What IS an electric car?

The word “electrified” has recently come into use by the media and the marketing departments of car makers to describe their latest range of cars, leaving many to assume this means the cars they are describing are electric cars, this isn’t always the case, thus creating much confusion.

There are 3 distinct types of electrified car… here is our guide.


An Electric Car

Renault’s ZOE is one of UK’s best selling electric cars
  • Often referred to as an EV or BEV. Standing for Electric Vehicle and Battery Electric Vehicle.
  • Powered only by an electric motor with energy (fuel) drawn from a large bank of batteries.
  • The batteries are positioned below the passengers so do not take up any boot space.
  • The amount of energy stored is measured in kilowatt hours (kwh).
  • A Renault ZOE supermini has a 41kwh battery, enabling a range of up to 250 miles (NEDC).
  • The UK Plug-in Car Grant grant can reduce the list price of an EV by up to £4,500.
  • EVS require minimal maintenance and have ultra low running costs.

Recharging

  • The batteries can be recharged via special wall box for faster charging or by using a domestic 3 pin outlet.
  • A Government grant is available to help fund the installation of your wall box.
  • 95% of charging is done at home with an 80% charge possible in just 30 minutes when using a rapid charger at a Motorway Services.
  • Almost all electric cars have the ability to rapid charge using a 50kw charger.
  • Energy is returned to the batteries when the car slows down. This is known as regen.

Driving

  • Progress is quiet and smooth as power is delivered directly to the wheels without the need for a gear box, just select drive or reverse.
  • Power and torque is instant with acceleration to match much larger and more powerful cars.
  • The car calculates and displays the distance you can travel, referred to as range and satnav can direct you to the nearest charge point if necessary.
  • The average journey in the UK is less than 10 miles leaving you many more left miles in the ‘tank’.

 


A Plug-in Hybrid

BMW 330e in silver
A BMW 330e is proving very popular in the company car park

  • Also referred to as a PHEV standing for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle.
  • A vehicle powered by both a electric motor, a petrol or diesel with an automatic transmission.
  • The UK Plug-in Car Grant grant can reduce the list price of an Plug-in Hybrid by up to £2,500.
  • The best selling plug-in hybrid in the UK is the Mitsubishi Outlander.
  • Many Plug-in hybrids have their batteries in the boot, often slightly reducing its size.

Recharging

  • Charging times are much lower as batteries are far smaller than those in an electric car.
  • The batteries can be recharged using a special wall box for faster charging or using a domestic 3 pin outlet.
  • A Government grant is available to help fund the installation of your wall box.
  • Only one Plug-in hybrid available has the ability to rapid charge – the Mitsubishi Outlander, others charge between 3 and 7kw maximum.
  • Energy is also returned to the batteries when the car slows down.

Driving

  • Driving is similar to a conventionally powered vehicle with extra power delivered by the electric motor.
  • Pure electric motoring is limited to a maximum speed dependent on the model of car.
  • The car’s electronics seamlessly switch from petrol or electric or a combination of both depending on your needs.
  • Some PHEVs have an engine driving the front wheels and an electric motor driving the rear, creating an efficient four wheel drive car.

 


A Hybrid

Toyota Prius in Red
The Toyota Prius is the most recognisable Hybrid on sale
  • Also referred to as a Mild Hybrid.
  • A vehicle powered primarily by a combustion engine with an electric motor used at low speeds for silent, zero tailpipe emissions driving.
  • There are no Government grants available for this type of vehicle.
  • Hybrids are set to become more popular as a result of tougher emissions legislation.

Recharging

  • The vehicle is fitted with small battery enabling short, lower speed journeys to be made.
  • The batteries do not need to be recharged.
  • The battery is topped up when the vehicle slows down using regenerative braking.

Driving

  • At slow speeds the car can be driven silently.
  • Driving is similar to a conventionally powered vehicle with extra power delivered by the electric motor.
  • All hybrids have an automatic gearbox.
  • Switching between power sources is seamlessly managed by on-board electronics.

 

Read more….

Our guide to EV acronyms and buzz words.

Our advice pages.

The Founder of driveEV. A driving and new technology fan enjoying learning all about the future of motoring. I drive a BMW i3.

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