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What Is the Difference Between BEV and FCEV? Explained

Electric vehicles are growing in popularity, but there are different types of electric vehicles. You may be wondering what the differences are between them, specifically BEVs (battery electric vehicles) and FCEVs (fuel cell electric vehicles). 

BEVs are battery-operated vehicles best used for short drives, usually in cities. They charge with a power source like any other battery. FCEVs are fuel-cell-powered vehicles that can go longer distances, making them a great electric vehicle for highway driving. They store energy in fuel cells. 

This article will explain the two types of electric vehicles and how they compare. We also have some statistics to compare the two cars and some resources like books and videos you can use to learn more about BEVs and FCEVs. 

What Is a BEV?

First, let’s look at what BEVs or battery-operated vehicles are. These are the most common electric vehicles, and when you hear someone talk about an electric vehicle, they’re usually talking about a BEV. 

BEVs are battery-operated electric vehicles. All the energy in a BEV is stored in a battery within the car, and when the battery is low, you need to charge it at a charging station just as you would with a cell phone or laptop. They’re best for city driving or short-range trips.

BEVs don’t release any emissions or exhaust into the air. However, using energy when charging these cars can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, as with anything that uses non-renewable energy.

On a somewhat similar note, I also wrote a similar article where I explained the differences between PHEV and BEV. I went into some detail. Have a look and let me know what you think!

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BEVs are best for city driving because they do not have too high of a fuel range. They’ll drive for less than three hundred miles before they need to be charged again. Plus, it’s easier to find an EV charger in a city than off of a highway. 

Furthermore, the range of the car’s battery decreases when there is extreme weather like freezing or high temperatures. The higher energy use is because more energy from the battery is used to control the car’s internal temperature, which means less energy to fuel the car.

The decrease in energy capacity can be as high as forty percent in the most extreme temperatures.

What Is an FCEV?

The second kind of electric vehicle that we’re going to look at is FCEV, an electric vehicle that is powered by a fuel cell instead of just a battery. 

FCEVs are fuel cell electric vehicles. These cars run on hydrogen stored in a tank. A fuel cell converts the hydrogen into electricity, allowing the car to run. 

There are quite a few benefits of FCEVs compared to other cars. First, no harmful emissions are being emitted from a tailpipe because of the internal energy process.

Another benefit of FCEVs is they help the United States economy since the resources needed to produce hydrogen can all be found in the country. And, not only does this help the economy, but it provides energy security to the country. 

Furthermore, FCEVs have some cool features. They have a braking system that takes the excess energy used while braking and stores it back in a battery for later use. You can find FCEVs from some of the biggest, most reliable car makers globally, including Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai. 

However, the number of FCEVs in production is limited. They’re expensive to manufacture compared to other types of vehicles, both electric and gas-powered since the most expensive part of the car is the fuel cell itself. So, manufacturers and the United States government are working to decrease the cost before producing more FCEVs. 

This YouTube video from Volvo Group Videos explains more about FCEVs and hydrogen as an energy source:

Are Battery or Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles Better?

Now that we know what BEVs and FCEVs are, let’s compare them and see which one is better. Both types of electric vehicles have their merits, but one is generally superior to the other. 

FCEVs are better than BEVs. They have a longer range and a cheaper energy source. FCEVs are also lighter than BEVs. The only major downside to FCEVs is that they’re not as widely produced as BEVs.

One perk of FCEVs is their lightweight. No matter how far the range of an FCEV is, the battery size and weight does not change. However, as the distance increases for a BEV, the battery needs to be larger to store more energy, and therefore the car and battery are heavier. 

BEVs tend to be more expensive than other electric vehicles, including FCEVs, but you can usually recover the cost of the vehicles in other ways. Federal and state governments sometimes offer tax credits or incentives for electric vehicle owners. And, it’s cheaper to fuel electric vehicles, so your upfront cost is more, but after that, you pay less to use your car. 

While FCEVs are better than BEVs, it’s important to remember that BEVs are still good. Neither BEVs nor FCEVs release emissions into the air. More EVs on the road means a bigger benefit to the environment.

And, while they’re more expensive than standard gas cars, EVs will cost you less to fuel your car compared to standard cars, which offsets the higher cost over time and can even save you money in the long run. 

As you’ll see in the table below, there are quite a few differences between BEVs and FCEVs. While they’re both better for the environment than standard gas-powered vehicles, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. You need to decide which electric vehicle is best for you and your driving standards.

BEVsFCEVs
DistanceUnder three hundred miles (-482.8 km)Over three hundred miles (+482.8 km)
Fuel TimeEight hoursLess than four minutes
Energy typeBatteryFuel cell
Excess cost compared to a gas-powered car (in 2030)$10,000+$3,500+
Table showing the differences in Fuel Time, Energy Type and Excess Cost between BEVs and FCEVs

Electric Vehicles vs. Gas Vehicles Savings Comparison 

Now that we’ve compared two types of electric vehicles, let’s look at how electric vehicles, whether a BEV, FCEV, or another type compare to gas-powered vehicles. While gas-powered cars are cheaper than electric cars, there are a lot of savings and benefits for electric vehicle owners after the initial cost. 

Switching to an EV can save your household as much as a thousand dollars a year in fuel expenses. EVs also require less maintenance than traditional cars, so you’d save yourself money on those expenses, too.

According to the EPA, if every household with multiple cars in the United States switched just one of their cars to an electric car, the fuel cost savings would be as high as $72 billion per year.

The average household would save between $500 and $1000 per year on fuel costs. Plus, there are lower maintenance costs for electric cars that would add even more to the savings. 

Furthermore, if multi-car households made the switch, over three hundred billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions would be removed. These amounts exclude homes with only one car. If they also switched to electric cars, the savings would be even higher. 

Finally, if you’re worried about the range of EVs, 96% of cars travel less than the average EV range per day, so very few people would have to worry about their EV range during their daily commute. Clearly, making the switch to an EV, whether it’s a BEV or an FCEV, is worth it.

Learn More About Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly common. Whether you’re looking to buy or upgrade one or just want to understand them in general, you should learn more about them using the resources we have compiled in this section:

  • Hybrid & Electric Vehicles: A Beginner’s Guide: This book from Amazon.com is the perfect introduction to electric vehicles and how to choose a great electric car for your lifestyle. The book is written in easy-to-understand language and explains why an electric vehicle may be great for your lifestyle and the detriments of owning one. 
  • Practical Guide to Electric Vehicle Charging at Home: This book from Amazon.com, a beginner’s guide is great for anyone new to electric vehicles as it answers common questions you may have about electric vehicles. You’ll learn about charging your electric vehicle at home, the costs of owning an electric vehicle, and how you can save money with electric vehicle tax credits. 
  • Modern Electric, Hybrid Electric, and Fuel Cell Vehicles: This final book from Amazon.com is great if you want to learn about the technical side of electric cars. The textbook-style book will teach you the fundamentals and design methods of electric cars and each aspect of them. There are problems, solutions, and examples to help you dive deeper into electric cars and how they’re created. 
  • This video from Physics Girl explains the difference between hydrogen and battery electric-powered cars:
  • Finally, this video from EV Duniya on YouTube explains the five different types of electric vehicles, including BEVs and FCEVs:

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Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

Thanks for visiting evspeedy.com. The goal of this site is to be a helpful resource for Tesla and EV owners as this is where my passion lies. I was a TSLA shareholder before the hype and still am. I also believe in Tesla’s speedy mission to accelerate the world to a sustainable future.