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Photo of the front of a sporty silver prototype plug-in hybrid electric car parked at inside at an auto trade show.

This Chevy Volt concept car, shown at a recent auto show, is designed to run on electricity.
Creidit: Keith Wipke

About 100 years ago, before most of our nation's automobiles were powered by internal combustion gasoline engines, vehicles like the Stanley Steamer ran on electricity. Now, electricity supplies some of the power needed to operate today's hybrid electric vehicles.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are also being developed. The batteries in these vehicles can be recharged just by plugging the vehicle into an electrical outlet. And electricity could one day supply all the power that will be needed to run the electric vehicles of the future.

Fuel cell vehicles are also powered by electricity. This electricity is produced as the result of an electrochemical reaction that takes place when hydrogen and oxygen are combined in a fuel cell.

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For more information about electric vehicles, see the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels & Advanced Vehicles Data Center Web site.