Types of Electric Vehicles
Wednesday, 26th May 2021
Electric and hybrid cars are more popular than ever. And with the UK government implementing a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, many people are looking into electric car alternatives.
What are the Different Types of Electric Cars?
BEV — A battery powered electric vehicle has an electric motor that runs solely on electricity. This motor is powered by batteries which you charge by plugging the car into a charging point.
PHEV — Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles combine an electric motor with a petrol or diesel engine and requires charging to get the best performance from the electric motor.
HEVs — A hybrid electric vehicle has an electric motor and a fuel-powered engine. All of the energy for the battery is gained through regenerative braking which then assists the combustion engine when accelerating.
FCEV — Fuel cell electric vehicles are powered by hydrogen. They produce no tailpipe emissions and only emit water vapor and warm air.
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
Battery electric vehicles do not have a combustion engine and run exclusively from an on-board battery. There is no exhaust or fuel tank, only a battery that provides energy to an electric motor. The electric motor is an energy converter that can be charged externally and can also store and use recovered braking energy.
What are the benefits of BEVs?
- Extremely Quiet — It goes without saying that electric vehicles are much quieter than petrol or diesel cars. The only noise they tend to make is caused by the car’s tyres on the road or wind resistance at higher speeds. For a much quieter ride, premium tyre brands invest in technology improvements to prevent tyre noise on the road. For example, Dunlop tyres have Noise Shield technology, Goodyear tyres have SoundComfort technology and Pirelli has its PNCS system.
- Zero Emissions when Driving — Once you have charged your electric car’s battery you are ready to go, there is no exhaust emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
- Gearbox Free — An electric vehicle does not have a multi-speed gearbox like a conventional petrol or diesel car, instead it has one gear.
- Cheap to Run — One of the biggest selling points of electric vehicles, and one that draws so many people in, is the fact they are cheap to run. Charging one at home costs less than half the amount it would cost to fill the tank on your petrol or diesel vehicle.
What are the disadvantages of BEVs?
- Expensive to Buy — Battery electric vehicles can be expensive to buy. There are schemes available to make this more manageable, and over time the cost should start to come down.
- Battery Life Concerns — All batteries degrade over time which means they become less efficient as they age, and that can reduce the range of your car.
- Long Charging Times — An electric car with a 60kW battery takes around 8 hours to charge from empty to full with a 7kW charging point.
- Range Anxiety — One of the biggest barriers to the large-scale adoption of battery electric vehicles is the fear that your car has insufficient range to reach your destination. Range anxiety is what a driver feels when their battery life is low and there are no charging points nearby.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)
Plug-in hybrids combine an electric powertrain together with a combustion engine which means you can use conventional fuel, operate in full electric mode or a combination of both. The use of a battery enables the combustion engine to operate at high efficiency.
What are the benefits of PHEVs?
- Flexibility — As PHEVs can accept two fuels, they can be charged directly or refuelled with petrol or diesel in the same way conventional vehicles are. And as there are more petrol stations than charging points, you have that flexibility to switch between what is readily available to you.
- Driving Range — PHEVs can usually travel 20-30 miles under electric power alone, but when the battery is empty, they can operate the combustion engine instead to cover longer driving distances.
- Electric Drive for Short Journeys — Day to day, shorter journeys that require less power can be completed purely on electric power, while longer journeys can use a combination of electric mode and combustion engine.
What are the disadvantages of PHEVs?
- Smaller Battery Packs — PHEVs have smaller battery packs than pure-EVs which means they are unable to match pure electric vehicle’s driving range on their electric battery.
- Increased Weight — Batteries add weight and that makes fuel economy poor when driving on the motorway once the batteries have depleted. And special thought needs to go into the tyres, as they must be geared towards the increased weight.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)
A hybrid car combines an electric motor and batteries with a conventional petrol or diesel engine. The engine is still the main power source but can be powered either directly by the engine, by the electric motor or through a combination of the two. Unlike PHEVs, these hybrid cars do not need a charging point to recharge the electric battery.
What are the benefits of HEVs?
- Regenerative Braking — In a traditional car, braking energy is normally lost as heat in the rotors and brake pads, however all the energy for an HEVs battery is gained through regenerative braking.
- Ideal for City Driving — The electric motor gets the most use in stop-start city driving. The regenerative braking boosts the batteries whenever you use the brakes or decelerate.
- No Need to Plug-In — Although you get fewer miles than a PHEV from the electric motor, you do not have charge the electric battery through a plug-in.
What are the disadvantages of HEVs?
- Fuel Economy — The electric batteries make the car heavy, which means fuel economy tends to take a nosedive once the electric motor runs out of charge.
- High Maintenance Costs — While the cost of batteries for electric cars has dropped significantly over the past decade, repairs or replacement can cost a lot more than some are willing to pay.
- Vehicle Cost — There is no escaping the current high retail price that comes with a hybrid electric vehicle. Much like other electric vehicles, over time the cost should decrease.
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs)
Fuel cell electric vehicles use a propulsion system similar to electric vehicles. They are powered by pure hydrogen gas stored in a tank which is then converted to electricity by the fuel cell, and the only particles emitted by the tailpipe is water vapor and warm air.
What are the benefits of FCEVs?
- No Tailpipe Emissions — Unlike petrol and diesel cars, FCEVs produce no harmful tailpipe emissions.
- Driving Range — Similar to conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, FCEVs can fuel in less than 4 minutes and have a driving range over 300 miles.
- Regenerative Braking — Regenerative braking systems used in fuel cell electric vehicles capture the energy lost during braking and store it in a battery.
What are the disadvantages of FCEVs?
- Production of Hydrogen — The production of hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles can generate greenhouse gasses depending on the method of production. However, it generates far less greenhouse gasses than conventional petrol and diesel cars.
- Durability and Reliability — Fuel cell systems are not as durable as combustion engines and may not perform as expected in adverse weather conditions.
- Vehicle Cost — FCEVs and the hydrogen infrastructure to fuel them are in the early stages of implementation which makes them more expensive to buy than hybrids. Much like other electric vehicles, over time the cost should decrease.
How to Choose Tyres for Electric Cars
Electric cars are much heavier than traditional cars. The weight of the battery means there is more wear on electric car tyres, and that increased weight means an ordinary tyre would just wear too quickly and not perform as required.
As with conventional tyres for petrol and diesel cars, there is a checklist to cover when you are buying tyres for an electric car. Consider tyres with high-fuel efficiency, low rolling resistance and superior grip and handling. We always recommend fitting your electric vehicle with a premium brand that has been specifically designed for your car.