If you include hybrid electric vehicles, there are four primary types of electric cars: BEV, HEV, PHEV, and FCEV. These acronyms stand for battery-powered electric vehicle, hybrid electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, and fuel cell electric vehicle respectively. Anyone who wants an eco-friendly car will have to choose from these types of electric cars.
For years, hybrids like the Toyota Prius dominated the electric vehicle market, but as EV technology has improved, BEVs like Tesla’s Model 3 have begun to take over. The growing prominence and popularity of non-hybrid electric vehicles is a trend that is only projected to continue as more and more automotive brands introduce a selection of electric vehicles to their offerings.
But why is this happening? What is it about true electric vehicles that has hybrids beat?
Hybrid vehicles are only partially electric. These cars use an electric propulsion system as well as a conventional internal combustion engine. In hybrid vehicles, their engine does the majority of the work while the electric motor assists its functioning. The purpose of having the electric motor assist is to optimize fuel efficiency so that the car uses less gas. These vehicles recharge their propulsion vehicle batteries using their internal combustion engines and regenerative braking systems. Most hybrid vehicles require the engine to run in order to operate and can’t move using the electric motor alone.
In comparison, BEVs rely upon a battery inside that is 100% powered by electricity. They have an entirely electric drivetrain, no combustion engine, and no way to run using fuel. Because they’re battery-powered and don’t require gas, their internal workings are simpler and lighter than non-electric vehicles. This means that BEVs require less maintenance and are more aerodynamic, allowing them superior performance and the ability to accelerate extraordinarily rapidly. These performance benefits are part of what makes BEVs so popular.
Instead of using gas, these vehicles must be charged in order to drive. A full battery typically allows a BEV to travel between 250 and 350 miles before running out of power. The precise distance a BEV can run between charges depends on the specific make and model. This is comparable to the average distance a gas-powered car can travel on a single tank—between 200 and 400 miles.
This means you can drive just as far in an electric car as a traditional vehicle without spending money on gas and with significantly reduced maintenance needs.
The major downside of a BEV is that charging takes much more time than filling a gas tank does—but solutions to this are coming. Israeli scientists proposed a plan to swap dead batteries for fully charged ones at gas stations. There are also fuel cell electric vehicles, a type of EV that has been gaining traction, that doesn’t need to charge. In the very near future, concerns about time spent charging will be a thing of the past.