What’s the difference between a BEV, PHEV, and FCEV?
Written by Larry Thompson
The short answer
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) rely solely on a battery to power the car. Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) have both batteries and an internal combustion engine (ICE) that work together or separately to power the car. Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) produce power from a hydrogen fuel cell in the car. Fuel cells emit pure water but no greenhouse gases (GHG) but have limited availability.
BEV’s produce no harmful tailpipe emissions and are simpler to manufacture and maintain. They are quieter to drive but their driving range between charging is limited to the battery capacity and certain other constraints such as driving speed and ambient temperature.
PHEVs have a limited driving range from the battery (e.g. usually less than 50 miles) but also have an internal combustion engine which can be refueled like any other internal combustion engine car. PHEVs, however, have the complexity of both the internal combustion engine and BEV battery systems and emit more emissions than BEVs.
There is another type of electric vehicle referred to as a Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) which relies on a fuel cell in the car to generate sufficient electricity to power the car. FCEVs are relatively rare and limited to areas that have hydrogen fueling stations, most notably in California. Current FCEV manufactures include Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai with an estimated 3 vehicles registered in Connecticut.