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The Different Types of Electric Vehicles


Table of Contents

We are in the midst of an electric vehicle (EV) revolution. It’s important to understand the many types of EVs that are available and a little bit about the technology they employ as electric vehicles gain popularity on Australian roads.

What is an electric vehicle?

An electric vehicle, such as an electric automobile, accelerates and drives using one or more electric motors that are powered by a battery pack. Depending on the kind of EV, the electric motor(s) may complement an ICE or provide all of the vehicle’s power.

What are the different types of electric vehicles?

When talking about EVs, we generally refer to three main types of electric vehicles: hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV).

What is a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)?

HEVs do this by utilising an electric motor to propel the vehicle when an ICE would be particularly wasteful, such as while accelerating from a standstill. While it is more efficient to do so, such as when travelling at highway speeds, hybrids may also favour the ICE engine.

Due to the fact that owners may only refuel hybrid cars with conventional fuels, they operate most similarly to conventional ICE vehicles (usually petrol).

Drivers don’t need to check the battery charge or plug the cars into power outlets since HEV technology automatically charges the battery through a process known as “regenerative braking” and turns on the electric motor system when the conditions are right.

What is a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)?

Similar to a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) combines an internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electric motor and battery pack. However, there are several key distinctions.

Due to the fact that the electric system performs the majority of the work when driving, PHEVs often feature bigger battery packs and more potent electric motors than hybrids. This implies that PHEVs may operate exclusively on electricity, turning off the ICE completely.

As the automobile will automatically recharge the battery and transition between ICE and electric power dependent on conditions, driving a plug-in hybrid is comparable to driving a hybrid. Drivers can choose to refuel PHEVs with both petrol and electricity, though.

If the battery’s charge is completely depleted, a PHEV may run only on gasoline.

What is a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)?

An “all-electric” or “full-electric” car is referred to as a battery electric vehicle (BEV). BEVs only use electricity, with onboard battery packs serving as a source of current for the electric motors in each vehicle. BEVs lack all ICE components.

BEVs often feature substantially greater capacity batteries and kilowatt-hour (kWh) outputs than equivalent hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric cars due to their exclusive reliance on electricity. BEVs often cost more than other types of EVs because of the additional battery technology.

To operate, BEVs need to be charged. This can be accomplished using a rapid charging station, a home charger, or energy recovered during regenerative braking.

What about mild-hybrid electric vehicles (MHEV) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV)?

Two further types of electric cars that are available in Australia are mild-hybrid electric vehicles (MHEV) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).

An integrated starter generator (ISG), also known as a 48-volt starting motor, is used as an additional ICE in mild hybrid electric vehicles. Since the ISG only helps the ICE but cannot accelerate the car on its own, there is still debate about whether MHEV can be referred to as a “real EV”.

While fuel cell electric cars (FCEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV) both exclusively utilise electrical energy to move, their methods for storing energy are significantly dissimilar.

FCEVs generate their own electrical charge by a chemical process, typically utilising hydrogen, in contrast to BEVs, which store electrical energy obtained from a charger. Thus, hydrogen and other fuels may be used to fill FCEVs.

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