Electricity is an alternative fuel source to conventional gasoline. Vehicles that either partial or fully run on electricity are called electric vehicles and come in a variety of shapes and models. 


Three main types of electric vehicles include fully Electric (EVs), Plug-in Hybrid (PHEVs), and Hybrids (HEVs).


  • They are powered by one or more electric motors that use the energy stored in a battery (larger than the batteries in an HEV or PHEV). EV batteries are charged by plugging the vehicle in to an electric power source and through regenerative braking.

  • An HEV is a conventional vehicle that has an additional electric motor powered by energy stored in a battery. So, HEVs run on an internal combustion engine and an electric motor.
  • HEVs do not use an external power source to charge the battery. Instead, the battery is charged by the internal combustion engine and through regenerative braking.
  • The vehicle cannot be plugged in to charge.
  • HEVs are powered by a traditional gasoline or diesel internal combustion engine and by one or more electric motors that use energy stored in a battery.

  • PHEVs are similar to HEVs but have a larger battery that allows them to travel on electricity alone. The battery can be charged by plugging in to an electric power source, through regenerative braking, and by the internal combustion engine.

  • Unlike EVs, PHEVs don’t have to be plugged in before driving. They can be fueled solely with gasoline, like an HEV. However, they will not achieve maximum fuel economy or take full advantage of their all-electric capabilities without plugging in.

Charging Station and Infrastructure

Level 1 uses AC at 120 volts. Level 1 charging will provide 2 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging.

Level 2 charging uses AC at 240 volts. This will provide 10 to 20 miles of range per hour of charging.

DC fast charging, as is implied by the name, uses DC at 480 volts. This provides 60 to 80 miles of range per 20 minutes of charging.

Find Electric stations near you with the AFDC Station Locator!

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Using hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles instead of conventional vehicles can help reduce U.S. reliance on imported petroleum and increase energy security.

In addition, hybrid electric vehicles, or HEVs, typically have better fuel economy than similar conventional vehicles. Another benefit is that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, and EVs can reduce fuel costs dramatically because of the relatively low cost of electricity and the vehicles’ very energy efficient nature. Emissions are another benefit of electric drive vehicles, but we’ll cover that later. Electric drive vehicles also help create jobs, as the advanced vehicle sector employs more than 155,000 Americans! Last but not least, a variety of state and federal incentives are available to reduce initial purchase costs.

Fleet Applications

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Further Reading and Research

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