With all the acronyms being thrown around these days, we can forgive you if you can't tell your BEV from your PHEV.
Gone are the days when a car could be defined as either one that runs on petrol or one that runs on diesel. With the rise of electrification in the automotive industry, you can get everything from a full on electric vehicle, to a hybrid, to an electric vehicle that has a backup engine - you get the idea. To help you with this, let's run through all the different terms and acronyms you might come across.
EV - Electric Vehicle
Electrification in its simplest form. An electric vehicle could be powered by any number of sources, but as long as the wheels are driven purely by electric motors, you can consider a vehicle an EV.
BEV - Battery Electric Vehicle
Going slightly more specific, most EVs that we think of are generally considered BEVs, because they use a bunch of batteries to store electrical charge and power the electric motors. Rather surprisingly, this is not the only form of EV that exists.
FCEV - Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle
Something that automakers have taken interest in over the last few years is the concept of hydrogen as a power source for vehicles, either in combustion for an engine (Mazda tried this with their rotaries) or passed through a Fuel Cell to generate electricity. We won't explain how a fuel cell works, but an FCEV is refuelled with hydrogen and emits nothing but water.
You may occasionally find that some BEVs come in a variant with a "range extender" option. It's simply a fancy way to say that there's a gasoline (or diesel) powered generator sitting somewhere in the car that can provide backup electrical power for the motors if you really run out of juice. In our opinion, it's the best compromise that won't leave you stranded.
The technical term would be "hybrid electric vehicle" since there's the EV component of it, but hybrids as we know them have been around for decades. It's the marriage between a conventional engine and an electric motor, with both providing drive to the wheels. Some hybrids cannot run on the electric motor alone, and others may start off purely in electric mode - it's really down to the manufacturer's decision.
PHEV - Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle
What's becoming more popular as a halfway house between full electrification and conventional vehicle is the PHEV. We see many models on our markets being presented as PHEVs - they function like a hybrid, but can have the onboard batteries charged by an external power source when the car is not in use. This significantly improves the functionality of the electric motor and in the right situations, you will barely need to use your fossil-fuel burning engine.