What is an EV?

‘EV’ stands for electric vehicle. They’re not just better for the environment – they’re also great cars to own and drive.

  • With no clutch or gears EVs can accelerate smoothly and quickly so they often feel like you’re driving a sports car.
  • A fully electric car has fewer moving parts, so you’ll spend less on maintenance.
  • They’re very cheap to run because you won’t use much – or any – petrol or diesel.
  • Charge overnight at home – while you’re sleeping….

Battery electric vehicles (BEV’s) – the quiet ride

An EV that’s fully electric runs on a rechargeable battery powering an electric motor. It’s defined by what it doesn’t have – and doesn’t need:

  • No petrol, diesel or oil
  • No exhaust
  • No clutch or gears
  • No spark plugs
  • No roaring noise or vibrations

There are only around 20 moving parts in an electric engine, compared with nearly 2,000 in an ICE (internal combustion engine), so your EV will need a lot less maintenance. You won’t need a tune-up or oil change, and your fully electric car is so quiet you won’t disturb the neighbours when you come home late or drive out early.

Plug your EV into your home power supply and it fully recharges overnight – enough for an average day’s driving in most models. If you’re on the motorway or climbing a lot of hills you’ll use up your battery faster, but travelling downhill or braking recharges it.

Just like a fuel gauge, your dashboard tells how much battery life there is, and even better, you’ll see how many kilometers you can travel. When you drive a fully electric car, you’ll have smooth acceleration, quiet travelling, low running costs – and zero emissions. You can enjoy your music and appreciate the scenery without any engine noise or smell to get in the way.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) – the best of both worlds

Maybe you like the idea of driving an EV, but if you often travel long distances, a fully electric car may not be quite right for you.

That’s where the PHEV comes in – a happy marriage of petrol and electricity lets you do your ordinary town driving using your electric motor, then when you’re on a long trip you have the extra range of a petrol car.

Depending on the model, the petrol engine either turns the wheels, or recharges batteries that power the electric motor doing the work.

There are some disadvantages with PHEVs, compared with fully electric vehicles. Most of these are to do with running the petrol engines. Just like your existing petrol or diesel car, the petrol engine components will need more maintenance, will have engine noise, produce emissions and require the purchase of petrol.

Because they have a smaller battery than a fully electric car, you’ll generally have less battery range in a PHEV so you’ll rely more on fossil fuels for longer journeys. This means you only reduce your CO2 emissions by 80% for the time the car is running on the electric battery. However, you can recharge your car’s batteries at any power outlet, they still recharge when braking (regenerative braking), and town driving can be emission-free and quiet.

Conventional hybrids – older technology

Plenty of people drive hybrids in New Zealand and they were a fantastic step in the right direction, but they are quite different from electric vehicles.

You can’t plug them in, but only fill up with petrol – there is no way to recharge your battery except through the petrol and braking. The battery allows for only up to 2 km in driving, so full electric vehicles and plug in hybrids a far more efficient and produce far fewer emissions.

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