We often hear about different models of electric or hybrid cars, but they are not the same thing. The basic difference between the two is that an electric car runs exclusively on electric energy stored in a battery, while a hybrid car runs on a combination of electricity and conventional fuel.
What is a hybrid electric car?
Hybrid electric vehicles are powered by an internal combustion engine combined with one or more electric motors that use energy stored in batteries. Mild hybrids—also called micro hybrids—use a battery and an electric motor to help power the vehicle and allow the engine to shut off when the vehicle stops (such as at traffic lights or in stop-and-go traffic), improving fuel economy.
What is an electric car?
Electric cars run on electricity instead of gasoline, and are also known as "electric vehicles" (EVs). That means they emit no tailpipe pollution or greenhouse gas emissions and tend to be quieter and smoother than other vehicles. Most electric cars have batteries that have to be recharged from an outside source of electricity.
Electric cars are quieter, have no exhaust emissions, and have lower emissions overall. Notably, some countries have legislated to phase out sales of fossil fuel cars.
Is a hybrid car an electric car?
Fully electric vehicles (so-called Battery Electric Vehicles, or BEVs) have an electrochemical storage system (a battery) as the only on-board energy storage system. One or more electric motors generate mechanical power, with energy recovered from braking. The batteries can be charged from the electricity grid.
Hybrid cars have batteries, but they are also equipped with combustion engines that run on gas.
Different models of electric and hybrid cars
Hybrids come in two versions: chargeable and conventional. Chargeable hybrid cars, also known as Plug-in Electric Vehicles or PHEVs, have a battery that can be charged from the grid, and a conventional gas engine with a fuel tank. The combustion engine and the electric motor provide mechanical power, and energy is recovered from braking.
Conventional hybrid cars (so-called Full Hybrids) have a battery that cannot be charged from the grid, as well as a conventional gas engine with a fuel tank. The combustion engine and the electric motor provide mechanical power, and energy is recovered from braking.
The advantages of an electric car are manifold. In Italy, these range from dedicated free parking spaces to access to restricted traffic zones, from national and local incentives and subsidies to road tax exemptions and reduced insurance premiums.
There are three types of electric cars: pure electric cars, plug-in hybrid electric cars and range-extended electric cars.
An all-electric car is propelled by an electric motor, using energy stored in rechargeable batteries.
Plug-in hybrid electric cars are electric vehicles that can be charged from mains electricity and an internal, rechargeable battery. This means that they can be charged at a charging station, using a mains adapter, or from a standard power socket at home. The battery pack is recharged using a mains plug. The battery power is used for higher speeds and longer distances.
Range-extended electric cars are electric cars with bigger batteries that can be charged from an external source, so you can charge your electric car at home while you sleep, at work during the day or at a public charging station.
What is a plug in hybrid car?
Electric vehicles use electricity from the grid, rather than fossil fuels such as gasoline or diesel, to power their engines.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) use batteries to power an electric motor and another fuel, such as gasoline or diesel, to power an internal combustion engine or another propulsion source.
Fueling and driving options
PHEV batteries can be charged by an outside electric power source, an internal combustion engine, or regenerative braking.
What is the difference between plug-in hybrid and regular hybrid?
Plug-in hybrids use traditional petrol or diesel engines, but the battery can be charged from an external source such as the mains and run on battery power alone for a limited distance.