Electric vehicles are entering the market. They are now available at many dealers, and in the years ahead we will see more and more of them on the road. But how do you make sense of all the models available?
Electric vehicles can be grouped into three categories.
All-electric vehicles are equipped with an electric motor and a battery that is recharged with grid electricity. The all-electric vehicles available on the market have a range of over 100 km and more than meet typical urban travel needs. They operate without emitting any greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
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Extended-range electric vehicles are equipped with an electric motor and a battery that is charged from the electricity grid. However, when the battery level is low, a gas generator produces electricity, which gives the vehicle a range similar to that of a standard vehicle. With a fully charged battery, this type of vehicle can go around 50 kilometers without using gas or emitting GHG emissions. Since the vast majority of daily trips are less than this distance, extended-range electric vehicles can be used with minimal GHG emissions.
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Plug-in hybrid vehicles are equipped with an electric motor and a gasoline engine that are combined depending on the vehicle's speed and acceleration.
Plug-in hybrid vehicles are different than hybrid vehicles because they have a battery that can store more electricity and be recharged from the electricity grid. This makes it possible for plug-in hybrids to go many kilometers without any gas.
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Although they do not use an external source of electricity, hybrid vehicles remain an energy-efficient choice. They offer improved fuel efficiency and boast lower GHG emissions than a comparable conventional vehicle.
Hybrid vehicles are powered by an internal combustion engine, which uses gas or diesel, and an electric motor that runs on batteries that charge when the vehicle is used (notably with energy recovered from braking). The electric motor adds power to the internal combustion engine when accelerating, climbing, and passing; and the presence of a battery makes it possible to switch off the combustion engine when stopping at traffic lights.