Electric cars are in the news as often as the Kardashians. There’s a lot to understand about these trendy, environmentally-friendly vehicles, but to give you an introduction, we outline the basics behind this green mode of transportation.
The major feature of electric vehicles (EVs) is that drivers can plug them in to charge from an electric power source. This differentiates them from hybrid electric vehicles, which supplement an internal combustion engine with battery power but do not have the capability to be plugged in. There are two basic types of EVs: all-electric vehicles (AEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
AEVs include Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs). Both types are charged in part by regenerative braking, which generates electricity from some of the energy normally lost when braking. They also obtain charge from the electrical grid. AEVs are typified by the fact that they only use electricity, as their name would suggest. AEVs usually have ranges of 80 to 100 miles, while a few luxury models have ranges up to 250 miles. Depending on the type of charger and battery your AEV has, it can take from 30 minutes up to a full day to charge it, so be cognizant of that if you are planning on choosing an AEV.
A plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV) is another choice. PHEVs run on electricity for shorter ranges (six to 40 miles), then switch over to an internal combustion engine that runs on traditional gasoline, when the battery is depleted. Powering the vehicle with electricity from the grid reduces fuel costs, cuts petroleum consumption and reduces emissions. But PHEVs give you the option to switch into using a regular internal combustion engine when the electricity range is surpassed, which is often a selling point. Depending on the model, the internal combustion engine may also power the vehicle at other times, such as during rapid acceleration or when using heating or air conditioning. Whether you decide upon a PHEV or an AEV for your electric vehicle, is up to your life, your environment and your energy/environmental preferences.
Speaking mechanically, there are a lot of factors that set electric vehicles apart. Though these differences are often hard to detect (besides the fact that the car runs silently, that tends to be a big clue-in), they are vast and can be found primarily under the hood. These variances include such functions as: a typical gasoline engine is replaced by an electric motor, an electric motor gets its power from a controller and the controller gets its power from an array of rechargeable batteries. As well, a gasoline engine, with its fuel lines, exhaust pipes and coolant hoses tends to look like a plumbing project. An electric car, on the other hand, definitely looks like a wiring project.