Non-liquid "fuels" such as electricity ultimately may be required to achieve desired reductions in oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles that can be charged from the electric grid — aka “plug-in” hybrids — could lead the shift toward a new generation of partial and all-electric vehicles.

Electric motors benefit from superior efficiency in converting “fuel” (electricity) into mechanical power, giving them a significant advantage over gasoline combustion engines in reducing fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions. At current U.S. retail electric rates—ranging from $0.08 to $0.18 per kilowatt-hour—fueling a passenger vehicle with electricity would cost the equivalent of one to two dollars per gallon of gasoline. Given the current mix of energy sources powering the U.S. electric grid, shifting from gasoline to electric power would also lower carbon emissions by about 10 percent. As renewable energy sources are increasingly used to generate electricity, the greenhouse benefits of plug-in and other electric drive vehicles would increase.

On-vehicle storage of electric energy is the limiting factor to expanding electric drive vehicles. Batteries require a large amount of space and add substantially to vehicle weight. Development of advanced batteries that can satisfy requirements for power, travel range, and durability is the subject of considerable public and private investment.

Battery companies and vehicle manufacturers such as General Motors, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen have made steady advances in battery performance and several plug-ins and hybrids are now on the market. Check out our 2014 Plug-In Electric Vehicles Fact Sheet for more information.

EESI has been a lead national partner with the National Plug-In Partners Campaign, spearheaded by the City of Austin and Austin Energy to demonstrate a market for plug-in hybrid vehicles.


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