Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Compared

By Emma Williams
Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Compared

What's the difference between Electric and Hybrid Vehicles 

Primarily, the difference between a hybrid car and an electric car comes from its power source as would be expected. A hybrid car derives some of its power from a petrol or diesel engine as well as a battery whereas an electric car gets all of its power from electrical sources or a battery.

There are two types of hybrid vehicles, regular hybrids and plug-in hybrids. A regular hybrid has a diesel or petrol engine as well as an electric motor and battery. It is sometimes called a parallel hybrid or self-charging and a good example of this is the Toyota Prius. As the name suggests the electric motor is self-charging and acts as a back-up for the engine. You don’t need to charge these hybrids.

They are very economical for stop-start city driving as the regenerative braking boosts the batteries whenever they are used, but out of town, the fuel economy is not as good as the batteries are heavy and the electric motor quickly runs out.

The other type of hybrid is a plug-in hybrid and like its name implies it can be plugged into an electric outlet to recharge it’s batteries as well as charging on the move. It sits halfway between the fully electric car and the parallel hybrid and as such has a longer range than an electric car and works out very economical for short, urban journeys. However, fuel economy is poor on motorway runs and the batteries need to be recharged more than electric vehicles. They have to be plugged in to properly charge unlike a parallel hybrid.

An electric vehicle is a car that runs solely on electricity and produces no exhaust emissions. They are classified as zero-emissions running and they are very quiet to run and cheap to refuel. Electric vehicles with a list price below £40,000 are exempt from road tax and the London congestion charge.

Electric vehicles were made to have low running costs and low emissions and in both respects beat the hybrid vehicles. Electric vehicles can have a range of up to 325 miles which for most people would satisfy their driving needs. If however the range concerns you then may be a plug-in hybrid would suit you better. With electric vehicles however, the charging infrastructure is growing rapidly and with a bit of planning long journeys are fine. (The benefit of having the petrol or diesel engine in the hybrid to back up the electric motor is that it can cope better with long journeys and there is no need to worry about the charging infrastructure on route.)

So which is greener, the hybrid or the electric car? You can’t beat zero emissions which you get with the electric car but don’t forget that carbon is a by-product of drawing electricity from the grid - however decarbonisation of the electricity supply is improving all the time so these cars in effect will become cleaner and cleaner.

The more you charge your plug-in hybrid the lower the emissions are. If used on fuel all the time you obviously lose the cost benefits as well as increasing emissions. The battery packs in plug-ins are being designed bigger now to make their electric range longer. Look out for manufacturers like Ford, Peugeot and Vauxhall developing this functionality. Also premium models like BMW and Mercedes. Here at MWVC we have a good selection of plug-in hybrids, including a range of Mercedes on special offer at the moment like the Mercedes-Benz B class hatchback, starting at £312.54 per month (Inc. VAT). Take a look at our Green Car Special Offers page to see what we have on offer at the moment.

Pure electric vehicles are hard to beat for economy – no fuel costs and maybe even very low cost charging at home when your electricity tariff is at its cheapest.

Drivers of low emission vehicles also benefit from just 5% VAT on the electricity consumed and are able to avoid fuel duty when driving on electric too. Pure electric vehicles may be cheaper Company Cars than the hybrid going forward too as you can make better savings on Company car tax. You do have to bear in mind though that up-front costs of a pure electric car may be steeper.

When it comes to charging your electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, electric are the easiest, they can usually take higher rates of charge and many can be rapidly charged. Plug-in hybrids are slower.

How easy, then, is it to get your hands on a Green car? All the big manufacturers now have vehicles to offer and they are getting more and more attractive. They range from small cars to family cars and premium models and even vans. Take a look at our special offers, for example the Renault Zoe (a small electric vehicle) – starting at just £187.69 per month (Inc. VAT).

Electric and hybrid vehicles are more popular than ever and sales are increasing dramatically year on year. Rest assured that here at MW Vehicle Contracts we have you covered. We have a section of our website dedicated to Green Motoring and currently offer a wide range of electric and hybrid vehicles, many on special offer. Call our office today to speak to an account manager on 0116 2599548 or take a look at the Green section of our website and see what we have on offer…….The future is electric!