Is a hybrid or electric car right for me?

Published on
12 August 2021

For most of your driving life you’ve had two simple options; petrol or diesel.

Now, however, that choice has been expanded to include hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full electric cars. If you’re considering changing your car and confused by the new options, read on and we’ll explain the differences.

What is a hybrid car?

Although it may seem like new technology, the world’s most famous hybrid car, the Toyota Prius, went on mass market sale in 1997 making it 24 years old!

A hybrid car works by combining a traditional petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor and can be powered by either the engine, a combination of the engine and motor or just the motor on its own. Hybrid cars do this by storing energy in a battery which is then discharged when needed.

The battery is charged up as the car is driven along, or by harvesting the energy which is created as the car brakes or slows down.

This is why these cars are sometimes referred to as ‘self-charging hybrids’ as you don’t need to plug them in.

Although hybrid cars can drive on electric power alone, their full electric range is traditionally limited to one or two miles only, but overall economy is generally better than traditionally powered cars.

You may also have heard of a ‘mild-hybrid’ car. These cars tend to have a larger electric motor fitted to their engines which provide an additional boost of power under acceleration or when cruising but generally can’t power the car on their own unlike a full hybrid.

What is a plug-in hybrid?

A plug-in hybrid is very similar to a normal hybrid, but they have much larger batteries which can be charged up by plugging the car in.

This provides them with the ability to be able to drive extended distances on the battery alone. The range varies depending on the make and model of the car but is generally around 30 miles.

Once the battery has depleted, it then runs on its combustion engine like any traditionally powered petrol or diesel car.

You can charge it at home – you may need to get a charger installed – or at an electric car charging point.

What about a full electric car?

A fully electric car is often referred to as an EV. These cars have no internal combustion engine and rely solely on a battery for its power.

They are becoming more common on the UK’s roads with manufacturers like Volkswagen, Nissan, BMW and Mini all offering fully electric models.

In fact, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) at the end of July there had been 11,139 electric cars registered this year in the UK making up 9% of all new car registrations.

The range these cars can travel, and the charging times of the batteries vary depending on the make and model, however most can be charged up at home through a normal plug socket or via a specially fitted car charging station.

The main drawback of an EV has been the range you can drive before needing to charge up, but advancements in battery technology are improving this with each new model released.

If you’re contemplating a new car and would like to know how much it’ll cost, head over to our finance calculator today.

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