So you’re in the market for an electric vehicle, but you’re not sure what your options are. Do you commit to a car without a back-up petrol engine, or do you opt for a hybrid instead? As automotive manufacturers experiment with electricity as a power source, your options multiply. What do you need to know, then, before you buy an EV?
At the moment, there are three major types of electric vehicles available to consumer purchase. Automotive manufacturers break these vehicles down by the amount of electricity they require to operate. As a result, you’ll be able to purchase an EV that operates via battery, plug-in/battery hybrid, or solo hybrid electrics.
What does all that mean and which of these EV types will suit your lifestyle best? Take a look through a more detailed breakdown so you can head to your dealer with the perfect EV in mind.
Battery Electric Vehicles
Battery electric vehicles are the vehicles you probably think of first when you hear “EV.” Also referred to as BEVs, they forgo a petrol engine entirely in favour of a rechargeable battery. The high-capacity battery packs these vehicles come equipped with turn an electric motor while also powering your car infotainment system and other electrical features.
These types of cars are often preferred by drivers who want to lessen their carbon footprint, as they release no harmful emissions. That said, they may raise your electric bill, as you need to plug them in to a nearby charging port if you want to keep going during the day.
BEVs have their own in-category break down. Each battery pack has a different power level. BEV manufacturers break down their released vehicles with that power level in mind, assigning their vehicles a Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, or DC rating to reflect the speeds and distances that the applicable vehicles can reach on a single charge.
Each category has its own features, including:
- Level 1 – you can plug a Level 1 electric vehicle into your standard, 120v outlet. These vehicles take the longest to charge of all of those released on the market, sometimes extending their charge time past eight hours. Once charged, you’ll be able to drive between 75 and 80 miles.
- Level 2 – if you want to bring a Level 2 EV home, then you’re going to need to install a specialized charging station in your garage. These vehicles require 240v ports to charge. These chargers, however, will allow a Level 2 vehicle to charge in a mere four hours. Once at full, your EV will get up to 80 miles of distance.
- Level 3 – some automotive manufacturers use Level 3 and DC charging categories interchangeably. Both methods of charging your EV are significantly faster than Level 2 or Level 1’s charging options. Most Level 3 chargers will get you the requisite 80 miles of distance on a two hour charge.
- DC – if you want an obscenely fast charge, then you’re going to need to work with a DC charging port. These ports are expensive to install, but that can get you up to 90 miles of distance on a 30 minute charge.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles
The term “hybrid vehicles” is used to describe the remaining two categories of electric vehicles. Because of its versatility, many future drivers get confused as to what it describes. In general, hybrid cars are vehicles that use a combination of battery and fuel power to drive.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have access to a back-up petrol engine. To charge their primary batteries though, they use a combination of regenerative braking and wall-time to charge their batteries. In this way, these cars are able to lower their emission release without compromising their power.
That said, plug-in hybrid vehicles, also known as PHEVs, tend to perform best when driving short distances. These vehicles will drive between 10 and 50 miles before the fuel-powered engine kicks in. On one hand, this means that the EV will get you further on the road than some of its peers. On the other hand, it also means that you’ll still be releasing emissions.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Hybrid electric vehicles work in much the same way that PHEVs do. However, these vehicles opt out of plug-in benefits entirely. Instead, hybrid electric vehicles rely entirely on regenerative braking and petrol to get them from Point A to Point B.
These vehicles will rely on the electric battery when maintaining speed. They’ll use their petrol engine to bear additional vehicular weight or to accelerate down the road. As a result, they are the least eco-friendly of the EVs but also the ones that are the most reliable on longer road trips.
The benefits of driving electric cars range from environmental to financial. Now that you have a better understanding of the options available to you, why not see how an EV could change the way you use the car?