As is well known now, hybrid cars are part-powered by battery-fed electric motors and fully electric cars depend upon them completely. Yet although both types of vehicle require electricity to run at their best or most economic, not all of them are created equal. For new adopters of this new technology, the charging aspect can be confusing. Hopefully, this will help:
Most manufacturers have in their range these days at least one plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV), and often more, that runs on either a petrol or diesel engine, augmented by electric power. These cars will run on electric power alone for a variable number of miles until the fossil-fuel engine kicks in. These cars will also regenerate electricity from braking, using the vehicle’s motor as a generator to convert much of the kinetic energy lost when decelerating back into stored energy in the vehicle’s battery, ready for subsequent use. They drive, essentially, just like a regular fossil-fuel powered motor.
PHEV vehicles also have a cable by which means the batteries can be fully charged prior to use. More on this below. Charging can be done at home, at public charging points or at work, if the employer is enlightened to EV or hybrid owner needs. The number of public charging points nationally is steadily growing. Yet not all hybrids require this, which can be confusing.
Toyota for example, famous for introducing the world to the forward-looking Prius hybrid, feature pioneering, self-charging battery technology in their cars. When the battery runs low in a Toyota hybrid, excess power from the engine charges it back up again. They feature regenerative braking, so when the driver brakes or coasts, a generator produces electricity to be stored in the battery for later. Thus with Toyota hybrids there are no cables, no plugs and no inconvenience; the only exception to this is the seven-seat Prius PHEV.
EV’s are driven purely by electricity alone. Surprisingly they are rather fun to drive. Because there are no gears and power delivery is instant they have quite a sporting turn of acceleration and are easy and relaxing to drive. Most models these days are basically new designs from the ground up and are designed to accommodate the size and weight of the battery pack, installed low down in the vehicle to aid handling. Any concerns about the longevity of battery packs have now been dismissed meaning that buying a used EV is a safe bet.
Electric cars require charging. They do also regenerate but most owners will put their vehicles on charge daily; mostly at night, like charging a mobile phone, or during the day at the workplace. If necessary, say in mid-journey, public charging points can be utilised. The days of slow charging points are past; many garages, supermarkets and the like now have rapid chargers installed. Charging at home through a domestic socket takes many hours and is a last resort as most owners fit manufacturer or after-market dedicated home charging points to speed the process up in safety.
This, unfortunately, is where things get a little more complicated and it falls to the potential EV owner to check compatibility. As yet, there isn't a universal connector for electric vehicles and the different chargers. There are slow, fast and rapid chargers. The last thing an owner wants is to get to a charging station with battery power low, only to find it's not compatible with the vehicle’s charging input. A Nissan Leaf, for example, features two charge sockets: a Type 1 for slow and fast charging, and a CHAdeMO (‘Charge de Move’ abbreviation) DC-current socket for rapid charging. The Renault Zoe has a single Type 2 inlet for slow, fast and rapid charging.
Again like the mobile phone analogy above, the absence of EV connector standardisation has inevitably led to some confusion for motorists. It’s not a huge problem though because new cars come with details supplied and dealers will make it clear. Neither is it an issue for used cars as the information will be available from retailers or direct from manufacturer website.
The Future Now
Hybrid or electric vehicles are now the internationally accepted way forward to cleaner and greener motoring and can be purchased with absolute confidence. Here at eCars247 all our cars
are fully AA inspected
and all cars with forms of electric motive power will state which cables they come with. Manufacturers won’t always supply both home and public cables from new. Therefore, you may need to pay extra if the necessary cable is supplied. If in doubt, our customer service
colleagues will be happy to help.