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Definition: electric vehicle

(Electric Vehicle) An automobile powered entirely or partially by electricity from a battery that requires recharging. Although prototype electric vehicles (EVs) were invented in the 1800s and various models were built in the 1900s, the EV industry only began in earnest after the turn of the century. However, by 2025, hundreds of EV models are expected globally. As of 2022, Tesla is the leader in this field (see Tesla).

Pollution Free and Better Fuel Economy
The advantage of an EV is the lack of pollution in the atmosphere along with fuel economy. All-electric models can reach or exceed the equivalent of 75 MPG. However, they all have a distance limit, from approximately 80 to 300 miles, and before the battery runs out, it has to be charged.

Charging Can Be a Concern
As of 2022, there were approximately 45,000 public charging stations and 6,000 fast charging stations in the U.S. However, to meet expected growth by 2025, there is an estimated need for 200,000 more. Until the country has adequate charging, an EV can sometimes be a disadvantage. For example, evacuating in a hurry due to weather disasters such as fires, flooding and hurricanes could be a serious problem if the EV has not been recently charged (see EV charging).

Hybrid-Electrics (HEVs and PHEVs)
Hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) such as the Toyota Prius have an electric motor and a gas engine with the only distance limit being the gas in the tank. Introduced in 1997 and the most popular hybrid-electric, the Prius automatically charges the battery while moving and switches to the electric motor when feasible. HEVs are less economical than all-electric vehicles (EVs), generally around 45-55 MPG.

A plug-in HEV (PHEV) is like a gas-electric HEV except that it can run entirely on battery for short distances, allowing commuters to enjoy great economy when plugged into their home's electric service overnight. In 2010, GM introduced the Chevrolet Volt PHEV, which lasts up to 50 miles on its electric charge and then the gas engine takes over. The Volt was discontinued in 2019 as the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, introduced in late 2016, became popular. In 2012, Toyota came out with a plug-in Prius. See electric aviation and electric vehicle types.

First EV for the Masses
General Motors built and leased more than a thousand EV1 electric cars from 1996 to 1999 to meet California's environmental deadline. However, the EV program gave way to low-emission gas and hybrid gas-electric cars. This car is in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

First-Generation Tesla Roadster
Featuring zero emissions and great handling, Tesla Roadsters from 2008 to 2012 had a range of 200 miles, a 125 MPH top speed and 0-to-60 in four seconds. Newer models doubled the speed and tripled the range. (Image courtesy of Tesla Motors.)

Cadillac Celestiq
Debuting in 2023, the custom-made Celestiq is Cadillac's super luxury EV that is designed to compete with Rolls-Royce. Including a 55" dashboard display, both driver and passengers are able to set their individual roof transparency level. The Celestiq features Ultra Cruise driver assist and four-zone climate control. The price range is $300,000 to $450,000, and only two vehicles are expected to be completed each day. (Image courtesy of General Motors.)

Hybrid Diesel Electric
Hybrid electric buses have been operating in New York since 1998. Using low-sulfur diesel fuel and smaller diesel engines, these vehicles produce a fraction of the emissions of a standard diesel bus.