Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are 'pure electrics'

They’re powered only by electrical energy stored in the battery.

To charge a BEV, you plug it into an external electricity source such as a regular electrical socket, a dedicated charging unit or a public charging station.

The battery recovers and stores energy generated when the car brakes, a system known as regenerative braking.

A BEV has no exhaust pipe or exhaust pipe emissions.

A battery EV will suit best if you...

  • Mostly travel within battery range
  • Can charge overnight at home or at work
  • Have off-street parking and access to a plug
  • Want an economical second car
  • Sit in traffic a lot
  • Want low running costs

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have two motors

They have an electric motor and battery that can be charged from an external power supply, and an internal combustion engine fuelled by petrol or diesel.

Most drive in EV-only mode until most of the power stored in the battery is used, then the petrol/diesel engine automatically takes over.

Regenerative braking charges the battery in both modes

During heavy acceleration, such as driving fast up a steep hill, the two motors work together.

Some PHEVs use a small petrol engine (a range extender) to generate electricity and power the electric motor once the battery charge decreases to a certain point.

The range of a PHEV in EV-only mode varies significantly between models. Some can only do 15-20km while some newer models can do 60km or more.

A PHEV will suit best if you...

  • Often need to drive beyond the battery range
  • Need the car for a mix of long and short trips
  • Can charge overnight at home or at work
  • Have off-street parking and access to a plug
  • Sit in traffic a lot

What about hybrids?

Hybrids that don't plug-in are more fuel efficient than a comparable petrol car, but are not electric vehicles. Their batteries are only charged by re-capturing energy when braking or from electricity generated by the engine.

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