DEEP: EVConnecticut - Electric Vehicles 101



Electric vehicles are the future but with any emerging technology, there is confusion with new terms and abbreviations. If you are thinking about purchasing, or have already purchased a clean vehicle, this guide should help you get up to speed with the terms used in the industry.


What is an EV?

EV stands for Electric Vehicle. EV is the generic term for any vehicle that uses electricity to power the motor for propulsion. The electricity can come from a battery, a fuel cell or even a small engine on the vehicle.

The batteries of an EV vary in size and receive a charge by plugging the vehicle into an electrical power source such as an EV charging station or a typical household electrical outlet.

Both heavy-duty and light duty EVs are commercially available and are typically more expensive than similar conventional vehicles but some cost can be recovered through a federal tax credit, a state incentive, or many other cost saving benefits of EVs.


What is a BEV?
{VW e-Golf electric motor}

BEV stands for Battery Electric Vehicle. BEVs are EVs that use large batteries exclusively to power the electric motor; the vehicle does not contain a conventional fuel injected engine.
BEVs emit no tailpipe emissions, although the power plant producing the electricity may emit them.

The batteries of BEVs require periodic charging to operate and BEVs typically have a range of 60-90 miles per charge but there are also BEVs that have longer ranges.


What is a PHEV?
{Chevrolet Volt Electric Plug}

PHEV stands for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle. PHEVs are EVs that contain both an electric motor and a gasoline engine. A PHEV can drive exclusively on electricity, powered by the on-board batteries that can be charged by plugging into a charging station or a typical household outlet. The range extending gasoline engine of a PHEV allows the driver a seamless transition between the electric miles used and the miles driven on gasoline.

PHEVs generally have an all-electric range of 15-50 miles but with the addition of a gasoline engine, the total range of these vehicles can exceed 500 miles per tank of gas. PHEVs emit no tailpipe emissions when driving in electric only mode.


What is a FCEV?

{Fuel Cell Vehicle Hydrogen Pump} FCEV stands for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle. FCEVs are EVs where the electricity is generated by combining hydrogen with oxygen from the air in a fuel cell stack to produce electricity. The electricity produced by the fuel cell drives the electric motor. To find out more about how fuel cells work, has a nice explanation of the technology and chemistry.

FCEVs typically have a range similar to their gasoline counterparts and refueling a FCEV with hydrogen takes only 5 minutes. FCEVs produce no harmful tailpipe emissions, the only emission from the tailpipe being water.

FCEVs are very new to the market and the technology and infrastructure is still developing for these vehicles.


What is a ZEV?

ZEV stands for Zero-Emissions Vehicle. Conventional ZEVs include battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) which do not emit harmful tailpipe emissions. State regulations in California and in some of the Section 177 States define ZEVs to include other types of clean vehicles such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) because they emit no harmful tailpipe emissions when driving in electric only mode. 


MPG vs MPGe...What's the Difference?
{EPA MPG Label}

MPG is universally known as miles per gallon and is the traditional way to compare the fuel economy of gasoline cars. But, your new vehicle is powered by electricity and the EPA fuel economy label on the car states that it gets 98 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). Who measures electricity in gallons?!

Because of the growth of EVs and other alternate-fuel vehicles, EPA developed MPGe as a way to reasonably compare values across all vehicle types. Whereas the traditional MPG calculates the number of miles that you could drive on a gallon of fuel, MPGe calculates the number of miles that a vehicle can be driven on a quantity of fuel/electricity with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline.

You can find out much more about the new labels at


Where do I charge or refuel my EV?
{Connecticut Electric Vehicle Charging Station Map Logo}

Locating your nearest publicly available electric vehicle charging station is easy! EVConnecticut provides access to multiple maps including one that lists publicly available electric charging stations throughout the state.

Connecticut continues to explore ways to expand hydrogen refueling infrastructure to support the transition to fuel cell electric vehicles.


Why would I want to purchase an EV?

Its simple...Quality, Cost, Confidence and Enthusiasm.

Discover the benefits of purchasing and owning an EV in Connecticut!


Where does the electricity for EVs come from?
{CT Electric Power Portfolio}

An EV is only as clean as the energy used to power it.

In Connecticut, we have one of the cleanest grids in the nation because we invest in lower polluting cleaner and renewable technologies and reduce demand for power through investments in energy efficiency. This means that driving an EV in Connecticut is better for the environment than driving one in almost any other state.

Connecticut has the 4th cleanest energy portfolio for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the country, making EVs significantly better for the environment than conventional vehicles.

Because of Connecticut's clean energy production, carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions of EVs are significantly lower in Connecticut than the national average.


What about fuel cell vehicle power sources?

Fuel cells convert hydrogen fuel to electricity to power a battery for a vehicle's motor. The only emission from the vehicle is water, any potential harmful emissions associated with fuel cell vehicles come from the production and distribution of the hydrogen fuel.

Ideally, solar or wind power would be used to produce hydrogen eliminating any emissions from the generation of hydrogen. Typically, hydrogen is derived from natural gas by steam reforming. It can also be derived directly from water by electrolysis, but this process is less effecient due to the large quantity of energy required.


Where do I find out more about EVs?


Plug-In Electric Vehicle Handbook for Consumers

{Plug In EV Handbook for Consumers - Cover}

This document is designed to answer your basic questions and point you to the additional information you need to make the best decision about whether an electric vehicle is right for you. This document explains everything from plug-in electric vehicle basics and benefits to buying the right vehicle and how to drive and maintain your new EV. (US Department of Energy Clean Cities, February 2015)

This website is the official US government source for fuel economy information. It is an excellent place to start your search for a new EV. You can choose and compare vehicles side by side, find out detailed ainformation about the various EV technologies, and learn much. much more about EVs. Developed by the US Department of Energy.

Information is provided regarding EV technology, EV availability, EV chargers, recent EV news and more! The mission of The GoElectricDrive Foundation is to enable and accelerate mass-market adoption of electric drive vehicles by the American public.



Content Last Updated: April 30, 2015