Hybrid vs Electric: Whats the Difference?

Moving towards a greener society, many governments across the globe are offering incentives to go green when it comes to transport. In the past this entailed cycling, getting the bus or sharing a car to work. Since 2010, these discounts, offers and subsidies are geared more towards switching the fuel in your vehicle. Battery power has (excuse the pun) gone from strength to strength in the last ten years. With electric car sales now making up a much healthier proportion of the market, the day your vehicle no longer requires fossil fuels is looming. The halfway house for all this of course, is a hybrid. Hybrids have been on our roads for a couple of decades. There are several options on the path to a lower carbon footprint, some of which mean you don’t need to completely give up on petroleum just yet.

Hybrid -Electric

Firstly, a Hybrid still requires fuel. With batteries and a traditional combustion engine, the hybrid makes use of rotating wheels to charge the batteries. You may remember or have seen Dynamo lights on pushbikes, lights that were powered by your pedaling. This works on the same principle but on a much grander scale. This also means, you don’t ever need to plug it in. When the petrol engine is powering the vehicle, the batteries are charged directly from the rotation of the wheels, but also by regenerative breaking. Usually the kinetic energies produced by the rotation of the wheels and braking go to waste, but with a hybrid it’s converted to a DC current and sent to the batteries to charge them. The energy stored in the batteries is then used to power the vehicle at slower speeds, or give additional power to the engine, resulting in lower emissions and better fuel consumption. When driving a Hybrid, the switch between good old fossil fuels and clean green is seamless. All the information is displayed on the dash and you can really work them around the city to get the best out of a tank of fuel.

Plug-in Hybrid

Plug-in Hybrids run mainly on electric. Like the Hybrid-Electric they also have a petrol/diesel engine but that’s more of a back-up for if you run out of electricity. Plug-in Hybrids also make use of regenerative breaking and the motion of the wheels for recharging although the majority of their power is taken directly from the grid, when plugged in.


Electric cars take their electricity directly from the grid through charge points. Storing the energy they need in large batteries, they’ll take you from A to B producing zero in harmful emissions. There is no fossil fuel engine in an electric vehicle at all. Using 90% less moving parts than a combustion engine vehicle, electric vehicles feel much lighter to drive. Their range varies from model to model, but usually average at around 250km. When it comes to charging, around 8 hours should give you a full charge although many have staged charging options that you can set to suit the type of journey you wish to make and the time you have to sit idle. Electric vehicles run on average at about a third of the cost of a petrol/diesel engine. The maintenance costs are also much lower due to them having less moving parts. Top all that off with the environmental benefits and subsidies for doing so, and you can save a pretty penny, particularly if you drive for work or operate a fleet of vehicles.  
Juan Manuel
the authorJuan Manuel
Track racing, competing, it's in my blood. It's part of me, it's part of my life; I have been doing it all my life and it stands out above everything else.