Times are changing and electric vehicles (EVs) are increasingly sought after by people looking for their next car. For many, this automotive changing of the guard is a bittersweet affair. However, if you embark on your EV search armed with the basic lingo and knowledge needed to choose a good electric vehicle, you might end up with an EV you really like, like a Nissan LEAF or a Mini Electric Hardtop. Here are some of the basics of electric cars and EV terms you need to know, like kWh and DC charging.
How many types of electric cars are there?
If you are considering an electric car, you may need to assess which type of electric vehicle best suits your lifestyle. Currently, automakers produce battery electric vehicles (BEVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). BEVs are what most people think of when they imagine a contemporary EV, like a Tesla Model 3. These vehicles use battery-stored electricity to drive motors without the aid of an internal combustion engine. (ICE).
HEVs and PHEVs use a hybrid ICE application to bridge the gap between a BEV and a conventional ICE vehicle. However, a PHEV can usually run on electric-only propulsion. The Department of Transportation says an HEV uses an inseparable combination of ICE and electricity to be fuel efficient. Finally, the term EV “FCEV” refers to a vehicle using electrochemical processes to convert hydrogen and drive electric motors.
Do electric cars consume a lot of electricity?
Electric cars consume more electricity than household appliances like a refrigerator. However, according to the Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the average annual energy consumption of an electric car is significantly lower than that of heating domestic water.
Specifically, a typical Nissan LEAF will consume approximately 1,300 kWh (kilowatt hours) per year, compared to the average domestic water heating consumption of 4,700 kWh. Additionally, the LEAF had an average running cost of 3.8 cents per mile, much better than a comparable Nissan Versa.
What is Level 2 and Level 3 charging?
Charging options fall into three tiers: Tier 1, Tier 2, and what some people call Tier 3 or Direct Current (DC) fast chargers. You can use a Level 1 or Level 2 charger in your home, although a Level 2 requires professional installation. First, Level 1 chargers use household 120 volts which admittedly slows down the process of charging an electric car considerably. However, if you want a much faster option, the Level 2 charger adds an average of 14-35 miles of range per hour of charging.
DC charging is the fastest option for potential owners. However, DC charging is usually found at dedicated charging stations rather than home applications. Still, DC fast chargers offer various connectors, like CHAdeMO, Tesla, and a Combo system. While it might not be as convenient as plugging in at home, some DC chargers can add up to 10 miles of range depending on format; it’s a quick option.