Electric vehicles are those that use a battery and an electric motor to deliver power to their wheels. They exist in several classes, alongside their more traditional combustion engine counterparts, as well as some not detailed below such as LPG and Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)
For over a century, traditional cars have been powered by internal combustion engines.
ICE’s create a force that is produced by the combustion of a fuel (such as petrol or diesel) mixed with an oxidizer (like air). This force is delivered through the transmission to power the vehicle - notably, less than half the energy in the fuel powers the vehicle with the rest wasted.
One of the results of producing this force is the by-products: carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur and soot. These emissions are harmful and destructive for both the environment and humans. As well as emissions, ICE vehicles contribute to environmental and other damages that are caused by the extraction and refining of fossil fuels.
Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)
ICE engines can work alongside electric motors to reduce the harmful effect of emissions. Classic HEVs incorporate a small battery that is used to power the vehicle in stop-and-go traffic and other suitable conditions, with the ICE engine taking over for most driving.
In a Hybrid vehicle, the battery can be charged by regenerative braking, converting the car's kinetic energy into electrical energy and storing it in the battery for later use. Additionally, some HEV models allow for the ICE engine to charge the battery using a generator.
By reducing engine idling in traffic, and recapturing energy into the battery, HEVs tend towards better fuel economy and lower overall emissions. However, since they aren't able to be plugged in to recharge, all of the energy used to power the vehicle is still coming from fossil fuels.
Plug-In Hybrid EV (PHEV)
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles incorporate the emission-reducing advantages of an HEV with one important difference - they can be directly connected to an electricity supply. This allows for the battery to be recharged without using the ICE, saving on even more emissions.
When PHEV and BEV vehicles are plugged in, their emissions are proportional to what is emitted by the grid. With over 80% renewable generation (and growing) from hydro, geothermal, and wind, New Zealand is one of the cleanest places in the world to charge an EV.
Mevo currently operates the Audi A3 sportback e-tron® PHEV on the fleet. With an all-electric range of up to 50km, and a usage model based on short trips, most trips using Mevo will be all-electric and Powered by Meridian, New Zealand's leading generator of renewable energy.
For longer trips, the e-tron® switches over to Hybrid mode, recharging the battery using regenerative braking and ranging to over 900km before needing to be refuelled. Every Mevo journey is Climate Positive with any emissions offset by 120% - resulting in a net deficit in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere with every kilometre driven.
Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Internal combustion engines and the associated fossil fuels are no longer needed in Battery Electric Vehicles. BEVs exclusively use the chemical energy stored in their rechargeable battery packs to power the wheels. In New Zealand, this energy is generated on our mostly renewable grid, making the emissions of these cars extremely low.
With far less moving parts than a vehicle incorporating an ICE, they're also cheaper to maintain and some have more physical room for additional safety features. Additionally, BEVs are much cheaper to run, with the equivalent cost of electricity in New Zealand working out to around 30c/litre versus fossil fuels. The most well known BEVs include the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S, however there are still only a handful sold each year in New Zealand.
At Mevo, we know that BEVs are the future - we're working to promote Electric Vehicles and will be transitioning our fleet over to BEV as the technology and range continues to develop.
The next steps to increasing the number of BEVs on the road are increasing awareness, driving demand and improving the existing technology and charging infrastructure. We're planning to install and support at least one public EV charging station at each of our locations as we grow throughout the country, and our shared fleet gives everyday Kiwis an easy way to try out the benefits of driving electric.