Types of Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicles come in many different shapes and sizes and many of the world’s leading automotive manufacturers are focusing their attentions on alternatively powered vehicles as they commit to reduce their carbon footprints. Often cited as one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption is the terminology and acronyms used to describe these vehicle s. We have prepared this quick guide to help you understand the different types of electric vehicles.



  • Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)

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    ICE vehicles are those which we are all familiar with. These vehicles are powered by the burning of fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel and remain popular globally due to the wide network of fuelling stations, the choice and availability of vehicles and the initial purchase price of the vehicles which remain comparatively lower than vehicles with an alternative power source. Petrol and diesel vehicles emit carbon dioxide (CO2) which acts as a greenhouse gas when emitted into the atmosphere.

  • Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)

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    A BEV Vehicle is a vehicle which is fully electric with a rechargeable battery as the only source of power. BEVs do not have a traditional combustion engine. The design of BEVs will often differ from ICE vehicles as they are not bound by the usual engine constraints. The battery to power the vehicle requires charging from an external electric source. Battery Electric Vehicles produce zero tail pipe emissions and are considered the cleaners cars on the road.

  • Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

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    A Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) uses a combination of sources to generate power. The battery on a PHEV is similar to that found in a Battery Electric Vehicles, but is smaller and therefore will only provide a limited amount of pure electric range. This type of vehicle is often a stepping stone to fully electric whereby drivers can test the technology and determine whether it is suitable for their needs. Shorter journeys can be completed on the pure electric battery with the combustion engine used for longer trips. PHEVs require charging from an external electric source.

  • Full Hybrid (HEV)

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    Often referred to as Self-Charging Hybrid cars by several manufacturers, a HEV has an electric battery which in part selectively powers the engine. However it is not possible or required to recharge the battery via an external source of electricity. HEVs use the electric battery up to 15-20mph before the combustion engine takes over. The combustion engine provides power to the generator while cruising, producing electricity which is stored in the battery for later use.

  • Mild Hybrid (MHEV)

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    Using a small electric motor to provide additional power to the engine as needed for example with ‘start stop functionality’. Mild hybrids cannot be powered using battery power alone. When the vehicle is cruising or coasting the engine spins the generator which provides electricity to recharge the battery. MHEVs do not require charging from an external electricity source.

  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

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    These are advanced vehicles powered by a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Due to the power being generated through a chemical process these vehicles do not need to be recharged by an external electricity source and they are fuelled by a supply of hydrogen. Refuelling can take less than 5 minutes and the average range of vehicles is around 300 – 350 miles and vehicles are used in much the same way as ICE vehicles.