Types of electric cars: principles of operation

The different types of electric cars have changed and are continually developing. Today, the world is becoming increasingly familiar with the terms BEV, HEV, PHEV, and FCEV. How does each type of electric car work? How an electric vehicle works depends on the type. We are talking about the types and principles of operation of cars or electric vehicles that are currently marketed in the world.

An electric car is a vehicle wholly or partially powered by electric motors, using energy stored in rechargeable batteries. The first electric cars were made in the 1880s.

Electric cars were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Innovation and advanced development of internal combustion engines and mass production of cheaper gasoline-powered vehicles have led to a decline in the use of electric vehicles.

The development of energy storage technologies, in particular that of batteries, is making the electric car more popular today.


How does an electric car work? – General

When the car’s accelerator is depressed, then:

  • The controller takes and regulates electrical energy from the batteries and inverters.
  • With the controller regulated, the inverter then sends a certain amount of electrical energy to the motor (depending on the pressure on the accelerator pedal).
  • The electric motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy (rotation).
  • The rotation of the motor rotor turns the transmission so that the wheels turn and the car moves.

Note: The above working principle is for Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) type.

Types of electric cars.

There are 4 types of electric cars:

  • Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).
  • Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV).
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).
  • Fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV).

In summary, the system architecture of the four types of electric cars mentioned can be seen in the following figure:

Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)

A battery electric vehicle (BEV), also known as an all-electric vehicle (AEV), is powered 100% by a battery and an electric powertrain.

This type of electric car does not have an internal combustion engine.

Electricity is stored in a large battery which is charged when connected to the power grid.

The battery, in turn, powers one or more electric motors to run the electric car.

Architecture and main components of the BEV

  • Electric motor.
  • Investor.
  • Battery.
  • Control module.
  • transmission.

Principles of operation of the BEV

  • Power is converted from the DC battery to AC for the electric motor.
  • The accelerator pedal sends a signal to the controller which adjusts the speed of the vehicle by changing the frequency of the alternating current from the inverter to the motor.
  • The motor connects and spins the wheels through a gear.
  • When the brakes are applied or the electric car decelerates, the motor turns into an alternator and produces power, which is sent back to the battery.

Examples of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs): Volkswagen e-Golf, Tesla Model 3, BMW i3, Chevy Bolt, Chevy Spark, Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus Electric, Hyundai Ioniq, Kia Soul, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Toyota Rav4.

Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)

This type of hybrid car is often called standard hybrid or parallel hybrid.

The HEV has both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor.

In this type of electric car, the internal combustion engine draws its energy from the fuel (gasoline and other types of fuels), while the motor draws its electricity from the batteries. The gasoline engine and electric motor simultaneously spin the transmission, which drives the wheels.

The difference between HEV compared to BEV and PHEV is that in HEV the batteries can only be charged by ICE, wheel movement or a combination of both. There is no charging port, so the battery cannot be recharged from outside the system, for example from the mains.

Architecture and main components of the HEV

  • Engine.
  • Electric motor.
  • Battery with controller and inverter.
  • Petrol tank.
  • Control module.

Principles of operation of the HEV

It has a fuel tank which supplies gasoline to the engine like a normal car.

It also has a set of batteries that run an electric motor.

The engine and the electric motor can turn the transmission at the same time.

HEV examples: Honda Civic Hybrid, Toyota Prius Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)

The PHEV is a type of hybrid vehicle that has an internal combustion engine and an internal combustion engine, often referred to as a series hybrid.

This type of electric car offers the possibility of choosing the fuel.

This type of electric car is powered by conventional fuel (like gasoline) or alternative fuel (like biodiesel) and a rechargeable battery.

The battery can be charged with electricity by plugging it into a wall outlet or an electric vehicle charging station (EVCS).

PHEVs typically operate in at least two modes:

  • All-electric mode, in which the engine and the battery provide all the power for the car.
  • Hybrid mode, in which electricity and gasoline are used.

Some PHEVs can travel more than 110 km on electricity alone.

Architecture and main components of the PHEV

  • Electric motor.
  • Engine.
  • Investor.
  • Battery.
  • Petrol tank.
  • Control module.
  • Battery charger (if on-board model).

Principles of operation of PHEVs

PHEVs typically start in all-electric mode and run on electricity until their battery is depleted.

Some models switch to hybrid mode when they reach highway cruising speed, usually above 100 km/h. Once the battery is discharged, the combustion engine takes over and the vehicle operates like a conventional non-plug-in hybrid.

In addition to being connected to an external power source, PHEV batteries can be charged by an internal combustion engine or through regenerative braking. When braking, the electric motor acts as a generator, using energy to charge the battery. The electric motor supplements the power of the engine; as a result, smaller engines can be used, increasing the car’s fuel efficiency without compromising performance.

Examples of PHEV: Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, Chevy Volt, Chrysler Pacifica, Mercedes C350e, Mercedes S550e, Mercedes GLE550e, Mini Cooper SE Countryman, Audi A3 E-Tron, BMW 330e, BMW i8, BMW X5 xdrive40e, Fiat 500e, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Porsche Panamera S E-hybrid, Volvo XC90 T8.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)

Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV), also known as fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) or zero-emission vehicles, are types of electric cars that use “fuel cell technology” to generate electricity. electricity required to operate the vehicle.

In these types of vehicles, the chemical energy of the fuel is converted directly into electrical energy.

Architecture and main components of the FCEV

  • Electric motor.
  • Fuel cell
  • Hydrogen storage tank.
  • Battery with converter and controller.

Principles of operation of the FCEV

The operating principle of a “fuel cell” electric car is different from that of a “plug-in” electric car. This type of electric car is due to the fact that the FCEV generates the electricity necessary for the operation of this vehicle in the vehicle itself.

FCEV examples: Toyota Mirai, Hyundai Tucson FCEV, Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, Hyundai Nexo.

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