Unpacking the Different Types of Electric Cars
Electric cars offer many benefits to both their owners and the environment! Driving an electric car emits 54% fewer carbon dioxide emissions per mile than the average new gasoline car. Moreover, the cost of ‘fueling’ electric vehicles averages about half as much as a gasoline-fueled vehicles. ($1.03 per electric egallon, versus $2.66 gasoline according to the egallon calculator at energy.gov).
With more than 1.5 million electric cars currently operating in the United States, electric car sales are forecasted to surpass 3.5 million PER YEAR by 2030. The electric car movement is gaining speed!
Not all-electric cars operate the same way. Four main types of electric cars exist on the roads today.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) are the type of electric car that has been on the market the longest. HEVs include a small battery pack that is not charged by plugging in, but rather the batteries in hybrids are charged by the internal combustion engine and/or the braking process. HEVs function as battery-assisted vehicles and are not powered solely by batteries at any given time. Many modern HEVs are touted to make around 50 mpg for both city and highway.
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) (also known as EVs) do not rely on any gasoline to power the vehicle and have zero tailpipe emissions. EV operators simply plug their vehicles in at home or at a public charging station to charge. BEVs also generate electricity from braking, similar to HEVs, and use this as a secondary energy source. Unfortunately, EVs are somewhat limited in how far they can drive on a single charge. Most EVs have all-electric ranges of 80 to 100 miles, while a few have ranges up to 250 miles. On longer road trips, these gas-free vehicles rely on the availability of charging stations to continue the trip, which are sometimes difficult to find. EV owners are encouraged to map their route and know where public charging stations are located in comparison. Depending on the model, it may take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to recharge a vehicle, much longer than the average stop at a gas station.
Plug-in Hybrid EVs run on both battery power and gasoline and have much smaller battery packs than BEVs. The all-battery range in these vehicles is typically between five and 30 miles, and then the internal combustion engine is responsible for anything beyond that. Plug-in hybrids effectively reduce operator emissions for short trips around town; longer trips are powered by gasoline.
Range Extender Hybrid EVs (REHs) function the same as plug-in hybrids, but have higher battery ranges due to design differences. Examples include the BMWi3 and the discontinued Chevrolet Volt. Some REHs drive more than 50 miles on a single charge. In addition to battery power, they also feature a traditional internal combustion engine, with some models making more than 40 miles per gallon once the battery is drained.
With technology constantly improving, vehicle manufacturers plan to debut electric pick-up trucks in 2021 and many cities are moving toward electric public transportation. The electric car industry does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon!