Electric Cars – A Guide to Terminology


Are you confused about the types of electric cars that are on the market today? We will briefly examine the three major types and give you a clear cut understanding of the differences between the models. When you finish you will know the difference between a “Hybrid”, an “EV” and a “Plug-in.”

Hybrid Cars

The “Hybrid” part of Hybrid cars comes from the fact that they use both gas engines and electric motors for power. Most of the major car makers offer a Hybrid model and Hybrids have been on the market over a decade now. The Toyota Prius was the first popular Hybrid and is often referred to as typical of the breed.

Hybrids tend to cost a bit more than standard internal-combustion cars because of the additional technology involved, especially the large rechargeable battery packs. However, buying a hybrid was an expensive affair originally but today’s hybrids are much more affordable than they were just a few years ago.

Most potential owners wonder how much money they will save with a Hybrid car. For high-MPG Hybrids, most studies show that easily you’ll recoup the extra cost during the course of ownership. This is a major reason that they are so popular.

Electric Vehicles

Unlike a Hybrid car, an electric vehicle (EV) is powered exclusively by electricity. There is no backup gas engine aboard. As such, EVs produce no tailpipe emissions and are cheaper to operate. With an EV, you never visit gas stations.
Besides driving range -which can vary between 60 and 100 miles- the biggest concern with electric cars these days is cost. The purchase price of EVs can run a bit higher than similar conventional cars because of the large rechargeable battery packs they require.

EVs have very few moving parts compared to Hybrids and standard gas cars and thus have lower maintenance costs. Critics of EVs claim that they move energy-production emissions further upstream to the smokestack of the utility company and thus aren’t at all “emission-free”. This is up to debate, of course.

Plug-in Hybrid Cars

A Plug-in Hybrid car is similar to a conventional hybrid vehicle – power is supplied via both a gas engine and an electric motor – however you can charge your Plug-in Hybrid by connecting it to standard household outlet. In this way they function like an EV but have the added benefit of having a standard engine on-board if you exceed the battery range. Plug-in Hybrids can be driven for long distances -from a few miles to as much as 40 miles- without using any gasoline at all. This can be a major advantage for some owners.

Plug-in Hybrids have many of the benefits of electric cars, without the biggest drawback: limited driving range. When the juice runs out of the battery in a Plug-in Hybrid, it’s no problem. The car will drive just like a conventional Hybrid, until your next opportunity to plug in.

Article Courtesy of: Holt Chrysler


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