United States
                            Environmental Protection
                            Transportation and Air Quality
                            Transportation and Regional
                            Programs Division
               March 2002
As they travel from

house to house, meter read-

ers for public utility com-

pany Virginia Power are

enjoying quiet, clean rides

in their EVs. The compa-

ny's 17 EV pickup trucks

can travel 50 miles on a

single battery charge.

  The utility began pur-

chasing EVs in 1993 to test

and promote their use. As

an electricity provider, EVs

make good business sense

to Virginia Power. But the

company also is interested

in cutting U.S. dependence

on foreign oil and promot-

ing a cleaner, more energy-

efficient technology.

  For more information on

Virginia Power's fleet of

EVs, contact Arlie Hahn at

(804) 257-4008.
Electric  Vehicles
 One in a series of fact sheets
             More than 4,000 electric vehicles (EVs) are traveling U.S. roads and
             highways. Although some EVs are found nationwide, California has
             the greatest concentration of the alternative fuel vehicles. EVs do
not produce tailpipe emissions, but generators producing the electricity used to
charge EV batteries do emit pollutants.
Electricity for EVs is produced by power
plants, which send it to substations
through transmission lines and then to
homes and businesses through distribu-
tion systems. An EVs electric motor con-
verts electricity—usually from a battery
pack—into mechanical power that runs
the vehicle. After a certain vehicle driving
range, however, EV batteries must be
Several major auto manufacturers are pro-
ducing high-performance EVs, including
passenger cars, minivans, sport utility
vehicles, pickup trucks, and buses.
  Homes, government facilities, and busi-
nesses must have adequate capacity for
vehicle recharging, however, and special
outlet hookups or upgrades may be
required. In California and Arizona, some
shopping malls, grocery stores, hotels, and
banks have chargers in place to fuel elec-
tric vehicles.
  Auto manufacturers also are beginning
to sell "hybrid" vehicles that combine an
electric motor with a separate gasoline or
diesel engine. Hybrid vehicles can more
than double the gas mileage of conven-
tional gasoline- or diesel-powered cars and
can cut emissions significantly. Hybrid
vehicles do not require the use of recharg-
ing stations.
 The following types of batteries have
 the potential to power electric vehicles:
 • Lead-Acid — Provides a low-cost,
   low- range (less than 1 00 miles)
   option with a 3-year life cycle.
 • Nickel-Metal Hydride — Offers a
   greater driving range and life cycle,
   but is currently more expensive
   than lead- acid batteries.
 • Nickel-Cadmium — Offers a range of
   100 miles, a long life, and faster
   recharges than lead-acid batteries,
   but is more expensive and has lower
   peak power and recharging efficiency.
 • Lithium-Ion — Offers the potential
   for a long driving range and life
   cycle, but is currently very costly.
 • Zinc- Air — Currently under devel-
   opment. Provides superior perfor-
   mance compared to current battery
 • Flywheels — Currently under develop-
   ment. Could be capable of storing a
   larger amount of energy in smaller,
   lighter weight systems than chemical

At $15,000 to $40,000, EVs cost
more than comparable, mass-pro-
duced gasoline- or diesel-powered
vehicles. Some manufacturers lease
EVs to minimize maintenance costs
and potential risks such as lower
resale values associated with the new
technology. To encourage EV pur-
chases, some government agencies
offer incentives to offset the higher
initial costs. For example, the federal
government provides a tax credit
equal to 10 percent  (up to $4,000) of
the purchase cost of an EV. Some
states offer partial sales tax exemp-
tions, one-time income tax credits, or
reduced license and registration fees.
  EV purchase prices can potentially
be offset by lower "fuel" and mainte-
nance costs. The average monthly
electricity cost for a  typical EV driver
is less than $15, compared to $50 for
gasoline. If EVs are recharged
overnight, off-peak rates can decrease
the cost of powering the vehicles. EVs
can also have lower maintenance costs
because they have fewer moving parts
than internal combustion engines and
do not require tune-ups or oil
changes. One obstacle to affordability,
however, is that EVs' lead-acid batter-
ies must be replaced every 3 years at a
cost of approximately $8,000.
Testing has demonstrated that EV
acceleration, speed, and handling can
equal or exceed that of conventional
vehicles. EVs are also more energy
efficient and produce less noise than
gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicles,
particularly in stop-and-go traffic,
because the engine does not run if
the car is not moving.
  Currently, a large drawback is that
the driving range of EVs is much less
than that for gasoline- or diesel-pow-
ered vehicles. Depending on battery
type, climate, and terrain,  an EV can
travel from 40 to 120 miles on a sin-
gle battery charge. There are also
space considerations with EVs
because their batteries can be large
and heavy, resulting in  less room for
cargo or passengers.
EVs must meet the same safety stan-
dards as conventional vehicles. In
some instances, research shows that
EVs can be safer than gasoline-pow-
ered vehicles. EVs usually have lower
centers of gravity, making them less
likely to roll over in an accident. The
danger of fire in a collision is also
substantially reduced because EVs do
not have a gas tank or reservoir of
engine lubricating oil. As with con-
ventional vehicles, however, EV bat-
teries contain toxic elements that
raise battery production, transport,
use, and disposal safety issues.
EVs do not require tune-ups or oil
changes associated with conventional
vehicles. In addition, EVs do not
have timing belts, water pumps, radi-
ators, fuel injectors, or tailpipes to
replace. Battery recharging can be a
frequent and lengthy process, howev-
er, taking 4 to 14 hours depending
on the battery type and the voltage
level used in recharging. High-volt-
age, fast-charging units (which take
approximately 10 to 20 minutes to
charge) are under development. Cur-
rently, they are being designed for
limited use by some fleet operators
and public charging locations.
  For More Information

  EPA Alternative Fuels Web Site

  Electric Vehicle Association of
  the Americas
  701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
  Fourth Floor
  Washington, DC 20004
  Phone: 202 508-5995
  Fax: 202 508-5924
  Web site: www.evaa.org

  Alternative Fuel Refueling
  Station Locator
  Web site: afdcmap.nrel.gov/nrel

  Alternative Fuels Data Center
  Web site: www.afdc.nrel.gov

  National Alternative Fuels
  Phone: 800 423-1 DOE
    Printed on paper that contains at least 30 percent postconsumer fiber.