Electric Cars: The Basics!

As announced last week, today is the first of our series of blog posts bringing you the inside scoop on electric cars, EVs or Electric Vehicles: what are they like to drive, what are the costs associated with owning one, how practical is it to be an EV owner and all of the other questions you’ve always wanted to know the answers to!

To get the answers to these questions, we’ve spoken to Professor Phil Blythe, Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems and Director of the Transport Operations Research Group (TORG) and other members of his team and asked them to give us the low-down with the benefit of their expertise.

This week we’re starting with a shorter post covering just a couple of questions on some of the basics, and looking at what an electric vehicle is, what a hybrid is, and what the difference is between these and other vehicles you may own or have owned in the past.

Check back next week, or sign up for automatic updates using the ‘Follow Blog Via Email’ link on the right of this page, when we’ll be bringing you a fuller post with answers to a range of questions on the costs of electric car purchase and ownership.

And don’t forget, it’s not to late to add your questions to our list. If you think there’s anything we haven’t covered, add your comments at the bottom of the page, and we’ll try, as far as possible, to get answers for you.


Dr Sarah Sweeney, Theme Administrator, NIReS: Thanks for taking the time to sit with us and answer these questions, Phil. We’d like to start off with a couple of fairly generic questions about the vehicles themselves. One of the most basic questions that I think a lot of people are curious about is simply ‘what is the difference between a hybrid and an electric vehicle?’

Professor Phil Blythe: Put quite simply, hybrid cars use an electric motor and a traditional petrol engine, with the electric motor supplementing the propulsion of the petrol engine. With both power sources working together, the hybrid runs more efficiently and gets more miles per gallon than a traditional petrol car. In contrast, an electric car is powered solely by an electric motor.

Sarah: OK, great, thanks, that really helps.  So are electric cars automatic or manual?

Phil: Most new electric cars developed by the major manufacturers are automatic; however, hobbyists can convert manual transmission cars to run on electricity and there are small, specialist manufacturers who do produce manual electric cars. These can have greater performance and efficiency, using higher performance batteries, but have a much shorter range than automatic transmission electric cars (30 miles as compared to 80-90 miles).

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1 Response to Electric Cars: The Basics!

  1. Pingback: Electric Cars: The Basics! | Sustainability@Newcastle | Car Charging

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