Different Types of Electric cars and Hybrids

Given the number of companies currently developing electric and hybrid vehicles, it’s clear that this is where the future of motoring lies.  These incredible cars have the ability to revolutionise the way we use transport, reducing the world’s dependency on fuels like petrol, and offering a much more economical and environmentally friendly way to get around.  For those currently interested in these types of vehicles, there are some great incentives for investing in one – such as government grants and avoiding the congestion charge .  Below is some information on some of the different types of electric cars and hybrids on the market.

Electric cars

The electric car is propelled by electric motors, powered by electricity that is stored in the car’s batteries and charged from a household electricity source.  This isn’t the first time that electric cars have been popular, as during the late 18th and 19th centuries – before the arrival of cheap petrol and the mass production of the car – they surfaced for the first time.  Of course today’s electric cars are far more efficient, have much better battery life, and are much more cost effective than those that we have seen in previous years.  One of the main advantages of using electric cars for the world in which we currently live is that they reduce air pollution because they do not emit exhaust. The only real negative with electric cars is that they tend to be more expensive than a standard car, although the price of batteries is starting to come down. Some of the electric models currently on the market include the Renault Fluence Z.E, the Ford Focus Electric, BMW ActiveE, Mistubishi’s electric iMiEV car and the Mia electric.

Hybrid cars

Prius logo by Beth and Christian Bell
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The concept of the hybrid car is the combining of two technologies – the traditional combustion engine and the electric car.  This combination can act to make a car over 50% more efficient than a more traditional vehicle by adding in a rechargeable battery and an electric motor.  Essentially, the way that it works is that the electric motor will kick in to support the engine when the car accelerates, which means that a hybrid car can have a smaller petrol engine than a standard car.  When the car is going slowly, or is sitting idling, the motor is not used at all as the battery will provide all the power that is required.  Cleverly, both the engine and the electric motor will convert gas to energy, to be stored in the car’s batteries and used at a later date.  Where the driver carries out ‘regenerative braking’ this will also cause energy to be transferred back into the battery, effectively recharging it.  There are a huge number of hybrid cars on the market, far more than of the electric variety, as the hybrid vehicle is much more developed.  Some well known models include the Toyota Prius Liftback, the Honda Civic Hybrid, and the Mercedes ML 450 Hybrid.

There are also several manufacturers who are intending to introduce plug-in hybrid technology where a larger battery pack can be built into the hybrid car that can be plugged in like an electric car.  Because of the bigger battery pack, the car can go longer distances without using the petrol motor.

There are a number of different types of electric cars and hybrids that all present some great options for the environmentally conscious consumer. In the future it is likely that electric cars will be far more readily available and much cheaper, with the positive result that the transport habits of the human race will have far less impact on the environment in which we live.