Though it has taken awhile for them to become popular, electric cars are beginning to catch on with mainstream consumers. Concerns about rising fuel prices and the health of the environment have spurred on their recent popularity, not to mention the simple fact that car companies are now producing electric vehicles that are getting amazing reviews. There's still a bit of confusion amongst many people as to the different types of electric cars that are available on the market, however.
There are three main electric vehicle types that are available today, which are battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and hybrids. Each of them are different and have their own unique advantages. Regardless of which one you chose though, you're guaranteed to reap the rewards of saving on fuel costs.
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
Also referred to as BEVs, battery electric vehicles are powered by onboard batteries, which are able to be recharged through an external electricity source. What's unique about battery electric vehicles is that many of them have braking features that are regenerative in that they are able to recharge some of the power to the batteries when the vehicle is driven.
The battery itself can be charged by plugging or placing it in various electric charging stations, which are starting to become more and more popular, or simply by plugging it into a power outlet. New models, such as the ones that are created by Tesla Motors, consume very little power and charge relatively fast. They can be charged overnight using a 120V outlet and can be charged at a faster rate if a 240V outlet is used. There is the option of even purchasing a charging station for it for the home, though it can cost between $600 to $1000.
One of the drawbacks of battery electric vehicles is that they often cost more than regular gas-powered vehicles simply because of the fact that there is less of a demand for them. This is expected to change in the future as sales continue to rise. Another drawback is that a single battery charge lasts for around 60 to 80 miles, though Tesla does produce models that can last over 200 miles. It's not too major of an issue considering that a back-up battery can be taken along, in which the process of switching them is quite sample.
Hybrids are perhaps the most well-known type of electric vehicle. They are called hybrids because they combine two or more sources in order to power the vehicle. The most common method that hybrids use is combining an internal combustion engine that uses gasoline or diesel fuel with an electric motor that is powered by a battery. Interestingly, these two power sources can work together or separately, depending on the particular hybrid.
Unlike with BEVs, hybrids, known as HEVs, cannot have their battery charged through an electrical outlet. Instead, the batteries that they contain are charged from regenerative braking, in which the vehicle is able to capture the kinetic energy that occurs from braking into electricity.
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HEVs can either reduce the amount of fuel that is used by the engine or even, at times, not use the engine at all.
One of the main advantages that HEVs offer is that they are much more fuel-efficient. For example, the 2014 Honda Accord is produced in two versions: a hybrid version and a conventional version. The hybrid version is able to get 47 miles to the gallon, while the non-hybrid version gets 30 miles to the gallon. This can result in significant cost savings for the person, in addition to being much better for the environment.
Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs)
Plug-in Hybrids, also known as PHEVs, are similar to conventional hybrids in that they both use an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. The difference is that the batteries used in a PHEV are able to be charged through an electrical outlet, rather than only being charged through regenerative braking.
What truly makes PHEVs standout is that they are able to operate solely on electric through the battery for a set period of time before switching to the gasoline motor. For example, the 2014 Chevy Volt can operate for 38 miles just using the battery. It may not be that great of a distance, but for people who don't drive too much, it's perfect. Some may find that on many days, they won't be using any fuel at all.
Regardless, it will lead to a significant amount of cost savings in addition to being quite environmentally-friendly. To put this into another perspective, consider how the cost of electricity is around $3.45 per 100 miles, while the cost of gasoline is around $13.50 per 100 miles.
Check out plugincars.com for a great guide to the latest electric car models.
The future of electric vehicles is quite bright. In the coming years, look for the prices to go down for all types, as car companies are producing models that perform just as well as their conventional counterparts in many cases. You owe it to your wallet to consider them, as the cost savings are obvious.