Hybrid or electric: what is the difference?

There's no doubt we'll all be driving electric vehicles in the foreseeable future. What many drivers are still unsure about, however, is whether to go fully electric or park a hybrid car in their garage. But what exactly is the difference between a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicle? We break down the differences for you here.

Hybrid

A hybrid is powered by a combination of electric motor and internal combustion engine. It uses only the electric motor when accelerating and at speeds of up to 25 km/h, which makes it perfect for city driving. When driven faster, the internal combustion engine kicks in. Result: you use less petrol and enjoy better acceleration performance.

The system recovers energy through 'regenerative' braking. This means that the energy released when braking is recovered and used to recharge the battery while driving. This means you never have to plug in a hybrid.

Plug-in hybrid

The main difference between a conventional and a plug-in hybrid, also known as a PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), is that the latter has a much larger battery that needs to be charged in an outlet at home, at work or on the road. Think of it as a larger petrol tank that lets you drive much further on full electric power.

Plug-in hybrids therefore have a much longer electric range than ordinary hybrid cars. And when the electric range is all used up, the car simply switches to its traditional combustion engine.

Electric

A Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) is powered by a large battery that is connected to at least one electric motor. There is no petrol, gas or diesel involved.

Battery electric vehicles are becoming increasingly common and affordable thanks to rapid innovations by relatively new companies such as Tesla and established car manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen and Nissan.

What's more, the charging infrastructure and technology is developing and improving all the time, while the charging network has grown exponentially in recent years, especially in North America, Europe and China.

With lower costs, an influx of new makes and models, and waning range anxiety now that so many charging stations are springing up everywhere, it has never been easier or more attractive to go electric.

Last but not least, fully electric cars (with zero emissions) are among the greenest on the market. They're the perfect choice for eco-conscious drivers who often travel relatively short distances. And for those who think that electric is synonymous with boring, think again! The immediately available power and torque of an electric motor guarantee an exciting driving experience!

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