Industry Terms

I hear so many acronyms; what is the difference between a PHEV, EV, HEV, PEV, CV, BEV, NEV?

Perhaps the best way to think about these terms is to envision the vehicles along a spectrum from fully gasoline fueled vehicles all the way to fully electric fueled vehicles. There are a variety of fully electric vehicles available, and more will arrive in the next few years.

Industry Terms

  1. A CV, or conventional vehicle, is one that is fueled off of gasoline. This is what most Americans drive now. There is an engine that is powered ONLY off of gasoline, a CV can be anything from a Ford Explorer to a Honda Civic.

  2. The next step is a HEV, or hybrid-electric vehicle, where a small battery is placed onboard. When the vehicle brakes, some of the energy is stored in the battery and that energy can later be used to power the electric motor which assists the gasoline engine. The most popular hybrid is a Toyota Prius, however many vehicle manufacturers offer hybrid models: the Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, Porsche, Hyundai, and others all have sell HEVs.

  3. Next is the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or PHEV. The PHEV has a larger on-board battery that has a certain amount of electric range available. The vehicle must be charged in order to operate without gasoline. When the battery has been depleted, the vehicle operates similar to the HEV, storing braking energy in the battery and assisting the gasoline engine. Chevrolet released the Volt in 2010, which has an electric range of 30-40 miles and Toyota releasied the Plug-In Prius in 2012, which has an electric range of 10-15 miles. In 2013, Ford released two PHEVs: the C-Max Energi and the Fusion Energi, each with an electric range of 20 miles.

    Figure 1 GM GEM Neighborhood Electric Vehicle
  4. Electric Vehicles are similar to PHEVs in that they have a battery, though theirs is much larger. Unlike PHEVs, once the battery has been depleted, the vehicle must be plugged-in for it to move. The Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S are examples of EVs. There are two subsets:

    1. A Neighborhood Electric Vehicle has a low driving range and operates at lower speeds. The GEM Electric Motorcar is an example.
    2. The second type is a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV). This vehicle has a large battery and operates as a driver expects a vehicle to operate. The Nissan Leaf, released in 2010 is an example. The vehicle has a range of approximately 100 miles and is fueled entirely off of electricity.
  5. Note: Plug-in Electric Vehicles are a term that encompasses both PHEV and fully electric vehicles. This is simply an overarching term meaning that some of the vehicles fuel comes from the electric grid.