Podcast ep. 05 – The different types of Electric Vehicles explained

Hello and welcome to the Electric Vehicle Experience

Today it’s episode number 5 and before I talk about my Tesla Model 3 delivery day, I want to talk about the different types of EVs.

I say this because especially in the last few years the car market got more types of electrified vehicles and I’ve noticed that many people aren’t very clear about their differences.

Let’s start with the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars.

There are conventional cars that have been around for decades, most of them using gasoline and diesel. All the car propulsion relies on its combustion engine.

There’s no high-capacity battery or electric motors to drive the car. You’ll only find a 12v battery that powers the starter to get the engine running and it will also power electrical equipment like the stereo or power windows.

During the 90s the market saw the introduction of Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV). They weren’t entirely new (just like electrics, which already existed even before ICE cars) but this was when they started to make their way into the car market.

If you’re wondering exactly, the first and most iconic of them all is without a question the Toyota Prius.

Hybrids have a combustion engine, generally using gasoline, but they also have a small battery and motor which can also power the wheels, or at least provide some assistance to acceleration.

The improvements in acceleration, efficiency, and exhaust emissions are moderate. If it can run on electricity, any attempt of driving at higher speeds or faster accelerations will force the ICE to kick in.

The small battery recharges via regenerative braking or feeding off the ICE.

Further development and price reduction brought us the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV).

PHEVs became a kind of middle ground between hybrids and fully electric vehicles. They are kind of like the best of both worlds. But in a minute I’ll also tell you that, in my opinion, they are also the worse of both worlds.

They are similar to hybrid but the electrified components (battery and motor) are now much more capable. That means that electric range, performance, efficiency, and exhaust emissions can now get significant improvement.

Not only that but now you can charge them at a domestic plug or a charging station.

If you can charge them at home and you don’t drive that much daily, you can just use them in electric mode and don’t spend gasoline. And don’t produce any exhaust emissions.

Their official range currently is around 50 kms or more but as usual, it’s very dependent on driving conditions.

You can generally charge them in about 4-8 hours at home. Charging speeds have been growing considerably lately (sometimes to 11 or 22kW) and a few rare cases with bigger batteries will even feature a DC charging port, but it’s still quite rare.

The cars that we now see on the road during 2023 will most likely only be able to AC charge and at slow speeds.

Why did I tell you that they are the worse of both worlds?

Well, because they have two distinct propulsion forms, which have to be put into the same car, you pay the price in other areas. Most likely you’ll lose some space in the cabin or the trunk, the car is heavier (which is bad for efficiency), and it costs more than a common gasoline car.

Even if you don’t use the gasoline engine much, you still need to keep up with its regular maintenance and taxes.

I’ve seen a few cases when a model has both PHEV and EV versions and they cost the same. That happened with the Hyundai Ioniq here in Portugal.

What happens after you ran the first 50 kms or so? Your battery will be low and the gasoline engine will come on.

The good side is that you’ll never feel the range anxiety normally associated with EVs but at the same time.

All in all, don’t think I’m not against PHEVs, in a way they seem like the perfect solution and at the same time they seem a heavy compromise. I think they have a customer but a very specific one.

There are other vehicles that also feature an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, the Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV).

They are similar to PHEVs but in this case, the only motor turning the wheels is the electric one.

So why would you have a gasoline engine there also?

When the battery runs out of energy, the gasoline engine comes on and acts as a generator to feed the battery.

The amount of power generated by the gasoline engine can end up being a limitation to driving speed when the battery is running low.

These vehicles are the least common of them all. One example is the BMW i3 with a range extender, featuring a gasoline engine at the bottom of its trunk.

Now we get to EVs, fully electric or Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).

No more gasoline engines and their related components. In fully electric vehicles the car runs and works solely on an electric motor and battery.

Actually, it’s two batteries. They have the obvious high-capacity battery but they still use a smaller battery, generally a 12v battery like those found in gasoline cars, although with reduced specifications because it doesn’t need it to start a gasoline engine.

In 2023 virtually any of these cars will have fast charging capabilities and although the range varies a lot, unlike 10-15 years ago, these are far from being cars limited to only urban commutes.

All EVs can charge at home or AC public charging stations. Almost all of them can DC fast charge and many of them can take over 100kW.

Fast charging (typically, going from 10 to 80% during a long trip) is now something that can be done in half an hour, sometimes even less.

There are the most common types of electric vehicles on the market and I hope you can now easily understand each of them.


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Thank you for watching and I’ll talk to you soon