Electric Vehicles and You: Making Sense of EVs vs. PHEVs

Nov 3, 2010   //   by Colin Manuel   //   Transportation  //  No Comments

Over the next five years, manufacturers will unveil more than 20 models of electric vehicles that look and drive similar to your regular car. However, there is one key difference that will determine how well they fit your lifestyle: whether they are pure electric vehicles (EVs) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

Pure Electric Vehicles (EVs): Meet the Nissan Leaf

Pure electric vehicles are powered solely by batteries. Their frames and bodies are often made from super light alloys specially designed to maximize performance. While EVs have been around since the early 1900s, the Nissan Leaf is the first mainstream EV to hit the U.S. market in this latest electric car renaissance.

Pros: Zero emissions from tail pipe, fewer moving partsPure electric vehicles debut in the U.S. than normal vehicles.
Cons:Range anxiety’ from lack of high-capacity charging network. When the battery loses its charge, the car has no back-up power.
Est. Cost: $32,780/ $25,280 (before tax credits/after tax credits)
Electric Range: 100 miles
Total Range: 100 miles

Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs): Meet the Chevy Volt

Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles combine the features of gas-powered and electric cars. In most cases, a PHEV will run off electric power for short trips. After the electric-only range is exceeded, an onboard gasoline-powered generator charges the battery. This dual function allows drivers as much range as a typical internal combustion engine.PHEV electric cars debuting in 2011

Pros: Benefits of pure EV power for short trips, freedom from “range anxiety” for longer trips.
Cons: More moving parts and complexity, higher sticker price than pure EVs, reliance on fossil fuels for longer distances.
Est. Cost: $41,000 / $33,500 (before tax credits/after tax credits)
Electric Range: 40 miles
Total Range: 340 miles

EV Adoption: Who’s Buying First?

Local governments and commercial fleets have shown serious interest in both EVs and PHEVs. Freightliner is testing a delivery truck that can travel 150 miles on a single charge and GE is planning to purchase “tens of thousands” of EVs. To spur consumer demand, the U.S. government is offering a tax credit of $7,500 to early adopters of EVs and PHEVs.

With increased options and rebates, what’s holding you back form buying your EV or PHEV?