles to recover its additional purchase cost. Counting interest, the miles to payback is 197,000 miles."

    "Because it is almost impossible to drive a Leaf more than 60 miles a day, the payback with interest would take more than nine years," the article continues

  32. you are wrong the volts engine acts as a generator only to charge the batteries only after 40 miles the motor turns on to charge the batteries while you drive the car the generator motor also can be set up to put electricty back into the grid or your house if you like there is no motor connection to the transmission or axle

  33. anyone watching this should look up "who killed the electric car". there's much misinformation on the subject of energy; the technology to have a battery-less electric car is over 100 years old. There have also been cars that store energy in flywheels, and cars that run completely on magnet motors. Even your conventional car could gain much gas mileage if a peltier junction were used on the exhaust rather than an alternator. In the 70's a regular gas car was built that got 370 mpg. Crapitalism.

  34. Nope. The Volt's motor can connect directly to wheels, just like in Prius. This is because it's just so much more efficient. Here's a quote from a recent MIT technology teardown report: "A complex transmission system also allows the gas engine to connect directly to the wheels."

  35. the alternator doesn't start the car, the battery does. The alternator charges the battery with a pulley off the crank which causes resistance. Meanwhile, more power is used to cool the motor by running a water pump the same way, then additional heat leaves the exhaust. This is incredibly inefficient. Exhaust heat could and should be used as power either with steam or a newer device called a tec cooler or peltier junction that would replace the alternator.

  36. No, not just like the Prius. It can only support the drive train under very strict circumstances which rarely ever happens. So, the MIT is only half right. The car NEVER drives gas powered only.

  37. show me the peltier that will provide the same power as an alternator from exaust heat. show me the freewheel battery with low enough parasitic loss to work in a car long term. and most of all, show me the magnet motor that actually produces power.

    Dont get me wrong, im all for e-cars etc, but none of the options you've listed are viable. kinetic batteries have some good potential, and some drawbacks… peltiers lack the efficiency to be usefull for power generation, and magnet motors are bs.

  38. in 2010, 5000 patents were classified. Anything of real efficiency is simply not available because it threatens the market. A magnet motor is an antenna, it works by sympathetic vibration and does not produce power itself. Electricity is not the amount of charge an electron carries, its the shockwave the charged electron creates, hence tesla's demonstration of voltage with no amperage. How many top colleges do you have to buy to control the intellect of a generation? It's about 35.

  39. you said allot without saying anything there. how much power do you get from a million volts and 0 amps? and even if you could transmit a usefull amount of power wirelesly, how do you suggest keeping the antennas efficiency high enough to make it worth while?
    lay off the crap pipe, mate.

  40. 0 current transversely, but I'm not talking about transverse electromagnetic waves; I'm referring to longitudinal electrostatic waves.There are some talks given by eric dollard and peter lindemann on the subject if anyone is interested, don't take my word for it.

  41. Its not 100% clean but it is better then petrol cars. At night when most people charge car in Britain the coal plants are turn off so its only nuclear, and wind. It lets a country be cleaner as if the power is being made clean then the cars are cleaner but if your power is 100% clean you could still be stuck with petrol cars. Petrol still has to be refined and that takes a lot of power so that will be using the same coal burned plants to produce the electricity.

  42. New transmission CVT design by BitRaptor. Is a continuously variable transmission CVT gear only (the only one functional in the world), very compact and lightweight, and which could replace the current systems both for efficiency, simplicity and not least the costs.

    Because this CVT work only with pinions is better the all other systems by efficiency and high torque transmission.

    In the web page bitraptor com you will find more explanations, drawings and a short video of a basic prototype.

  43. if peak oil were true, cars would be made more efficient and the price would increase accordingly…yet in 100 years there have been no appreciable efficiency gains. You can talk "proven science" all you want, but at the end of the day any study you cite was paid for in the same dollars that oil is priced at

  44. the finacial system is made up too so what's the difference? People like to think a diploma is the only thing that qualifies a person on something, but in the age of the internet you can watch any college lecture for free, and information is harder to hide. There's also that thing called doing it yourself. Anyway, my vote isn't counted because I have no money to pay taxes with and even if I wanted to buy an electric car I couldn't

  45. if you think that you probably don't understand how america works. None of these things like energy, food or health are real problems. You didn't vote for oil, you didn't vote to spend a billion on a slight modification to a bomber wing, and you didn't vote to suppress ancient knowledge and technology, but you paid for them.

  46. CO2 is not a problem, its what plants breathe. Benzene is a carcinogen from car exhaust. Ethanol and hydrogen do not produce it. Hydrogen can be stored as a solid and is therefore safer than gas. I could go outside and scoop a bucket of seawater and make it for free with my solar panel. I could grow ethanol. Household AC current can be read wirelessly with a meter. That causes cancer, DC solar doesn't. You pay for 25 watts to light a cfl but it can be done with 2 watts and charge a battery too

  47. I was one of those who never had the courage But now that we have managed to build a solar panel and have advanced in knowledge and think make money from it not only saves It is unbelievable You can find here ABOUTSOLARCELLS.COMXA.COM all the tips guidance …. will learn how to build end help build keeping in touch with them and THOSE with EXPERIENCE help them find what they need and guiding is one of the best in the market believe me ABOUTSOLARCELLS.COMXA.COM

  48. I want 400 to 500 miles of range with an extremely fast charge. Nothing less! If I buy a car regardless of what powers it, I want to be able to cross my country with it!

  49. Batteries are expensive,, are you sure you want nothing less than 400 miles of range? Since most people need a pit stop every 2 to 3 hours anyway a good 300 mile range seems quite adequate.
    I think when we see the 100Kwh battery for a 300+ reliable mile range,, at a reasonable cost,, we'll see the ICE go the way of the steam engine.

  50. Yeah, I'm completely sticking to my 400 to 500 mile range battery before I accept the technology fully. I see this coming in about 5 to 7 years max. I can stick with my current car until then. If it doesn't happen I'll just pick up another gasoline car. I do know for a fact that my first electric car will be a Tesla and hope to see gas cars put to the trash heap of history fairly soon.

  51. I think Tesla came really close to that with the 85Kwh battery in the belly. What I find interesting is that 'frunk'. There's space where the transmission would go if it were a gas car. If they could stick an additional 20Kwh battery there,, all range anxiety arguments would dry up.

  52. Batteries are expensive,, I envision electrics with a starter battery in the belly like the Tesla of 40Kwh for a 140-160 mile range. Which is more than adequate for most everyday driving. But would be upgradable to say 60Kwh when the customer can afford it.
    Also that frunk could be designed to accept an additional range extender battery if needed. So electric cars that work is possible,, it's only a matter of just doing it. Despite what the oil companies would have us believe.

  53. Carbon footprint:  electric cars versus gasoline cars:
    Most people think that the carbon footprint on the planet from an electric car is smaller than an equivalent sized gasoline car, but this is actually not the case.  If you have an electric car and you are charging your batteries from the grid, the amount of CO-2 released to the atmosphere is much greater than an equivalent gasoline car.
    Inefficiencies occur when you transfer energy from one form to another.  In a gasoline car the chemical energy in the gas tank is converted to thermal energy in the engine and then the engine converts the thermal energy into mechanical energy to power the vehicle.  Thus, there are two conversions, chemical to thermal and thermal to mechanical.  If each is 50% efficient, the overall efficiency is (0.5) x (0.5) = 0.25, or 25 %.  That is typically what the efficiency is of a modern gasoline car. 
    Now let’s look at the electric car where you are getting your electricity off the grid, and the electricity being supplied to the grid comes from fossil fuels, or at least most of it.   At some power plant fossil fuel is being burned and turned into thermal energy (conversion #1), the thermal energy is then used to create steam (conversion #2),  the steam is used to spin a turbine to get mechanical energy (conversion #3 – about 30% efficient), the turbine is connected to an electrical generator to produce electric energy (conversion #4), the electricity has to be transmitted over wires (conversion #5, actually not a conversion but equally inefficient losses occur in transmission), the electricity arrives at your home and is used to charge the batteries in the car (conversion #6 – battery charging about 30% efficient); and finally the batteries are discharged through electric motors on the wheels to get mechanical energy (conversion #7).  So now if we multiply all these inefficiencies together and except for the two at 30%, assume they are all 50%, here’s what we get:
    (0.5) x (0.5) x (0.3) x (0.5) x (0.5) x (0.3) x (0.5) = 0.0028, or 0.28%.
    By this simple calculation it can be seen that an all-electric car is about 75 times worse for the planet than a gasoline powered car of the same size from the standpoint of CO-2 emissions.  Of course, if you are charging your batteries by a windmill on your roof, then the electric car is much better than the gasoline car.     
    In this DOE video they say that the last conversion is "as much as 80% efficient."  I doubt that, but if it's true we replace the last number by 0.8 and you get 0.0045, still terrible compared to gasoline cars. No matter how you ratchet the numbers for an electric car up, the end result is always much worse than gasoline cars.  If the government wants to save the planet by getting people to buy electric cars, they should make a regulation that requires they come with solar collectors to charge them.    

  54. One of the most important characteristics of an EV is that the 'fuel' costs ~1/3 as much as gasoline.

    An efficient car (30 mpg real-world) may cost $150k over its lifetime to fuel. A comparable EV over the same lifetime would cost closer to $5k, saving its owner $10k just on fuel, not to mention oil changes and engine & transmission maintenance. If that EV costs less than $10k more at the time of purchase, it's already close to cost parity with a gasoline car. And batteries continue to get cheaper every year.

    Now, compare that to hydrogen. Hydrogen fuel cell cars cost much more than battery electric vehicles. Plus, the cost of hydrogen is much, much higher than either electricity or gasoline. Based on real world efficiency results with hydrogen, fueling that same car will cost closer to $45k! Given the choice between spending $10k or $45k on my car, I know which one I want.

    And on top of the costs, I can make my own electricity, either with solar panels or with a home generator. In the case of a natural disaster, like a hurricane or blizzard, I can refuel an EV by myself. There's no way I'd be able to do that with either gasoline or hydrogen.


Your email address will not be published.