The electric vehicle is claiming its rightful place on the road – as a cleaner, greener, quieter choice that is efficient, dependable and available in a range of makes and models.
Types of Electric Vehicles
Hybrids or HEV
Hybrids use a combination of an internal combustion engine, powered by gasoline or other fuel, and an electric motor, powered by a large rechargeable battery, for propulsion and onboard accessories. The battery in a hybrid vehicle is recharged either from the engine or from energy captured while braking, or both. Passenger vehicle hybrids emerged in the Canadian market around 2000. Given fuel reductions of 25-50%, fleets quickly took note. The BC taxi industry became an early adopter of the technology. Fleets in various sectors now use hybrid SUVs and light, medium and heavy duty vehicles, including delivery vans, school and urban buses, ambulances, utility trucks and Class 8 long haul trucks.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (Plug-in hybrids, PHEV or PHV)
Another variation of the hybrid vehicle is the plug-in hybrid, which features a larger battery – recharged principally by plugging the vehicle into the electrical grid – and an internal combustion engine. The result is more fuel savings and emission reductions. The “all electric” operating range varies by vehicle; the 2016 Chevy Volt, for example, has an all-electric electric range of 53 miles (85 km) under EPA tests, with the internal combustion engine extending the range to over 420 mil (675 km) when fully fuelled and charged.
Plug-in electric/Battery electric (PEV or BEV)
Several major auto manufacturers began rolling out their first-release 100% plug-in electric vehicles for fleets in 2011, including the Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi iMiEV, and Ford Transit Connect Electric. Plug-in electric cars feature large batteries charged entirely by plugging into the electrical grid, meaning no tailpipe emissions. The EPA report on the 2016 Nissan Leaf (30 kW-hr battery pack) found an operating range of 107 miles (172 km) in city driving conditions tested.
Fuel cell vehicles (FCV)
Hydrogen fuel cell technology is also being geared up for transportation. Hydrogen fuel cells convert chemical energy into electricity to power an electric motor. Fuel cells in cars can be refueled with hydrogen, and additional energy can also be captured in a battery. Demonstration models are in operation and being tested by such manufacturers as Honda, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz. Close to home, BC Transit is operating a fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses – see hydrogen to learn more.
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Learn More About EVs
When it comes to electric vehicles, important considerations include operating range and availability of infrastructure – that is, charging facilities in the case of plug-in models.
“Plug-in BC,” a multi-partner initiative, is helping to raise the profile of plug-in technologies. As one of the participants, the Fraser Basin Council in BC has connected a number of local fleets with auto manufacturers for the roll-out of first-release vehicles on BC roads; supported communities and businesses in the expansion of BC's public charging network; and educated consumers on electric vehicles through a campaign under the banner "Emotive". For details of the work, visit the Plug-in BC and find Emotive websites, and find Emotive on Facebook.