The Different Types of Electric Vehicles Explained


Electric cars are becoming increasingly popular for their environment-friendly functioning and minimal running costs, especially when you talk about battery electric vehicles. In fact, it's expected that many governments will ban the sales of petrol cars by 2035.

Given this, it's essential to know electric vehicle (EV) types so that you can make an informed purchase decision. In this post, we'll understand what EVs really are and explore their different types.

Let's get started!

What Are Electric Vehicles?

As the name implies, electric vehicles are fully or partially powered by an electric motor. This electric motor is powered by a battery, which you can recharge from an external source (just like you refuel a petrol car). 

Since EVs don’t need petrol to run, they don’t release harmful gases and put a burden on the limited fossil fuel reserves that we have. This makes them more environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient. Plus, there are minimal parts within an EV's engine, meaning they tend to last long. 

Of course, all of these benefits come with a high upfront cost. So before you understand the different types of EVs and make your buying decision, consider also learning about EV car insurance from ROLLiN' Insurance.

The 5 Types of Electric Vehicles Explained

Electric vehicles are classified based on the type of battery they use. Given this, there are 5 types of electric vehicles.

1. Battery Electric Vehicles

Battery electric vehicles, also known as BEVs, are all-electric or “true electric” vehicles. This means they do not have an internal combustion engine and are completely powered by lithium-ion batteries. 

Currently, there are over 50 models of BEVs, with Tesla offering the widest range of options. Newer brands of electric cars are expanding the list by adding more chic and budget-friendly BEVs to the list, such as ACE Urban.  

Usually, all-electric vehicles offer a range of 50 - 350 miles, which means they can drive up to 50 - 350 miles on a single charge. Once the charge runs out, you can recharge the battery at home or a charging station.

Since charging stations are not very common yet, recharging the vehicle on a long trip can be challenging, which makes BEVs more suitable for driving within a major city.

On the upside, all-electric cars and trucks are highly environmentally friendly. They have minimal emissions and hardly contribute to air pollution. They're also easier to maintain and have super low running costs (you can completely charge a car for only 14 - 20 AUD).

Moreover, there are three types of chargers for electric cars:

  • Level 1
  • Level 2
  • Level 3

Level one is the slowest, while level 3 is the quickest.

2. Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) — also called Mild Hybrid Vehicles (MHEVs) or Battery Assisted Hybrid Vehicles (BAHVs) — combine electric motors and traditional internal combustion engines. You can run these vehicles with both electricity and petrol/diesel.

Usually, the electric motor within the vehicle comes in handy when the petrol runs out or when higher speeds are required (such as on a highway).

In any case, HEVs never rely completely on the electric motor. Either the vehicle runs only on an internal combustion engine (ICE) or combines the efforts of both the ICE and the electric motor.

These vehicles are not as environmentally-friendly as BEVs and are often expensive to maintain. You can think of them as more of a “luxury electric vehicle”. To learn more about luxury hybrid electric cars visit Prestige Cars for more information.

3. Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicles

These are a subtype of HEVs, but their electric motors are much more powerful. So much so, they can power the entire vehicle independently. This means unlike in an HEV, the internal combustion engine can be completely switched off in a plugin hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

These vehicles are also known as Full Hybrid Electric Vehicles (FHEVs), and although they are not the greenest electric vehicle type, they are better than HEVs in terms of emissions.

4. Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

Fuel-cell electric cars do not use lithium-ion batteries to power the vehicle. Instead, they run on hydrogen.

These cars have internal tanks for hydrogen that store compressed and pressurised hydrogen. When the car runs, an electrochemical process occurs in the fuel cell where electrons in the hydrogen atoms are separated to produce current. This, in turn, powers the car.

Once used up, the hydrogen atoms combine with oxygen atoms and form water vapour. Hence, a fuel-cell electric car basically produces water vapour as an emission. 

However, it’s important to note that 96% of hydrogen currently comes from fossil fuels. Couple this with the fact that the infrastructure and transport of hydrogen is poor, and you’ll find that the industry is now moving away from this EV type. 

5. Solar Electric Vehicles

Solar electric vehicles are like typical BEVs. However, they come equipped with photovoltaic cells in addition to a lithium-ion battery, meaning they can be charged using sunlight. 

Technically, you can use this vehicle with zero running costs. Just charge the batteries using sunlight and enjoy your ride! But this also means you'll be highly dependent on the sun. So if you live in colder and darker areas, this EV type might not be a great choice for you. 

That's because solar electric vehicles are generally more expensive than BEVs. Since the sun will not be in your favour and you won't get to use photovoltaic cells, it's better to buy a cheaper BEV instead.

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