Electric vehicles are viable in Australia and are more suited for the country’s environment. There are various types of EVs on the Australian market and the extent to which these cars use electricity as their source of energy is what differs. Hybrid cars, also known as range-extender cars (those which use petrol engine as a generator to power the battery) once dominated the market but with the emergence of innovative battery technologies like those used in mobile phones to charge cars, there has been a significant shift towards pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) which have no internal combustion engine. The type of electric vehicle you choose will hugely depend on three things; its price, range and your use.
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
BEVs are 100% electric vehicles which use electricity as their only energy source. BEVs and PHEVs alike are referred to as Plug-in Electric Vehicles for the simple reason that they use plugs to transfer electrical energy. BEVs available on the Australian market today include Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV and the Nissan’s LEAF which depends on lithium-ion batteries to power it. In essence, the car has reduced effect on the environment because it produces zero drive-time CO2 emissions and in fact, it’s designed without a tailpipe.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)
Hybrid cars have been on Aussie roads for more than a decade now. HEVs rely on petrol as their only external energy source but supplement it with electric energy generated from stored in batteries and the braking system. Generally, Hybrid electric vehicles start by using electric motor, then its petrol engine and finally cut in as the speed or load rises.
An internal computer is used to control operations of the two motors. The computer is able to select the most ideal and economical combination for a specific driving task. HEVs are typically designed to save fuel using tricks like idle stop, regenerative braking, low drag bodies and low rolling resistance tyres. Honda Civic Hybrid, The Toyota Prius, and the Australian produced Toyota Camry Hybrid are examples of hybrid vehicles often spotted on Aussie’s roads.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) or Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs)
PHEVs or EREVs combine petrol and electrical energy from external sources to power the car. This electric car mostly depends on the choice of primary energy source used. For instance, the Toyota Prius favours petrol while the Holden Volt favours electricity. For Extended-Range Electric Vehicles, the petrol engine doesn’t operate the wheels directly but instead extends the car’s range by charging the battery as it falls low. On the other hand, PHEVs has to be plugged-in to the main source so as to directly charge the battery.