The Differences Between EV, PHEV, and HEV

August 1st, 2022 by

There’s a lot to grasp when it comes to electric vehicle terminology. For some of us, it seems like a whole new language. Today we’ll start at the top and explain the three biggest terms in electric vehicle terminology: EV, HEV, and PHEV.

EV (Electric Vehicle)

EV is the all-encompassing term when it comes to the entire industry, but EV is also the label given to a fully-electric vehicle. This means the motor is powered solely by the housed battery. It never needs gas. EVs are powered by a lithium-ion battery which must be recharged at a public charging station or even at home with a standard 120V outlet or an optimized 240V wallbox.

Since they don’t have a gas engine, EVs are the best choice for the environmentally conscious. If your footprint is a big concern, then EV is likely the style for you. They also cost less to maintain than a Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV) or the standard Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV). If you opt for a fully electric vehicle your days of filling up your car with gas are over.

Driving range is a huge determinant when deciding which type or brand of EV to purchase. Driving ranges on EV models continue to increase considerably. The fully electric Jaguar I-PACE features a total pure electric range of 234 miles. That’s a similar amount of driving you’d get with a full tank of gas, and a DC Level 3 charge can charge an I-PACE up to an 80% charge in less than 45 minutes.


Jaguar I-Pace

The Jaguar I-PACE is a fully electric vehicle and was named World Car of the Year, World Car Design of the Year, and World Green Car in 2019.


PHEV (Plug-In Electric Vehicle)

Plug-In Electric Vehicles, also known as PHEV, have both gasoline and electric engines. A PHEV will use its electric motor until the battery runs out of power and then it switches to the gas engine. There’s no lever for you to pull or button to push. Once the battery is drained from the electric motor the gas engine simply takes over.

As the name states, the PHEV does have to be plugged in to get recharged. PHEVs also have a much smaller driving range than fully electric vehicles. Most PHEVs feature a range of 25-60 miles per charge. The other thing to remember is that when you run out of electric charge and the gas engine kicks on, the car will produce emissions. You can still drive upward of 350 miles with most PHEVs, it just won’t all be done with the electric engine.

Most drivers log less than 50 miles per day on the road so it’s possible that you won’t produce any emissions into the environment if you can do all your driving with an electric engine. Even if you do let the gas engine kick on, you’re still reducing your environmental footprint.

HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle)

The classic hybrid is the HEV, Hybrid Electric Vehicle. An HEV runs on an electric motor but is powered by gas. There is no charging or plugging in a traditional hybrid. HEVs actually recharge while you drive through a process called regenerative braking. JDPower says that “Regenerative braking captures energy that is otherwise lost during braking and then uses this power to help recharge the vehicle’s battery.” This is why a traditional HEV never needs to be plugged in for a charge. You continue to charge it while you are actually driving.

You will still have to fill up the HEV with gas, although you will be using a lot less of it and your MPG will be fantastic.

Quick Breakdown: EV, PHEV, HEV

EV: Fully electric. No gas is needed. Can be charged at home or at a public charging station. Features the smallest environmental footprint of all hybrid vehicles. Newer EVs feature ranges of approximately 300-400 miles per full charge.

PHEV: Works initially off a rechargeable electric motor and switches to its gas engine after electric power runs out. Can be charged at home or at a public charging station. Bigger footprint than EVs due to combustible engine usage. Depending on the model, PHEV batteries allow for about 25-60 miles of driving until the gas engine takes over, but still feature a total range of 200-400 miles.

HEV: HEV, the original Hybrid, is powered by both an electric motor and a gas-powered engine. You never have to charge a traditional hybrid because they recharge as you drive. There is a footprint due to the consumption of gasoline, but it is far less than the average non-hybrid vehicle.

Posted in Electric and PHEV