Types of electric vehicles: BEVs, HEVs, FCEVs and PHEVs (2023)

What are the different types of electric vehicles in India?

If you’re considering buying an electric vehicle, here’s a summary of electric vehicle types to help you out.

1. BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle)

They are powered purely by an electric battery with no Internal Combustion (IC) engine (petrol/diesel) parts.

2. HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle)

They utilise an electric motor to assist IC engines.

3. FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle)

They use power derived from chemical energy (hydrogen and oxygen) and a battery pack to power the vehicle without charging.

4. PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle)

They are similar to HEVs but have a bigger battery pack and electric motor.

Read more about these types of EVs in the following sections.

5. Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

Vehicles powered solely by one or more electric batteries are known as BEVs. They are more popularly called EVs. Chargeable batteries power them, and there is no IC engine (petrol or diesel-powered). All the power comes from the battery pack, which is chargeable from the electricity grid. The charged battery pack sends power to one or more electric motors to move the vehicle.

Components of BEV

  • Battery pack

  • Electric motor(s)

  • Inverter

  • Control module

  • Drive train

  • Charge port

How do BEVs work?

The battery pack sends power to one or more electric motors, which propels the vehicle's wheels forward or backwards. Furthermore, when brakes are engaged, or the vehicle decelerates, the motor acts as an alternator. It produces power, charges the battery pack, and offers more driving range.

Examples of BEVs

  • Tata Nexon EV

  • Hyundai Kona

  • Tata Tiago EV

  • Tata Tigor EV

  • Mahindra XUV300 EV

  • Mahindra E Verito

  • MG ZS EV

  • Mercedes-Benz EQB

  • BYD Atto 3

  • Kia EV6

  • BMW iX

2. Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)

HEVs use an IC engine and an electric motor. The latter derives power from the electricity stored in a battery pack. The main difference between pure EVs and HEVs is that the HEV’s battery pack is charged through regenerative braking and engine power, not the regular electric charger. The stored power enables the electric motor to assist the IC engine in various forms, such as longer driving range.

Here are the different types of hybrid electric vehicles.

  • Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles (MHEVs): The MHEVs are conventional internal combustion engines that use a very small electric motor and battery pack to offer additional power to the engine and auxiliary systems such as power steering and air conditioner when required.

  • Full Hybrid Electric Vehicles (FHEVs): The FHEV is essentially an HEV which drives on an internal combustion engine supported by an electric motor.

Components of HEVs

  • Internal Combustion Engine

  • Electric motor(s)

  • Battery pack

  • Inverter

  • Control module

  • Drive train

  • Fuel tank

  • Charge port

How do HEVs work?

HEVs' primary power source is an IC engine like a regular petrol or diesel-powered vehicle. HEV can source power from a different set of combinations of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor.

In most cases, the electric motor and internal combustion engine work together to drive the car. However, in some cases, they may work in two different ways. For instance, the electric motor may keep the IC engine running while idling or shifting gears.

Examples of HEVs

  • Toyota Prius

  • Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder

  • Honda City eHEV

  • Toyota Innova Hycross

  • Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara

  • Volvo XC90

  • MG Hector

  • Hyundai Ioniq 5

  • Toyota Camry

  • Toyota Vellfire

3. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

PHEVs are an extended form of HEVs. They have an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. However, the latter receives power from a chargeable battery, unlike standard HEVs. These types of electric vehicles usually have bigger and more powerful electric motors compared to the standard HEVs.

PHEVs can run in 2 modes, namely.

  • All-electric mode: Only the electric motor offers power to drive the vehicle.

  • Hybrid mode: The internal combustion engine and the electric motor work together to drive the vehicle.

Components of PHEVs

  • Internal combustion engine

  • Electric motor(s)

  • Battery pack

  • Inverter

  • Control module

  • Drive train

  • Fuel tank

  • Charge port

  • Exhaust system

How do PHEVs work?

PHEVs use the electric motor to drive until the battery charge drains. Once the battery power is depleted, the internal combustion engine takes over. The electric motor derives power from the battery pack, which is chargeable, unlike HEVs. The battery pack is charged through the conventional electricity grid, regenerative braking, or the internal combustion engine.

Examples of PHEVs

  • Volvo XC90 Recharge

  • BMW 7 Series

  • Porsche Cayenne

  • Toyota RAV4

4. Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)

FCEVs, also known as Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs), are a type of EV that utilise ‘fuel cell technology’ to generate electricity and charge the battery pack. They use the same system as a standard EV powered by one or more electric motors. FCEVs have a gas tank to store hydrogen and can be fueled up within minutes, similar to petrol and diesel-powered vehicles.

Components of FCEV

  • Battery pack

  • Electric motor(s)

  • Inverter

  • Control module

  • Drive train

  • Fuel cell stack

  • Fuel tank

How do FCEVs work?

FCEVs require hydrogen fuel to be stored in a fuel tank. The hydrogen fuel is converted into electricity through the fuel cell stack and charges the battery pack. The battery pack powers one or more electric motors to propel the vehicle.

Examples of FCEVs

  • Hyundai Tucson FCEV

  • Toyota Mirai

  • Hyundai Nexo

  • Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are the answers to some of the common questions about types of electric vehicles.

Types of electric vehicles: BEVs, HEVs, FCEVs and PHEVs (1)

Which vehicle insurance is suitable for electric vehicles?

The Third-party Car Insurance Policy is a mandatory policy for vehicles. However, it does not provide coverage for damages to the EV. Opt for the Comprehensive Car Insurance Policy for electric vehicles since it provides coverage for the insured vehicle and third-party liabilities.

Do electric vehicles produce zero carbon emissions?

Technically, no. Pure EVs have no emissions; however, their environmental impact is still influenced by where their power comes from. If the power source is coal, there are certain harmful carbon emissions compared to electricity sourced from renewable resources.

What are some of the drawbacks of electric vehicles?

Some disadvantages of pure electric vehicles are slow charging and the cost of procuring the vehicle being higher compared to IC engine-powered vehicles.

What are the different types of electric motors in electric vehicles?

The following are the various types of electric motors that are usually employed in EVs.

  • Brushless DC Motor

  • DC series Motor

  • Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor

  • Three-phase AC Induction Motor

  • Switched Reluctance Motor

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Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on industry experience and several secondary sources on the internet, and is subject to changes. Please go through the applicable policy wordings for updated ACKO-centric content, and before making any insurance-related decisions.

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