There are four different electric vehicle technologies, which we've highlighted below. Plug-in electric vehicle is the technical term to describe all vehicles that have a battery that can be charged or plugged into an electrical outlet – and that's what we focus on across this site. But there's also a couple of others. However, across the electric vehicle community, 'EV' is the accepted generic term for them all.

Plug-in electric vehicles

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs, or more commonly, EVs)

A battery electric vehicle is powered entirely by a battery and single or dual electric motors. EVs and BEVs don't use any gas and have to be plugged into a charger.

Like all electric vehicles, BEVs can also recharge their batteries through regenerative braking. This means that instead of using the brakes, the electric motor(s) slow down the vehicle, capturing that energy and feeding it back into the battery.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)

A plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) runs mostly on batteries recharged by plugging into the power grid. But it also has a gas-powered internal combustion engine. This recharges the battery and/or replaces the electric motor when the battery is low and more power is required.

PHEVs are often cheaper and cleaner to run than traditional hybrid vehicles (HEVs) because they can be recharged by the power grid. You'll still need to buy gas – but far less frequently.

Simple diagram of main components of a plug-in electric vehicle

Other electric vehicles

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs)

Hybrid vehicles (HEVs) were made popular by the second generation Toyota Prius around 15 years ago. They have two complementary drive systems that run simultaneously: a gas-powered engine and fuel tank, along with an electric motor and a battery. But don't confuse HEVs with PHEVs: HEVs are not plug-ins, as they can't be recharged from the power grid.

Fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)

A fuel-cell electric vehicle uses on-board fuel cells to generate electricity from hydrogen and oxygen and power an electric motor. A fuel-cell vehicle only takes a few minutes to refuel, has a range of about 500 km, and emits only water from its exhaust.

Fuel cell vehicles are expected to grow in popularity, but as of 2019, there are only two models available in B.C. – the Hyundai Nexo and Toyota Mirai, which are currently only available to fleet buyers. The other thing to consider is that there are only two public hydrogen refuelling stations currently in B.C. One is located at Surrey's Powertech Labs, (a subsidiary of BC Hydro) and the other is operated by Shell, at 8686 Granville St, Vancouver.

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