Thinking about making the switch to a low-emission car? As more major car manufacturers are introducing hybrid and electric car models, it can be hard to know where to begin. To start your search for the ideal electric vehicle, it helps to first decide whether you’re more suited to a hybrid or fully electric car.
There are many benefits of owning an electric and hybrid vehicle. Electric vehicles are fully powered by electricity, whereas hybrid cars are powered by a combination of fuel and electricity.
But which is better, hybrid or electric? We’ve taken a look at the difference between hybrid cars vs electric cars, as well as the pros and cons to help you make your decision.
What is an EV (electric vehicle)?
A fully electric car is the term used to describe a car that is run solely on electric power, that instead of having a petrol or diesel engine, has an electric motor.
EVs can be charged by plugging the car into a socket and when running. There are many benefits of owning an electric car, for instance, they produce zero exhaust emissions. Lower costing EVs are completely exempt from road tax, as well as some congestion charges. This makes electric cars a highly cost-effective vehicle choice.
What is a hybrid vehicle?
A hybrid vehicle combines an electric motor and battery with a petrol or diesel engine. Hybrid cars aren’t as ‘green’ or environmentally friendly as fully electric vehicles, but they are still very low emission and produce much fewer emissions than standard petrol or diesel vehicles.
There are multiple types of hybrid vehicles. One of the most commonly known is the self-charging hybrid, also known as the parallel hybrid. With a parallel hybrid, the engine is still the main power source but the car wheels can be powered in three different ways: directly by the engine, by the electric motor alone or by both the engine and motor working together. These types of hybrids are ideal for stop-start city driving.
Plug-in hybrids have a conventional engine and an electric battery. They can be plugged into electricity outputs to charge the battery as well as charging the battery on the move. This is an increasingly popular type of hybrid vehicle, with many leading manufacturers bringing out their version of plug-in hybrids in recent years. Plug-in hybrids have a larger battery than parallel hybrids so can drive for longer distances at higher speeds, which is why they are often used in larger vehicles.
Hybrid vs electric: which has better range?
Depending on the model, a fully electric car has a range of between 100-325 miles, which means if you’re planning on a longer journey, you’ll need to factor in charge time to get you to your destination – and locate a charge point if you don’t have one installed at home. For everyday use, and as the average car journey an individual in the UK makes sits at 20 miles, an electric car is a great choice for commuting and city driving.
Hybrids come with a large battery that can also be charged from a plug and are also ideal for shorter journeys like the everyday commute. When using a hybrid every day, it is likely you won’t need to use the petrol engine, however for longer journeys it means that the option of using petrol takes away the worry of running out of charge or finding a charging point en route.
Plug-in hybrid vehicles have a larger battery pack than standard hybrid vehicles, which offers a larger electric range than those, plus the addition of the petrol or diesel engine, so will really take you to where you need to be.
Although the range of fully electric vehicles is improving, as is the number of charging points across the UK, if you are concerned about range, or do a lot of long-distance driving, a plug-in hybrid may be a better option for you.
Hybrid cars vs electric cars: which takes longer to charge?
Like an electric car, the speed a hybrid car takes to charge is dependent on the size of the electric battery and the power outlet. If using a 3kW household plug, hybrid plug-ins vary between 5-6 hours to full charge, depending on the battery size and around 3 hours if using a 7.4kW wall charger.
This is very similar to the time it takes a fully electric car to charge which also depends on the vehicle and battery size. So, there isn’t much difference between the speed it takes to charge a hybrid vs electric.
Hybrid vs electric: which is better for the environment?
Electric cars emit zero exhaust emissions, so by default, a pure electric car is better for the environment than a hybrid car. The carbon intensity of electricity does affect how good an electric car is for the environment, however as the decarbonisation of our electricity supply improves, cars that use just electricity will be greener and more efficient in years to come.
Emissions of plug-in hybrids are also very low, but they are more efficient the more you charge them. Try to avoid using the petrol or diesel engine where possible and keep your battery topped up. Both parallel and plug-in hybrids are perfect for city driving and can easily last just on the electric battery for inner-city and everyday commutes. So aside from long-distance driving, and if you keep your battery topped up, you can easily get away with not using petrol or diesel and therefore omitting little to no emissions with a hybrid vehicle.
If you choose to regularly run a hybrid on petrol and diesel you can lose out on the cost and environmental benefits because hybrids are generally heavier than the conventional model they are based on, meaning they will omit higher levels of emissions.
Hybrid vs electric cars: which is more cost-effective?
Electric cars cost significantly less to run than conventional vehicles. Although you pay for your electricity, most EV chargers come with the function to charge during off-peak hours, so EV charging costs can be as little as £3 for a full charge.
As mentioned before, electric vehicles are also exempt from road tax and a lot of congestion charging zones meaning you’ll save money there too. However, electric cars do come with a significant upfront cost and the vehicles themselves, cost more to purchase or lease.
Hybrid vehicles are also very economical, with a reduction in how much petrol/diesel you use and the ability to charge plug-ins at home, this can save you a lot of money in the bank. Of course, in comparison to electric cars you have the addition of fuel costs.
Hybrids still cost more upfront than a conventional car, however depending on the model, they do generally cost slightly less than a fully electric vehicle, and you have the added bonus of not having to find somewhere to top the car up on a long-distance journey, thus not having to spend money while you stop and your car charges.
A plug-in hybrid could be argued to be more cost-effective than a parallel hybrid as they have a larger battery, meaning they can last longer on just the electric charge.
Both hybrid and electric cars come with cost incentives from the government such as reduced car tax and the EVHS for plug-ins and pure electric cars.
Hybrid cars vs electric cars: which has more choice?
As the government pushes for the car industry to become electric, and drivers’ appetite for electric and hybrid vehicles continues to grow, nearly all leading car manufacturers around the world have now put their hybrid or electric vehicles on the market.
With more manufacturers, and more models, we are spoilt for choice and you can more than likely find an EV or hybrid by your favourite car brand. The next step is choosing the best home EV charger to suit your stylish new vehicle.
There has been a massive increase in the choice of vehicles in the UK by brands including Nissan, Volkswagen, Volvo, Mini & Audi all expanding their offering to electric vehicles, hybrids and the largely popular plug-in hybrid.
It is difficult to say which manufacturer has more electric car or hybrid models, but we are certainly not short of choice for either type of vehicle.
What is better, hybrid or electric?
Both hybrid and electric cars that are on the market today offer intelligent and innovative transport solutions, with technology growing year on year to improve not only the way we drive, but the way we care for the environment. To summarise, we’ve put together the hybrid and electric car pros and cons:
Electric Car Pros:
- Zero exhaust emissions so great for the environment
- Easily charge at home, with no need to visit a petrol station before journeys
- Cheaper to fuel than conventional cars and hybrids when using fuels
- Eligible for money saving schemes and exemption from some tax and congestion charges
- With fewer mechanical parts, power can reach the tyres quicker making them quicker to drive than some conventional vehicles
- Quieter without the engine
- Large range of 190 miles on average
Electric Car Cons:
- Must factor in finding a charging point during long-distance journeys if you do not have a home charger
- Larger batteries mean they can take longer to charge than hybrids
- EVs can be more expensive upfront
- Still a lack of charging points across the UK, but home EV charger installation is becoming more accessible and advanced.
- Longer range than EVs
- Offers drivers the opportunity to benefit from low-cost electric power without having to rely on the UK’s charging network for long-distance
- Huge range of models
- Hybrids can generate their own energy source on the move
- Cheap to use in city driving
- Cost less upfront than EVs
- The battery isn’t used as much so could need replacing less
- Eligible for some money-saving schemes, grants and tax exemptions
- Still use fossil fuels so less environmentally friendly than EVs and adds to running costs
- The battery is heavier which adds weight to the vehicle, reducing the economical value
- Hybrids need to be charged more often than EVs
Learn more about the world of electric vehicles
For more top EV tips, guides and trending news topics, check out our news page. Or, ordered an EV or plug-in hybrid and looking for EV charger installation? Get in touch today or view the EV chargers we install to start powering your drive.