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Types of EV Vehicles

Published on
November 22, 2022
Types of EV Vehicles

How many types of electric vehicle are there?

You’ve heard about the different types of EV charging, chargers and made a dozen comparisons, but how many types of EV’s are there? 

Any type of electrified vehicle, from a pure electric vehicle to one that employs a battery to increase economy or performance, falls under the general category of "EV." While sales of petrol and diesel fell by 56% and 40% respectively last year, the demand for new EVs virtually tripled. As we draw closer to the 2030 deadline for the sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans, the spike in demand for electric vehicles appears certain to continue. When we next replace our vehicles, a rising number of us intend to buy electric vehicles, indicating a desire to choose a model with no emissions.

There are typically three categories to take into account when considering an electric vehicle.:

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) – These vehicles are totally electric and operate on rechargeable batteries. They may be charged at home or at one of the UK's many EV charging stations such as in a hotel, restaurant or public car park.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) -These cars have two motors that work in tandem: an electric motor and a fuel-injected engine that kicks in when extra performance or range is required.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) –these vehicles employ regenerative braking technologies to produce their own power. Depending on the need, they switch between fuel and a rechargeable battery.

Now that you know the names and acronyms, let's quickly review each particular EV and some of its advantages and disadvantages.

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

Given that there are around 530,000 zero-emission battery electric vehicles (BEVs) on UK roads, a BEV is likely the first thing that comes to mind when you think of EV.

Instead of a petrol or diesel engine, BEV's are equipped with an electric motor that is driven by batteries - the size of the battery is just one of several variables that affect how far an electric vehicle can go. These batteries can be recharged using an EV chargepoint which can be found all over the country as well as at home with many EV owners opting to install home chargepoints to make life that little easier.

Since BEV’s are totally emission free they don’t have an exhaust or tailpipe.  

Examples: Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Tesla Model S

Pros: BEV’s produce zero emissions which have both environmental and tax benefits. These types of EV also have lower running costs and are quiet running and on top of that, there are government grants available to help with the installation and startup.

Cons: One of the disadvantages people are quick to jump to is that BEV’s are still relatively expensive. However, in the long run, particularly when you take charging costs into account, BEV’s turn out more cost effective than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. Another con is that compared to the few minutes it takes to refill a fuel car, BEV’s can seem to have long charging times; but more rapid chargers are becoming more widely available.

Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV)

A PHEV, also known as a plug-in hybrid vehicle, has an engine that is powered by either diesel or petrol and an electric motor that is powered by batteries. Just like a BEV, plug-in hybrid batteries can be replenished by charging at EV chargepoints, although these batteries have a shorter range compared to BEV’s. A PHEV will typically start in electric mode and will run on electricity until the battery pack is depleted, which is usually enough range to drive entirely electrically throughout your daily commute, with the option to switch to a petrol or diesel engine if you need to go farther.

PHEV’s are frequently viewed as an intermediate stage on the way to fully electrified vehicles and can keep the range anxiety at bay since there’s always the security of the fuel engine backup.

Examples: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Volvo XC60 Recharge, Volkswagen Passat GTE

Pros: PHEVs make it easy to complete short journeys using the electric battery but also have the safety net of a fuel engine for longer trips. Since the hybrid is patitally electric it emits less CO2 emissions than a regular combustion engine vehicle.

Cons: The cost of PHEVs is typically more than conventional vehicles and the added weight of the battery can have a partially negative impact on overall efficiency particularly on motorways or high-speed areas. Since the Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle has to make room for both a battery and a fuel tank they tend to be smaller than on average vehicles which means more frequent fill-ups.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs), better known as ‘hybrids’ or ‘self-charging hybrids’ are powered by both electricity and fuel. The difference between a HEV and a PHEV is that Hybrid Electric Vehicles can’t be plugged in to charge whereas PHEVs can be. The fuel engine is the main power source in HEVs with the battery being significantly smaller than other EVs. The small battery means that only short journeys can be accomplished using solely electric range.

Like all the other EVs we’ve discussed, a hybrid vehicle will produce less CO2 than a petrol or diesel model, so there are still tax benefits and environmental advantages associated with running these cars.

Examples: Toyota Prius, Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Pros: HEVs are great for trips through towns and cities since their range is better suited for local journeys. There’s no need to plug in and charge since the regenerative braking system does all the battery recharging for you. Due to the lack of needing to charge the battery, HEVs are cheaper than PHEVs and BEVs. 

Cons: Since the electric battery has a small range HEVs can be inefficient for long journeys. Alongside the ban of petrol and diesel cars and vans, the sale of most new Hybrid Electrical Vehicles will also come to a stop in 2030.  

Mild hybrid electric vehicles (MHEV)

Here’s an extra one just to fill in any gaps and answer those stuttering questions. Some manufacturers refer to MHEVs, AKA ‘mild hybrids’, as hybrid vehicles. This however, isn’t strictly right. Although Mild Hybrid Electric vehicles have electric in the name they aren’t EVs in the same way as the other vehicles we’ve spoken about and can never be run with zero emissions. The EV part of a  MHEV is a small battery pack with an integrated starter-generator whose sole purpose is to improve efficiency and to deliver a tiny boost in acceleration, so the environment doesn’t benefit much from these vehicles.

Having said that, there is a small reduction in CO2 emissions and fuel economy is slightly improved particularly with a small selection of the MHEV models that feature tech that allows the engine to switch off when coasting.

Examples: Suzuki Swift, Audi Q8, Ford Puma

Pros: Since there’s not much ‘electric’ about these cars they feel quite similar to regular fuel vehicles with the added boost in acceleration due to the battery pack. Due to the smaller amount of EV technology held in these MHEVs, they are cheaper than most EV’s and more on par with fuel car prices.

Cons: MHEVs aren’t really hybrid or EV and offer no option to drive in electric mode. Because they can’ be charged they still fully rely on fossil fuels and so the CO2 emission is higher than other types of EV’s.

There you have it, the types of electric vehicles available in the UK and generally worldwide. Zero emission vehicles are the future and the time to take that step into the future is getting closer and closer. BEV’s are the best option when it comes to the economy but if you’re a little hesitant why not try a PHEV, the middleman when it comes to fuel and electric vehicles.

If you have any questions check out our other helpful resources or get in touch.

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