Zero emission electric vehicles utilize electricity to power the motor, instead of using conventional vehicle fuels like gasoline and diesel. The electricity is stored inside a battery, which must be periodically recharged by plugging in the vehicle to an outside power source, or through methods of capturing energy that is normally lost in braking, known as regenerative braking.
There are three different categories of electric vehicles : PEV/BEV all-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and hybrid electric vehicles.
PEV/BEV All-Electric Vehicles (EVs) use only electrical energy stored in a battery to power their motors. The battery is charged by plugging the vehicle into the grid at a charging station, or through regenerative braking. EVs do not produce any tailpipe emissions. The typically driving range is 70-300 miles based on vehicle model before Recharging is needed.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) use both a battery to power an electric motor and a conventional fuel to power an internal combustion engine (ICE). The batteries of PHEVs can be charged from plugging in to the grid, from regenerative braking, or from the ICE. PHEVs primarily rely on the battery, and the ICE is used only when battery is mostly depleted, during rapid acceleration or high speeds, or for climate control. Typically, the battery of a PHEV has a driving range of 10 to 40 miles before the ICE. When relying solely on the battery, the PHEV produces no tailpipe emissions. The ICE of a PHEV also produces less emissions than conventional vehicles, and is more efficient in its fuel usage.
- Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) use a battery that powers an electric motor, and an internal combustion engine. The electricity in the battery is generated by the ICE and regenerative braking. HEVs cannot be plugged into the grid to be charged. The battery allows for improved efficiency, and can reduce engine idling.
When an electric vehicle is plugged into an recharging source, it receives electricity from the power grid, or from stationary renewable energy resources. Although fossil fuel-burning methods of electricity production may contribute to air pollution, electric vehicles themselves are considered zero-emission vehicles because the motors produce no exhaust or tailpipe emissions. When an electric vehicle is paired with a non-polluting method of electricity generation, the entire electrification process can be considered zero-emission.