EVs Defined: The Different Types and Their Advantages

You’ve begun the process of searching for your future EV, but you’ve come across confusing terms. HEV, PHEV, and BEV - which one best suits your needs? We’ll walk you through the different types of electric vehicles and highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

Before beginning a discussion on EVs, we will take a moment to consider that the majority of vehicles on the road today use gasoline or diesel as their primary fuel source. Gasoline burning vehicles utilize what is referred to as an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). This type of power plant is popular throughout the world and can be found in both commercial and residential use. ICEs have continuously become more efficient and have served as a bridge between hybrids and fully electric vehicles.


Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) are a type of hybrid that combines a conventional internal combustion engine with an electric motor to propel the vehicle. The HEV does not have the ability to plug in and be charged. Its battery receives a charge from the vehicle’s regenerative braking system and the ability to charge the vehicle battery using the gas engine.

The regenerative braking system mentioned above is a feature unique to all types of EV. It provides a charge to the battery allowing the vehicle to recover energy during deceleration. That energy is converted into electricity, which can be either used immediately or stored until needed. 

Some examples of HEV type vehicles are the Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion hybrid, and the Honda Civic hybrid.

What makes the HEV unique? :  HEVs are built for a more conventional driver to get better fuel economy. It does not require a plug to charge the battery system.

What it has in common with other EV types: The HEV uses a similar gas engine and electric motor combination to the PHEV. Additionally, the HEV utilizes regenerative braking much like the PHEV and BEV allowing for additional charging opportunities.

Is this a good car for me? Hybrid electric vehicles are best suited for drivers looking to achieve increased fuel economy compared to traditional ICE vehicles while decreasing their vehicles emissions.


Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) are very similar to HEVs as they have a gas engine and rechargeable batteries. A key difference is that PHEV batteries can be restored to full charge by connecting to a charging station. This allows the PHEV user to run their vehicle solely on electric or gas.. Additionally, some PHEV models have the ability to recharge the battery using the gas engine. 

PHEVs also have a larger all-electric range as compared to an HEV due to a larger battery. In many PHEV models the gas engine serves to provide additional range, however some models can be driven exclusively on gas similar to a HEV. 

Some examples of PHEV type vehicles are the Chevrolet Volt, Ford Fusion Energi, and the BMW i8.

What makes the PHEV unique? It can be driven as a hybrid or a battery electric vehicle in all-electric mode. When driving a PHEV all electric, a major benefit is the elimination of range anxiety as the vehicle will also run on gasoline. This combination offers an increased range and an even greater cost savings. 

What it has in common with other EV types: The PHEV uses a similar gas engine and electric motor combination as the HEV. Additionally, the PHEV utilizes regenerative braking much like the HEV and BEV.

Is this a good car for me? Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are best suited for drivers looking to reduce emissions and save on fuel costs. PHEVs allow users to drive a zero emission vehicle with the flexibility to travel long distances gasoline.


Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are a non-hybrid type vehicle fitted with an electric motor and a large capacity battery. BEVs are 100% electric, which alleviates the need for a gas engine.  BEVs receive charge to their batteries through a charging station and regenerative braking. Some EV models have a range of more than 200 miles. 

Some examples of BEV type vehicles would be the Chevy Bolt EV ,the BMW i3, the Volkswagen e-Golf, and the Nissan Leaf

What makes the BEV unique? BEV type vehicle run entirely on electric power alone and emit zero emissions. This eliminates fossil fuel dependence and alleviates a significant amount of maintenance costs commonly incurred on ICE-type vehicles. 

What it has in common with other BEV types: Similar to the HEV and PHEV, the BEV also utilizes a regenerative braking system to capture additional charge opportunities.

Is this a good car for me? Battery electric vehicles are best suited for drivers who want to be 100% free from using a gasoline engine. Consider how many miles you drive on an average day and select an EV with a maximum range at least 50 percent more than that. For example if you commute 40 miles round-trip, select an EV with a range of at least 60 miles. Charging fully at night and at work, if available, can help extend your daily range and keep you all electric.