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Buying Guide

There are two types of electric cars, or plug in electrified vehicles (PEVs): Battery electrics (BEVs) which run on electricity only, and plug in hybrid electrics (PHEVs) which first run on electricity from the battery for a shorter range (often the distance of a daily commute, or more), then seamlessly switch to a full tank of gasoline if the battery gets low.

A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV):

  • Does not have an external plug
  • Gains some of its driving power from a gasoline engine, and some from an electric motor and small battery pack.
  • Generates its energy through gasoline combustion. However, unlike non-hybrid vehicles, an HEV also recovers and extends some of this energy. How? By recharging the batteries through “regenerative braking”.

A plug-in electric vehicle:

  • Gets its driving power exclusively from an electric motor. That energy is generated from a larger battery pack, that has been recharged from the grid or another external source.
  • Also uses “regenerative braking” to improve overall driving efficiency.


“Regenerative braking” is when, as the car slows, energy flows back into the battery. This energy is reused, (or “regenerated”) instead of escaping as tires grind against the road. This extends the life of your brakes and tires, and results in better average MPG. 

A BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle):

  • Is an all-electric vehicle with a battery as its only power source.
  • Has a range generally between 100 and 400 miles depending upon model.
  • Must be recharged when the battery gets low. This can be done slowly (typically overnight at home while you sleep, as you would with your phone) or more quickly using a public fast charging station.

A PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle):

  • Has a gasoline back-up engine that can turn on when the battery runs low.
  • Has a battery electric-only range between 14 and 114 miles, PLUS a full tank of gasoline range of between 300 and 600 miles (depending on model).
  • Gets better gas mileage (when operating in gasoline-electric hybrid mode) than comparable gasoline only vehicles.

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