Looks like our generation is “driving” into the future where emission-free cars will be as a matter of course, and not the piece of luxury. The future where all-electric and plug-in hybrids prevail on the road. The future where everyone knows what is EV, PHEV, HEV, BEV, ER-EV, and takes it for granted. But as for now, electric cars are the matter of “woooooow!”, and a subject for photo shooting by every person going by or driving by on a traditional car.
Most of happy owners of electric autos do not even imagine changing back to a conventional fuel car and traditional driving. But actually, most of average car drivers don’t know much about electric cars and are still fuzzy about electric vehicle types, engines and basic electromobility things.
EV, PHEV, HEV – so what each of them is all about?
Generally, there are all-electric cars (EV), hybrid electric cars (HEV), and plug-in hybrid electric cars (PHEV).
All-electric cars: operate on electricity exclusively; equipped with one or more electric motors for propulsion; use the rechargeable battery packs
Example: all-electric BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S
Hybrid cars: mostly powered by regular internal combustion engine; electric motor starts to operate when extra power is needed; the car can use two propulsion means separately or at the same time; electric engine is converting and storing energy in the battery acting as a generator
Example: BMW Concept 7 Series ActiveHybrid – mild hybrid, BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid – full hybrid, Toyota Prius – full hybrid
Plug-in hybrid cars: equipped with the combustion engine and electric motor; mostly powered by electric motor, as a primary source of power; the internal combustion engine acts as the backup; rechargeable battery can be charged by plugging in to a power source
Example: plug-in hybrid BMW i8
All-Electric Car/Vehicle – EV, BEV
EV stands for electric vehicle or electric car, also a battery electric vehicle (BEV) or all-electric vehicle. For propulsion, EV uses energy stored at rechargeable lithium ion battery. The battery can be charged by conventional household electricity or specifically developed charger (for example, the BMW i Wallbox). Compared to a hybrid type of electric car (fueled by gasoline and powered by a battery and motor), an all-electric car uses the electric power only and one or more electric motors. First developed in the 19th century, electricity-powered machines provide much more comfort and ease of operation compared to gas-powered automobiles. Supposed to benefit the environment, all-electric cars are free of emissions what makes them great for mega city driving.
Hybrid Electric Car/Vehicle – HEV
HEV refers to hybrid electric car/vehicle which is powered by internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor. Hybrids are mostly powered by ICE. The electric motor is powered by battery and comes in action when extra power is needed. The energy for electric engine is stored in the battery and the car does not need to be plugged in to use its electric motor. What we like about a hybrid car is that it can use these propulsion means separately or at the same time.
According to the power source, there are full and mild hybrids.
Full hybrids can operate on just the engine, just the battery, or a combination of both propulsion means. Toyota Prius, Ford Escape Hybrid, and Ford Fusion are one of the best examples of the full hybrid.
Mild hybrids cannot run on electric motor solely. The electric motor does not have enough power to propel the car on its own. It is used to increase car power and performance, or power the accessories. Accessories can continue to run on electrical power while the gasoline engine is off. Mild hybrids have smaller battery and, accordingly, a smaller motor, allowing carmakers reduce car cost and overall weight.
Based on the type of drivetrain, there are parallel, series or power split hybrids.
Series hybrids are also referred to as range-extended electric vehicles (REEV). In this type of hybrid cars only the electric motor is connected to the transmission, while the gasoline engine is used to power the electric motor, or charge the batteries. The ICE turns a generator and is not mechanically connected to the driving wheels. For example, Chevrolet Volt.
Parallel hybrids are the type of the car where both gasoline engine and an electric motor are connected to the transmission and can operate simultaneously. As an example of parallel type of hybrid, see The Chevrolet Malibu or Audi Duo plug-in hybrid. The Prius is an example of the mild-parallel hybrid.
Power-split hybrids use a combination of the above two. This type of drivetrain is used by most branded hybrids from Ford, Lexus, Nissan.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Car/Vehicle – PHEV
Plug-in hybrid cars are equipped with both engines, the combustion engine and electric motor. So, in this way, PHEVs are similar to HEVs. But the difference with these two types lies in that PHEV’s battery can be charged by plugging in to a power source. As the battery gets low on power, it can be recharged to full capacity into an electrical outlet, publically available charging stations, or at a specifically developed charge point installed in your own garage or house. The combustion engine becomes the main power source when the battery is depleted. Thus, the ICE takes the role of the back-up, and the electric motor acts as the primary source of power. Most common example of plug-in hybrid electric car is the Chevrolet Volt, BMW i8.
Think more electric and hybrid cars hit the roads in 2017?
Hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars keep gaining popularity for urban driving. Most current drivers could not imagine changing back to a conventional fuel car anymore. The BMW i and other major automakers introduce high-end developments all the time. In case you’ve missed, BMW packs the i3 with new battery (94 Ah) in 2017, ending up any remaining range/charge anxiety about this electric model.
Do you think mass adoption of these magnificent machines is coming? Already drive an electric or hybrid car?