What is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)?
A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (otherwise known as a plug-in hybrid) is a vehicle with both an electric motor and a gasoline engine. It can be fueled using both electricity and gasoline. The new Chevy Volt is one example of a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
What is an electric vehicle (EV)?
An electric vehicle, sometimes also called a battery electric vehicle (BEV) is a car with an electric motor and battery, fueled only by electricity. The new Nissan Leaf is one example of an electric vehicle.
What is a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV)?
Plug-in electric vehicles are a category of vehicles that includes both plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles – any vehicle that has the ability to plug-in. Both the Volt and the Leaf fall into this category.
Why would I want to drive a PHEV?
PHEVs are able to reduce the total vehicle emissions through using electricity instead of gasoline. In most areas of the US, electricity produces fewer emissions per mile than gasoline, and in some areas, including California, driving on electricity is MUCH cleaner than burning gasoline. Most of the time, its also cheaper per mile to drive on electricity versus gasoline.
Aren’t electric vehicles slow and boring, like golf-carts?
Nope! Many golf carts are electric, but an electric car doesn’t have to drive like a golf cart. Electric and plug-in hybrid cars can be a lot of fun to drive because the electric motor is able to provide a lot of torque quickly, which means a fast, smooth acceleration. One of the most extreme examples of how fast an electric vehicle can be is the Tesla Roadster, which can accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 3.9 seconds.
How do you recharge a plug-in hybrid or an electric vehicle?
Most of these cars have a regular 120V plug (like your laptop or cell phone) that you can plug-in in your garage or carport. Most also have a specialized plug that will allow you to charge using 240V if it is available. Many houses already have 240V available for electric clothes dryers, but a plug-in vehicle requires a charger to be installed in a permanent location, and you would plug the car into the charger.
How long does it take to recharge a plug-in vehicle?
It depends on how big the battery is, and whether you charge using a regular outlet or a 240V charger. Plug-in hybrids with smaller batteries can recharge in just 3 hrs at 120V and 1.5 hrs at 240V. Electric vehicles with larger batteries can take up to 20+ hours at 120V and 8 hrs using the 240V charger.
How far can I drive on a charge?
Plug-in hybrids may drive for 10-40 miles using only electricity before they start using gasoline, and can then drive for about 300 miles (depending on the size of the fuel tank, just like any other car). Most electric vehicles are currently capable of about 100 miles of driving before they need to be recharged.
How much do these cars cost?
The Chevy Volt’s base price is $41,000 and the Nissan Leaf starts at $33,720, however both qualify for federal tax breaks. Some states also have additional tax breaks for these cars.
Are there any government rebates or tax breaks on these vehicles?
The Volt and the Leaf both qualify for a $7,500 federal tax break. You can find more information on the federal tax breaks on PHEVs and EVs here: www.irs.gov
What happens to the battery when it dies?
Batteries can be recycled, although there is still more to learn about recycling the new lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries used in plug-in electric vehicles. Right now there aren’t very many companies who do recycle used li-ion vehicle batteries, because there aren’t many batteries to recycle yet. Here at UC Davis’ PH&EV Research Center, we’re also exploring the option of using the batteries in a “second life” application after they are no longer good enough for use in vehicles, and then recycling after the 2nd life.