There are three main types of electric cars: Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV), Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV). They are classified by how they use electricity, as opposed to gasoline, as their primary means of propulsion. In terms of being good for the planet, Battery Electric Vehicles are the most environmentally friendly cars, Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles are second, Hybrid Electric Vehicles third, and gasoline-powered vehicles … well, you know how they rate.
Which Electric Car Is Best?
Picking the best electric car to suit your needs generally boils down to two major considerations: range and recharging. Of course EV price, aesthetics, rebates, and a many other issues come into play. However, before you can begin to address those, you need to understand and consider your electric car’s limited range and recharging requirements.
If you pick an EV with a 300+ mile range and plan on installing a Level 2 charging station in your garage, range is not much of an issue unless you plan to embark on a significant road-trip. However, if you pick an electric car that only gets 125 miles when fully-charged and will rely on a Level 1 household slow-charger, range can be an issue even with your regular day-to-day commute. Therefore, it is important to consider how far you plan to drive your EV and how you plan to recharge its battery pack. BEVs, being all electric, are great for the environment but can’t be quickly refueled at a standard gas station. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are not suited for long range travel … you just need to be willing to put in the work.
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)
Battery Electric Vehicles, also called BEVs, are fully-electric vehicles that do not rely on a gasoline engine for propulsion. They store electricity onboard in high-capacity battery packs, which in turn power one ore more electric motors. A discussed above, range and recharging are major considerations when choosing a BEV.
Generally, BEVs have no gasoline engine at all. However, there are certain exceptions such as the BMW i3 with Range Extender (REx). The i3 is a fully-electric BEV without a gasoline driven powertrain. Yet, interestingly, it offers a Range Extender option that provides a small integrated gasoline-powered .6 liter engine that does nothing more than generate electricity to recharge the i3’s batteries. The REx is not connected to the powertrain itself and does not in any way help physically propel the car. It simply activates and generates electricity for the batteries when their charge drops below a certain level.
Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) Manufacturers
The following manufacturers offer fully-electric Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs):
Models: BMW i3, BMW i4
Models: Chevy Bolt, Chevy Leaf
Model: Ford Focus Electric
Model: Hyundai Ioniq
Model: Karma Revera
Model: Kia Soul
Model: Mitsubishi i-MiEV
Model: Nissan LEAF
Models: Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model S, Tesla X
Model: Toyota Rav4
Model: Volkswagen e-Golf
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles, also called PHEVs, are gasoline powered vehicles that augment their powertrain with at least one electric motor. Sometimes the electric motor is propelling the PHEV, sometimes the gas engine, and sometimes they are working together. Electricity to power the electric motor is both generated internally, via regenerative braking, and delivered externally via Level 1 chargers or Level 2 charging stations. Although not as good for the environment as fully-electric BEVs, PHEVs do not suffer from range issues as their gasoline engines can be refueled at any standard service station. Whereas standard hybrids typically travel only a few miles before the gasoline engine kicks in, PHEVs can travel up to 40 miles in fully-electric mode.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Manufacturers
The following manufacturers offer Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs):
Model: Audi A3 E-Tron
Models: BMW 330e, BMW i8, BMW X5 xdrive40e
Model: Chevy Volt
Model: Chrysler Pacifica
Model: Fiat 500e
Models: Ford C-Max Energi, Ford Fusion Energi
Model: Hyundai Sonata
Model: Kia Optima
Models: Mercedes C350e, Mercedes S550e, Mercedes GLE550e
Model: Mini Cooper SE Countryman
Models: Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
Model: Toyota Prius
Model: Volvo XC90 T8
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)
Hybrid Electric Vehicles, also called HEVs, are powered by both gasoline and electricity, but have no plug-in option like PHEVs. Instead, HEVs’ batteries are recharged through regenerative breaking.
Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Manufacturers
Model: Civic Hybrid
Models: Camry Hybrid, Prius Hybrid