While the domestic market has been slow in the EV uptake, global sales for electric vehicles has been climbing steadily. Also, more and more people are opening their garage doors to EVs, with 3,226 electric cars sold in the first two quarters of 2020 despite plunging car sales. Also, if we consider hybrids as a next-of-kin of EVs, the new car sales for August 2020 is a clear indication that car buyers are raving over the RAV4 hybrid. Which begs the question, are hybrids EVs? And what about PHEVs and BEVs? The market abounds with new EV terms, no wonder many of us are lost.
In this article, let’s brush up on your EV literacy to prepare you before you go shopping for your dream electric car.
New EV Terms to Add to Your Dictionary
Here are some of the new EV terms to add to your EV vocabulary.
- AEV or all-electric vehicle – As the name suggests, this term refers to a vehicle that relies fully on electricity to power it, such as the Tesla Model 3, Renault Kangoo Maxi ZE, and Hyundai Kona. AEVs generally have an on-board rechargeable battery pack that stores and provides the car with its electricity requirements. However, you will find out below that this is not always the case (there are two types of AEVs).
- BEV or battery electric vehicle – A BEV is an AEV that is powered exclusively by an on-board battery. Two of the popular BEVs around are the Jaguar I-PACE and Nissan LEAF.
- FCEV or fuel cell electric vehicle – An FCEV is another AEV that derives power from a hydrogen fuel cell. Through an electrochemical reaction between compressed liquid hydrogen and oxygen in the air, the cell produces electricity to power the car’s electric motor. The Hyundai NEXO SUVs that the Australian Capital Territory will deploy this year are the latest examples of FCEVs.
- HEV or hybrid electric vehicle – Aussie’s top-selling car, the RAV4 hybrid, is an example of an HEV. So are the Honda Accord and Toyota Prius. Unlike an AEV, a hybrid is powered mainly by an internal combustion engine (ICE) and boosted by a small electric motor. Like a traditional vehicle, it refuels from a petrol station. Often referred to as ‘standard hybrids’, HEVs utilise batteries that are recharged by regenerative braking and the energy from the ICE.
- PHEV or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle – Also an HEV, a PHEV has both an ICE and an electric motor. Unlike a standard hybrid and more like a true EV, a PHEV recharges its battery pack from electric mains or charging stations, thus the ‘plug-in’ name. PHEVs, like the Land Rover Range Rover Vogue and Volvo S60 T8, have a larger battery and a higher range than standard hybrids.
- Range – The distance that an EV can travel between charges is called the vehicle’s range, and is an important spec to consider when buying an electric car. To give you an example, Nissan LEAF has a range of 270km, while Porsche Taycan boasts of 405km between charges. Related to this word is the term ‘range anxiety’ which refers to an EV driver’s constant fear or concern about running out of battery power before reaching the next charging station.
- REx or range-extended electric vehicle – To counter range anxiety, some EV manufacturers have come up with range-extended versions of their EVs by adding a small petrol engine that operates the electric motor once the battery is depleted. Unlike hybrids, a REx EV has only one powertrain, the electric motor. The BMW i3, for instance, can be optioned with a REx version. So, while the all-electric i3 can deliver a range of 160km, the range-extender can increase this number to 320km.
- ZEV or zero-emissions vehicle – Another term thrown around by marketers is ZEV, which is a catch-all term for all ‘pure’ EVs referring to zero tailpipe emissions, the keyword being ‘tailpipe’. It must not be misconstrued to mean ‘green’ entirely because, while the car does not burn fossil fuel on the go, the electricity from the grid may still come from these traditional fuels.
- kWh or kilowatt-hour – This is the unit of measure for total battery capacity. It tells you how much electricity a battery pack can store. Take note that battery capacity (kWh) is different from power (kW). The rule of thumb is that small EVs (thus less-powerful powertrains) will have lower-capacity batteries than bigger electric vehicles. For instance, the compact Nissan LEAF hatchback has a battery capacity of 40kWh and motor power of 110kW. In comparison, the large high-performance Porsche Taycan Turbo S has a 93.4kWh battery and 560kW powertrain.
- Le/100km or litre-equivalent per 100 km – In traditional ICE vehicles, this is the same as L/100km, which is a measure of fuel economy or the amount of fuel consumed (in litres) for a distance of 100km. For EVs, Le/100km is used with the conventional equivalent of 1L of petrol = 8.9kWh of electricity. This can be confusing to many car buyers, but the thing to remember is that an electric car with a lower Le/100km is more efficient and economical than an EV with a higher Le/100km.
One of the reasons why car buyers are hesitant about electric vehicles is range anxiety. It's a valid concern, of course, considering that Australia is a large country. However, currently available EVs already have higher ranges, averaging at 300km, while the average distance that an Australian driver does per day is only 40km. What this means is that range anxiety shouldn’t hold you back. Besides, with several EV types to choose from, it’s highly likely that you’ll find one to suit your driving style and preference.
Currently, electric cars that are available in Australia come from Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Renault, Tesla, and Volvo. Learn more about cars and car parts through our daily blog – check us out at Carpart.com.au.