Banner lexicon: PHEV, BEV, REEV, etc.


A brief explanation of common e-mobility abbreviations in the industry.

Many of these terms aren't that difficult to understand, and neither is the associated technology. A hybrid car, for example, is a compromise between an electric car and a combustion engine. Electromobility means that a vehicle is fully or partially electrically powered. A high-voltage vehicle has systems and components that are operated >60V DC (Direct Current) or >30V AC (Alternating Current).

Let’s go!


The e-car (BEV battery electric vehicle, also known as electric car)

Pure electric vehicles always use a high-voltage battery combined with an electric motor or sometimes two or even three. The high-voltage battery and the 12V starter and on-board electrical system battery are charged via the electricity grid and the batteries can store recovered braking energy (= energy recovery).


Some well-known e-car models include:

+ Audi e-Tron

+ BMW i3, i8

+ Smart EQ Fortwo

+ VW e-Golf, ID.3, ID.4 and ID.5

+ Nissan Leaf and

+ Renault ZOE

+ Tesla Model 3 and S


This list is by no means comprehensive.

The hybrid car (HEV Hybrid Electric Vehicle, also called full hybrid)

A hybrid is generally defined as a vehicle equipped with one internal combustion engine and one or two electric motors. In contrast to the PHEV, however, external charging from the electricity grid is not possible! The electric motor supports the combustion engine, especially when starting up and overtaking ("Boost"), so fuel consumption can be reduced by approx. 10-20%. The next difference compared to the PHEV is that a full hybrid can only be operated purely electrically over very short distances (approx. 3-5 km), due to the much weaker design of the drive battery. In a hybrid car, energy recovery can only be used when the drive battery is sufficiently charged, and the electric drive has been enabled by the electronic controller.


The best-known representatives on European roads:

+ Audi A3 and A4 Sportback e-tron

+ VW Passat and Touareg

+ Toyota Prius


to name but a few.

The mild hybrid car (MHEV Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle)

One thing before we start: a mild hybrid cannot drive purely electrically, but it can save fuel with electric assistance. In mild hybrid cars, a small electric motor is usually supplied with energy by the combustion engine and this energy is stored. In suitable situations, the stored energy is used again and provides a saving of up to one litre per 100 kilometres, mostly through improved torque in the lower rev range ("Boost").


The heart of mild hybrid technology is the starter generator (belt starter generator). This is an electric motor that supplies energy to or replaces the alternator, for example, and also controls the main on-board electrical system. Each mild hybrid also has a 12V starter and on-board electrical system battery for energy storage. The energy in turn comes from a start-stop system and/or also from energy recovery (= brake power recovery).


Successful MHEV cars are:

+ BMW EfficientDynamics models

+ Honda Jazz

+ Renault Clio

+ Toyota Yaris


to name just a few of the better-known ones.

The plug-in hybrid car (PHEV plug-in hybrid electric vehicle)

Hybrid vehicles (HEV hybrid electric vehicles) generally use one or two electric motors in combination with an internal combustion engine. In HEV car models, the drive battery and the starter or on-board electrical system battery are charged via the combustion engine and the recovered braking energy (= energy recovery). During braking, the electric motor becomes an alternator (generator) and feeds the kinetic energy back into the high-voltage battery – thus charging the drive battery together with the starter and on-board electrical system battery.

In contrast to this, the batteries of PHEV cars are also charged with a plug via the electricity grid and are capable of covering shorter distances (usually around 30-100 km) completely electrically, as well as comfortably covering longer distances using the combustion engine.

This is why they are classified as e-cars, even if a conventional drive is combined with the electric one.


Well-known PHEV car models on the road include:

+ Audi A6 and Q5

+ BMW X1

+ Seat Leon and Tarraco

+ VW Golf and Passat GTE

+ Lexus 450RS

+ Mitsubishi Outlander and

+ Toyota Prius


to name just a few of the better-known ones.

The range extender car (REEV Range Extended Electric Vehicle)

This also refers to electric vehicles. They are equipped with a high-voltage battery, a 12V starter and an on-board electrical system battery in combination with a combustion engine, which is only used as a range extender. In contrast to the PHEV, the additional engine does not drive the vehicle directly, but merely generates electricity for the battery and the e-motor. When the charge status of the drive battery reaches its defined minimum range, the range extender is activated to prevent the vehicle from coming to a standstill while driving due to an empty battery. The combustion engine now supplies the battery and electric motor with electricity, which enables an additional range of approx. 100 km.


Some well-known range extender models are:

+ BMW i3 or the

+ Ampera from Opel

+ Mazda MX-30 with rotary engine as range extender (2022)

+ Nissan Qashqai e-Power (3rd generation 2022)


The fuel cell car (FCEV Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle)

In the case of fuel cell vehicles, electrical energy is generated from the energy carriers hydrogen, low molecular weight alcohols, or ammonia by a fuel cell and converted directly into motion by the electric drive or temporarily stored in a drive battery.

The only emissions from the vehicle are water vapour. Refuelling takes only a few minutes and is similar to the traditional refuelling process. The achievable range with one full tank is between approx. 500-600 km. Since the production of fuel cells and hydrogen is very energy-intensive and expensive, the impressive water vapour emissions aren't enough to balance out the vehicle's ecological footprint.


For the reasons mentioned above, only a few manufacturers offer vehicles of this type:

+ Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell

+ Hyundai NEXO and

+ Toyota Mirai I, II

The light electric vehicle (LEV, LSEV Low-Speed Electric Vehicle)

These are various types of light electric vehicles that are somewhere between an electric bike and an electric car. The many abbreviations describe two to four-wheeled vehicles that weigh no more than 400 kilograms unladen, in each case up to 550 kilograms for freight transport (weights always excluding batteries in the case of e-vehicles). LEV and LSEV are designed for use on public roads and motorways.


The best-known vehicle in Europe is the:

+ Renault Twizy

The Small Electric Vehicle (NEV Neighborhood Electric Vehicle)

NEV are smaller electric cars with limited range and are therefore mainly used in neighbourhoods and residential areas. They are powered by batteries and have a range of about 40 to 70 km, depending on battery capacity, terrain and individual driving habits. NEV have a top speed of about 40 km/h and are not allowed to be used on public roads in most countries. On the difference between LEV/LSEV vehicles.


Best known vehicles in Europe are:

+ Golf carts

+ E-trikes (electric tricycles)

Important to know: In most countries, only e-cars that can be charged from the electrical grid (such as BEV or PHEV) are considered electric cars and are therefore eligible for subsidies or benefits like the eco-rebate!


The topic of microhybrid will be dealt with in a separate article on hybrid cars in due course! Why not on the subject of e-mobility?
Quite simply: A micro-hybrid is always a start-stop vehicle, usually with recuperation (=brake energy recovery), a more powerful starter and on-board battery (EFB or AGM technology), reinforced starter (starter motor) but always WITHOUT an additional electric motor!


Banner tip: How do you calculate the range of an e-car?

Quite simply with the formula:

„battery capacity“ divided by „energy consumption per 100 km“ times „100“.

Here's an example: Our e-car has a max. battery capacity of 100 kWh with an energy consumption of 25 kWh per 100 km, which results in a calculated range of approx. 400 km.

Now this is only a theoretical value: factors such as driving behaviour, selected driving mode, route conditions, payload or ambient temperature influence the vehicle range and can lead to massive deviations!

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