Plug-in electric vehicles
unleash a world of possibilities, reducing our fuel costs,
lowering our dependence on foreign oil, and cutting green
house gas emissions.
What Are Electric Vehicles?
pure electric vehicle is a car that relies entirely on electricity
stored in its battery for its power. While this type of car
has the smallest environmental impact in terms of petroleum
usage, it currently is not the most feasible option due to
its limited range. Recently, another solution has emerged,
plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
Plug-in hybrids run primarily on battery power but also have
a tank of gasoline for long trips. These vehicles differ from
the typical hybrids currently available in that they have
more battery energy, and these batteries are charged through
a typical wall outlet.
Eventually, plug-in hybrids will be able travel from 40 to
60 miles on a full charge using battery power alone.1
The engine will only turn on once the battery charge has been
Reduced Petroleum Usage and Operating
The battery storage within these electric
vehicles can be charged from a typical electrical outlet,
reducing the need for petroleum. In fact, switching to plug-in
vehicles could reduce U.S. oil importation by 52%.2
If we use less oil, we can decrease carbon emissions, promote
energy independence, and save money.
Also, plug-in vehicles can reduce greenhouse gas emissions
by 27% when comparing emissions of gasoline-powered vehicles
to plug-in vehicles charged by electricity from the current
generation mix—coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewable
The good news for consumers? While the costs of maintenance
for these vehicles will remain about the same (suspension,
tires, wipers, etc.), electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids
are estimated to run at a third of the cost of typical gas-powered
cars4, and there are substantial tax incentives
to make the initial investment worthwhile.
Are The Challenges?
Our current grid is not
equipped to handle these vehicles on a large scale.
If everyone plugged in at the same time, the current
grid could not provide electricity to charge all the
electric vehicles on the grid, and power reliability
would be compromised. Also, if owners plugged their
vehicles into public outlets, utilities would not know
how to bill the correct consumers without advanced technology.
However, with smart grid technologies, these plug-in
electric vehicles will not only be possible, but preferable.
With real-time pricing and increased knowledge, consumers
can make better decisions about when to use energy,
especially when charging plug-in vehicles. In fact,
they will be motivated to charge up their vehicles when
electricity prices are cheaper, during off-peak hours.
Smart grid technologies could help automatically take
care of the recharge process once the consumer preferences
have been set, much like a computer automatically runs
back-ups and retrieves your e-mail messages.
With the right infrastructure in place, smart-grid
technologies will help ensure that the right vehicle
account is billed for vehicle charging, much like cell
phone users are appropriately billed even while roaming
out of their own service network.