What are the different types of EV, and which is right for me?

The move to electric vehicles is charging ahead. It won’t be long before petrol and diesel cars are off the market, so it’s well worth thinking about switching to an EV. Wondering which type of electric car is the right one for you - fully electric, or a hybrid model? We look at the different types of EV out there to help you make up your mind.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs)

BEVs (more commonly known as fully electric cars) use a large battery for power. From the electric car’s top speed and handling to the temperature inside the cabin, everything’s battery powered.

They’re quiet, emission free to drive, and much cheaper to run (most are under £10 to fully charge from empty). And they have a typical performance range of around 200 miles, which is more than enough for the average journey. In terms of price versus distance travelled, fully electric vehicles offer the best efficiency of all the EVs, because they’re lighter and don’t need to combine engine and battery.

By now, most of the big car makers have made moves into the EV market to meet ambitious government plans and customer demand. So now BEVs come in all shapes and sizes; from luxury Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) to smaller run-arounds for town and city, such as the Vauxhall Corsa-e, Toyota Proace City and the Honda e.

Best type of electric vehicle for people who:

  • Can install an EV charger at home
  • Mostly make shorter journeys within their car’s range


Powerful enough to power the car on its own

Typically 20-100 kWh with range between 150 and 350 miles (WLTP)

Plug into charging station (fast or rapid)

Pros Cons
Low maintenance Significant price premium over PHEV
Reduced carbon footprint Range anxiety
High performance (acceleration)
Tax advantages
Very quiet

Charging options for BEVs

A home charge point is a popular choice for BEVs. There are different types of EV charger available, and they all offer easy, convenient charging and government grants can help reduce the cost of installing one. Without one, you can still use the cable that comes with your EV to connect it to a standard 3-pin plug at home, but this will be very slow to charge your battery.

For recharging during a longer journey, there are almost 40,000 EV charge stations in the UK. Some simply allow you to plug-in and pay, others might require sign-up to an app before you can use them, and some may need you to provide your own charging cable.

Interested in home EV charging? Find out more about EV grants

Other BEV benefits

As well as being much better for the planet and massively reducing air pollution, the day to day running costs of EVs offer serious long-term savings for drivers so there are plenty of benefits of owning an EV.

With the typical charge costing under £5 (you’ll rarely – if ever – charge an empty battery), over the long term you’ll save significantly compared to petrol or diesel. Just bear in mind that EVs can be more expensive to buy new on the forecourt compared to their fuel-burning counterparts.

The cost of servicing is another advantage of the EV when compared to petrol or diesel. With fewer moving parts and no combustion creating a build-up of residues, servicing is often cheaper.

What’s it like to drive a BEV?

While you contemplate switching to a BEV, you’re probably wondering what they’re like to drive. And honestly, they’re fun! Improved acceleration means you can zip around town, smoothly and effortlessly. Let’s not forget the quietness too - you’ll be parking up in near silence next time you go shopping.

In many ways, driving an electric vehicle is pretty similar to driving a car powered by petrol or diesel – but there are some important differences. Firstly, there are no gears to worry about – so you can just start it up and go. And you get full power from that moment on – there’s no hanging about to reach an electric car’s top speed.

There are just two pedals – accelerator and brake – just like an automatic car. To slow your EV down, it’s often enough simply to take your foot off the accelerator rather than using the brake. This is known as regenerative braking, and actually allows energy to go back into the battery, which will increase the range of your vehicle.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)

Plug-in hybrids are powered by the combination of a petrol engine paired with an electric battery, which you plug in to charge. The battery is much smaller than the one in fully electric vehicles though, so the car prioritises electric power then automatically switches over to petrol once the battery runs out. Ford (Kuga) and Toyota (Prius) are a just a few of the manufacturers offering PHEV versions of their more familiar models.

Best type of electric vehicle for people who:

  • Have range anxiety about BEVs
  • Can charge their EVs regularly
  • Don’t make many longer journeys


Powerful enough to power the car on its own

Typically 12-15 kWh, with a range of about 40 miles in electric mode. Most daily journeys are under 30 miles.

Plug into charging station (fast or rapid)

Pros Cons
Lower emissions v ICE vehicle Higher price premium than MHEV
Better fuel economy v ICE vehicle Reduced fuel economy on long journeys
Assisted pull away and acceleration Higher maintenance costs
Need access to charging facilities

Get the most from your PHEV

The PHEV’s ideal for a typical daily journey within a 30-mile radius, using the engine as a backup for those occasional longer trips. And by charging overnight when electricity’s cheaper, you’ll have more than enough battery power for the week – and with minimal impact on your electricity bill.

How cost-effective are PHEVs?

PHEVs typically have an electric-only range of around between 20 and 50 miles, so to fully recharge the battery will probably cost less than £5 each time you plug in.

It’s not so great for regular longer journeys, though, because once the electricity runs out, you’re effectively carrying the weight of the battery on fossil-fuel power. That’s less cost-effective for you and less good for the environment.

And unlike the fully electric car, the PHEV has all the parts of an electric and combustion engine, which can make for a more expensive service should something go wrong.

Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles (MHEVs)

MHEVs are fuelled by a petrol engine assisted by an electric battery that is powered by regenerative braking alone. A MHEV optimises fuel economy by storing and transferring the energy you create when driving. But unlike the PHEV, you don’t need to plug it in to charge the battery.

Best type of electric vehicle for people who:

  • Are unable to install an EV charger at home
  • Don’t want to plug in their vehicle
  • Tend to make shorter journeys only


Isn't powerful enough to power the car on its own; it can only assist the engine

Typically around 0.2 kWh

Only through regeneration braking

Pros Cons
Lower emissions v ICE vehicle Higher emissions v PHEV
Better fuel economy v ICE vehicle Never runs on pure electric
Assisted pull away and acceleration Additional price premium
No EV tax benefits or incentives

Electric vehicle conversions

It’s not an easy job and requires a specialist, but it’s entirely possible to convert most petrol or diesel vehicles to electric – often for much less than the cost of purchasing a new electric vehicle. It’s also an attractive option for bus operators and large fleets looking to reduce fuel and servicing costs.

Everything EV

Check out our other guides to EVs, including, the pros and cons of going electric and a more in-depth look at charging costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much power is required/how many kilowatts does it take to charge an electric car?

Most EV home chargers are 3.7W, and with an average charge time of around 8 hours, the average EV takes around 30kWh of power to fully charge from empty. In reality, this will be much less, as you’ll rarely (if ever) charge a completely empty battery.

How do I calculate the horsepower of an electric motor?

Horsepower (HP) is simply kilowatts (kW) x 1.369, and your car’s power can be measured in either HP or KW. Check your user’s manual for a more in-depth breakdown.

How do I calculate my electric motor’s efficiency?

EV efficiency is usually calculated by working out how many kW are needed to travel 100 miles. The lower the kW needed to travel the distance, the higher the efficiency of that particular model.