Know Your Electric Vehicles

Let us be honest, the terminology surrounding electric vehicle can be confusing. So if you want to be able to tell your BEV from your PHEV read on!


As an important point; if you are considering buying an electric vehicle, you should be aware of the following changes announced by the UK government in November 2020:

  • New petrol and diesel cars and vans will not be allowed to be sold in the UK from 2030.
  • New hybrid cars and vans that could drive a ‘significant distance’ with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe, will be allowed to remain on sale until 2035. ‘Significant distance’ has yet to be defined.



EV (Electric vehicle)

The catch-all description for all vehicles powered by electric in part or in total.

BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle)

A purely battery electric powered vehicle, sometimes also referred to as a pure electric vehicle, only-electric vehicle, fully electric vehicle or all-electric vehicle. With no exhaust, it emits no gases.

ZEV – (Zero Emission Vehicles)


A zero-emission vehicle, or ZEV, is a vehicle that does not emit exhaust gas or other pollutants from the onboard source of power. From this list, it includes BEVs and FCEVs.

HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle)

An over-arching term, a hybrid car is one that uses more than one means of propulsion – that means combining a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor. There are various types of hybrid as noted below.


PHEV (Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle)

A PHEV is exactly what its name suggests: it’s a hybrid car with a battery pack that can be plugged in to charge it up. PHEVs have both a petrol or diesel combustion engine and an electric motor. However, the battery pack that powers a PHEV’s motor is larger than that in a standard hybrid, giving it the advantage that it can run for longer on pure electric power alone.

Rex (Range-extended EV)

Similar to a PHEV, a Rex has a battery and small electric motor, it is different to a PHEV in that a Rex drives on battery power until it has depleted its energy; at this time the small motor kicks in to re-charge the battery.

Full Hybrid or
‘Self-Charging’ Hybrid

A 100% fossil-fuelled hybrid car. A small battery is charged through regenerative braking that generates some electric power in combination with a combustion engine, but the car’s energy originates from petrol. The electric motor can only power the car itself for short periods at low speeds.

Mild Hybrid

Mild hybrids also have a small electric motor, but unlike full hybrids, it is solely used to assist the petrol engine. The car cannot drive on battery power alone.

FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle)

A fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) is a vehicle that uses electric energy obtained from hydrogen as a power source and is often called a hydrogen electric vehicle. Like a BEV, it emits no gases.

ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle)

ULEVs are currently defined as having less than 75 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g/km) from the tail pipe.

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