Electric vehicles are still a relatively new concept to many people. Despite having been on the roads for some time now; some are more obvious than others, like a Tesla. Some you may not have even realised were electric because they are electric versions of popular models we’ve seen or driven on the roads for years, like a Mini or Peugeot; a hatchback or SUV. Either way there are still many questions regarding electric and hybrid cars.
There are two main types of Electric Vehicles (EVs):
- Battery (BEV)
- Plug-in hybrids (PHEV).
Electric Vehicles (EVs)
BEVs, or just EVs, have an on-board battery which powers an electric motor. Therefore there is no combustion engine, so they need to be charged from an external power supply. The distance an EV will travel all depends on the vehicle’s weight, battery size, how you drive it, speed and even weather conditions. Probably worth noting that the colder seasons will affect your EV’s range.
Plug-in hybrids have an electric motor alongside a combustion engine which can either work together or separately in full electric mode; or using conventional fuel. Because of this the combustion engine is able to run at a higher efficiency level with assistance from the battery. On the other hand there are Mild Hybrids which are cheaper, but unlike a full hybrid its power sources can’t be used independently. A hybrid is best running in electric-only mode for slow city driving, keeping in mind that the maximum distance it can travel in this mode will depend on the size of the battery. The batteries tend to be small but because of this it means they can be charged to full capacity relatively quickly. If you run the batteries completely flat the vehicle should face no issues, just simply run off the combustion engine.
There is however a variation that sits between EVs and PHEVs: the Range-Extended EV (REX). REX’s are configured so that the electric motors power the drivetrain with a small internal combustion engine that is used to recharge the battery if necessary. This combustion engine does not drive the wheels.
So do i Need AAA Batteries or something Bigger?
The most common types of rechargeable batteries currently being used are Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) and Lithium-polymer (Li-Poly). These batteries work with a belt alternator system (BAS) to use regenerative braking which stores the built-up kinetic energy that would otherwise be lost, and uses it instead to charge the batteries. This helps to reduce the overall energy use by roughly 20%.
So what are the benefits?
There are a number of benefits when it comes to owning a hybrid or electric vehicle. Some are more obvious than others, like fuel costs or lowered to zero tax, along with the positive green image for the environment of course. But what are they like to drive? Well most drivers should be able to get behind the wheel of a Hybrid or EV and instantly feel a difference in the way they drive. Because of the electric motors they are able to deliver instant torque meaning even the most standard electric, or hybrid models, will more than likely beat that expensive sports car off the line.
The video below really shows the power behind an EV on an extreme level!
EVs offer their drivers a “low stress journey”. The batteries are usually hidden down in the car’s chassis, lowering its centre of gravity to improve handling. Acoustic insulation is fitted throughout the cars to help mask the sound of the electric motors, fans, vibrations, delivering the quietest of journey’s… unless you have your music turned all the way up!
Hybrids have their benefits too! Conventional fuel that would otherwise be used on small trips here and there can now be saved for those longer journeys. Whether you’re just popping to the shops, picking the kids up from school, seeing friends or family, or your journey to work is less than 30 miles. You could complete all these journey’s running in all-electric mode and save your fuel.
EVs and PHEV’s also offer a great convenience in terms of recharging. As mentioned before, simply breaking helps to recharge your batteries. Now you can recharge your car overnight just like you would your phone or any other electrical devices. We’ll dive deeper into charging points and the types of connectors in the next blog.
So what now?
Despite the big push to get more EVs and Hybrids on the road, petrol and diesel vehicles still dominate the market. They’re still cheaper to buy, especially if they’re used since they depreciate quickly; but the price of fuel continues to rise. Will the government really ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2040? Or will they be forced to go back on their idea when that year comes and EVs are still expensive and the majority of the UK population still own cars with combustion engines.