Types Of Electric Vehicles: A Short Guide

Volvo electric cars


Electric Cars: The Basics


For those of you new to zero-emission electric driving, we recommend a read of the following articles:


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As we fast approach the end of 2021, if there is one certainty, it is, that electric vehicles (EVs) are here to stay and become a significant part of the UK transportation framework. Electric cars have certainly come a long way since the days of the 1st generation pure electric Nissan Leaf (2010). Today most major global automotive manufacturers have either committed to, or introduced electric vehicles for their core markets.

Companies like Volkswagen, Volvo, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz are already selling different types of electric vehicles. Of course, relatively newer companies like Tesla Inc., are also leading the march towards zero-tailpipe emission electric driving. Changing consumer tastes, new legislation and innovation are all fuelling the rapid migration to electric cars in the UK, and other markets.

As we continue to approach 2030 i.e. the year the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned in the UK, we can expect a significant increase in the uptake of environmentally friendly electric cars. You can lease electric cars at fantastic prices via e-zoomed by following this link!


Electric Vehicles (EVs)


Electric Vehicles” is a broad ‘umbrella term’ used to describe a number of different types of vehicles that use some form of electric power (electric motor) for propulsion. EVs come in all shapes and sizes, to include passenger cars, commercial vans, buses and even more! Today there are more than 200 models of EVs available on sale globally.

Tesla Model 3 electric car
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Though electric cars like the Tesla Model 3 battery-electric vehicle (BEV), have inspired many to migrate to electric driving, other EVs like the hydrogen fuelled, Toyota Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), will continue to play an important role in the ever changing technological landscape of electric driving. For the medium term, we can expect battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) to take the dominant technological position, but we expect much to change over the next 30 to 50 years in terms of electric car,s and the technology in the lead!

Electric Vehicles include:

  • BEVs: Battery Electric Vehicles (electricity only)
  • HEVs: Hybrid Electric Vehicles (electricity, petrol/diesel)
  • PHEVs: Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (electricity, petrol/diesel)
  • E-REVs: Extended Range Electric Vehicles (electricity, petrol/diesel)
  • FCEVs: Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (electricity, hydrogen)

This short guide will help you to understand the terminology used for each of these types of electric vehicle, what each can do, what the limits are and any features of that type, so you can make the right decision when selecting your next, or first, electric car.


Battery-Electric Vehicle (BEV)


Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), also known as ‘pure electric vehicles’ or ‘all-electric vehicles (AEVs), are powered entirely by electricity. They don’t have a petrol engine, fuel tank or exhaust pipe. Well known electric cars such as the all-electric Tesla Model X and pure electric Nissan LEAF, are good examples of a BEV.

In fact, the majority of EVs on sale today in the UK are BEVs. The electric vehicle runs via electricity stored in a large EV battery (and an electric drive train), usually placed along the floor of the vehicle. BEVs are plug-in electric vehicles i.e. the EV is charged by using a dedicated external EV charge point, like a Wallbox electric car charging point. A BEV can be charged at home ( AC residential charging) or on the road (AC or DC public charging). However, in most cases, BEVs are charged overnight at home.

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The size of the EV battery (measured in kWh) will depend on the type of vehicle. However, in general, we have witnessed an increase in the average size of an EV battery over the past three years, and in many cases, the BEV variant will have a choice of battery size. Of course, the larger the EV battery, the higher the WLTP electric driving range, and yes, the more expensive the EV variant.

In general, BEVs positioned for those living in the city i.e. like the all-electric Honda e, the EV battery size will be smaller (35.5 kWh). However, BEVs positioned for living away from the city will have a larger EV battery capacity and a longer range. The all-electric Tesla Model S Long Range has a 95 kWh EV battery with a range up to 412 miles.

These all-electric vehicles (AEVs) also have an internal way of charging it’s batteries, using what is called Regenerative Braking. Regenerative Braking uses the effort of slowing the vehicle to recharge the internal battery, making the most of the kinetic and heat energy that most cars waste.

In Battery Electric Vehicles, electricity is stored within onboard high-capacity battery packs. These are batteries specifically designed to power a car, or other vehicle, not the ones you might be used to. The battery packs are used for all the electronics with the BEV, along with the electric motor.

The cost of charging a BEV depend primarily on the size of the EV battery and the cost of electricity. It can range from as little as £2.40 to £15 to fully charge an EV battery i.e. significantly cheaper than filling a full tank of fuel! We encourage all EV owners to use green energy for charging their EV to truly achieve zero-emission driving.

BEVs are approved for the UK government plug-in car grant. To learn more about EV incentives, follow this link.

Average Cost Of Residential Charging
Battery net capacity : 16.7 kWh£2.40
Battery net capacity : 30.0 kWh£4.32
Battery net capacity : 39.2 kWh£5.64
Battery net capacity : 45.0 kWh£6.48
Battery net capacity : 50.0 kWh£7.20
Battery net capacity : 64.0 kWh£9.22
Battery net capacity : 71.0 kWh£10.22
Battery net capacity : 77.0 kWh£11.09
Battery net capacity : 90.0 kWh£12.96
Battery net capacity : 100.0 kWh£14.40
  • Note 1: The average cost of residential electricity in the UK varies depending on the region, supplier and type of energy used. An average for the UK is 14.40 p/kWh.
  • Note 2: Not all EV manufactures make available the data on net EV battery capacity, and in a number of instances the EV battery capacity advertised, does not state if it is gross or net capacity. In general, usable EV battery capacity is between 85% to 95% of the gross available capacity.

Charging Times (Overview)
Slow charging AC (3 kW – 3.6 kW):6 – 12 hours (dependent on size of EV battery & SOC)
Fast charging AC (7 kW – 22 kW):3 – 8 hours (dependent on size of EV battery & SoC)
Rapid charging AC (43 kW):0-80%: 20 mins to 60 mins (dependent on size of EV battery & SoC)
Rapid charging DC (50 kW+):0-80%: 20 mins to 60 mins (dependent on size of EV battery & SoC)
Ultra rapid charging DC (150 kW+):0-80% : 20 mins to 40 mins (dependent on size of EV battery & SoC)
Tesla Supercharger (120 kW – 250 kW):0-80%: up to 25 mins (dependent on size of EV battery & SoC)
  • Note 1: SoC: state of charge

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)


If BEVs are perhaps the most well known of the types of electric vehicles, conventional hybrids are second. Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) to give them their full title, are what most drivers will know of, if they know about hybrids at all. They first become widely available in 1997 with the release of the Toyota Prius.

Conventional Hybrids are powered by both petrol/diesel and electricity. With HEVs, they begin by using the electric motor. The conventional power source then kicks in when higher speeds are needed or when the weight of the vehicle necessitates more power. The electric battery is then charged through regenerative braking, like with BEVs, and not via an external source.

The two motors in a conventional hybrid are controlled by an internal computer system. This system makes decisions on whether to use the electric or petrol motor based on which would be most economical. It will then take into account other factors like driving conditions and cruising speeds so that your vehicle is always operating the way you need it to.

We can support you in getting electric car finance, when you are ready to buy a BEV.

Popular Conventional Hybrids include:

  • Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • Toyota Prius Hybrid
  • Honda Civic Hybrid

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)


BMW X5 Plug-In Hybrid
The BMW X5 Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (credit: BMW)

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) have a very “says what it does” name. Like the BEVs, the electric battery can be charged using an external charger, and it uses conventional fuels for its second motor in the same way as the Conventional Hybrids. In fact, because of this, PHEVs have been found to save up to 60% in energy costs compared to other hybrids.

One way in which PHEVs differ from the Conventional Hybrids is that, since they use an external charger for the electric motor, they are able to have a zero emission range. A zero emission range is when ‘a car or van that emits 75g/km CO2 or less’ and is an important factor in making sure that vehicles, especially cars, are greener.

Another way that PHEVs differ from standard hybrids is that they can only travel at low speeds for a short distance before their conventional engine activates. With PHEVs, at least some models, they are able to travel for up to 40 miles before gas power is needed. This means that driving a PHEV would suit those who are driving mostly on country roads or in between villages, rather than on motorways or on long journeys, if they want to make the most of the electric power.

The battery for a PHEV is, perhaps unsurprisingly, significantly smaller than BEVs, which means that although it is capable of making shorter journeys on electric power, the conventional combustion engine is needed for longer trips.

Some popular Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles include:

  • Chevy Volt
  • Ford Fusion Energi
  • Mercedes GLE550e
  • Mini Cooper SE Countryman
  • Audi A3 E-Tron
  • BMW X5 xDrive40e
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid
  • Volvo XC90 T8
  • VW Golf GTE
  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
  • Prius Plug-In

Extended Range Electric Vehicle E-REV


BMW i8 Tail Light

Image: BMW i8

Extended Range Electric Vehicles (E-REVs) have a considerable range of power sources to choose from, which also means that depending on the model of E-REV, how and when it uses each of them varies widely. For example, the Toyota Prius favours it’s petrol engine over electric power.

E-REVs are powered with a conventional engine (using petrol), a plug-in battery pack and an electric motor. This combination aims to allow these vehicles to complete most journeys with electric power, but with the combustion engine as a backup. In reality, how effective this is comes down to the model, with some offering a range of 125 miles on pure electric power. Due to the reliance on electric, E-REVs can have less than 20g/km of CO2 emissions. To put this in perspective, the current EU target for vehicles is 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre, meaning E-REVs are exceeding that goal.

In terms of operation, these vehicles will make the most of electric power and then switch to the conventional engine when more power or speed is needed, or the battery runs out of power. The key differences between E-REVs and PHEVs is that the wheels are always driven by the electric motor in E-REVs, and E-REVs use a much smaller engine than PHEVs.

Well known Extended Range Electric Vehicles include:

  • BMW i3
  • BMW i8
  • Chevrolet Volt (now defunct)
  • Vauxhall Ampera (now defunct)

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)


Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)

Image Credit: www.mercedes-benz.com

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs), also called Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles, have a fuel cell stack that uses hydrogen to create the electricity needed to power the wheels of the vehicle, not unlike the E-REVs.

Interestingly FCEVs are hybrids, but not in the way we might expect. They do not use an internal combustion engine, rather they use a battery (or ultracapacitor) and fuel cell. The fuel cell is an electrochemical device that, unlike in a pure electric car battery, does not need charging. Rather the fuel cell produces electricity and heat with water produced at the tailpipe. It is able to generate power for as long as there is a steady supply of hydrogen.

Since Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles aren’t charged, you can refill them at refilling stations. Instead of petrol though, you refill the hydrogen. It takes between three and five minutes to refuel, which is much shorter than the charge times for even the fastest charging points for BEVs. They have a range of 300 miles between refillings, which means that they utilise electric power without limiting your travel distances like many electric vehicles.

Well known Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles include:

  • Honda FCX Clarity
  • Hyundai Nexo
  • Mercedes-Benz F-Cell
  • Riversimple Rasa
  • Toyota Mirai

Finding the Right Type of Electric Vehicle


Performance is unique to each model of electric car, whether pure or hybrid. How speed, environmental impact, and distance measure up to the needs of your lifestyle will have a determining effect on which type of EV you go for. If you don’t have to travel across the country and want to be as green as possible, the BEV is ideal. If you want to use a little electric without sacrificing power, then a PHEV will serve you better.

The decision is up to you. When you are ready to buy an EV, whatever type you choose, you can use e-zoomed as a one stop shop. This includes financing, insurance, breakdown cover and green power for your new electric car.


electric car charging cable UK
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Author

Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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