Types of plug-in vehicles and the pros and cons of EV ownership

Types of plug-in vehicles and the pros and cons of EV ownership
The twin-turbo engine and electric motor generate 252-horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque to hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. The compact sedan has a 25-mile all-electric range. (BMW)

There are three basic types of electric vehicles: battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles:

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) such as the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus Electric are powered 100 percent by electricity. They have lithium-ion batteries and ranges of between 80 and 110 miles. That may not seem like much, but 75 percent of daily driving for an individual in the U.S. is under 40 miles per day. When they run out of electric charge, they must be hooked up to a recharger. It can take five hours to recharge a Nissan Leaf at a 240-volt charger, and more than 12 hours when connected to a standard 110-volt household outlet.


Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) like the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in run a certain number of miles on the electric charge. When the charge runs out, a gasoline motor kicks on that continues to power the battery, which keeps moving the vehicle down the road.

Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (HFCVs) are just going on sale now in California. The Toyota Mirai is the first to be offered to the general public. These cars have a fuel cell on board, which takes hydrogen stored in the onboard tanks and makes electricity from the hydrogen. The hydrogen tanks are filled up similarly to gasoline-powered cars. You hook up a nozzle to the tanks, and filling the tank takes less than five minutes. Finding a hydrogen station may take a lot longer.


•EVs have excellent acceleration and are fun to drive.

•100 percent EVs emit no pollution from the tailpipe.

•From cradle to the grave, BEVs produce on average less than half the emissions of comparable gas-powered vehicles, according to a 2015 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

•EVs have far fewer moving parts than an internal combustion engine vehicle and are potentially much cheaper to maintain.

•There are places that you can charge up an EV for free while your car is parked.

•Electricity for recharging is cheaper these days, and often tracks the price of natural gas and oil. But overnight charging at home uses the cheapest electric rates, thus giving owners some control and flexibility over recharging costs.

•An plug-in hybrid allows you to drive on battery power for a vast amount of typical driving, and has a gas-powered motor on board to kick in when the battery runs out, which appeals to one-car households that want to drive electric.


•If you typically drive more than the range of the EV you own on a daily basis, and do not have an easy place at work to recharge, then owning a BEV is fraught with anxiety over running out of power.

•While there are no emissions out of the tailpipe of a pure EV, the power plants that supply the energy are typically powered by coal and natural gas..

•The price of an EV, without government subsidies, is much higher than the gasoline-powered counterparts.


•Some people do not want to support the sale of EVs by credits that are partially paid for with taxpayer money.