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Zero Emission Vehicles 101: Get the Basics

Understand why zero emission vehicles are so important, and how one can benefit your lifestyle.

Conventional ZEVs include battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). These two types of ZEVs do not emit harmful tailpipe emissions. However, state regulations in California and in some of the Section 177 states including Connecticut, define ZEVs to also include plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) because they emit no harmful tailpipe emissions when driving in electric only mode. As such, PHEVs are sometimes called "transitional ZEVs."

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs)

A battery electric vehicle is a car that is 100% powered by an electric motor. There is no gasoline required, and owners “fuel up” by plugging in overnight at home or to an expanding network of charging stations. Like a cellphone, the battery stores the charge to power the car when it is running. With a variety of battery electric vehicles on the market, you can choose one that drives anywhere from 80 to 250 miles on a full charge. “Refueling” times can vary – typically, 30 minutes for fast charging and 4 to 6 hours with Level 2, depending on the size and current depletion of the battery.

Examples: BMW i3 | Chevy Bolt | Nissan Leaf

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is a vehicle that is powered by a combination of an electric motor and a gasoline engine. Like a battery electric vehicle, the vehicle can be plugged in to charge and will run on the battery for some or all of your drive – from 15 to 50 miles. Unlike a battery electric vehicle, once the battery charge is depleted, the gasoline kicks in and the vehicle runs like a fuel efficient gas-powered hybrid car to extend the range of the vehicle. This makes the combined range from electricity and gasoline, 350-600 miles, comparable to a gas-powered car. Recharging the battery is completed easily overnight using either Level 1 (120V) or Level 2 (240V) charging, and a quick stop by the gasoline station can fill up the tank in about 5 minutes.

Examples: Chevy Volt | Ford Fusion Energi | Toyota Prius Prime

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)

A fuel cell electric vehicle is powered by an electric drive motor and uses a fuel cell to convert hydrogen into electricity. Like a gas-powered car, they are capable of refueling in 3-5 minutes, but at a hydrogen dispenser instead of a gas pump. Driving range is comparable to gas cars, about 300-350 miles on each tank of hydrogen. Hydrogen fueling stations, however, are not yet widely available outside of California. FCEVs will be introduced in select northeast states once hydrogen refueling stations are built.

Visit the Connecticut Hydrogen-Fuel Cell Coalition's website for more information about FCEVs.

Examples: Honda Clarity | Hyundai Nexo | Toyota Mirai

ZEVs offer convenience, affordability, and more!


Overnight charging at home meets most EV drivers’ needs. Additionally, more workplaces are offering EV chargers for their employees' use. For your on-the-go needs, the network of public charging spots are rapidly expanding all over Connecticut, throughout our region, and across the U.S., especially along major roadways and travel corridors.

It's easy to locate and get to public charging stations by using mobile apps on your smartphone or mobile device, or via a dashboard program available on some ZEVs. For more information, check out the Apps, Tools and Widgets page. Maps with public charger locations and details are also offered by EVConnecticut and the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center.

For more insight, check out Drive Change Drive Electric's facts about convenience.


Go green for less green with the help of incentives, rebates, and tax credits that can lower your overall cost for the purchase or lease of a new ZEV. Also, with many EVs coming off lease, dealer-certified used car programs are more likely to have used EVs for a fraction of their original prices.

EVs are cheaper to recharge compared to filling up your tank with gasoline, keeping more money in your pocket. To help current and potential EV drivers better understand the cost of driving an EV, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) created a metric called the “electric gallon”, or “eGallon.” The eGallon represents the cost of driving an EV the same distance a gasoline-powered vehicle could travel on one gallon of gasoline. Use the DOE's eGallon Calculator to find out how much it costs to charge an EV in Connecticut compared to the cost of fueling a similar vehicle with gasoline.

With fewer moving parts, ZEVs require less upkeep than gasoline-fueled vehicles. You no longer have to worry about oil changes, air filters, belts, brake pads and many other routine operating expenses, resulting in further lowering the total cost of ownership. And as battery costs continue to decline, EVs are poised to reach cost parity with gasoline-fueled vehicles in the near future.

For more insight, check out Drive Change Drive Electric's facts about affordability.

Fuel economy

Traditionally, miles per gallon (MPG) is the measurement unit you use to compare the fuel economy of gasoline-fueled cars. Because of the growth of ZEVs and other alternate-fuel vehicles, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) as a way to reasonably compare values across all vehicle fuel types. Whereas the traditional MPG calculates the number of miles that you could drive on a gallon of fuel, MPGe calculates the number of miles that a vehicle can be driven on a quantity of electricity or alternate fuel with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline.

So how does the fuel economy of a BEV, FCEV, PHEV or a gasoline-fueled car compare with each other? Use the DOE's Find a Car tool to compare fuel economy ratings.

For more insight, check out Drive Change Drive Electric's facts about affordability.

Better for the environment

Much of the harmful air pollutants and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions released in the U.S. comes from gasoline-fueled vehicles. The reduction of pollutants and GHG emissions from the transportation sector can have an immediate impact locally that grows as adoption of ZEVs expands nationwide. Making the switch to a ZEV is one remarkable thing you can personally do to significantly lower your carbon footprint.

For more insight, check out Drive Change Drive Electric's facts about sustainability.

Fun factor

As ZEV technology continue to advance, prices for ZEVs become more affordable, and further models and vehicle types become more readily available. These innovations lead to exciting improvements in performance and safety that elevate your driving experience.

Driving a BEV or FCEV offers instantaneous torque and quiet acceleration. A BEV or FCEV has far fewer moving parts compared to a gasoline-powered car. The battery, motor, and associated electronics require little to no regular maintenance. There are fewer fluids to change, and wear on brake systems is significantly reduced due to regenerative braking.

Since a PHEV has an internal combustion engine as well as a rechargeable electric battery, its maintenance requirements remain similar to that of a gasoline-powered vehicle. A PHEV's electrical system (battery, motor, and associated electronics) typically requires minimal scheduled maintenance. Because of regenerative braking, the brake system of a PHEV generally lasts longer than that of a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle.

ZEVs are a safe and fuel-efficient option for American drivers. Commercially available ZEVs must meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and undergo the same rigorous safety testing in the U.S. as gasoline-powered cars. Moreover, ZEVs must also meet the electrical and safety standards set by the Society of Automotive Engineers, the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Working Council, and others.

For more insight, check out and Drive Change Drive Electric's facts about the fun factor and facts about technology.


At 38%, the transportation sector is responsible for the largest share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Connecticut. Accelerating widespread use of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and expanding deployment of EV charging infrastructure are key to significantly reducing harmful emissions in this sector to ensure Connecticut is on the path to achieve its mandatory GHG reductions, and realizing a clean vehicle future. Connecticut is also committed to several ZEV-related initiatives that drive the adoption of ZEVs across the states.

Zero-Emission Vehicle Program (ZEV Program)

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) administers the ZEV Program, which requires automakers to sell an increasing number of qualifying vehicles, thereby driving automaker investment priorities, EV model availability, and deployment. Connecticut and eight other states (Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) have adopted California's ZEV program. The sales requirement is administered through credits that are earned for light-duty vehicle sales for model year 2018 and later. Automakers earn credits based on a percentage of their sales of full ZEVs, transitional ZEVs, and partial ZEVs. (Partial ZEVs are comprised of advanced technology partial ZEVs such as gasoline- or diesel-electric hybrid, compressed natural gas, or methanol fuel cell vehicles, and conventional partial ZEVs which are considered extremely clean conventional vehicles.) Full ZEVs have higher credit values than transitional and partial ZEVs.

Zero Emissions Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding (ZEV MOU) and Multi-State ZEV Action Plan

The ZEV MOU is a multi-state initiative that commits California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont - to collectively deploy 3.3 million ZEVs by 2025 and take coordinated action to ensure successful deployment of these vehicles. Connecticut’s portion of this commitment is approximately 150,000 ZEVs.

The ZEV MOU identifies joint cooperative action which spurred the development of the Multi-State ZEV Action Plan. The Multi-State ZEV Action Plan assists in developing consistent and complementary measures within and across all ZEV MOU states to foster efficient market development and maximize the ownership experience for consumers. In June 2018, the nine-state coalition released the latest action plan, Multi-State ZEV Action Plan: 2018-2021 - Accelerating the Adoption of Zero Emission Vehicles.

Northeast Corridor Regional Strategy for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

The District of Columbia and the nine states along the Northeast Corridor - Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia - have worked collaboratively to develop a set of recommendations that would inform regional EV charging infrastructure development. In May 2018, the Northeast Corridor Regional Strategy for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure for the years 2018 through 2021 was released to provide guidance to ensure strategic integration of infrastructure investments to buildout a charging network that will meet the region's emerging needs.