Cars with gasoline engines will be with us for quite a while. But some sort of electric motive power is clearly in our future, if for no other reason than federal standards require progressively greener—i.e., more fuel efficient, less polluting—cars. And in the automakers’ toolbox, electricity is possibly the most important tool to meet those standards.
Here we have three variations on how green cars can use electricity. BMW’s 330e plug-in hybrid can run for a dozen or so miles on electricity alone. Kia’s Soul EV is a pure electric vehicle. And Toyota’s Prius is a standard hybrid moved primarily by a gasoline engine, but with the assistance of an electric motor.