hybrid vehicle, plug-in hybrid, and EVs explained

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Shopping for a green vehicle? Let’s compare your three options: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric, so you can decide which is right for you.


A hybrid vehicle has two powertrains, one gasoline and one electric, which work together for maximum efficiency. In some situations, the engine can shut off entirely, relying solely on the battery. The battery is charged by capturing energy from the braking system or directly from the gas motor. Hybrids come in all shapes and size, and the most fuel efficient today can return almost 60 miles per gallon. It’s a great choice if you want to save on fuel without sacrificing range or lifestyle. There’s no electric charging to worry about. Just fill the hybrid with gas, and go.

Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV)
A plug-in hybrid, sometimes called a PHEV, is a step towards full electrification. PHEVs can go between 12 and 97 miles on electricity alone. Once the battery is drained, PHEVs operate like conventional hybrids and switch between gas and electric operation seamlessly.

Now, PHEVs do require some extra effort. To get the maximum EV range every time you drive, you’ll need to plug into a charger daily, but the beauty of the PHEV is its flexibility. For example, a Chevy Volt with fully-charged battery can travel 53 miles on electricity alone. That’s enough for most commutes. Add a full tank of gas, and the combined range extends to an impressive 420 miles. The PHEV’s best for people with short commutes who can take full advantage of the EV-only capabilities. Access to a charger in your home or workplace is essential to get the most out of a PHEV.

Electric Vehicle (EV)
Electric vehicles, or are true to their name. Fully electric with no gasoline engine even as a backup. Today’s have EPA-estimated ranges between 57 and 335 miles, with most falling somewhere around 100 miles. Highway driving, cold weather, and driving habits can all negatively impact an EV’s range in a dramatic fashion, and since you can’t just stop for gas, you need to plan your trips carefully.
Also, the EV driving experience is different from a traditional car. EVs offer a strong swell of power from a stop, something most drivers like. Let off, and the EV will begin harvesting energy to regenerate the battery charge. The braking effect from regeneration can be quite strong. It’s a little strange at first but a lot of fun once you get used to it.

EVs are best for urban drivers who have a short commute, access to a charger, and are comfortable planning a charging strategy ahead of time so they don’t run out of juice on the road. If you need to travel longer distances occasionally, you want to visit a site like PlugShare to locate public chargers near you.

With a little preparation, you can find the green that best fits your lifestyle, and remember, Autoblog’s Car Finder is always there to help. Happy hunting.



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