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Transportation Fuel Basics - Electricity

August 19, 2013 - 5:44pm


Electricity used to power vehicles is generally provided by the electricity grid and stored in the vehicle's batteries. Fuel cells are being explored as a way to use electricity generated on board the vehicle to power electric motors. Unlike batteries, fuel cells convert chemical energy from hydrogen into electricity.

Vehicles that run on electricity have no tailpipe emissions. Emissions that can be attributed to electric vehicles are generated in the electricity production process at the power plant.

Home recharging of electric vehicles is as simple as plugging them into an electric outlet. Electricity fueling costs for electric vehicles are reasonable compared to gasoline, especially if consumers take advantage of off-peak rates. However, electricity costs vary across the United States depending on location, type of generation, and time of use. For average U.S. electricity prices, see the Energy Information Administration's Residential Electricity Prices: A Consumer's Guide. Many states, particularly California, have public access electric outlets at libraries, shopping centers, hospitals, and businesses.

Visit the Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center to learn more about electricity as an alternative fuel.