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Know your BEVs from FCEVs from PHEVs from ULEVs

Welcome to SHIFT Basics, a collection of tips, explainers, guides, and advice to keep you up to speed with mobility tech.

When it comes to more sustainable driving, there is a whole host of options now and it can be confusing knowing what’s what. In the olden days you pretty much had the choice of diesel or petrol, but with the ever-evolving market of low-emission vehicles, there’s more choice than ever.

When it comes to “EVs,” you can choose from BEVs, PHEVs, HEVs, or FCEVS, all of which are classed as ULEVs. But what do all these acronyms actually mean?

If you need some quick pointers on what all these acronyms stand for and what they refer to specifically, look no further.

[Read: 5 things to know when you’re buying your first electric vehicle]


Let’s start with the most common type of EV, and the type of vehicle we usually refer to when we’re talking about EVs: the battery electric vehicle, or BEV.

As the name suggests, a BEV is an electric vehicle that uses batteries to store and deploy power which powers electric motors to drive the wheels. It’s also common to see words like “pure electric,” or “all-electric” when you read about battery electric vehicles.

Polestar 2, car, ev, bev
Credit: Polestar