There are two types of electric cars, or plug in electrified vehicles (PEVs): battery electrics (BEVs) which run on electricity only, and plug in hybrid electrics (PHEVs) which first run on electricity from the battery for a shorter range (often the distance of a daily commute, or more), then seamlessly switch to a full tank of gasoline if the battery gets low.
PHEVs therefore will always have the range you need, and can be driven and fueled just like the car you drive now. Today’s BEVs have more range than 90% of commuters and others drive daily. Some brand’s models, such as the BMW i3, are available in either BEV or PHEV.
Figure: by permission of Gary Kendall, Ph.D.
Most BEVs have a range of between 114 and 315 miles depending upon model. They must be recharged when the battery gets low, and can be done slowly (typically overnight at home while you sleep) or more quickly. But unlike gasoline only cars, both BEVs and PHEVs can be charged at a variety of more convenient locations (see answer #2).
Today’s PHEVs a have a battery range between 14 and 114 miles, and then typically a full tank of gasoline range, 300-500+ miles. When operating in hybrid mode, they also get better gas mileage than comparable gasoline only vehicles.
Therefore which electric you’ll want depends on how many miles you typically drive per day, and what types of long trips you plan to take in your vehicle, and how much passenger and cargo space you need. Answering these three personal questions before car shopping will also lead you to the electric models that best fit your lifestyle and needs. For a handy online guide of models, visit plugincars’ “Features, Price, Range page.