Electric Vehicle Types

There are two main types of electric vehicle (EV): Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). Both types are powered fully, or partially, by an electric motor and battery pack. Both BEVs and PHEVs can attribute much of their engineering development to the very first Hybrids.


Read below and discover the difference between Hybrids, Plug-in Hybrids and Fully Electric Cars.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)

Hybrid Electric Vehicles, commonly known as ‘Hybrids‘, first made their mass-market appearance in the early 1990s with the release of the Toyota Prius. Nowadays, you would be hard-pressed to walk into a dealership and not find hybrid versions of your favourite makes and models.


Hybrids contain a gasoline engine, an electric motor and a small battery pack. The battery is recharged through a process called ‘regenerative braking’; when you slow down by taking your foot off the accelerator or putting your foot on the brake, the electric motor reverses its polarity and recharges the battery.


Hybrids flip back and forth between the electric motor and the gasoline engine. The electric motor switches on when the vehicle comes to a stop and when it first accelerates, once you reach cruising speed the gasoline engine takes over. In this way, Hybrids let the electric motor and the gasoline engine do what they’re best at, which improves your overall efficiency and reduces your fuel costs.


Despite delivering better efficiency and lower fuel costs, Hybrids are still mainly powered by gasoline and, as a result, are often excluded from conversations surrounding ‘electric’ vehicles. Nowadays, when someone refers to an electric vehicle, or EV,  they are usually referring to a fully electric or plug-in hybrid electric car.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

The next EVolution in EV technology comes in the form of Plug-in Hybrids. PHEVs have all of the same components that Hybrids have with one major difference, the battery packs are much larger and can be recharged by plugging-in.


Plug-in Hybrids give you 20-80 km (depending on model) of dedicated all-electric driving. Once the battery is used up, the gasoline takes over and the car functions like a regular Hybrid from that point on.


There are two kinds of Plug-in Hybrids: Parallel and Extended Range. Parallel PHEVs have a gasoline engine and an electric motor that operate independently, but work side by side. Extended Range PHEVs use a gasoline generator that makes electricity to power the electric motor.


Plug-in Hybrids save you even more money than Hybrids because most of your day to day driving is electric-only, but you still have the flexibility of the gasoline engine/generator for longer trips.

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

Last, but certainly not least, is the Battery Electric Vehicle, commonly known as a fully electric car. Fully electric cars never use gasoline and are powered exclusively by an electric motor and battery back. Fully electric cars are the most cost effective and environmentally-friendly EV option.


A fully electric car is about 1/5th the cost to drive than an equivalent gas car and will save you thousands of dollars per year on fuel. In addition, fully electric cars do not require oil changes, transmissions or exhaust systems, saving you hundreds of dollars per year on maintenance.


The majority of fully electric cars fall in the $35,000-$40,000 price range and are capable of 250+ km of driving on a full charge.

Canadian Electric Car Fast Facts

  • There are 70,000+ electric vehicles on the road in Canada
  • The Canadian EV market is roughly split 50/50 between Plug-in Hybrids and Fully Electrics
  • There are 36 models of EV available for sale in Canada, with more on the way
  • Most of Canada's electricity comes from nuclear and hydro, which are both low-emitting energy sources

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