Vehicles that can connect to the road and recharge their batteries while driving could cut the cost of running them down to zero, experts say.
Driverless cars could also allow vehicles to save a lot of fuel.
The cost of running electric vehicles is currently up to 20 times more expensive than an equivalent gas-powered car, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
But at an electric cars summit in San Francisco, researchers said they are trying to figure out how to cut those costs.
In a simulation, researchers showed how they would replace old transmission and motor parts to make a plug-in hybrid or fully electric car more efficient.
Another project is to charge electric vehicles wirelessly.
A Ford spokesman said the company is already researching how to boost the fuel economy of batteries using a nanostructure, which would not damage the battery itself.
Steve Mahan, who is the chief scientist of the research group driving the project, said turning the cars off and plugging them in again has often been difficult for EVs to accomplish.
“In situations where you have more than one trip to the charging station in one day – or multiple trips daily on an electric car – you could have an infinite number of miles driving at times – maybe in the ranges where on gasoline it would take you to fill your tank,” he said.