Types of Electric Vehicles and How Each One Works


Nov 11th, 2019

Types of Electric Vehicles and How Each One Works

Electric vehicles, or EVs, are the latest tech and fastest-growing automotive technology. The technology is efficient and environmentally friendly and gets a lot of support and incentives from the government. However, not all EVs are the same. There are three broad categories of electric vehicles, depending on the degree of reliance on electricity.

Three Types Of Electric Cars 

1. Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) 

The hybrids are the lowest in the spectrum in terms of reliance on electricity, and they use both fuel and electricity. Unlike all the other types of electric cars, they do not have a charging port. Instead, they recharge their battery reserves using the energy that the car's braking system generates. These cars have a regenerative braking system where a motor is engaged when one applies the brake. The engine converts the power (which generally translates into heat energy in a conventional braking system) into electric energy, which in turn is stored in the batteries.

Under the HEV are three sub-categories, which classifies the vehicle depending on whether it can run on electric or combustion alone or its combination and how much it relies on electricity. These sub-categories are:

  • micro-hybrids
  • mild hybrids
  • full hybrids

The mild hybrids and micro-hybrids cannot drive solely on an electric motor and have a significantly smaller battery than the full hybrids. It typically has a motor incorporated to complement or supplement a conventional engine. 

The micro-hybrids are the lowest or entry level of hybridisation, and they mainly comprise of start-stop engine models. The start-stop engine facilitates complete shutdown of combustion when the brakes are engaged to stop the vehicle, and the engine to kick back into action when the brake pedal is released. During the drive, the micro-hybrids rely entirely on combustion and only use electricity when the vehicle is stationary or when idling. As a result, the car only consumes fuel when on the move translating to approximately 10% fuel efficiency as compared to the conventional non-hybrid vehicles. 

The mild HEV models have a bigger motor, alternator and battery pack than the Micro HEV. Their motor is used not only when the car is stationary but also during the drive. The electric motor is incorporated to be used together with the combustion engine when the vehicle is on the move adding on the propulsion energy. These mild HEV models have a fuel efficiency of 20-25% compared to the conventional non-hybrid automotive.

The full hybrids can drive solely on the electric motor, exclusively on combustion or combination of electric motor and combustion. Compared to the Mild HEV, their motor, battery pack and alternator are much bigger, while their combustion engine is smaller. Typically, the full hybrids start on the electric motor and use the combustion engine later with the increase in energy demand such as on higher speed, increase in load weight, or when the battery is discharged offering less energy than needed. This process of engaging or disengaging of fuel usage or usage of both fuel and electricity is computer-controlled to ensure optimal driving conditions. On low-speed, full hybrid models can optimally drive 1-5 miles (1.5-8 km) solely on power before the gasoline engine kicks in to provide support. They offer an increased fuel efficiency of 40-45% compared to conventional non-hybrid vehicles.

The most common Hybrid Electric Vehicles include: 

Toyota Prius Eco

Honda Insight Hybrid 1st and 2nd generation

Honda Civic Hybrid

Honda CR-Z Hybrid

Honda Vezel Hybrid SUV

Audi Duo III

Audi Q7 Hybrid

Audi Q5 Hybrid

Range Rover Hybrid

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Ford Escape Hybrid

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Toyota Auris Hybrid

Toyota Prius Alpha

Toyota Prius V. 

Toyota Prius C

Toyota Prius Liftback

Toyota Yaris Hybrid

Toyota Avalon Hybrid

Toyota Corolla Axio hybrid sedan

Toyota Fielder hybrid station wagon

Lexus RX 400h Hybrid

Lexus GS 450h Hybrid

Lexus CT 200h

Camry Hybrid

Nissan Altima Hybrid

Chevrolet Tahoe GMT900

GMC Yukon

Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid

Chevy ZH2 Hybrid - hydrogen fuel

GMC Sierra Hybrid

Ford Fusion Hybrid

Ford C-Max Hybrid

Acura ILX Hybrid

Mercury Milan Hybrid

Hyundai Elantra LPI Hybrid - LPG Hybrid

Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHybrid

Mercedes-Benz ML 450Hybrid

BMW ActiveHybrid x6

BMW 5 Series ActiveHybrid

BMW 3 Seris Hybrid

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Porsche Cayenne Hybrid

Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

Volkswagen Jetta diesel-electric hybrid

Volkswagen Golf Hybrid

Volkswagen Passat Hybrid

Infiniti M35 Hybrid

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Kia Optima Hybrid

Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 

2. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

PHEV models also run on both internal combustion and electricity like the HEP models. Unlike the HEP models, however, the PHEVs have a charging port for direct charging which charges the battery fully in less than 2 hours. You may charge a PHEV from an external electric source as well as internally from its inbuilt generators. They are more of a full hybrid HEV upgrade with a bigger battery pack and an external charging port. PHEVs also work like full hybrid HEVs. The only difference is that with a bigger battery pack, they cover longer distances (20-60km) on an electric motor. When depleted, they can recharge from external power sources without necessarily relying on internal charging. As a result, the usage of gas is optional, which earned the PHEVs their other nickname - "Gas-Optional Hybrids" or "Gas-Optional Hybrid Electric Vehicles" (GO-HEV).
 The common PHEV in the market includes: 

Toyota Prius PHV

Chevrolet Volt plugin-in hybrid series

Mitsubishi Outlander P-HEV

Ford C-Max Energi

Ford C-Max Fusion Energi


Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Fisker Karma

Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid 

3. Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

BEV are pure electric vehicles that rely entirely on the electric motor for propulsion. They do not operate on a combustion engine, and thus they have zero-emission. They have massive battery packs - the biggest among the EVs. Charging is through from an external power source through the EV's charging port. The battery stores the energy needed to drive the motor, which in turn, propels the vehicle. Initially, the BEV would cover 100 - 150 km on a single charge, but with improved batteries and efficiency, the most recent models can cover up to 594km. It would also take 6-12 hours to charge a BEV fully, but with the invention of fast chargers, rapid chargers and supercharge stations, it only takes from 30 minutes to 3 hours to charge fully. This technology was initially applied on bikes and mass transport systems such as town buses (for example, the Australian Tindo buses in Adelaide). Today, the tech is widely used even in smaller cars, SUVs, boats, and golf carts among other vessels.
 Among the fully electric vehicles available in Australia include:

BMW i3 series

Nissan LEAF ZE0 series

Nissan LEAF AZE0 Series

Tesla Model S series

Tesla Model 3 series

Tesla Model X series

Tesla Roadster Series

Hyundai Kona electric Series

Jaguar I-PACE EV400 Series

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Series

Mitsubishi MiniCab MIEV Series

Renult Zoe Intens Series

Renult Kangoo Maxi Series 

Read about the Top 5 electric sports cars on the market today and other updates in the automotive industry from Carpart.com.au.