We are most familiar with conventional combustion-engine vehicles, the standard for many years. The market is changing, and it’s hard to keep up with the newest technologies, models, nomenclature and more. For simplicity, this continuum separates the options into four basic types of vehicles. In our listing, the range is from most to least amount of fossil-fuel used in operation.
- Conventional vehicles have an internal combustion engine; the most common fuels are gasoline and diesel.
- Hybrid vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor and battery; both gas and electricity power the wheels. The electric motor and battery are designed to improve fuel economy, so less gasoline is used to operate the vehicle. The battery is charged solely by operating the vehicle. No plug-in is required or possible.
- Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) have larger batteries than standard hybrids and use both gas and electricity to power the wheels of the car. These vehicles vary in their electric range, but shift to gasoline-only operation when battery power is depleted. These vehicles must be plugged in to recharge the battery.
- Battery Electric Vehicles (BFVs) are powered solely by electricity and are recharged by plugging in the vehicle.
Visit U.S. Department of Energy to research alternative fuels and advanced vehicles.