page title icon What is an Electric Car?

An electric car is a type of EV (electric vehicle).

EV is a generic term for a vehicle which runs using only electric power. So that includes electric cars, vans, trucks or lorries/semis.

All EVs have an energy source – a battery* – and an electric motor which provides the drivetrain. Electric cars are always auto (no manual or stick-shift gearbox) and they have different driving modes, depending on the make & model.

nissan leaf ev floorpan
Nissan Leaf floorpan showing battery pack in blue and the motor to the right. (c)Nissan

Living with an electric car is very similar to a petrol/gas or diesel car, except for the way you refuel it and the range. Instead of visiting a petrol/gas station you plug-in and charge the car at a public EV charging point or at home. Read more about charging here.

An electric car will also have other control systems, such as an on-board charger and battery management / cooling equipment. In most EVs the battery is located under the floor between the wheels.

*On some technical websites EVs are referred to as ‘BEVs’ – that is Battery Electric Vehicle. Some manufacturers (such as as Toyota) are developing cars with a hydrogen fuel cell as the energy source instead of a battery. These are in prototype development and aren’t yet available for sale.