Electric Vehicle Definitions

Are you considering the purchase of an electric vehicle in the near future – but are confused by the choices and different types available on the market? Or perhaps you didn’t even know that the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, both electric vehicles, were actually different types of EVs – each with different advantages and disadvantages.

EV – Electric Vehicle: The acronym “EV” tends to be used both as an all-encompassing term for any vehicle powered partially or a vehicle powered entirely by a battery. This would include hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully-electric vehicles.

PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle: “PHEVs” are hybrids, often with longer-range battery capacity than non-plug-in hybrids, whose batteries can be charged by plugging them into an electrical outlet or charging station. Electric power-only range varies from the teens (Honda Accord PHEV – 13 miles; Toyota Prius PHEV – 15 miles) to the low-20 mile range (Ford Fusion and C-MAX Energi – 21 miles). 

  • Examples include the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, Ford Fusion and C-MAX Energi models and more.
  • Here is a nifty tool that will calculate your annual estimated cost for gas and electricity for every major PHEV on the market. It also has a nice little touch that will estimate how many times you will need to go to a gas station.
  • PHEV – Wikipedia

BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle: “BEVs” are electric vehicles that operate on 100% battery power. They are also often referred to as “all electric vehicles” to differentiate them from PHEVs. Examples include the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Smart EV, Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive, BMW i3 and more.

HEV- Hybrid Electric Vehicle: Examples include the Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Lexus RX-400h Hybrid, Lexus CT-200 Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid and more. Here is a complete list of currently available hybrids.

EREV – Extended Range Electric Vehicle: With extended-range plug-in hybrids, the electric motor always powers the drivetrain/wheels. However, when the battery reaches a certain level of charge, the gas motor kicks in to charge the battery – providing the “extended range.” Examples include the Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 with Range Extender.

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