Clean Cars compared: BEV, PHEV and HEV head-to-head
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Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), Hybrid Electrified Vehicles (HEVs): it’s all a bit confusing given we’re in such an early electrified car time. Some of these may have already been around for 20 years but it’s really only been the last nine months that people have started to take notice. Cash often does that.
The government’s Clean Car Discount has excited and enticed a whole new customer into the electrified age. And yes, while car purchase prices are still on the high side, they are coming down, and love them or loathe them, there is no denying a near 20 per cent discount of $8625 off a new $50k car makes it a lot more appealing.
As we move into cleaner cars over the coming years, and be assured, all manufacturers will be in some way, there are options we need to look at, and the most common are the BEV, PHEV and HEV: that is, Battery Electric Vehicle (like a Tesla), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (like a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV) and Hybrid Electric Vehicle (like a Prius or RAV4 Hybrid).
A BEV runs just on battery: no fossil fuel at all. So battery size and range (200-600km depending on model) are crucial metrics to know and understand if you’re thinking of going pure-electric.
A PHEV has a smaller battery, designed mainly for commuting (30-80km is indicative), but you can still plug it in and drive for extended periods on pure-electric power; when that runs out, there’s a petrol engine available to keep you going in hybrid mode.
A HEV has an even smaller battery and you don’t plug it in; while it can run for very short distances on pure-electric power (a few hundred metres to a couple of kilometres), the idea is that the battery is recharged by energy normally lost during braking and coasting, and then used to assist the petrol engine, which saves fuel and provides a power boost when required.
Which is best isn’t an obvious or easy answer, because each have their own attributes and drawbacks, each of which may or may not suit a particular person’s use. So it’s just as important to know what doesn’t suit your own needs, as much as what does.
Is it just for around town? Do you like having active input into maximising fuel economy? Do you do occasional long trips? Want to tow? Live in rural area? One of these cars may very well not suit your lifestyle, but if it does, a clean car is a great way to be more eco-conscious and buy into the future.
So we brought together an example from each of the key clean car categories: MG’s super popular MG ZS EV, representing the BEV class, in its final phases before a new model arrives in a few months. Representing the PHEV family (pronounced fev, like Phillip), is the similarly popular Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV, while the hybrid/HEV class is represented by the brand that made it mainstream, Toyota, with the C-HR, in rather impressive GR Sport guise.
Setting out from Auckland, we headed south on a series of challenges. How fast can each be replenished to cover 50km of driving? How fast is each head-to-head in a straight line (on a closed road of course)? And which would each of us really choose to live with day-to-day?
Watch the video above to find out.