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Electric Vehicle Benefits

What Is An EV?

An electric vehicle (EV) is a vehicle that runs on an electric current. There are three main types of vehicles commonly called "electric" and it's worth knowing the difference:

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) run only on electricity. With a BEV, you charge the car's battery with electricity. That battery then powers the electric motor, which propels the car forward. Since the car itself is not burning a fuel to generate movement, there are no tail-pipe emissions. Instead, the carbon footprint of a BEV depends on how the electricity that runs it is produced.

Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs) combine a battery-powered electric motor with an internal combustion engine. You charge your vehicle with electricity and use it much like an all-electric vehicle. However, if and when you run out of charge, the internal combustion engine serves as a back-up. While running only on electricity, a PHEV's carbon footprint again depends on the fuel mix that generated the electricity. As soon as the internal combustion engine switches on, the engine's tail-pipe emissions add to the vehicle's carbon footprint.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) also combine an internal combustion engine and an electric propulsion system. However, HEVs are “charged” with gasoline; you cannot plug them in to charge them with electricity, so they are not strictly speaking “EVs”. However, HEVs are more efficient than traditional internal combustion engines because they take advantage of technologies such as regenerative braking. HEVs are not eligible for any National Grid programs or other external funding sources.

EVs contrast with conventional vehicles, which run on an internal combustion engine: you add a fuel (gasoline, diesel fuel, or ethanol), it ignites and releases energy that is translated into motion. In the process, however, the vehicle releases carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.

Why Should I Get An EV?

Electric vehicles are a great choice for consumer’s pockets and a great choice for the environment, a real win-win. Here are some common reasons to go electric:

Switching from a vehicle with an internal combustion engine to an electric vehicle (EV) has huge environmental and public health benefits. A vehicle running only on electricity has zero tail-pipe emissions. Even when emissions associated with producing the electricity to charge them are accounted for, electric vehicles produce far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. These benefits will only increase over time as Northeast's electric grid gets cleaned up, thanks to state renewable energy policies.

Electric vehicles (EVs) require much less service than gas-powered cars, so switching from an internal combustion engine to an EV offers significant savings in service. Electric motors do not require any regular maintenance. For pure electric vehicles, gone is the need for oil changes and maintenance of things like spark plugs, timing belts, or any of the other hundreds of moving parts of an internal combustion engine. Electric vehicles do require the replacement of worn out tires and brake pads, but you can expect brake pads to last much longer than on a comparable gas-powered car, thanks to regenerative braking.

Incentives for electric vehicles are available from a wide variety of entities. These include funding sources from the state, federal, private grants and National Grid incentives.

Some of this educational content was provided by the nonprofit Green Energy Consumers Alliance, which runs an electric vehicle program called Drive Green. Learn more here.