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The efficiencies of electric vehicles can vary significantly; however, compared with conventional vehicles, they are very efficient—converting about 60% of the energy from the grid to power at the wheels. There are energy losses of about 16–19% from charging and battery storage while electric drive system and parasitic losses combined account for another 25–28%. Off-setting some of these losses, regenerative braking on electric vehicles produces an energy gain of 5–13% resulting in an overall efficiency of about 57–64%. By comparison, a conventional vehicle converts roughly 14–26% of the energy from fuel to power the wheels in the same combined driving cycle.

Schematic of electric vehicle with energy requirements for combined city/highway driving. See table below for more detailed information.

Supporting Information

Electric Vehicle Energy Requirements for Combined City/Highway Driving
Expenditure Type Percent
Grid Power to Wheels 57-64%
Electric Drive System Loss 21-24%
Grid to Battery Storage Loss 16-19%
Parasitic Loss 4%
Regenerative Braking Gain 5-13%
Sources: Estimated by Oak Ridge National Laboratory using published sources including: Fuel Economy Guide Website, "Electric Vehicles."Fuel Economy Guide Website, "Fuel Economy: Where the Energy Goes." Miller,, SAE 2011-01-0887. Chae et. al., 2011. Gautam et. al., 2011.

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