As we all know, we are seeing more hybrids on our streets. They exist in almost all classes, ranging from small city cars to extremely luxurious, attractive, powerful, and fast models. Both new and used hybrids are being purchased.
However, there are various types of hybrids, and this can lead potential buyers into confusion, especially if they are looking for a true hybrid but end up buying a mild hybrid due to unfamiliarity with the terms or paying significantly more for a plug-in hybrid when they live in a building and have nowhere to charge it.
Let’s familiarize ourselves with the different types of hybrids and various acronyms to avoid misunderstandings.
Starting with “conventional” engines – gasoline and diesel. What is an ICE engine?
Gasoline and diesel engines will be referred to as ICE engines throughout this text. So, let’s explain what ICE means.
ICE stands for Internal Combustion Engine:
ICE represents the “conventional” engine, which used to be the standard under the hood of cars not so long ago – either gasoline or diesel-powered, or engines that are converted or initially designed to use alternative fuels such as gas, methane, ethanol, etc.
What is an EV?
EV stands for an electric vehicle. It is powered by one or more electric motors that use electric energy, commonly known as “electricity,” as their “fuel.”
What is a BEV?
BEV is essentially the same as an EV – a “pure” electric vehicle. Therefore, BEV and EV mean the same thing, at least when referring to passenger cars.
However, there are electric vehicles that do not use batteries. That’s why the letter B, which stands for “Battery,” is included here. These electric vehicles derive their energy from batteries, while some others receive electricity through wires, like trams or trolleybuses, or from supercapacitors, like the Higer buses in Belgrade on the EKO1 and EKO2 lines.
What is an HEV?
HEV is a conventional hybrid (e.g., Toyota Prius) – it has both a gasoline or diesel engine and an electric motor that is powered by a battery. It can operate in three modes:
a) only on gasoline/diesel, b) only on electricity, c) or simultaneously on gasoline/diesel and electricity, particularly during sharp accelerations.
There are various variations of HEVs, including hybrids with multiple electric motors and different combinations of front and rear axle propulsion, depending on whether they have all-wheel drive or not.
What is an FHEV?
FHEV is not commonly encountered, but it means the same as HEV, indicating a conventional hybrid. However, the letter F, which stands for “Full,” is added to emphasize that it is a “true” hybrid.
What is a PHEV?
PHEV is a hybrid whose battery can be charged by connecting it to a charger, similar to the battery of an electric car.
PHEV can be seen as something between a conventional hybrid and an electric vehicle. It has the capability to charge its battery by connecting it to a charger or a household outlet, just like electric vehicles. Thanks to having a much larger battery than conventional hybrids, it can travel on electricity for a significantly longer time.
PHEV owners get the best of both worlds – they can use it as an electric car on a daily basis without worrying about running out of battery, and they can also embark on longer journeys without concerns about charger availability. However, there are trade-offs, such as higher cost, increased weight, and reduced trunk space, which vary depending on the specific model and when compared to other cars.
What is an EREV?
EREV stands for Extended Range Electric Vehicle. In simple terms, it is an electric vehicle with an extended range. This means it is an electric vehicle that also includes an ICE engine used solely as a generator to recharge the battery. So, the car is driven solely by electricity, and when the battery is depleted, the engine starts to recharge it.
Unfortunately, even though this concept seems ideal, it hasn’t been widely adopted.
What is an MHEV?
MHEV (or mHEV) is a mild hybrid. Unlike a full hybrid, it cannot solely operate on electricity. However, it employs various “tricks” to reduce fuel consumption. It features a starter-generator that serves as both a starter and an alternator. It can “simulate” an electric motor to assist the ICE engine during acceleration, overtaking, and other maneuvers. It is powered by a small lithium-ion battery that charges during driving, similar to the battery in a conventional hybrid.
A mild hybrid can use its lithium-ion battery in various ways to reduce fuel consumption. For example, the battery can power various devices and electrical systems while the gasoline or diesel engine is off, allowing the engine to shut down earlier at stoplights and remain off for longer during stops when many accessories like air conditioning, heated windows, or mirrors are active.
Mild hybrid systems can reduce fuel consumption by 5% to 15%. While they may not provide an impressive fuel economy improvement, they significantly assist in city driving, especially in start-stop scenarios when the engine is frequently turned on and off. Furthermore, not only does it reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, but in some mild hybrids, thanks to the assistance of this system, nitrogen oxide emissions can be reduced by as much as 50% to 60%.