Buying an electric vehicle
Electric vehicles reduce greenhouse gas emissions and can significantly reduce your fuel costs. There are two types of electric vehicles on the market – plug-in hybrid electric and battery-electric – and each has its benefits. On this page, we describe them and give you information you need to decide which is best for you.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs)
PHEVs are hybrids that have high-capacity batteries that can be recharged by plugging them in. PHEVs do not have to be plugged in, but will be more fuel-efficient and have a longer driving range if they are. When operating in electric-only mode, PHEVs produce no tailpipe emissions.
Two types of PHEVs
In series PHEVs, an internal combustion engine generates electricity only. An electric motor drives the vehicle. Series PHEVs can run in electric-only mode until the battery needs to be recharged. The engine will then generate the electricity needed to power the electric motor.
In blended PHEVs, an internal combustion engine and an electric motor are connected to the wheels, and both may drive the vehicle. The PHEV may operate using electricity only, using both electricity and gasoline at the same time, or using gasoline only.
Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs)
BEVs are powered by motors that draw electricity from on-board storage batteries. You plug in your BEV to recharge it.
BEVs don't produce emissions from the tailpipe. This means they can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other pollutants that form smog. If the source of the vehicle’s electricity is clean (such as solar or hydro-electric power) the vehicle will have no overall GHG emissions.
Electric vehicles are energy and cost efficient
Electric-drive motors are much more efficient than combustion engines and drivetrains. The efficiency of energy conversion from on-board storage to turning the wheels is nearly five times greater for electricity than gasoline, at approximately 76% and 16%, respectively.
Electric vehicles also increase a vehicle’s efficiency by using regenerative braking technology to recover energy that would otherwise have been lost.
PHEVs and BEVs can be recharged from a charging station that uses standard 240-volt electrical power (the kind used for stoves and clothes dryers in most homes). Most can be recharged from a 110-volt service, although charging time will be significantly longer.
The cost of electricity per kilometre is much lower than that of gasoline. For illustrative purposes, a BEV costs about 3 to 4 ¢/km (at 15 ¢/kWh), compared to a typical 4-cylinder gasoline vehicle at 11 to 12 ¢/km (at $1.50/L).
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