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What is EV, BEV, HEV, PHEV? Here’s your guide to types of electric cars

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When it comes to types of electric vehicles (EVs), the choices people can buy go far beyond those powered by batteries alone.

These days, they can find all types, including options that rely on fuel cells or combine a gas engine in hybrid and plug-in hybrids.

Generally speaking, there are several main types of electric cars we’ll talk about in this article: The standard EV, also known as a battery-powered electric vehicle (BEV); the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV); and the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). There are subsets of each type as well.

With all these acronyms, let’s break it down.

EV and BEV: electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles

EVs stand out from most cars on the market in that they don’t have internal combustion engines. Instead of gasoline, these vehicles run solely on battery power. Drivers can charge them at home using Level 1 or Level 2 EV chargers or use more powerful chargers (Level 3) designed for commercial charging stations.

Because EVs run on battery power without an internal combustion engine’s assistance, they can run much farther on a single charge than hybrid vehicles. They’re also known as battery electric vehicles, or BEVs. That’s what distinguishes them from hybrids that run on battery power with assistance from internal combustion engines.

See: Review: The 2021 Hyundai Ioniq, the affordable electric

HEV: hybrid electric vehicles

HEVs run on both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery. Unlike most electric vehicles, however, HEV drivers charge their batteries via regenerative braking.

Regenerative braking stores the kinetic energy used to stop the car to charge its battery and help the internal combustion engine accelerate the vehicle. Drivers desire HEVs and PHEVs (more on them in a bit) for their fuel economy because their reliance on battery power decreases how much gas the internal combustion engine uses.

One type of HEV, the micro (or mild) hybrid, uses both a battery and electric motor to make the car run. Although they can’t run solely on electric power, they maximize fuel economy by shutting off the internal combustion engine during complete stops. The full hybrid has the battery power to make the car move using electricity alone, but usually only for short distances.

Also see: Review: Everything you need to know about the high-tech 2021 Toyota Mirai

PHEV: plug-in hybrids

PHEVs expand on the concept of the standard hybrid vehicle. They have both an internal combustion engine and a battery-powered electric motor. This allows the battery to store enough power to feed the electric motor and in turn decrease your gas usage by as much as 60 percent. This can save you time and money at the gas pump. PHEVs can travel up to 40 miles on electric power alone, rather than a couple of miles with a standard hybrid vehicle.

The two types of PHEVs:

  • Extended range electric vehicles (EREVs), or series plug-in hybrids, use an electric motor to push the car while the internal combustion engine generates electricity. Once the battery taps out, the electricity stored by the engine takes over to power the vehicle.

  • On the other hand, parallel (or blended) PHEVs use their internal combustion engines and electric motors to move the car.

Also see: BMW’s new i4 is set to take on Tesla with 523 hp and a 300-mile range

Now that you know a bit more about the different types of EVs on the market, you can find the perfect one that fits your needs. Happy hunting!

This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.

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