Electric Car Basics
There are two types of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs): Battery electrics (BEVs) which run on electricity only, and plug-in hybrid electrics (PHEVs) which can first run entirely on electricity from the battery for a shorter range (often the distance of a daily commute, or more), then seamlessly switch to a full tank of gasoline to recharge the battery when it gets low.
A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) does not have an external plug. It derives some of its driving power from a conventional gasoline engine and some from an electric motor and small battery pack. All of its energy is generated from gasoline combustion. However, unlike a non-hybrid vehicle, some of this energy is recovered by recharging the batteries through regenerative braking. This occurs when the vehicle slows and energy is put back into the battery, which results in better average mpg.
On the other hand, a plug-in electric vehicle gets its driving power exclusively from an electric motor, and that energy is generated from a larger battery pack that has been recharged from the grid or another external source. Plug-in electric vehicles also use regenerative braking to improve their overall driving efficiency.
A BEV is an all-electric vehicle with a battery as its only power source. Most BEVs have a range of between 100 and 400 miles depending upon model. They must be recharged when the battery gets low, and can be done slowly (typically overnight at home while you sleep) or more quickly using a public fast charging station. But mostly, they are charged conveniently at home, overnight while you sleep.
A PHEV is a plug-in electric vehicle with a gasoline back-up engine that can turn on when the battery runs low. PHEVs a have a battery electric only range between 14 and 114 miles, and then typically a full tank of gasoline range of between 300 and 600 miles. When operating in gasoline-electric hybrid mode, they also get better gas mileage than comparable gasoline only vehicles.
Today’s BEVs have more range than 90% of commuters and others drive daily. PHEVs will always have the range you need, and can be driven and fueled just like the car you drive now. Some models are available in either BEV or PHEV. To find available electric vehicle models and estimate your savings from choosing an EV, check out our DrivE & SaVe Wizard.