Electricity Fuel Basics

Photo of a plug-in hybrid vehicle fueling.

Electricity is considered an alternative fuel under the Energy Policy Act of 1992. Electricity can be produced from a variety of primary energy sources, including oil, coal, nuclear energy, moving water, natural gas, wind energy, and solar energy. Plug-in vehicles are capable of drawing electricity from off-board electrical power sources (generally the electricity grid) and storing it in batteries. Though not yet widely available, fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen to cleanly generate electricity onboard the vehicle.

Powering Vehicles with Electricity

In plug-in electric vehicles, onboard rechargeable batteries store energy to power electric motors. Vehicles that run only on electricity produce no tailpipe emissions. But there are emissions associated with the production of most of the country's electricity.

Fueling plug-in vehicles with electricity is currently cost effective compared to gasoline, especially if drivers take advantage of off-peak rates offered by many utilities. Electricity costs can vary by region, type of generation, time of use, and access point. Learn about factors affecting electricity prices from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Electric Charging Stations

Many plug-in vehicle owners will do the majority of their charging at home (or at fleet facilities, in the case of fleets). Some employers offer access to charging at the workplace. In many states, plug-in vehicle drivers also have access to public charging stations at libraries, shopping centers, hospitals, and businesses. Charging infrastructure is rapidly expanding, providing drivers with the convenience, range, and confidence to meet more of their transportation needs with plug-in vehicles.