Hello again, and welcome back to another busy installment of the ABCs of EVs. Today we’re taking a look at BEVs…that’s B…E…V…and what it actually stands for.
What does BEV stand for?
So let’s start with answering the question: ‘what does BEV stand for?’ It stands for Battery Electric Vehicle. And although it seems obvious to you…because if you’re watching this you’re either an EV driver or EV curious at least. But unfortunately there’s a lot of confusion out there, not helped by some manufacturers conflating ‘electrified vehicles’ with fully electric vehicles. So the crucial thing here is that a BEV is a fully electric vehicle. It has a plug on it to charge the battery, which in turns gives power to the motor to turn the wheels. Let’s have a very quick look at other terms that BEVs can be confused with.
As opposed to PHEV, REX, etc
On this show in the past we’ve covered REXs, which are electric vehicles that also have a combustion engine that can act as a generator, which in turn charges the battery for more range. You may also hear the term PHEV floating around. This stands for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. In this case you have a combustion car that also has a small battery and relatively weak electric motor that can turn the wheels in fully electric mode for a few miles.
Another term you may hear is a hybrid or mild hybrid. These are 100% combustion-powered vehicles that have a minuscule battery and tiny electric motor that can assist the petrol engine or keep the car moving at low speeds on relatively flat ground. Definitely NOT an electric car!
So now let’s dive into a bit more detail on what a BEV is. Firstly, what differentiates a BEV from any other car? I suppose you could say that there’s 3 main differences. The first of those being that it has an electric motor that is the sole means of driving the car.
Simply put, an electric motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy, that in turn drives the wheels. We’ve had electric motors for many years, and just like batteries, they have experienced their fair share of technological advances. Although they are much more straightforward devices than combustion ‘motors’, they are still complicated. And as any of you EV drivers out there know, the electric motor is very efficient, wasting little energy in the process. They are also much more reliable than their combustion counterparts.
Well, that’s great Martin you’re saying, but if it doesn’t burn fuel, then what turns the electric motor? That’s energy from the battery of course. Now, we all know what a battery is…we’ve been putting them in remote controls and phones for a while now. And in principle, it’s the same idea for Electric Vehicles. What we refer to in an EV as its battery is in fact a whole load of batteries connected in one big battery pack!
At this point it leads us on to battery chemistry. And this is an area that’s constantly changing so we won’t dwell on it. Let’s use the example of the Tesla Model 3, because it highlights the fact that different battery chemistries exist and have different attributes.
With the Tesla manufacturing plant going online in China recently, they are now making the same car on different continents. However, they make the Model 3 with two different battery chemistries. The first is the NCA battery which is a Lithium, Nickel, Cobalt, Aluminium oxide battery. It is energy-dense but typically has a higher cost. However, in China, Tesla use an LFP battery which is a Lithium Iron Phosphate battery. Although it is cheaper to manufacture, it doesn’t quite have the same energy density.
Now that we’ve covered the motors and the batteries, let’s have a look at how you actually get energy into them. Of course, you charge them! But, different cars charge in different ways and at different speeds.
Simply put, we charge our cars is by plugging them in. Now, we’ve already made a video about charging connectors and speeds so check that out. But in summary, you can charge your car on slower AC units that you have at home or at car parks, and you can even plug them into a domestic socket. These chargers vary from about 2 kW up to about 22kW in general. But you can also charge your car much faster on DC power. Some cars such as the IONIQ 5 and Kia EV6 can charge well above 200kW, effectively giving you another 3 or 4 hundred kilometres range in about 20 minutes!