There are three main types of electric vehicles (EVs), classed by the degree that electricity is used as their energy source.
HEVs are powered by both petrol and electricity. The electric energy is generated by the car’s own braking system to recharge the battery. This is called ‘regenerative braking’, a process where the electric motor helps to slow the vehicle and uses some of the energy normally converted to heat by the brakes. HEVs start off using the electric motor, then the petrol engine cuts in as load or speed rises. The two motors are controlled by an internal computer which ensures the best economy for the driving conditions. The Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid are both examples of HEVs.
Also known as Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs), this type of EV is powered by both petrol and electricity. PHEVs can recharge the battery through both regenerative braking and ‘plugging-in’ to an external electrical charging outlet. In EREVs the petrol engine extends the range of the car by also recharging the battery as it gets low. These EVs vary greatly depending on choice of primary energy source, for example Toyota Prius favours petrol while the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, our new fleet vehicle, favours electricity.
BEVs are fully electric vehicles, meaning they are only powered by electricity and do not have a petrol engine, fuel tank or exhaust pipe. BEVs are also known as ‘plug-in’ EVs as they use an external electrical charging outlet to charge the battery. BEVs can also recharge their batteries through regenerative braking.
There are a number of great benefits to electric vehicles (EVs) over conventional petrol/diesel cars.
Owners of an EV have the advantage of much lower running costs. The electricity to charge an EV works out around a third as much per kilometre as buying petrol for the same vehicle. There are a number of handy calculators you can use to see the savings.
A battery electric vehicle (BEV) has a lot less moving parts than a conventional petrol/diesel car. There is relatively little servicing and no expensive exhaust systems, starter motors, fuel injection systems, radiators and many other parts that aren’t needed in an EV. Batteries do wear out so replacement batteries will eventually be needed. Most car manufacturers warrant EV batteries for around 8 years. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) have a petrol engine that needs regular servicing so cost more to maintain. However, because the electrical motor requires little maintenance due to far fewer moving parts, this leads to less wear and tear of the petrol engine components.
By choosing to drive an EV you are helping to reduce harmful air pollution from exhaust emissions. An EV has zero exhaust emmissions.
If you use renewable energy to recharge your EV, you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions even further. You could recharge your EV from your solar PV system during the day instead of from the grid. Another idea is to purchase GreenPower from your electricity retailer. Then, even if you recharge your EV from the grid, your greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.
There is also a trend towards more eco-friendly production and materials for EVs. The Ford Focus Electric is made up of recycled materials and the padding is made out of bio based materials. The Nissan Leaf’s interior and bodywork are partly made out of green materials such as recycled water bottles, plastic bags, old car parts and even second hand home appliances.
Reduced harmful exhaust emissions is good news for our health. Better air quality will lead to less health problems and costs caused by air pollution. EVs are also quieter than petrol/diesel vehicles, which means less noise pollution.
Recent findings have shown that several EV features can improve safety. EVs tend to have a lower centre of gravity that makes them less likely to roll over. They can also have a lower risk for major fires or explosions and the body construction and durability of EVs may make them safer in a collision.