The popularity of electric vehicles is sharply on the rise, but as consumer interest in electric cars has increased, general knowledge of electric vehicles has not. There are three primary types of electric vehicles as well as a lesser-known fourth type. In this blog, we’ll take a look at each type of electric car, reviewing their features, characteristics, and functions.
A hybrid electric vehicle, or HEV, is only a partially electric vehicle. Hybrid electric vehicles operate using both a conventional internal combustion engine and an electric propulsion system. The electric motor assists the engine, which does most of the work. The purpose of the electric motor is to improve the fuel economy and make the car more efficient so it uses less fuel. These vehicles recharge their propulsion vehicle batteries using their internal combustion engines and regenerative braking systems. Generally speaking, hybrid vehicles cannot move using the electric motor alone—their engine must be running for them to operate. An example of a popular hybrid vehicle is the Toyota Prius.
PHEV stands for plug-in electric hybrid vehicle. These cars are similar to the plain HEVs. However, there are several major differences. PHEVs have larger batteries and electric motors than HEVs do; these batteries are charged by plugging the car in rather than through the use of any internal functioning. These vehicles can also operate without using fuel from their combustion engines for moderate distances, generally varying between 30 to 50 miles, although some fancier PHEVs can go over 120 miles before the combustion engine turns on. An example of one of the most popular types of PHEV is the Ford Fusion Energi.
The most popular type of electric vehicle is the battery electric vehicle (BEV). These vehicles have a battery inside that is 100% powered by electricity. They have an entirely electric drivetrain and are often simply referred to as electric vehicles because of this. BEVs have no combustion engine and cannot run using fuel. Their interior functioning is much simpler and less prone to requiring maintenance than a non-electric vehicle. These vehicles have to 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. A popular example of a BEV would be the Tesla Model 3.
The least common type of electric vehicle is the FCEV, which stands for fuel cell electric vehicle. These cars generate electricity using fuel cell technology. They’re powered by hydrogen and produce electricity in their internal fuel cells by causing an electrochemical hydrogen reaction. These electric vehicles do not need to plug in or charge in order to operate. These systems are composed of a fuel cell stack, a fuel tank filled with hydrogen gas, an electric motor, and a battery. FCEVs do produce exhaust but in the form of water vapor. They are zero-emissions vehicles. An example of this type of vehicle is the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell.
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