Electric Vehicle Questions

To drive your ambition, you need to understand your options.
It’s why we’re answering questions about electric vehicles, gas vehicles and everything in between. We’ll lay out cost comparisons, charging logistics and rebates, so you can choose the best vehicle for you.

Selecting | Charging | Costs | Comparison | FAQs

But first, acronyms

Let’s get clear on the terminology.


ICE stands for Internal Combustion Engine. ICE refers to the engine that powers the vehicle, rather than the vehicle itself. These are the gas cars you have known and loved for decades.

BEV (or EV, for short)

BEV stands for Battery Electric Vehicle. These are the standard EVs you’re probably thinking of. They run on electricity only, so you have to plug them in. There’s no gas engine. Why add the ‘B’ to BEV? Because there are other kinds of electric vehicles.


MHEV stands for mild-hybrid, a vehicle that has a typical gas engine but also comes with a small electric battery to give a helping hand with fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. The MHEV’s electric battery kicks in when coming to a stop or pulling away, using the engine less.


FCV stands for Fuel Cell Vehicle. We won’t get into FCVs here, because they’re more rare. But for informational purposes, FCVs are powered by pure hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen mixes with oxygen from the air to produce the electricity that turns the wheels. It only emits water vapour.


PHEV stands for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle and there are two kinds available: Parallel and Extended Range. Parallel (like the Outlander PHEV) works just as its name describes, where the gas engine and the electric motor work side by side, independently from each other. It uses the electric motor first, for as long as it can, (usually from 24-68 km) and once that’s depleted, the gas engine kicks into gear to get you the rest of the way. To switch back to electric, just plug in and recharge. An Extended Range PHEV also uses electricity and gas, but it uses the gas to create electricity in order to power up the electric motor.


HEV stands for Hybrid Electric Vehicle. Similar to a PHEV, HEVs have a gasoline engine and an electric battery but it doesn’t need to be charged. That’s because it creates electric energy all on its own through regenerative braking. So when you’re idling or at a red light, it will cut the gas engine and power with electricity. HEVs are really great for fuel savings, without any change to your routine.

What about ZEVs?
ZEV stands for Zero-Emissions Vehicle; it’s a category – not one type of vehicle. The category includes any vehicle that can run without carbon emissions, including battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Regular hybrids do not count as ZEVs, since they run on gas (albeit efficiently).

Not a big reader?

Here’s a video that explains the differences between BEVs, PHEVs and Hybrids.

Which vehicle makes the most sense for you?

Your vehicle is about your drive, your goals and what’s important to you. It should fit your lifestyle. So ask yourself what you need. A daily commuter car? Kid shuttle? Weekend joy ride?

Factors like where you live, how you drive and how far you go really matter.

City Driving


With shorter distances, stop-and-go traffic and more charging stations, you may benefit from the efficiency of BEV, PHEV or HEV. Electric motors can handle city drives more efficiently than gas engines. If you’re driving a PHEV, it could be months before you ever need to fill up with gas.

Long Commutes & Road Trips


For highway speeds and long-distance drives, a gas engine offers better fuel efficiency and power, especially if you’re driving a hybrid or PHEV. You can get away with a BEV, depending on your route, but range anxiety is likely to sneak up on you.

City & Country


For a mix of short city drives and long-distance trips, a PHEV offers both efficiency and range. Gas vehicles and HEV can also handle long-distance drives, but the PHEV saves you a lot of money when most of your driving is gas free.

Rural & Remote


Charging infrastructure makes gas and hybrid vehicles the clear winners, here—at least for right now. The last thing anyone needs is to run out of battery on a country road. If you install a charger at home, PHEVs will add fuel savings. But if you live in a place where most destinations take an hour, a BEV would need careful planning.

Of course, there are other factors

Charging is a big one. If you are thinking about an EV, ask yourself questions like “Where do I typically drive and are there charging stations nearby?” “Do I have space and voltage capacity to install a home charger?” A home charger makes transitioning to a BEV much easier. That said, a PHEV doesn’t necessarily require one.
Let’s get into Charging


We don’t have to tell you that money matters, especially now, and especially with a big expense. The cost of EVs compared to ICE vehicles is complex, but not overwhelming. It basically comes down to up-front costs vs. long-term ownership costs, and where it makes sense to spend those dollars.

More on Costs

How each vehicle compares

​​From maximum driving range to maximum power, here’s an overview of how these EVs stack up.

*Depending on EV type, battery size, charging capacity, etc.


Which performs best in torque and acceleration.

★★★★ ★★★☆ ★★☆☆ ★★☆☆


Which is more cost effective for maintenance and repairs per mile (up to 100,000 miles) and lifetime*.

★★☆☆ ★☆☆☆

Carbon Emissions

Which vehicle is more eco efficient (fewer carbon emissions).

★★★★ ★★★☆ ★★☆☆ ★☆☆☆

Driving Range

Which takes you the farthest without needing to stop and refuel.

★☆☆☆ ★★★☆ ★★★★ ★★★☆

Have we piqued your curiosity?

If you want to learn more – and even test drive a range of electric vehicles – Plug’N Drive is a helpful, independent Canadian organization.
Traditional hybrids, like the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) typically do not have an all-electric mode. They primarily use a combination of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, where the electric motor assists the engine but does not usually operate independently for long distances.
Yes, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) can drive on electric power alone for a certain distance. Depending on the model, it typically ranges from 32 to 64 kilometres.
Canada is committed to decarbonization within the country’s transportation sector and becoming a global leader in zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). As part of this initiative, the Government of Canada has committed to achieve 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035 for all new light-duty vehicles. These targets have been incorporated into Canada’s Electric Vehicle Availability Standard, which was finalized in December 2023. The Government of Canada is also investing to make zero-emission vehicles more affordable and charging stations more accessible, which will also help support meeting these ambitious ZEV sales targets.
Good question. It matters how vehicles are made, how materials are mined, how grids are fuelled and how parts are recycled at the end of their usable life. According to studies from the European Commission – accounting for all variables – EVs are still markedly better than ICE vehicles for the environment. And as coal is phased out, the numbers will only improve. But let’s be clear: This fact does not absolve any industry or country of any human rights violations.