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Types of Fully Electric Vehicles (EVs)

What are the different existing types of electric vehicles (EVs)?
An electric car parked in the street, being charged.
© Freepik

The EV market is booming – new and different models of EVs are becoming available in all parts of the world. But what is the difference between the different types of EVs in terms of their propulsion system (e.g., fully electric, hybrid) and their suitability for different vehicle types (e.g., car, truck, bus)?

Firstly, we will look at the different options for zero-emission vehicles, how they work, and what makes them different.

The graphic below illustrates different vehicle classification categories, including vehicle types and the corresponding types of motors they use. These motors can be either internal combustion engines or electric motors. For example, some vehicles, such as plug-in hybrids, use both technologies.

A graphic representing the different types of existing zero-emission vehicles, based on different characteristics like the vehicle type, the motor and the category, to show the degree of electrification that they have.Click to expand

Vehicle classification. PEM Motion (2022)

Basically, there are seven categories into which electrified vehicles can be classified:

  • micro-hybrid
  • mild-hybrid
  • full-hybrid
  • plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
  • range-extended electric vehicle (REEV)
  • battery electric vehicle (BEV)
  • fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV).

For now, we will focus on the fully electric vehicles i.e. BEVs and FCEVs.

  • ‘Battery Electric Vehicles’ (BEVs)

BEVs called ‘all-electric vehicles’ or ‘fully electric vehicles’, run entirely on electricity and have no internal combustion engine. BEVs derive all the energy needed for propulsion from electricity alone. A BEV has an onboard electrical energy storage device (battery) and an electric motor. Most BEVs today use lithium-ion-batteries.

A top view of the different components of a battery electric vehicle (BEV)Click to expand

Battery electric vehicle components. Power Sonic (2022)

Vehicle manufacturers mostly choose lithium-based batteries because of their high power-to-weight ratio resulting in an extended range, reduced carbon footprint, and reduction in wear and tear of the tires. The battery packs are charged using an EV charger. The different types of EV chargers are introduced later in the course.

Unlike gasoline-powered vehicles, BEVs are zero-emission vehicles that produce no harmful emissions. Today’s BEVs have a range of 40 to 1,000 kilometers per charge, depending on the vehicle class and battery size. In general, smaller vehicles tend to travel shorter distances than larger ones. While an e-scooter typically only travels a few kilometers, the range of an electric truck can be up to 1000 km per charge.

‘Battery Electric Vehicles’ (BEVs) use regenerative braking as a method to recover and store energy that would otherwise be lost as heat during conventional braking. When a driver applies the brakes in a BEV, the electric motor switches from being an energy producer to an energy generator. Instead of relying solely on friction brakes (as in conventional vehicles), the electric motor begins to act as a generator, converting the vehicle’s kinetic energy into electrical energy.

  • ‘Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles’ (FCEVs)

An FCEV is a vehicle that uses a fuel cell to power its electric motor. FCEVs generate electricity with an onboard fuel cell which is powered by hydrogen or methanol. Typically, fuel cell electric vehicles also have a small battery that is used to recapture regenerative energy to provide additional power during short acceleration events

FCEVs have an onboard gas tank to store the pure hydrogen; the tank can be fueled up in just a few minutes, similar to conventional ICE vehicles.

A top view of the different components of a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEVClick to expand

Fuel cell electric vehicle components. Power Sonic (2022)

FCEVs can travel around 500-1000 km on a single charge of pure hydrogen. They also use regenerative braking technology and capture energy during braking and store it in a battery pack.

Currently, there are only a limited number of FCEVs available, and the refueling infrastructure is far from ready to support a mass roll-out of FCEVs.

As far as EVs are concerned BEVs are currently more common than FCEVs. BEVs are suitable for almost all vehicle segments, depending on the battery size, and as lithium-ion batteries continue to develop, long ranges have become possible even for heavy-duty vehicles such as buses or trucks.

In practice, FCEVs are BEVs with additional fuel cells and hydrogen tanks. The technology is therefore more complex in terms of manufacturing, operation and maintenance than all-electric vehicles.


In the rapidly evolving landscape of electric vehicles, choosing the appropriate type of electric vehicle is crucial to ensure that it meets the user’s requirements and lifestyle. The wide range of electric vehicle options available today meets different needs, making it essential for consumers to make an informed decision.


Spendiff-Smith, M. (2022)  Electric vehicles types – a complete guide to types of EV – EVESCO. Power Sonic. Retrieved from: Link – Umweltbewertung Elektromobilität – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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