Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and all-electric vehicles (EVs)—also referred to as battery electric vehicles (BEVs)—all use electricity to improve vehicle efficiency. In colloquial references, these three vehicle types are sometimes called electric cars, electric vehicles, or simply EVs even though some of these vehicles still use liquid fuels in conjunction with electricity. PHEVs and BEVs are also referred to more specifically as plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs).

Hybrid Electric Vehicles 

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HEVs are powered by an internal combustion engine and an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery. The vehicle is fueled with gasoline to operate the internal combustion engine, and the battery is charged through regenerative braking, not by plugging in.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles 

Icon of a plug in an electrical outlet and a fuel pump.

PHEVs are powered by an internal combustion engine and an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery. PHEVs can operate in all-electric (or charge-depleting) mode. To enable operation in all-electric mode, PHEVs require a larger battery, which can be plugged in to an electric power source to charge. To support a driver’s typical daily travel needs, most PHEVs can travel between 20 and 40 miles on electricity alone, and then will operate solely on gasoline, similar to a conventional hybrid.

All-Electric Vehicles 

Icon of a plug in an electrical outlet.

EVs, also called battery electric vehicles, have a battery that is charged by plugging the vehicle in to charging equipment. EVs always operate in all-electric mode and have typical driving ranges from 150 to 300 miles.


Tax Credits and Incentives

Some plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles qualify for a $2,500 to $7,500 federal tax credit. Many states also offer additional incentives for purchasing new PEVs.

Icon of a magnifying glass. Find tax credits and incentives in your state.

Electric Vehicle Community Readiness

The U.S. Department of Energy funded 16 electric vehicle projects in 24 states and the District of Columbia to help communities prepare for plug-in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. Learn more about conducting PEV readiness planning.

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