Understanding the differences between different types of electric and hybrid cars Leave a comment

Understanding the differences between different types of electric and hybrid cars

Electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids are becoming a common feature on the world’s roads, and their popularity has grown exponentially in recent years.


With growing demand comes a broader range of options, and manufacturers are latching on to this contemporary shift in consumer behaviour. In fact, as reported in this guide to the sustainability of electric cars, 74% of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) now have an electric vehicle plan.


Are you considering buying a car that doesn’t solely use petrol or diesel? If so, it’s important to understand the different types that are available and how they compare to each other. This post will give you a brief overview of the three main types of electric and hybrid cars: all-electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrids. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each type of car, so you can decide which is right for you.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV)

BEVs are probably the variation that you’re most familiar with. They are typically seen as the most environmentally friendly option, since they produce no carbon emissions when on the road. BEVs are powered by an electric motor, which uses rechargeable batteries, meaning there’s no need for an internal combustion engine (ICE) or fossil fuels, making it the inherently cleaner option compared to petrol or diesel cars.


Whilst significant steps have been taken to lower certain barriers to BEV takeup, there is still some uncertainty amongst drivers of traditional cars, meaning the technology can’t be considered a fix-all solution just yet. Some of the most prevalent barriers include range anxiety, concerns about public charging availability and the initial cost, which is typically much higher than a petrol/diesel equivalent.


Lower carbon footprint – zero emissions mean they’re the most environmentally friendly option


Fewer moving parts means less need for ongoing maintenance


Quieter and smoother driving experience




Hybrid (HEV)

For drivers who may be sceptical about switching to all-electric, hybrids can act as the perfect go-between. An ICE and an electric motor work alongside one another to power a HEV. They’ll be an ideal compromise for anyone who is reluctant about BEVs, since there are very few noticeable differences between driving a traditional automatic car and a hybrid.


The electric motor will be used to either provide the ICE with a little extra power when needed, or can be the sole source of power when travelling over shorter distances. Hybrids cannot be plugged in to charge the battery. Instead, regenerative braking technology and the running of the ICE is what provides power to the battery, meaning HEVs can be self-charging.




Will have better efficiency than traditional cars


Typically cheaper than all-electric models


Potential safety fears around higher voltage battery


Reduced power and potentially poorer handling


More complex components can make maintenance expensive

Plug-in hybrid (PHEV)

Just like standard hybrids, PHEVs have both a traditional petrol or diesel engine and an electric motor, which work in tandem to improve the car’s efficiency and overall performance. The key difference between the two is in the name – the battery in a PHEV can be topped up through charging, so they typically use more electricity than a standard HEV.






No tailpipe emissions when driving using the batteries


There are typically more running costs than BEVs


Fuel economy isn’t great for long motorway journeys


Battery range will be lower than BEVs

To sum up

In summary, whilst BEVs are leading the sustainability charge in the automotive industry, they aren’t the only option for drivers looking for a contemporary upgrade on their traditional petrol/diesel motor. Depending on what you prioritise when it comes to your car, one option may better suit your preferences to another.


If the environment remains top of your list of priorities, then a BEV will be the best option for you. But if you are looking for a similar all-round driving experience to a traditional car, then consider a hybrid. A plug-in hybrid sits somewhere between these two extremes and, depending on the type of journeys you typically make, they may just be the type that ticks all of your boxes.


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