All-Electric Vehicle Basics

An all-electric vehicle (EV) uses a battery to store the electrical energy that powers the motor.

Cutaway diagram illustrating components of an all-electric vehicle. Components under the hood include (from the front of the vehicle) a thermal cooling system (rectangular flat box) adjacent to an auxiliary battery (small rectangular box), a DC/DC converter (rectangular box), a power electronics controller (larger rectangular box), an onboard charger (flat box), a transmission (cylinder with ridges), and an electric traction motor (larger cylinder). Components in the middle section of the car include a charge port (electric charging nozzle) and a traction battery pack (series of connected rectangular bars spanning middle section of vehicle).

EV batteries are charged by plugging the vehicle into an electric power source. They are also equipped with regenerative braking systems to capture the kinetic energy normally lost during braking and store it in the battery.

EVs are far more efficient than conventional vehicles and produce no tailpipe emissions. They also typically require less maintenance because the battery, motor, and associated electronics require little to no regular upkeep. Plus, electric vehicles experience less brake wear thanks to regenerative braking and have fewer moving parts and fluids to change relative to conventional vehicles.

Additional Resources

Learn about NREL's transportation and mobility research.

For more information about all-electric vehicles, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center.

Use the Alternative Fueling Station Locator to find publicly accessible EV charging stations across the nation.