Electric cars (EVs or electric vehicles) come in different types for different usage scenarios, like short local trips, or long daily commutes. Understanding the differences will allow you to make the choice best suited for your lifestyle. Hybrid – No plug, just impressive efficiency. It is powered by gas or battery (or a combination thereof). The battery is only charged internally. Hybrid cars have two sources of power that work together – a gas engine and a battery-driven electric motor. The hybrids automatically switch between gas and electric mode (or both) to power the vehicle as needed. Plug-in Hybrid – Plug it in if you wish. Plug-in hybrids have a gas engine like normal hybrids. However, they have a higher capacity battery and can be plugged in to drive short distances on all-electric power. All-Electric - All electric cars are powered by an electric motor only.
Charging the battery – recharge while you drive!
All three EV types use regenerative braking. While braking, the motor is still spinning even though the car uis trying to slow down. Regenerative braking captures this typically wasted energy and uses the motor as a generator to create electricity which charges the battery. Hybrids
Hybrids recharge the battery in two ways:
- Regenerative braking
- The Gas Engine
The gas engine acts as a generator taking mechanical energy and transforming it into electrical energy to recharge the battery. Plug-In Hybrid
Plug-in hybrids add a third way to recharge the battery. They use regenerative braking and the gas engine like all hybrids, but also have the option of being plugged-in. All-Electric
Apart from power produced by regenerative braking, all electric cars must be plugged-in to recharge the battery. Charging options include utilizing a standard 120 volt outlet so no need to install a 240 volt home charging station, unless you want a shorter charging time. A 120 volt outlet normally requires overnight charging, while the 240 volt charging station will do the job in considerably less time.
Choosing the EV that suits your lifestyle
Hybrids and Plug-in Hybrids are great for short trips around town and short commutes to work, but are also great for long road trips. Apart from regenerative braking, regular hybrids (not plug-ins) require gas for the engine to charge the battery. There is no need to ever plug-in a hybrid, unless you want as it will operate as a normal hybrid. All electric vehicles are ideal for predictable daily trips. They have zero CO2 emissions, but require time to charge.
Factors affecting Hybrid Performance
Hybrid performance is affected by terrain, weather and fuel octane. Driving up and down hills or on unpaved roads can reduce fuel economy. Cold weather can reduce fuel economy since the engine doesn’t operate as efficiently until it has warmed up. Using E10 Fuel or a lower octane than is recommended can reduce mileage. Also fuel type, such as winter fuel which is sold after October 1st, contains 1.7% less energy than summer fuel. Note: The engine’s fuel economy shouldn’t be measured until after a break in period of 5,000 to 10,000 kilometres. Chill out – Aggressive driving can reduce fuel economy by as much as 33% on the highway and 5% in the city. Accelerate and brake smoothly, avoiding jack-rabbit starts and last-minute braking. Get rid of non-essential baggage like golf clubs. An extra 100 pounds (45 kg) will reduce fuel economy by as much as 2%. Roof carriers increase drag, add weight and reduce fuel efficiency. Other ways to improve fuel economy include: idle less, avoid extreme temperatures – park in the shade in summer, or shelter in winter to minimize the amount of heating or cooling required within the cabin area. If your objective is to save money on fuel and you understand your driving habits, you can choose the EV that’s right for you!