Electric vehicles are gaining a lot of traction recently. The sustainability factor and rising fuel prices are two main reasons for the growth of this segment. This has led traditional automakers like Hyundai and Volkswagen to make large investments in the research and development of EVs. Have you ever thought about how an electric car works? Are there different types of electric cars like Petrol and diesel engine in conventional cars? In this article, we will cover the different types of electric vehicles and how they work.

What is an Electric car?

Electric cars are vehicles that are fully or partially powered by electric motors. Energy from rechargeable batteries power these motors. Electric cars first came out in the 19th century. However, the development of Internal combustion engines (ICE) and the range they provide overshadowed the electric vehicles.

New entrants like Tesla, Lucid and Rimac are making electric vehicles popular again. 

Different types of electric vehicles

An electric vehicle takes power from a battery and delivers it to the electric motor in proportion to the amount of pressure applied on the acceleration pedal. The electric motor then converts the electric power into mechanical power(rotation) and moves the vehicle forward.

There are four different types of electric vehicles:

  • Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
  • Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)
  • Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
  • Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

types of electric vehicles

Battery layout of a battery-electric vehicle

A Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), is a type of electric car that runs completely on electric motors. This type of electric car does not have internal combustion engines. The power to the motors is mostly provided by lithium-ion battery packs. In fact, the charging can be done by plugging into the power socket. These cars fully rely on electric power. An average EV takes up to 8 hours for complete recharging. However, sports cars like Porsche Taycan can charge from 5-80%  in less than 30 minutes.

Examples of common BEVs are Tesla Model 3, Tata Nexon, Hyundai Kona, etc.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)

types of electric vehicles

Schematic diagram of a hybrid electric vehicle

This type of electric car is commonly known as standard hybrid or parallel hybrid. HEV cars have both electric motors and internal combustion engines. The electric motor gets its power from a battery pack, while the IC engine derives power from conventional fuel

However, the difference between HEV and BEV, and PHEV is that the batteries in the HEV can only be charged by the wheel motion and the internal combustion engine. Moreover, there is no charging port, so the battery cannot be recharged from external power supplies, such as a power socket or charging station.

Common examples of HEV are Toyota Prius Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid, etc.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid electric vehicle

This is a type of hybrid car that has both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. However, the power to the battery pack comes from a power grid. The ICE of this type of car uses Petrol or diesel for power. Also, the user can charge the battery at home by plugging it into an electrical outlet. It can recharge from charging stations.

The battery pack of PHEVs can also source energy from the engine or regenerative braking. When the brake is applied while running, the electric motor functions as a dynamo, and converts the energy into power, and charges the battery.

The electric motor also helps the engine by providing more power to the wheels. Hence, better fuel efficiency can be achieved by incorporating a low-powered engine.

Some common examples of PHEV are Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, Mercedes C350e, Mini Cooper SE Countryman, Audi A3 E-Tron, BMW i8, Hyundai Sonata, etc.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs)

FCEVs uses ‘fuel cell technology to generate the power required to charge the battery and run the vehicle. The vehicle converts chemical energy into electric energy. FCEVs do not need to be plugged in like BEVs because the car itself produces the electricity needed for its functioning. Chemical energy is directly converted into electric energy in an FCEV. 

Some common examples of FCEVs are Toyota Mirai, Hyundai Tucson FCEV, Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, Hyundai Nexo, etc.

Different electric vehicles have different kinds of motors and motor layouts. These are important factors in the power delivery of EVs. Some common motors found in EVs are DC Series Motor, Brushless DC motor(BDCM), Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (PMSM), and Three Phase Induction Motor. We will be writing another article in which we go in-depth into EV motors and Motor Layouts. Stay tuned for more interesting car facts!

 Also, read:

EVs are the future: discover the wonders of electric vehicles