Hybrid or Electric Cars: Which is Right For Me?

Ever since Tesla released its first electric car in 2008 with the launch of the Electric Roadster, the battle of which  hybrid or electric cars are better has only gotten stronger in recent years as both electric and hybrid vehicles gain more and more popularity. 

The availability and production of hybrid and electric cars has significantly increased over recent years. Certain states in the U.S. have even legislated the prohibition of selling gas powered cars by 2035. This recent legislation was passed in an attempt to increase the environmental benefits that hybrid or electric cars promise with less gas guzzlers on the road. 

Now, you might be unaffected by these laws, but maybe you still want to do your part by decreasing your carbon footprint. If that’s you, then you might find yourself looking into giving up your gas powered vehicle for a new hybrid or electric car. And with so many new brands and different types of vehicles powered by either gasoline, electricity, or a mixture of both available on the market, you might be facing roadblocks in deciding which one is right for you.

So, let’s take a closer look at the key differences between standard and plug-in hybrid cars (Yes, there’s different types of hybrid models too!). We will then learn more about the key differences between hybrid and electric cars. 

The differences between all types of hybrid or electric cars mainly stem from how the electric battery is used and how you can recharge the electric battery. There are also different parts and repair services that typically come along with each type.

It’s important that you understand the differences as you research which brand and type of vehicle you’re about to purchase. Since a certain type of hybrid or electric car might be the best one for you out of the other options based on how much you drive or your budget, it’s critical to decide which hybrid or electric car that may be. 

At the end of the day, your purchase of a new car is the second largest purchase you will make in your life. You want to be as informed as possible of the various benefits and potential risks that arise with not only owning but also maintaining either a hybrid or electric car.

Hybrid Cars: Plug-in or Plug-out? 

There are 3 types of hybrid vehicles available that primarily differ based on how they charge and how their battery distributes the electricity across the engine. The 2 different types of standard hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are mild and full. The  third type is called the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). 

HEVs: Mild vs. Full

Looking at the differences between mild and full HEVs, the key distinction emerges from how they each allot their electricity and distribute their power reserves across their internal systems.

The primary difference between a mild and full hybrid lies in how the hybrid drivetrain works together. How the electric and internal combustion engine(ICE) work together. . 

A mild HEV uses the electric power to provide an assist to the internal combustion engine. The electric power is never used to power the vehicle all on its own. It always requires the internal combustion engine to work with the hybrid drivetrain. 

On the other hand, a full HEV will allow the vehicle to work the same as electric cars at slow speeds or until the battery is discharged. The gasoline engine will kick in at high speeds or when the battery is depleted. 

It can either work together or separately to provide the vehicle with more power or fully electric power when available.  

HEVs vs. PHEVs

Now, let’s take the full HEVs for comparison between HEVs and PHEVs, since they are very similar.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid or the Ford Explorer Hybrid are standard examples of PHEVs. The Hyundai Tucson TGDi 230 Hybrid and the Toyota Yaris Cross 1.5 Hybrid are classic examples of HEVs. 

There are some major differences between HEVs and PHEVs that you should be aware of:


In pricing, the rule of thumb goes, “the more fuel efficient, the more expensive.” So PHEVs will typically cost more than a HEV. Mostly due to its larger battery which is more costly to produce and install on the vehicle. But you might see the return on investment from how much you save from the increased fuel economy. 

Electric Battery Purposes

In HEVs, the electric battery is only used from time to time, as explained earlier. But for PHEVS, the electric battery maintains the primary power source for the driving mechanism entirely until the battery is depleted.  

Recharging Methods

All hybrids come with a special feature called regenerative braking, and PHEVs are also able to put charge back in the battery from this source. 

Regenerative braking works to assist in slowing down the vehicle and recharges the electric battery as it slows the vehicle. This feature is essentially what classifies hybrid vehicles as electric cars. 

Regenerative braking works differently in all hybrid and electric cars. Some models of regenerative braking in hybrids will slow down the car initially. Other regenerative braking systems will activate once you take your foot off the accelerator.  

But with a larger battery that this model relies on more heavily, and as the name implies, PHEVs need to be plugged into an external power source to fully recharge and provide that fully electric driving experience.

HEVs also have the ability to recharge via regenerative braking as well. This is something that all hybrids and electric vehicles share. Normally when stopping a vehicle the energy is wasted during the braking process. 

Regenerative braking allows this energy to be captured and stored back in the battery. This can then be used later to propel the vehicle forward, providing better efficiency. 

Hybrid VS. EV— The Final Showdown!

Now, understanding the differences between HEVs and electric vehicles (EV) will help to choose whether hybrid or electric cars are best for you! It can be tricky, since both seem to market their fuel-efficient benefits and a reduced carbon footprint making your decision even harder. 

Some standard EVs include the Chevrolet Bolt and the Nissan Leaf. Certain luxury brands, like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and, of course, Tesla, also have EV models under their brands and are in the process of manufacturing more to release on to the market! Over 200 EV brands are expected to enter the EV space in the next few years, so expect to see a lot of new, incoming electric vehicle models from brands you haven’t even heard of yet! 

We’re going to use the plug-in hybrid when comparing hybrids to EVs. Since PHEVs mark the midpoint between hybrid cars and fully battery powered electric vehicles (BEVs). 

Is It A Hybrid Or Electric Car?

There are some key differences between HEVs and BEVs to think about when looking for your next fuel efficient vehicle. 


In terms of price, hybrid vehicles act as the midpoint in between gas powered cars and electric cars, with regular hybrid vehicles cheaper than the fully electric vehicles that are available. 

BEVs remain the most expensive type of vehicle to purchase on the market currently. Getting insured for an EV is also more costly than insurance for HEVs or gas powered vehicles. Studies show that insurance for an EV costs around $400 more per year than insurance for a conventional vehicle. 

Battery Usage

BEVs run entirely on electric battery power and at no point require gasoline. BEV owners can recharge their vehicles at home or at public charging stations.

Stations like Tesla’s are slowly spreading across North America. But HEVs will use its electric battery only for driving shorter distances, and once the battery power depletes, the gas engine takes over allowing you to have a much longer range. 

Recharging Methods

HEVs offer you the most choices when looking to recharge. You have the usual thousands of gas stations to choose from to refuel at, or you can plug-in your electric battery to recharge at home! 

For BEVs, a downside is how recharging methods are partially limited. Most EV owners charge their cars’ batteries overnight at home, since it does take a long time to fully recharge these cars. 

You can now find charging stations for BEVs, as they’re becoming more popular, but the amount of gas stations still immensely outnumbers the current amount of EV charging stations available. 

There’s even different levels of chargers, like Level 1 and Level 2, which charge your electric vehicle at different speeds. An electric battery for a BEV will take 12-15 hours to completely recharge from empty with only a level 1 charger. But take a Level 2 charger, for example, and your BEV battery can be fully recharged in 3-5 hours. 

Battery Capacity And Range

A downside for the hybrid vehicles is how the battery capacity offers a shortened range and is designed to only cover short distances. Typically this range is only around 30 miles for most current plug-in hybrid vehicles that are available.

For HEVs, your battery should last you about 100,000 miles. If you take exceptional care of your batteries though many people have seen their packs last longer than 200,000 miles. 

For BEVs, the battery provides 200,000 miles as well if no problems are found. Some companies, like Tesla, are in the works of manufacturing a million-mile 

battery for their EVs! 

Typical Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance and repairs, HEVs will typically need more maintenance than an EV. After all the maintenance needed for hybrids are the same standard maintenance items needed for a gas engine car. 

BEVs retain the lowest maintenance cost out of the three, since most of the parts that require periodic service in gas powered cars are not included in EVs. 

Hybrid VS EV—And The Winner Is…

Ultimately, when choosing whether a hybrid or electric car is your next vehicle, don’t forget to take into account personal factors.

Things such as how much you typically drive per day, how much you’re willing to invest, are only a few of the important things to consider.

At least now you know the differences between HEVs and PHEVs, and the differences between HEVs and EVs, so this should make your future new car purchases a breeze!

Rose Yoo
Rose Yoo
Rose Yoo is a freelance writer that specializes in bringing brand stories to life. She does this with her unique and effective approach to social media marketing and copywriting. You can learn more about her at www.roseyoo.com

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