Discover The Difference Between Electric And Hybrid Cars
The choice of battery-powered cars is ever-increasing - even here at EMG, we’re home to a wealth of options when it comes to both electric and hybrid vehicles. But which one is which? With no end in sight to the electric revolution thanks to the climate crisis, it’s worth getting your head around the difference sooner rather than later…
What is an electric car?
Let’s start with knowing what we’re talking about. A purely electric vehicle (EV) is one that runs on battery power alone. This battery needs to be recharged via mains power, and therefore plugged in periodically at home or public charging points.
Pros and cons of an electric car
Zero carbon emissions
Installation of a home charging point is necessary for convenience, which comes with a cost
Cheaper to fuel (electricity is cheaper than petrol or diesel)
Inconvenient for those without off-road parking
Cheaper maintenance costs due to fewer mechanical parts
Limited range means that prior planning and research are required to find public charging points on long journeys
An electric car is lighter and quieter to drive
The initial purchase price can be higher than a hybrid
What is a hybrid car?
The definition of hybrid is a thing made by combining two different elements, so it figures that a hybrid is part battery power, part traditional combustion engine (a petrol or diesel engine, basically). To maximise fuel efficiency, the car can switch between battery power and fuel in order to move forward. Within the category of hybrid, there are two variations…
Full hybrids can use battery power to make the fuel go further, and the battery recharges through regenerative braking. That means excess energy produced when braking goes towards recharging the battery while the combustion engine is being used.
The distances that they can cover on battery power alone are small but environmentally friendly during short, stop-start journeys. The range when the combustion engine gets involved is the same as a regular petrol or diesel engine though, so it really is the best of both worlds.
Pros and cons of a full hybrid:
With electrical assistance, the car gets a helping hand to accelerate, which means more MPG.
The faster you go, the less electrical assistance you’ll need, so the MPG ratio lowers.
Generally less expensive to buy than fully electric cars
Full hybrids can still be expensive to buy
While the battery is operating alone, its electricity is still generated by petrol or diesel, so an amount of fuel is still essentially being used.
No need to charge overnight
A mild hybrid operates in the same way as a full hybrid, but the only difference is that it cannot run on battery power alone. The battery simply makes the fuel go further and reduce emissions - perfect for the planet, and for your pocket.
Pros and cons of a mild hybrid:
Generally cheaper to buy than full or plug-in hybrids
Higher carbon emissions than full or plug-in hybrid
No plug-in required
No pure electric range
Some fuel efficiency offered
Lower fuel efficiency than full or plug-in hybrid
Lower emissions than pure petrol or diesel cars
A plug-in hybrid (commonly referred to as a PHEV) comes with a bigger battery alongside the combustion engine, allowing the car to be driven for a comparably longer journey purely on the power of the battery. With this bigger battery comes the necessity for it to be powered by something a little more than regenerative braking, so, as the name suggests, the battery does need to be recharged via the mains.
Pros and cons of a plug-in hybrid:
Greater pure electric range thanks to bigger battery
Requires visits to public charging stations, or the expense of getting one installed at home
Inconvenient for those without off-road parking that want to charge at home
Lower fuel costs
Lower fuel efficiency when using petrol due to the weight of the battery
Higher reliability, as it can run on the battery, which has less to go wrong within it.
What should I choose - an electric or a hybrid?
What you go for really does depend on the following:
Where you live
If you’re without off-road parking, plugging a car in to charge might prove a little tricky. A mild or fully hybrid vehicle might be your best bet, unless you know you’ll be able to regularly and reliably use a public
The journeys you do
If you do shorter, around-town journeys, a vehicle with the ability to operate purely on electricity, at least some of the time, will be a kinder option for your bank balance as well as your carbon emissions. This would strike off a mild hybrid from your shopping list, but if you do longer journeys, you may find the lack of ‘range anxiety’ (that’s the fear that you may run out of battery before finding a charging point) that a mild hybrid would bring a more reassuring prospect.
Generally speaking, electric vehicles are cheaper to run, but more expensive to buy when compared to hybrids, so you need to weigh up your options. If your budget is small when it comes to the initial purchase price, and you’re just dipping your toe into battery-powered motoring, a hybrid would be a great start. If you love the idea of lower monthly running costs in the long term, though, then you might want to get EV shopping…
Find electric vehicles and hybrids at EMG
With a great many new and used cars here at EMG, we have a healthy selection of battery-powered options available on our East Anglia forecourts. Whatever type of EV works for your lifestyle, we’re sure to help you find the right one for you.
Find hybrids and electric vehicles amongst our new cars, or browse our used models today.