Types of cars

‘The next big step ap­pears to be a move to solid-state bat­ter­ies, which will have shorter charg­ing times’

What Car? - - Electric Car Special -

Al­ter­na­tively fu­elled ve­hi­cle (AFV), elec­tri ed car

Any car that doesn’t solely use a con­ven­tional petrol or diesel en­gine falls un­der these um­brella terms.

Elec­tric ve­hi­cle (EV)

This term – along with bat­tery elec­tric ve­hi­cle (BEV) and elec­tric car – is used for cars that run solely on elec­tric­ity and there­fore pro­duce no ex­haust emis­sions, a lead­ing ex­am­ple be­ing the Nis­san Leaf, our 2018 Elec­tric Car of the Year. In­stead of a petrol or diesel en­gine, they have an elec­tric mo­tor that is pow­ered by bat­ter­ies, which you charge by plug­ging the car into a socket.


Any hy­brid car com­bines a con­ven­tional petrol or diesel en­gine with an elec­tric mo­tor and bat­ter­ies. although not as ‘green’ as fully elec­tric cars, hy­brids gen­er­ally con­sume less fuel and pro­duce less CO2 than con­ven­tion­ally pow­ered cars.

The most com­mon type is the par­al­lel hy­brid – some­times known as a self-charg­ing hy­brid – and is found in cars such as the Toy­ota Prius.the en­gine is still the main power source, but the wheels can be pow­ered in three dif­fer­ent ways: ei­ther di­rectly by the en­gine, by the elec­tric mo­tor alone, or by both work­ing to­gether.you never need to charge these hy­brids. Most can run on elec­tric power only for just a few miles at low speeds.

For: They’re re­ally eco­nom­i­cal for For: Zero-emis­sions run­ning; far qui­eter on the road; much cheaper to re­fuel; EVS with a list price be­low £40,000 are ex­empt from road tax and the Lon­don Con­ges­tion Charge.

Against: Ranges aren’t com­pa­ra­ble with those of other types of car; long charg­ing times; poor pre­dicted resid­ual val­ues.

stop-start city driv­ing, be­cause the elec­tric mo­tor gets the most use and the re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing boosts the bat­ter­ies when­ever you de­cel­er­ate or use the brakes. Against: Fuel econ­omy tends to nose­dive out of town, be­cause the bat­ter­ies make the car heavy and the elec­tric mo­tor will soon run out of charge at higher speeds and un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion.

Plug-in hy­brid elec­tric ve­hi­cle (PHEV)

As the name im­plies, this type of hy­brid can be plugged into an elec­tric out­let to recharge its bat­ter­ies, as well as be­ing charged on the move. One of the most pop­u­lar so far is the Mit­subishi Out­lander PHEV.

In ef­fect, it’s a half­way house be­tween a par­al­lel hy­brid and a full elec­tric ve­hi­cle. although it has a con­ven­tional en­gine, it also has larger bat­ter­ies than a par­al­lel hy­brid and can drive for longer dis­tances and at much higher speeds on elec­tric power alone – up to 30 miles and at least 70mph in some cases.

For: Has a longer range than an elec­tric car; cheap to use for short, ur­ban jour­neys that don’t de­plete the bat­ter­ies.

Against: Bat­ter­ies add weight, mak­ing fuel econ­omy poor on mo­tor­way runs once the bat­ter­ies are de­pleted; need to recharge bat­ter­ies more of­ten than a pure EV, which will have a longer range; need to plug in to prop­erly charge, un­like par­al­lel hy­brids. Range ex­ten­der These cars run on elec­tric­ity but have a small petrol or diesel en­gine that never pow­ers the wheels. It is used only to pro­duce elec­tric­ity to recharge the bat­ter­ies.the aim of range ex­ten­ders such as the BMW i3 REX (there’s also a fully elec­tric ver­sion) is to pro­vide an ex­tra 70 to 100 miles of range once the bat­ter­ies have been de­pleted, giv­ing ex­tra ex­i­bil­ity be­tween charges.

For: Bet­ter than a par­al­lel hy­brid for longer, out-of-town jour­neys, be­cause it drives on elec­tric­ity only; no range anx­i­ety, thanks to the en­gine.

Against: Ex­tra weight of en­gine means the car isn’t very eco­nom­i­cal when it’s gen­er­at­ing power, so the over­all range will be less than that of a com­pa­ra­ble reg­u­lar elec­tric car.

Hy­dro­gen fuel cell ve­hi­cle

These cars mix hy­dro­gen with oxy­gen in a fuel cell to pro­duce elec­tric­ity. they’re rare – the Toy­ota Mi­rai be­ing one of the few you can buy – be­cause they’re ex­pen­sive and there are fewer than 20 pub­lic hy­dro­gen re­fu­elling sta­tions in the UK.

Hy­dro­gen-pow­ered cars take less than ve min­utes to ll up, have a greater range than bat­tery-elec­tric cars and only emit wa­ter from their ex­hausts.

They are there­fore seen by some peo­ple as the best longterm so­lu­tion to emis­sions-free driv­ing. How­ever, the pro­cesses used to gen­er­ate and trans­port hy­dro­gen make them less ecofriendly over­all than con­ven­tional elec­tric cars at present. Pros: Quick re­fu­elling time; range be­tween ll-ups is far closer to that of a petrol or diesel car, zero tailpipe emis­sions.

Against: In­fra­struc­ture is in its in­fancy; high CO2 emis­sions from cur­rent pro­duc­tion process; tech­nol­ogy is very ex­pen­sive.

V Nis­san Leaf


V Toy­ota Prius

V Toy­ota Mi­rai

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