If you're old enough, you may remember your grandparents talking about electric cars. But the electric powered cars people are talking about nowadays are nothing like those electric vehicles from the early 1900s.
When you hear someone talking about hybrid cars, they are actually talking about a car that runs on a combination of gas and electricity (in technological terms, cars with gasoline-electric powertrains).
The batteries are recharged when the car is running on gas or when braking (using something called regenerative braking, which transfers the energy generated while braking back into the batteries, rather than dissipating it as heat as occurs in regular vehicles). Some hybrids also come with a plug-in-to-recharge option.
When going slowly, such as around town, these hybrid electric vehicles actually run solely on the electricity in their batteries, making for far more fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.
However, in addition to hybrids, there are true “electric cars" - the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV). These vehicles also work on electricity but, in this case, the sole power source is electric batteries. There is no other engine.
BEVs are considered zero emission vehicles because they give off no emissions when they run. They are quiet and have many fewer parts than either hybrids or gas-powered cars. Examples of current BEV cars are the Indian REVA and Tesla Roadster.
There are other types of electric powered vehicles as well, including what are called neighborhood electric vehicles. A golf cart is a prime example of a neighborhood electric vehicle, and golf carts are often used as transportation in over-55 communities.
There are, of course, downsides, to electric vehicles. Electric cars go much less far on a “full tank" of electricity than do cars on a tank of gas or other popular alternative fuels, sometimes less than 50 miles on a charge, and finding a place to “fill up" can be hard. While plugging in at night at home is easy, finding a place to plug on your car while away from home may not be. Not only that, but charging the car can take several hours.
In addition, replacing the battery packs for an electric vehicle is much more expensive than buying a new battery for your gasoline-driven car.
On the other hand fuels costs are extremely low as it costs much less to run a car on electricity than gasoline. Electric cars often average the equivalent of 20 miles per gallon and cost about 3 cents a mile to run. Not only that, but you won't be spending money on tuneups, oil changes, new mufflers, and the like when you use an environmentally-friendly electric-powered vehicle.
Steve Longoria writes on the growing Alternative Fuel Vehicles market, encouraging people to adopt greener fuels and, ultimately, to help people save money. For more info on Solar Powered Cars read here