The 3 Types of Electric Vehicles

The 3 Types of Electric Vehicles

Cars have gone electric in a big way, and it’s just going to get bigger. With technology getting better all the time, electric vehicles (EVs) are continually improving in terms of performance, efficiency, and dependability, so they are becoming more and more popular around the world.

The bigger demand for the various types of electric vehicles is driven mostly by a movement toward using more renewable energy forms. A series of modern innovations have turned today’s high-tech EVs into viable transportation alternatives for many.

What is an Electric Vehicle?

An electric vehicle, simply defined, is a car or truck that uses a battery or series of batteries (typically lithium-ion) for its power source, either on its own or in conjunction with a traditional fuel-burning internal combustion engine.

Most are relatively small passenger cars, but there are also trucks and vans, SUVs, buses, motorcycles, and scooters. Today there are estimated to be a little over five million electric vehicles in use worldwide, with the United States accounting for roughly a fifth of them. (China has more than any other nation, and Norway has the highest percentage.)

Though they still account for a small percentage of the total of vehicles in use, sales keep rising each year and are expected to accelerate over the next few years, especially in places where there are tightening regulations on the use of non-renewable fossil fuels.

While they are still very much the exception rather than the rule, several different types of electric vehicles are certainly pulling into the mainstream, and for a few good reasons. They are more energy-efficient, they create little to no pollution, and they run smooth and quiet.

There are drawbacks, too, particularly with the types of electric vehicles that have a shorter range than a typical commute or that have to be plugged in to be recharged, keeping you on a short leash, so to speak.

But there’s always a trade-off, isn’t there?

The growing variety of EVs on the market falls into a few different categories, but today’s consumers can generally choose from three types of electric vehicles:

HEV: Hybrid Electric Vehicle

Commonly called “hybrids,” these have a conventional engine that works alongside a smaller electric motor powered by a battery pack that recharges as you drive with a system that converts braking into energy.

The Toyota Prius is the world’s most popular HEV, and is probably the first one that comes to mind for most people. Others are the Kia Optima Hybrid, the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Ford Escape Hybrid, and the Hyundai Ioniq.

The HEV is often called “the best of both worlds.” It’s a great option because you don’t have to plug it in to recharge it like you do with the other types of electric vehicles. Your driving range is unlimited as long as your tank’s not empty, and the fuel economy is dramatically improved with the electric motor’s assistance.

You’re still burning gas, but you’re helping greatly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

BEV: Battery Electric Vehicle

These are different from HEVs in that they don’t have an engine at all. These electric vehicles are powered solely by an electric motor, so there’s no tailpipe, much less tailpipe emissions.

They have high-capacity battery packs that have to be juiced up before you go, but they can typically be charged by plugging into a standard household outlet. Popular BEVs include the Chevy Bolt, the Hyundai Kona, the Ford Focus Electric, the Nissan Leaf, and the Tesla Model 3.

PHEV: Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle

Just as the name implies, you’ve got to plug in these types of electric vehicles to recharge them, and you’ve got a limited range that you can run solely on battery power. But you’ve got a conventional motor under the hood, too, which kicks in for those extra miles or when more power is needed. Like the similar HEVs, exhaust emissions help to generate electricity for the batteries.

PHEVs are sometimes referred to as Extended-Range Electric Vehicles, and popular models include the Toyota Prius PHV, the Chevy Volt series, and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

If you’re in the market for a car or truck that uses less or no fuel and can help get you off the grid, hopefully, this information enables you to compare the different types of electric vehicles and decide which one is best for your situation.

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