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PHEV, BEV, MHEV or HEV – We explain the differences

Jaguar i-Pace - BEV - Electric Vehicle
Jaguar i-Pace - BEV - Electric Vehicle


Since reading the latest report the other day from the SMMT for the April 2020 registrations, we realised how confusing all of the new abbreviations were for alternative fuelled vehicles.

So we thought we’d put together this guide to explain what a PHEV, BEV, MHEV and a HEV is, along with the pro’s and con’s.

PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Car

The Plug-in Hybrid car is a great start for those who want to dip their toes in the water when trying to understand how an electric vehicle would work around their commute and lifestyle.

Its effectively a bridge between a regular hybrid vehicle and an electric car but the on-board battery pack requires a charge via a standard 3-pin plug or home charging solution. It also has an engine, usually petrol to take over when the battery runs out.


Depending on the vehicle, the vehicle will come with a large battery pack which will be good for a set amount of miles, usually between 22 and 48. The electric motor is then generally used for slower journeys although the engine could kick in where required, even if the battery is not low.

Some of the Plug-in Hybrid cars such as the Audi A3 E-Tron and VW Golf GTE can actually hit motorway speeds without any intervention from the engine at all.

The beauty of the PHEV is that a daily commute the the workplace of 15 to 20 miles is easily achieved, especially if you can have a quick charge at work as well.

Pro’s of a PHEV Car

Con’s of a PHEV Car

Example of a PHEV Vehicle:

BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle

Since the UK government announced the demise of internal combustion engines, battery electric vehicles (BEV) are really becoming very popular.

All aspects of the traditional diesel or petrol engines have been replaced by electric motors and the vehicle carries very large lithium battery packs to power the car.

Tesla Model 3 – BEV

The electric motors use the electricity from the grid to store in the batteries, the power is then delivered to the motors. Also, most electric cars have brake regen (regenerative braking). So when you ease off on the throttle, the car brakes slightly and the energy created gets turned into electricity, just like the old dynamo lights on a bike.

The biggest advantage at the moment on fully electric cars is when it comes to company cars, with huge benefit in kind advantages from the 6th April 2020 at 0% and 1% from the 6th April 2021. There are also incentives to businesses when purchasing zero-emission vehicles.

On top of the above are the environmental benefits you get with an electric car, no tailpipe emissions so, in turn, will improve air quality if more and more people switch to BEV’s.

BEV’s are also legally allowed to display the new Green Flash Number Plates as introduced by the UK Government. The idea is for local authorities and councils to introduce incentives to those in Zero Emission vehicles.

Pro’s of a BEV Car

Con’s of a BEV Car

Examples of a BEV Vehicle:

MHEV – Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Recently introduced by many of the car manufacturers to promote that they are heading the greener way, a MHEV works by having a traditional combustion engine alongside a small battery pack and electric motor.

Essentially the electric motor assists the traditional engine, generally at low speeds to keep the emissions down as well as providing additional power for systems such as the Air Con and engine cooling systems.

The electric motors can also provide an extra boost to the engine, enabling the vehicle to accelerate a little quicker thank those without the mild hybrid system as well as allowing the engine to cut out for coasting duties, so those essential systems like power steering still function.

Pro’s of a MHEV Car

Con’s of a MHEV Car

Examples of a MHEV Vehicle:

HEV – Hybrid Electric Engines

Most of the vehicle manufacturers now offer a Hybrid of some sort with Toyota really producing one of the first mainstream Hybrid cars with the Prius.

In simple terms the Hybrid is a traditional combustion engine that works alongside an electric motor. The battery pack on-board is charged by the engine as well as things like brake regen (regenerative braking).

Unfortunately, there are several types of Hybrids (HEV’s) so lets break these down:

A parallel hybrid does not need to be plugged in like the PHEV so it doesn’t require you to have home charging facilities or complicated access to the UK charging network.

Pro’s of a HEV Car

Con’s of a HEV Car

Examples of a HEV Vehicle:

So what is an ICE?

An ICE is an internal combustion engine, such as a traditional diesel or petrol car. In the new world of motoring abbreviations, you will hear ICE mentioned a lot more.

The term ICED – means that a traditional engined car has parked in an electric charging point space, therefore blocking the use of the facilities. Its getting quite common with many users photographing, naming and shaming on social media such as Twitter and Instagram.

Can we help you choose between PHEV, MHEV, ICE, HEV or BEV?

We’re here to help you choose your next car (or van) here at Cocoon Vehicles. We offer a range of solutions including outright purchase (with great discounts), hire purchase, leases, contract hire, PCP’s and more.

Contact the team on 01332 290173 or us the contact form at the bottom of this page.

Latest Hybrid/Electric Short-Term Cars

Our MHEV‘s are also listed on the website, but as these are Mild Hybrid’s they will be under either Diesel or Petrol versions of the vehicle. Contact us for more information.

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