Types of New Electric Cars

Types-of-Electric-Cars

Types of Electric Vehicles

 

 

There are a few types of electric vehicles currently available on the market.  An electric vehicle is propelled by an electric motor, either full-time or on a part-time basis.  As you can imagine there are varying degrees of environmental impact as some electric vehicles still rely on fossil fuels to extend their range.

 

 

A typical auto consumer should be aware of at least a couple of electric vehicle offers that are available, specifically pure electric and hybrid vehicles.  There are three types of hybrid electric vehicles available that can greatly affect your buying decision, which would be based on your needs.  I intend to clarify the different electric car types that are available so you can decide which type would best suit your needs.

 

I would like for you to have all of the information you need before stepping into a dealership rather than being drawn to an electric vehicle that is close but does not quite check all the boxes on your car checklist.  

 

Keep in mind that not every automotive manufacturer has a version of every type of electric vehicle.  

 

 

5 Types of Electric Vehicles

 

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

The battery electric vehicle is commonly referred to as the pure electric vehicle. This is the stereotypical electric vehicle as it is consists of a battery pack, an onboard charger, and an electric motor. This is the most eco-friendly electric vehicle available as there are no emissions produced directly by driving a BEV.  

 

 

 

Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV)

 

The extended range electric vehicle is also known as a range extender.  This is a misunderstood electric vehicle as it looks a lot like a plug-in electric hybrid.  The EREV is a mix of the battery electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.  It has an onboard gasoline-powered generator to recharge the batteries once a specific lower threshold is hit, typically 30%.  The main difference is that this EV is always powered by the electric motor.

 

 

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle can be powered by the electric motor or an internal combustion engine.  This is a cross between a battery electric vehicle and an internal combustion vehicle.  The pure electric range is lower than that of a battery electric vehicle.

 

 

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)

The hybrid electric vehicle, sometimes called full hybrid, can run on the electric motor, the internal combustion engine, or a combination of both.  The main difference with the PHEV is that the batteries are not able to be plugged in for recharging.  There are different combinations of electric motor and battery capacities though the range is lower than a PHEV.

 

 

 

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)

The fuel-cell electric vehicle is similar to an extended range electric vehicle without the batteries and internal combustion engine.  The fuel cell generates electricity chemically instead of through combustion.  This replaces the battery as the fuel cell can generate on demand for the electric motor.  This still requires a fuel like hydrogen, also known as a hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (HFEV).  The chemical reaction for the hydrogen fuel-cell consists of the hydrogen on the anode side of the membrane with oxygen introduced on the cathode side.  This draws the hydrogen (H2) molecules through the membrane which creates an electric charge.  The end result is H2O, water, on the cathode side which is released from the fuel-cell into the atmosphere as clean water.

 

 

Image from Wikipedia

 

It should be noted that every type of electric vehicle uses regenerative braking to counteract the use of accessories like power steering and air conditioning that draw power away from the electric motors.

 

Pros and Cons for Each EV Type

 

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

 

Pros:

  • Zero tailpipe emissions.  
  • With responsible electricity generation there can also be zero environmental impact.
  • Due to the electric motor propulsion, driving sound levels are reduced to road noises from tires, suspension and the wind. 
  • No dependence on foreign oil and gas stations for refueling.  
  • Recharging can be done at home at your convenience.  
  • No transmission which removes another mechanical component in the drivetrain.

 

Cons:

  • Range is limited compared to the other electric vehicles.  
  • Pedestrians with hearing and visual disabilities are at higher risk without engine sounds to alert them of oncoming vehicles.  More care needs to be taken by the driver to look out for these people as they may not know you are approaching.
  • A home electric vehicle charging station will need to be purchased and installed to provide charging of battery only electric vehicles.

 

 

Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV)

 

Pros:

  • The vehicle can remain in the battery operated mode for lower driving ranges. For longer range, the vehicle uses an onboard generator to extend the range further than a BEV.  
  • At all times this vehicle is powered by the electric motor.  When the battery charge has depleted the gasoline driven generator is operated at a constant speed which reduces inefficiencies that are caused by varied rotating velocities and demand.
  • Does not require a transmission.

 

Cons:

  • Relies on gasoline for longer trips, though is limited to use only as a generator.  
  • The gasoline powered generator does not recharge the battery, rather it maintains the current charge once the battery charge lower limit is reached.
  • Will also require an electric vehicle charging station to be installed at home to recharge the electric vehicle.

 

 

 

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

 

Pros:

  • Can be driven using the battery and electric motor on short drives like a daily commuter.  
  • Can be charged to maintain the batteries and driving in battery only mode within the vehicle specific electric range.

 

Cons:

  • Uses a gasoline engine to power the vehicle once the battery is depleted.  This requires a transmission that is coupled to both the electric motor and gasoline engine.  
  • A charging station is required to keep the vehicle battery topped up for use of the battery only drive mode.

 

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)

 

Pro:

  • A separate charging station is not required to recharge the vehicle battery.
  • Has one of the longest ranges for electric vehicles.

 

Cons:

  • Heavy reliance on gasoline to run the vehicle, similar to an internal combustion engine vehicle.  
  • Uses the electric motor to add power and torque to the vehicle as a boost to the gasoline drive engine.  
  • Requires a transmission which couples both the electric motor and gasoline engine.  
  • Some are not perceived as electric vehicles due to the high use of gasoline fuel to directly drive the vehicle.

 

 

 

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)

 

Pros:

  • An electric motor is used to drive the vehicle at all times.  This means that no transmission is required, and has fewer moving parts.  
  • Can be driven for longer ranges than other electric vehicles as it is not limited to the battery pack capacity.  
  • Does not need a charging station due to the lack of batteries.

 

Con:

  • Needs to be refueled at specific recharging stations that carry  fuel like liquid hydrogen.  
  • The liquid hydrogen (LH) infrastructure for refueling is not as widespread in North America as it is in Europe, which has been using this for more than a decade.  

 

 

 

 

Each electric vehicle has their own unique features that appeal to the different requirements that drivers are looking for,  and each fill a need in the auto marketplace.  The largest change has happened in hybrid electric vehicles in recent years due to increased battery sizes.  This has increased the range and lowered the size of the internal combustion engine.  

 

As the electric vehicle market has grown,  varying consumer demands have required automakers to create the above listed vehicle types to address range anxiety and eco-friendliness.  If you haven’t already, I invite you to read our earlier article pertaining to range anxiety for further information.

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