Which EV is for me?
Find out about different types of electric vehicles, and what you can buy in New Zealand.
Types of electric vehicle
Battery electric vehicle (BEV)
BEVs are powered only by electrical energy stored in the battery. They are also known as ‘pure electric’ vehicles.
You charge a BEV by plugging it into an external electricity source. This could be a regular electrical socket, a dedicated charging unit, or one of the many public charging stations around the country.
The battery also recovers and stores energy generated when the car brakes, a system known as regenerative braking.
It has no tailpipe or tailpipe emissions.
BEVs particularly suit people who mostly travel within the battery range and can charge overnight at home or at work.
BEV cars include BMW i3, Hyundai Ioniq, Kia Soul, Mitsubishi i-Miev, Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Tesla Model S, and VW e-Golf. Vans include Renault Kangoo, LDV V80 and Nissan eNV200.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)
A PHEV has two types of motors – an electric motor and battery that can be charged from an external power supply, and an internal combustion engine fuelled by petrol or diesel.
Most PHEVs start and drive in EV-only mode until most of the power stored in the battery is used, then the petrol/diesel engine automatically takes over.
Regenerative braking charges the battery in both modes.
During heavy acceleration, such as driving fast up a steep hill, the petrol/diesel engine and the electric motor work together to avoid excessive draw from the battery.
Some PHEVs use a small petrol engine to generate electricity known as a range extender to power the electric motor once the battery charge decreases to a certain point.
The range of a PHEV in EV-only mode varies significantly between models. Some can only do 15-20km while some newer models can do 60km or more.
PHEVs particularly suit people who often need to use the vehicle to travel beyond the battery range and can charge overnight at home or at work.
PHEVs include Audi A3 e-tron, BMW i3 (range extender model), Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Toyota PlugIn Prius.
What about hybrids?
Hybrids that don't plug-in are more fuel efficient than a comparable petrol car, but are not electric vehicles. Their batteries are only charged by re-capturing energy when braking or from electricity generated by the engine. The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid are examples of these kinds of hybrids.
Would a BEV or PHEV suit you best?
EVs for sale in New Zealand
EVs can be more expensive to purchase than their petrol/diesel equivalents, especially brand new.
But they cost far less to run – around the equivalent of paying 30c per litre for petrol*. If you look at the total cost of owning a car, rather than just the one-off purchase price, an EV can be a very cost-effective option.
* Estimate based on a residential off-peak charge rate and will vary.