What is an Electric Vehicle?

Everything You Need to Know About Electric Vehicles

 

As more and more vehicle manufacturers consider moving towards electrification in order to reduce C02 emissions, we felt that it would be beneficial to talk about the different technologies.

 

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

A BEV comprises of two major components: a battery and an electric motor. To charge the battery it must be plugged into an external source.

Strengths

These types of vehicles produce zero tailpipe emissions and so because of this, you can benefit from not having to pay road tax. With earlier BEV’s, there used to be major concern regarding the range, but mainstream brands are now offering vehicles with ranges up to 270-plus miles.

Weaknesses

Perhaps the biggest weakness to having an electric vehicle is having to charge as there is a lot of criticism surrounding the UK’s charging infrastructure, however this is improving slowly.

 

Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV)

These types of vehicles contain an ICE (Internal combustion engine), usually petrol, a battery and an electric motor. They can be used as pure electric vehicles and be powered by the battery alone until the charge runs out, this is when the car will be solely powered by the internal combustion engine. Plug-In Hybrids also have ‘auto’ modes, this allows the vehicle to switch between the two power sources – or sue both at the same time.

Strengths

They are the best of both worlds, offering zero emission motoring but also the convenience of an ICE vehicle when covering longer distance.

Weaknesses

Current PHEVs tend to have an electric-only range of up to 40 miles.

 

Extended Range Electric Vehicle

An EREV works with the same components as the plug-in hybrid that we previously mentioned. It has an ICE, a battery and an electric motor, however they are used differently in this case to ensure less C02 is produced. The range extender – usually a small petrol engine – charges the battery which then supplies the vehicles motor with electricity to drive the wheels. The battery can also be charged form an external source.

Strengths

EREVs are the next greenest alternative to a battery electric vehicle.

Weaknesses

The technology used in this case is not widely available, with no EREVs being sold in the UK at present.

 

Hybrid

Hybrids have an ICE and an electric motor. They can be powered either directly by the motor, the engine, or both by working together. The battery in these kinds of vehicles is usually smaller than that in a PHEV and cannot be charged from an external source. Hybrids generate energy through the car’s braking system – known as regenerative braking – and by their engines.

Strengths

They should use less fuel and emit less C02 than a petrol or diesel vehicle. They are also more convenient as they do not need to be charged from an external source.

Weaknesses

As they are not as efficient as PHEVs or BEVs they do not qualify for the government’s £3,000 plug-in car grant.

 

Mild Hybrid

Like a regular hybrid, these sorts of vehicles have both an ICE and an electric motor, however, use a much smaller battery.  The battery stores energy generated by braking, but the electric motor cannot power the car on its own: it is used to support the engine during acceleration or cruising.

Strengths

Mild hybrids can improve fuel economy by 5.2% compared to regular petrol vehicles and are generally cheaper than PHEVs and BEVs as they do not need to be plugged into an external source to charge.

Weaknesses

They do not offer the same efficiency gains as hybrid technology.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)

A FCEV has its own power plant on board – the fuel cell – rather than needing to be charged from an external source. It uses a process called reverse electrolysis. This is where the hydrogen is carried in the vehicles fuel tanks, reacts with oxygen from the ambient air to create electrical energy, heat and water. This powers a motor to drive the wheels.

Strengths

They have no tailpipe emissions except for water but take a fraction of the time to refill. It takes around 5 minutes to fill an FCEV with enough hydrogen for around 300 miles.

Weaknesses

The refuelling infrastructure in the UK is extremely limited, with just 17 refuelling stations.

 

Now you’re all clued up about electric vehicles. We hope this information helps when you’re looking for your next vehicle!

 

Until next time

 

 

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