Electric Vehicles

Growing air pollution in many California cities is accelerating the search for alternative fuels. Electric drive vehicles (EDVs) are one way of reducing vehicle emissions that contribute two-thirds of all air pollution in most cities. Some electric drive technologies are battery electric vehicles (BEV), hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and fuel cell powered vehicles (FCV).

To support the introduction of EDVs, Pacific Gas and Electric Company is playing a critical role in evaluating and developing new electric drive technologies. Through education programs, demonstration projects, and market infrastructure research, the company's support for EDVs will benefit our customers by ensuring a healthier environment.

Electric Drive Technologies

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

An electric vehicle is a motor vehicle, such as an automobile, truck, or bus, which uses a rechargeable battery for fuel, replacing gasoline, diesel or other types of combustible fuels. Gone are the internal combustion engine and the transmission. A BEV utilizes an electric motor or, in some applications, more than one motor to propel the vehicle.

The energy stored in the Electric Vehicle's rechargeable battery supplies power to a motor controller. The motor controller is a device that controls the amount of power supplied to the electric drive motor(s) based on the position of the accelerator pedal.

Refueling an electric vehicle consists of connecting the vehicle to an outlet or charging device that is specifically designed for charging a BEV. Recharging time varies, depending on the battery type, capacity and the voltage/current output of the charger. Most BEVs can be fully recharged in about 6 hours.

Additionally, electric vehicles are much more energy efficient then Internal Combustion Engine vehicles. Not only is the propulsion system itself much more efficient, but energy loses through the transmission and idling simply do not exist.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)

The use of two different energy sources is what defines a hybrid vehicle. Essentially an HEV is an electric vehicle that uses an onboard internal combustion engine linked to a motor/generator to drive the vehicle and/or recharge the batteries. There are currently many different hybrid-electric system designs utilizing gasoline and diesel engines, alternative fuels engines, gas turbines or fuel cells in conjunction with batteries. These design options are grouped in three categories: series (range-extending HEVs), parallel (power assist HEVs), and dual-mode HEVs.

The main sources of energy used in the most common HEVs today are gasoline and batteries. A battery contains no moving parts. The only energy wasted is a very small amount of heat during the course of a discharge cycle. As previously mentioned, hybrid electric vehicles utilize two different energy sources. For those vehicles currently available commercially, batteries are the secondary energy supplier for the vehicle and an engine that burns gasoline, diesel fuel, or alternative fuels such as methanol, ethanol or compressed natural gas provides the primary power. The cleanest, most fuel efficient HEV design is one in which there is a significant all-electric range (20 miles or more) and where the vehicle is plugged in to recharge the batteries at the end of the day. The ultimate goal of the hybrid electric vehicle is to provide the equivalent power, range, cost and safety of a conventional vehicle while reducing fuel costs and harmful emissions. At present an HEV is able to operate nearly twice as efficiently as traditional internal combustion vehicles.

Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV)

A fuel cell vehicle is essentially an electric vehicle that has a fuel cell providing the electric energy needed to run instead of batteries. The fuel cell vehicle carries a supply of hydrogen that the fuel cell converts to electricity.

A fuel cell is an electrochemical device in which the energy of a chemical reaction is converted directly into electricity. By combining hydrogen fuel with oxygen from air, electricity is formed, without combustion of any form. Water and heat are the only by-products when hydrogen is used as the fuel source.

Although hydrogen is considered the primary fuel source for fuel cells, the process of fuel reforming allows for the extraction of hydrogen from other fuels including methanol, natural gas, petroleum, or renewable sources. Unlike a battery, a fuel cell does not run down or require recharging; it operates as long as a fuel is supplied.

To support the introduction of EDV’s, Pacific Gas and Electric Company is playing a critical role in evaluating and developing new electric drive technologies. Through education programs, demonstration projects, and market infrastructure research, the company’s support for EDVs will benefit PG&E and our customers by ensuring a healthier environment.

Environmental Benefits

Though conventional gasoline vehicles are becoming cleaner and other alternative fuel vehicles can alleviate air pollution, electric drive vehicles hold the promise of the greatest air quality benefits of any available technology. EDVs are unique in that they produce no operating emissions; the only emissions associated with these EDVs come from the power plants that generate the electricity for battery charging and the plants that produce the hydrogen for consumption in fuel cell vehicles.


Even compared to today’s gasoline vehicles EDVs or BEVs offer exceptional air quality benefits. In the company's service territory, driving an EDV instead of a gasoline powered vehicle would reduce emissions of reactive organic gases (ROG) and nitrogen oxides (NO) - the precursors to smog, a serious health hazard, would drop. Carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal gas associated with global warming.

Driving BEVs and HEVs would also decrease pollution to oceans, rivers, and ground water that is caused from petroleum, gasoline, and motor oil spills. Relief from urban noise pollution is another benefit, as electric motors are quiet as well as clean.

Electric Drive Vehicles on the Market

In the next several years, you'll be seeing more and more EDVs on the road and in the news. They are coming back to the American marketplace in substantial numbers for the first time since the beginning of the 20th century.

Fleets are an important early market for BEVs and EDVs. Utilities, government agencies and other companies will start incorporating EDVs as part of their fleets for use in a variety of settings. In some cities, you may start to see EDV transit buses, delivery and service vans, postal vehicles and electric shuttle vans at airports.

While electric drive vehicles aren't everywhere yet, EDVs have arrived. Many major auto manufactures, including Honda, Ford, GM, Toyota and Chrysler have either introduced or are planning to introduce some type of electric drive vehicle to key markets in the U.S. in the near future.

For a complete list of electric drive vehicles, please see the U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuel Vehicle Offerings site.

Charging Battery Electrics

Refueling a Battery Electric vehicle (BEV) is as simple as plugging in a cord in the home garage. Unlike a gas station, there are no lines, no fumes, and no need for cash or credit card.

BEV batteries can be conveniently recharged at home, at a fleet facility, and at public charging stations at a lower cost per mile than filling a gas tank.

Today's BEV generally takes more than eight hours to fully recharge from a standard 110-volt and 20-amp outlet. However, several charging systems are available that can recharge a BEV in a few hours or less using 208-volt and 40-amp or 240-volt and 40-amp electrical supplies. Ultimately, advances in battery and charger technology could enable charging in the time it takes to fill a gas tank. Because of the high voltage involved—480 volts or more, which can be expensive to install, such rapid charging would likely be available only at sites serving multiple BEVs, such as fleet garages or retail charging stations.

Different Charging Configurations

Though most charging will occur in private garages, public charging facilities are available for BEV owners who want the convenience of "opportunity charging" in parking lots at work or the shopping mall, or even at curbside parking meters. Eventually, a network of retail fast - charging stations could become as common as today's gas stations. Such stations along interstate highways would enable EVs to be used for long distance travel.

For a complete list of all publicly accessible electric vehicle-charging stations in California please see the CALSTART Clean Fuel Recharge/Refuel Directory.

Electric Vehicle Charging Rate and Economics

BEVs are approximately three times more energy-efficient than gasoline vehicles. As a vehicle fuel, electricity offers the additional advantage of price stability. BEVs operate for as little as 4 cents per mile when charged overnight using off-peak power. By charging batteries during off-peak hours, BEV owners minimize their own energy bills and also make more efficient use of utility power plants, which in turn can reduce the average cost of electricity for all customers.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company offers a special discounted rate for our EV customers, the Experimental Time-of-Use Low Emission Vehicle rate (Schedule E-9). The E-9 rate is mandatory for those customers that are currently on a residential electric rate and who plan on refueling an EV on their premises.

What is a Time of Use Rate (TOU)?

The company offers electricity to its E-9 customers at different prices based on the time of day when the electricity is actually used. The E-9 rate offers a significant incentive to you to charge your vehicle during the off-peak time period when the demand for electricity is lower.

For complete detailed information on the E-9 rate please refer to Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s electric current rate schedules.

The following graph gives you an idea of how the E-9 rate works

Establishing E-9 Service

To apply for service, applicants must complete an E-9 Qualifying Checklist and return it to the company. Download a copy of the {E-9 Checklist}.

Please contact PG&E at (800) 743-5000 to arrange for your E-9 rate and installation of a time-of-use meter. If you have any questions please call the Clean Air Vehicle hotline at (800) 684-4648.

Electric Drive Vehicle (EDV) Safety

Electric drive vehicles produced by major auto manufacturers for sale in the United States must meet all the same safety standards as conventional vehicles. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration establishes these requirements.

The entire design of EDVs and their components has been focused on maximizing safety, including meeting all electrical and safety standards set by the National Electrical Code, the Society of Automotive Engineers and other safety organizations such as the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Working Council (IWC). The performance of BEVs charging equipment is tested rigorously by independent sources such as Underwriters Laboratories.

Electric Vehicles Supply Equipment

The Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Installation Manual provides customers and contractors with essential information to properly install all required electric vehicle charging equipment at a customer's site.

The manual includes references to specific California electrical code information, equipment regulations and requirements, permitting issues, load management and electric vehicle charging rate information.

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