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Vehicle Technologies Office: Plug-In Electric Vehicles and Batteries

With their immense potential for increasing the country's energy, economic, and environmental security, plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs, including plug-in hybrid electric and all-electric) will play a key role in the country's transportation future. In fact, transitioning to a mix of plug-in electric vehicles could reduce petroleum use by more than 40 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 percent. The EV Everywhere Grand Challenge focuses on the U.S. becoming the first nation in the world to produce plug-in electric vehicles that are as affordable for the average American family as today's gasoline-powered vehicles within the next 10 years. For a general overview of plug-in electric vehicles, see the DOE's Alternative Fuel Data Center's pages on Hybrid and Plug-in Electric Vehicles and Vehicle Batteries. The Alternative Fuel Data Center also maps charging stations on the Alternative Fueling Station Locator and has information about the federal tax credit for PEVs. To achieve the EV Everywhere goals, the Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) supports a variety of work to lower the cost and increase the convenience of PEVs.

The majority of PEVs’ fuel savings and additional cost come from batteries and electric drive systems. VTO is collaborating with national laboratories and industry to improve these by:

While these systems are unique to electric drive vehicles, a number of other technologies can also be used in PEVs to reduce cost and improve all-electric range, including lightweight materials, advanced combustion engines (for plug-in hybrid electrics), and advanced lubricants. Improving the materials used in electric drive systems can also increase their performance and efficiency. To maximize these technologies’ effectiveness, researchers use simulation and modeling software to create “virtual vehicles” based on data collected from vehicles on the road and in the laboratory.  VTO selects research and development projects through a competitive solicitation process and offers funding opportunities throughout the year.

VTO is also supporting a variety of work to help businesses and communities better serve current and future drivers of PEVs.  The Workplace Charging Challenge aims to achieve a tenfold increase in the number of U.S. employers offering workplace charging in the next five years. Find out about how your company can participate and what resources are available to help carry out that commitment.

Community and fleet readiness activities connect local governments and private fleets with our nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions around the country. The PEV Readiness Scorecard helps communities assess how prepared they are for PEV drivers, while a number of cities are already finding ways to improve planning, increase training, and cut red tape through PEV community readiness projects.

Lastly, VTO is partnering with a number of organizations and companies to train our workforce to develop, build, repair, and respond to incidents with these vehicles.  VTO has sponsored student competitions in advanced vehicles for more than 25 years, with the latest focusing on transforming a conventional Chevrolet Malibu into a PEV without compromising performance, safety, or consumer acceptability.