There are many terms used in discussions about electric vehicles. Often the term EV is applied very broadly, which can be confusing.
There are two main concepts that should be considered when thinking about electric vehicles:
- the type of vehicle
- the engine used for propulsion. For example, a battery only or battery with a combustion engine.
The following table provides an overview of the usage of various terms related to the types of propulsion in vehicles.
|EV is a broad category of vehicles that contains an electric drivetrain for propulsion. EVs can be cars, buses, trucks, bicycles, scooters, trains, planes and motorbikes.
|Battery electric vehicle
|BEVs are 100% powered by electricity, substituting all conventional drivetrain components for an electric drivetrain. A BEVs eliminate the need or requirements for fossil fuels like petrol or diesel.
|Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle
|PHEVs use both fossil fuel (petrol or diesel) and electricity to power both an internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor. PHEVs have a fuel tank and an electric battery for storage. PHEVs can be recharged by plugging the vehicle into electricity sources, and refuelled at conventional fossil fuel stations. PHEVs may also be recharged by the ICE and through regenerative braking. There are two types of PHEVs: Series and Parallel. Series only allows power to be received from the battery, while parallel can receive power from both the battery and combustion engine. Depending on daily driving distances PHEVs will draw on petrol or diesel and therefore create related emissions.
|Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle
|Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles are powered by hydrogen. They emit no tail-pipe emissions and can be zero carbon if the hydrogen is produced using renewable energy. In an FCEV, the fuel cell converts hydrogen to electricity.
|Hybrid Electric Vehicle
|Hybrid Electric Vehicles are almost entirely powered by an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) that runs on fossil or alternative fuels, but it also has a small battery and an electric motor.
These hybrid vehicles improve the fuel efficiency of the ICEV. These however are not always considered as electric vehicles since they run mostly on fossil fuels and cannot be plugged in to recharge. A HEVs small battery is recharged by the ICE and through regenerative braking.
|Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle
|An ICEV generates power through the burning of petrol or diesel. They come in a wide variety of types. They contain many more movable parts than electric vehicles, emit more tail-pipe emissions and create more noise.
|Plug-in Electric Vehicle
|This term has been used to avoid the confusion between electric vehicles that have a plug and those that do not - it encompasses BEVs and PHEVs.