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.
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 hybrid and electric 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.