The Rise of Electric Vehicles

June 15, 2016

In recent years the electric vehicle has gained a lot of popularity. What is all the hype about? Is it really worth it to invest in a car just because “it’s good for the environment” or the new fashionable thing to buy? Let’s start out with the different types of electric vehicles. has a great summary on their website:

Hybrid Electric Vehicles

HEVs are primarily powered by an internal combustion engine that runs on conventional or alternative fuel and an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery. The battery is charged through regenerative braking and by the internal combustion engine and is not plugged in to charge.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

PHEVs are powered by an internal combustion engine that can run on conventional or alternative fuel and an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery. The vehicle can be plugged into an electric power source to charge the battery. Sometypes of PHEVs are also called extended range electric vehicles (EREVs).


EVs use a battery to store the electric energy that powers the motor. EV batteries are charged by plugging the vehicle into an electric power source. EVs are sometimes referred to as battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

The Beginning

Did you know that EVs are a fairly old idea? Here in the U.S., the first successful electric car made its debut around 1890. They used to dominate the auto industry and the first car dealerships were actually exclusively for EVs. Here is a short summary of the history of the EV from

“In the late 1890s electric vehicles (EVs) outsold gasoline cars ten to one. EVs dominated the roads and dealer showrooms. Some automobile companies, like Oldsmobile and Studebaker actually started out as successful EV companies, only later did they transition to gasoline-powered vehicles.”

Customers appreciated that they weren’t smelly like other gas powered cars, easy to drive and quiet.



So why did EVs disappear? According to, several reasons contributed to its downfall:

“The infrastructure for electricity was almost non-existent outside of city boundaries – limiting EVs to city-only travel. Another contributing factor to the decline of EVs was the addition of an electric motor (called the starter) to gasoline powered cars – finally removing the need for the difficult and dangerous crank to start the engine. Due to these factors, by the end of World War I, production of electric cars stopped and EVs became niche vehicles – serving as taxis, trucks, delivery vans, and freight handlers.”

Another important factor was cost. states that, “…by 1912, the gasoline car cost only $650, while an electric roadster sold for $1,750.” Also, the discovery of Texas crude oil made gas cheap and readily available for rural Americans. Electric vehicles all but disappeared by 1935.

The Comeback

After so many decades the electrical vehicle finally made a comeback. Several new regulations such as the passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment or the Energy Policy Act in 1992, sparked a new interest and need in clean alternatives. The Prius, which originated in Japan in 1997 and was released worldwide in 2000, became the world’s first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle.

Not long after, “Tesla Motors, would start producing a luxury electric sports car that could go more than 200 miles on a single charge. In 2010, Tesla received at $465 million loan from the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office — a loan that Tesla repaid a full nine years early — to establish a manufacturing facility in California. In the short time since then, Tesla has won wide acclaim for its cars and has become the largest auto industry employer in California.” (Source:

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Why it’s good for you and the environment

Clean Alternative

The overall emissions content for EVs is lower but the location and timing of the emissions are better as well as they usually happen during off-peak driving hours at power plants in remote locations. In addition, EVs don’t have a tailpipe.

Cost and Savings

When driving an electrical vehicle, most of the maintenance costs associated with an internal combustion engine are eliminated.
The cost per mile to fuel an EV is approximately one-third to one-quarter the cost of gasoline (on a cost per mile basis). On average, each American spends $2,000 – $4,000 on gas each year. The lack of exhaust systems or oil changes reduces maintenance costs even further. To maintain an electric car, just rotate your tires and keep them properly inflated.

Tax incentives and the mass production of batteries have further brought down the cost.

Domestic Energy Independence

According to NRG EVGO, EVs also help to increase America’s energy independence. By running on electricity generated by fuels sourced within the United States instead of on foreign fossil fuels,

Quiet and Quick

An electric car is very quiet and smooth, curbing noise pollution and providing an exhilarating driving experience over long distances. It makes most regular cars seem clunky and outdated.


Advancement in technology continually contributes to more opportunities when it comes to electric cars.

Charge your plug-in electric vehicle by parking it! No need for cords or cards. This wireless charging technology may soon be widespread, thanks to research supported by the Energy Department.

Ford announced that it would introduce 12 new electric cars by the year 2020 with a revised Focus Electric set to arrive later this year. The company is also working on an EV with a range of 200 miles. Hyundai is also expected to release an electric car with a 250 mile range by 2020.

Canada is taking it one step further. Quebec is considering a mandate that would require all homes to include an electric vehicle charging station. Policy makers in Quebec hope that such a dramatic move would jump-start the electric car in Canada.
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Plug-In NC

Interested in learning more about EVs in North Carolina? Plug-In NC is a great resource if you’re want to know more about the opportunities available to you and your business. Community resources, workplace charging, more info about available vehicles, events and so much more.

They have been working since 2011 to establish North Carolina as a leader in electrified transportation. The taskforce provides a collaborative opportunity for stakeholders to identify and address barriers to plug-in electric vehicle adoption in order to ensure a seamless integration of the vehicles into local communities.

Plug-In NC was launched through a collaboration of many partners ranging from government, industry, electric utilities, non-profits, and other stakeholders. Advanced Energy and the NC Department of Commerce served as the lead entities for this initiative and benefited from strong partnerships from North Carolina’s electric utilities including Duke Energy, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, Dominion Power, and the State’s ElectriCities.



Future Outlook

Electric Vehicles have a lot of potential for creating a more sustainable future. The US Department of Energy says that if we transitioned all the light-duty vehicles in the U.S. to hybrids or plug-in electric vehicles using our current technology mix, we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 30-60%, while lowering the carbon pollution from the transportation sector by as much as 20%.

Today, there are 23 plug-in electric and 36 hybrid models available in a range of sizes, styles, price points and powertrains to suit a wide range of consumers, with more than 234,000 plug-in electric vehicles and 3.3 million hybrids on the road in the U.S.