This short report provides an update on plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). PEVs are vehicles that can operate on electric energy stored in an onboard battery that’s charged via the electric grid. One type of PEV is the all-electric vehicle (also called a battery electric vehicle), which operates exclusively on electricity from an onboard battery with no additional power plant (such as a gasoline engine) for backup. Another is a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV), which can operate using electricity provided from an onboard battery or fuel stored in an onboard storage tank, or some combination of the two. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), by contrast, do not charge via the grid; instead, they use their ICEs to generate their own electrical power, recharging their batteries as they drive (Table 1).

This report is produced by E Source and is made available to all NRECA members through our membership in E Source.

Value to Electric Cooperatives

It’s very difficult to predict the uptake that these vehicles will enjoy in the market. So far, monthly PEV sales have fluctuated up and down considerably. A number of researchers have attempted to construct defensible projections of PEV market penetration—those referenced earlier in this report from ORNL and EPRI are among them—but such projections are inherently highly uncertain, given the rapidly shifting economic, technical, and policy environment that these vehicles are emerging into. Advancements in battery chemistry or the commercialization of alternative energy-storage devices could substantially alter the economic equation, as could the existing provisions of ARRA or future federal, state, and local policies. Given this uncertainty, we recommend that utility professionals and fleet managers watch the PEV space closely as it evolves so they can best take advantage of the benefits these vehicles offer and navigate around the potential pitfalls they pose for utility systems.


Marketing, Communications, Key Accounts, Engineering & Operations staff


Cars, transportation, energy efficiency


Plug-In Electric Vehicles
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment
EV Mechanics and Market Trends
Managing the Financial and Grid Impacts of Plug-In Electric Vehicles
Keys to Developing a PEV Program For Your Electric Cooperative