Electric Car Pictures
Electric Car Pictures

Low energy, yes...but this isn't really what we're talking about. Want to learn more? Check out these electric car pictures.

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A low-energy vehicle is a car or truck that uses less energy than a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle. Low-energy vehicles (or LEVs) most commonly take the form of gasoline-electric hybrids or plug-in electrics, but there are a few less-common alternatives.

Fans of LEVs include proponents of clean technology and renewable resources, drivers who are happy to spend less at the pump, and the environment. LEVs were designed to reduce dependency on the nonrenewable fossil fuels that are processed to make gasoline. Since they burn significantly less traditional fuel (or none at all), LEVs don't spew harmful chemicals into the air as much as regular gas-powered cars. So, they're better for a long-term sustainable energy economy, and they're better for the air we breathe.

We'd hesitate, at this point, to call LEVs a trend, which is a good thing. They're no longer particularly novel, even though the technology continues to improve in terms of becoming more efficient, more accessible and easier to use, and more like a normal car that an average person would want to buy and drive. Though alternative fuel engines were once found only in aerodynamic compact cars that were often derided as being too awkward-looking to earn mass appeal, that stigma's mostly outdated. Truck, SUV and luxury car shoppers all have LEV options...and the once-goofy-looking Prius, now an everyday sight, still brandishes its angles as a badge of honor.

We don't look at LEVs as outliers anymore; they've smoothly integrated themselves into the flow of traffic. But the underlying differences still aren't widely understood. They're worth a closer look. And all this begs the question: Are LEVs the new norm...and how will that work?