Electric and Hydrogen Fuels and Vehicles

This page last reviewed October 16, 2015



There are two types of electric vehicles, battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell.  Both types are considered zero emission vehicles (ZEV) under ARB’s ZEV regulation. Battery and fuel cell electric vehicles have several benefits, such as:

  • zero or near-zero smog-forming emissions,
  • reduced water pollution from oil leaks,
  • lower greenhouse gas emissions (CO2),
  • higher fuel economy,
  • greater engine efficiency,
  • much quieter and smoother operation.


More information about each type of technology is provided below along with charging and fueling information and links for additional information.  Also, visit DriveClean.ca.gov for more information about all clean technology vehicles or DriveClean.ca.gov/pev for California's new Plug in Electric Vehicle Resource Center dedicated completely to vehicles that plug-in.

drivecleanpev resources


Plug-in Electric Vehicles

There are two types of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) - battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). BEVs run on electricity stored in batteries and have an electric motor rather than a gasoline engine.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, are also an option for consumers. Although they are not pure ZEVs, PHEVs do have many benefits. There are two types of PHEVs on the market.  Both have a battery pack that is recharged by plugging into a source of electricity (wall outlet, solar panels) as well as an internal combustion engine that is refueled with gasoline.  One PHEV type operates only on battery power until the engine is needed to provide energy to the batteries.  The other PHEV type operates on a mix of battery and engine power.  Both PHEVs provide all-electric range as well as improved fuel economy over conventional vehicles.

Additional Information


Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are zero emission and run on compressed hydrogen fed into a fuel cell "stack" that produces electricity to power the vehicle. A fuel cell can be used in combination with an electric motor to drive a vehicle – quietly, powerfully and cleanly.

Additional Information