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The way an electric car works


Throughout the month of October, we will discuss the basics of EV-driving and what it actually entails. To get started, here’s a brief explanation about how an electric car works and which types of electric cars are the most popular in our country markets.

Electric motor

An electric car is powered by an electric motor, instead of a gasoline motor. They get their power from the rechargeable batteries installed in the car. These batteries are often under the vehicle and sometimes in the trunk. The rest of the outside of the car is completely the same as a gasoline powered car. The only thing missing is an exhaust system.

Electric motor vs petrol motor

The way an electric car works

  • Green: Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
  • Red: Petrol motor
  • Green and red: Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
  • Source: NewMotion (2016)

When the electric vehicle (EV) is started, the controller takes power from the batteries and sends it to the electric motor. The electric motor then converts electric energy into mechanic energy, which moves the wheels of the car.

Types of electric cars

There are four different types of EV’s:

  • Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV): this type is completely electric.
  • Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV): this type has both an electric motor and a gasoline motor.
  • Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV): this type also has both an electric motor and a gasoline motor, but cannot be electrically recharged at a charge point.
  • Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV): this type also has both an electric motor and a gasoline motor, but normally only uses the electric motor.

A comparison of EV-types

We have prepared a general overview of the three most often sold types of electric cars.

A comparison of EV-types

Only when driving on fossil fuel

Source: NewMotion (2016)

Popular car types

In our country markets the most often sold car types are the BEV and the PHEV, but it differs per country which of these two types is sold the most. For instance, from 2009 until August 2016, in the Netherlands the PHEV is more popular as an electric car than the BEV. However, in Germany it is the other way around. Since 2009 until the end of August 2016, in the Netherlands, the UK, France and Germany together, a total of 140,292 BEV’s have been sold. For PHEV’s this number is a bit larger. In total, 161,759 Plug-in hybrids have been sold.

Over 300,000 electric car sales across 4 countries from 2009 – August 2016

Total BEV Sales Screen Shot 2018-11-22 at 12.28.30 PM

Made by: NewMotion (2016).

Data sources: Das Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, Bundesministeriums für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur (2016), Open Data RDW (2016), Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (2016) and ministère de l'environnement, de l'energie et de la mer, Commissariat général au Développement durable (2016).

Electric car sales in 2016

In 2016 alone 28,705 BEH’s and 32,442 PHEV’s were sold in these four countries. If we compare these numbers to all the car sales that were made in the year of 2016, up until the end of August, the EV sales account for 1.1% of all the car sales. In the UK alone, also more PHEV’s were sold than BEV’s. This represents 16,043 PHEVs and 6,022 BEVs. The electric car sales in 2016, up until August, represent 1.3% of total car sales and April to June sales year-on-year have seen a 49% increase in ultra low emissions vehicles (ULEV) (The Telegraph, 2016).