This is what most people think of when they picture an EV. Battery- or pure-electric models, as they’re known, run on electricity and nothing else, so they don’t produce any exhaust emissions at all. They use a motor to drive the wheels, which is powered by a battery pack that has to be charged via a socket.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
Plug-in hybrids are halfway between an electric car and a conventional petrol or diesel. They have an engine and a fuel tank, but they also have the same kind of motor and battery pack that you’ll find in an electric car. When the battery is charged, it can drive the car purely on electricity for a limited distance. Once that’s run out, the car automatically switches to the petrol or diesel engine so it can cover longer distances and you don’t have to worry about running out of electricity.
Hybrids can travel on electricity alone for a short distance at low speeds using their electric motor and battery pack, but they also have a conventional engine. They can draw power from either one or a combination of the two, but the best bit is that you don’t need to charge them – you can use them exactly as you would a petrol or diesel car, although they aren’t as clean as plug-in equivalents.
Similar to plug-in hybrids, range extenders have both an engine, a battery pack and an electric motor, which you have to charge. However, the engine – sometimes called a generator – is very small and it doesn’t drive the wheels – the electric motor does. The engine basically takes over as the power source for the motor when the battery has run out of charge, so the car can travel further.
Hydrogen fuel cell
Hydrogen cars are run by a fuel cell, which mixes hydrogen and oxygen to create electric power. It’s about as quick to fill up the fuel tank as it is with a petrol or diesel car, they can cover a similar distance and they don’t produce any harmful emissions. The downside is that there are very few hydrogen filling stations in the UK and the minority of available cars is expensive.