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What are the different types of Electric Vehicle?

What are the different types of Electric Vehicle?

In this article, we will look at the different types of electric vehicles (EV) on the market today, how they work, their strengths and weaknesses, and how to charge them.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)

BEVs are what people generally think of when they hear the term “electric vehicle”.  They are exclusively powered by electric motors and large rechargeable batteries.  As they don’t have a petrol or diesel engine, they are true zero emissions vehicles.

The only way to recharge a BEV is by using either a home charge point, or a public EV charging station.  Most BEVs also support rapid charging which allows them to be charged much more quickly than other types of electric vehicle.  Check out this article - How Long Does It Take To Charge an Electric Vehicle - for more information.


  • Zero emissions

  • Smooth and quiet operation, 100% of the time


  • Range is usually less than a PHEV or an HEV (though this will depend on the battery capacity of the vehicle)

  • Need to be recharged regularly

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)

PHEVs, as the name suggests, use both an electric motor and a combustion engine to power the vehicle.  They have a larger battery capacity than a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV - see below), but not as big as a BEV.  A typical PHEV can go around 20-40 miles on electric power before the combustion engine takes over.

PHEVs recharge in two ways - the first is by connecting to either a home charge point or a public charging station, but unlike BEVs, PHEVs don’t usually support fast charging.  The second way is through regenerative braking, which uses the energy that is normally lost as heat in the braking system to top up the on board battery.

Once the batteries have been depleted and the combustion engine kicks in, PHEVs behave just like normal HEVs with the electric motor providing support for the combustion engine as and when battery power permits.


  • Shorter journeys can be completed in 100% electric mode

  • Having a combustion engine as well as a battery and motor can be useful for longer journeys


  • Limited electric range

  • More expensive than conventional cars without the full benefits of a BEV

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)

HEVs, sometimes referred to just as “hybrids”, use a combination of a combustion engine and an electric motor to drive the vehicle.  Unlike PHEVs, the only way to recharge the vehicle's battery is through regenerative braking, and HEVs cannot be plugged into a home charge point or public charging station to recharge them.  Generally, HEVs can only go a few miles on electric only power before the combustion engine takes over.


  • No need to plug in to recharge

  • Cheaper than BEVs and PHEVs


  • Can be inefficient on long journeys

  • Least environmentally friendly, relying on fossil fuels to charge the battery


There are a range of different types of EV available, and each have their own advantages and disadvantages.  Ultimately, making the right choice will depend on your driving habits, budget and charging facilities, and we have a number of other articles to help you make the right choice. 

While we can’t help you choose the right car for you, we can help you find the right EV home charger. Simply add to cart, add installation and enjoy charging from home.

Written by Matt B
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