If you are thinking about driving greener with an electrified car, you probably wonder what your options are and need answers to questions before you step away from your gas-powered internal combustion engine vehicle.
Electric vehicles make up only a fraction of new cars on the road. But that figure will increase as automakers continue to introduce new models into the market.
Below, we break down the different EV options, show you the basics of what you need to know about charging, range, ownership costs, safety features, so you can choose the right EV that meets your needs.
Electric Vehicle Types: EV, BEV, HEV, PHEV, and FCEV
An introduction to electric cars begins with explaining the abbreviations used to describe different types of electric vehicles.
EV is the general catch-all term for an electric vehicle. Fully electric cars get all their power from motors that use batteries charged with electricity.
A BEV, or battery-electric vehicle, uses only its electric motor or motors for propulsion. A popular example is the Tesla Model 3 compact sedan. Because they lack a traditional internal combustion engine and use no gasoline, BEVs produce no tailpipe emissions.
HEV stands for hybrid electric vehicles, such as the iconic Toyota Prius mid-size hatchback. An HEV is an electric car that runs on both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor that uses energy from a battery. Hybrids use regenerative braking to store energy when slowing the car to charge its battery. HEVs are known for their fuel economy because their reliance on battery power decreases the amount of fuel the internal combustion engine uses.
A PHEV is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. PHEVs plug into a power outlet to charge their batteries and use a petroleum-based or alternative fuel to power the internal combustion engine. Like a Chrysler Pacifica PHEV minivan, some PHEVs can travel about 50 kilometres on electric power alone, rather than a couple of kilometres with a standard HEV.
An FCEV, like the Hyundai NEXO, is a fuel cell electric vehicle that runs on compressed hydrogen but is not widely available. Filling up an FCEV is similar to fueling up a gas-powered car. Due to the lack of availability of hydrogen fuel stations open to the public, it will take time for FCEVs to expand their availability .
Choosing All-electric or Hybrid
There are many benefits to owning an EV, whether a fully electric model or a plug-in hybrid. For starters, all EVs have lower overall energy costs.
Battery-powered electric vehicles often have lower maintenance costs because they have fewer components than gas-powered cars. BEVs don’t require oil changes or tune-ups, typically only tire rotation and wiper replacement. Fully electric vehicles never need to stop at a gas station for fuel because their batteries can be charged at home when not in use.
PHEVs strike a balance between eco-friendly motoring and go-anywhere flexibility. Most commuters can drive to and from work on electric power alone, while the gas engine stands in reserve waiting for longer road trips.
When charged, a PHEV’s battery pack powers an electric motor. Once that battery pack depletes, a gas engine kicks on seamlessly. Then the car alternates between gasoline and electric power depending on how much is needed. The car’s regenerative braking system captures otherwise lost energy when coasting or slowing down and feeds it to the battery, further reducing its reliance on its gas engine.
Electric Vehicle Range
A battery-electric car range can contribute to apprehension that buyers might feel while deciding to abandon their vehicle that uses a traditional gasoline engine.
Even while today’s BEVs can easily accommodate most daily driving, electric car battery manufacturers continue to improve capacity and recharge times:
- Many BEVs can travel more than 300 km on a full battery charge. Both long-range and short-range EVs can perform well in start-and-stop driving during rush hour.
- BEVs consume significantly more battery at steady speeds on highways when used for more extended getaways.
- Hot weather and cold temperatures reduce the range of electric cars because of air conditioner and heater use.
EV Charging Stations
Some EV drivers worry persistently about depleting the battery without a charging station nearby. One perk of an electric vehicle is that you can plug in and recharge at home or use EV charging stations when you’re out and about.
There are Three Types of Chargers for Electric Cars
Level 1- This level refers to household three-prong outlets like those your computer or a desk lamp will use. Few electric car users charge their vehicles this way simply because of how long it takes. A Chevy Bolt EV, for instance, adds about six kilometres of range per hour this way. This can suffice if you only need to add 30 or 50 km of charge while at work.
Level 2- Most people prefer Level 2 charging capability, whether at home or a public charging station. These chargers provide 240 volts of power and require an external device plugs into a receptacle like an electric clothes dryer. For example, a Level 2 charger can add 40 km of charge per hour to a Bolt.
Level 3- Also called a DC Fast Charger, one of the fastest-charging option is a Level 3 charger. These quick chargers can add 160 km of range to a Bolt in 30 minutes. But you will only find Level 3 options in public charging stations that typically cost money to use.
Remember that charging times are rough guidelines and estimates because electric cars also don’t charge at a constant rate. When looking at the fastest-charging EVs, remember that automakers can claim whatever they’d like.