Making sense of EV

When it comes to how vehicles are powered, the industry is moving in a cleaner, greener direction. Automotive OEMs are thinking beyond the long-used internal combustion engine towards electric vehicles (EVs). But there is a wide array of EVs available and countless acronyms to describe and differentiate them.

Getting your head around all these acronyms is not always easy, so we have put together this guide to explain the types of EVs available today, how they work, and how many are actually in use.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
No gas engine – this car is powered only by a battery (zero emissions). Most BEVs are capable of fast charging and Level 2 (L2) charging – see here for an explanation of charging methods.

Numbers on the road:
Up to August 2021, there were 85,032 BEVs registered in the UK this year, accounting for almost 10% of all new cars.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)
The car generates its electricity from regenerative braking to charge the batteries to power the electric motor. HEVs can travel typically 1-2 miles before a gas-powered engine kicks in and are really good for cities where there’s a lot of stop-start driving. It’s a low-emission vehicle too. The downside? It cannot be powered with electric chargers.

Numbers on the road:
11.9% of cars registered in the UK in August 2021 were HEVs.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)
PHEVs have an electric motor and a larger battery than HEVs. They can run anywhere from 10-40 miles before the gas engine starts, at which point the car becomes more like an HEV. In true hybrid style, it has both a gas tank and a charging port. It has a longer range than battery electric vehicles (BEVs), but the batteries add weight, making it less economical on a motorway.

Numbers on the road:
PHEVs currently account for 6.6% of new cars in the UK, with 68,107 registered up to August 2021.

Mild Hybrid
Mild Hybrids replace the alternator and starter with an electric motor. As with HEVs, the car typically generates its electricity from regenerative braking to charge the batteries that power its motor, and typically reduces fuel consumption by turning off the engine when the car is coasting, braking or stopped. However, it cannot start moving using electricity alone. A gas-powered engine is required to move the vehicle.

Numbers on the road:
Up to August 2021, there were 206,173 mild hybrid electric vehicles registered in the United Kingdom. That accounts for 18.7% of all UK sales.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)
Power is generated by converting the chemical energy of hydrogen into mechanical energy by mixing it with oxygen in a fuel cell. It is perhaps the cleanest car available – the exhaust output is H2O, and hydrogen is readily available, which is not the case for lithium which is used in batteries. Hydrogen is fed into the car at refuelling stations, similar to petrol stations, but the refuelling infrastructure is not yet in place to support FCEVs on a mass scale.

Numbers on the road:
In Q4 2020, there were 31,225 passenger vehicles powered by hydrogen on the world’s roads out of 1.06 billion in total.

Range extender
Powered purely by an electric motor, but with a small diesel or petrol engine that is used to recharge the batteries (the engine doesn’t drive the wheels at any point). It provides an extra 70-100 miles of range once the batteries have run dry, but the engine’s extra weight means the batteries are drained quicker than with a BEV.

Numbers on the road:
We couldn’t find any definitive data for range extenders, which almost certainly means there aren’t many.

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Published by ACCESS Europe

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