Hybrid v Electric what is the difference?

Much like MySpace, parachute pants and those guys who sang Who Let The Dogs Out? petrol-powered family cars will soon be relegated to that part of your brain where you store the stuff you never have to think about again.  

Although buying a car of the petrol-guzzling variety will eventually become something grandparents tell their wide-eyed grandkids about (UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to ban the sale of new combustion-engined vehicles by 2030 in his country, with plenty of other European nations following suit), they are still widely available.  

For anyone looking at buying a car that is a little more future focused - especially if you want to buy a family car that is more fuel efficient, or removes the necessity of fuel entirely - there are a few options on the market that will get you ready for the fossil-fuel-free future that awaits. 

Hybrid and Electric: the key differences  

Hybrid cars, like the Terminator or a winged unicorn, essentially offer the best of both worlds to form a multifunctional whole: a little bit from column A, a little bit from column B.  

Those looking at buying a car that dips one toe in the future and one in the present may be attracted to hybrid cars, which have both a combustion engine and an electric motor, with an attached but entirely internal rechargeable battery pack for electric-powered driving. 

Conventional hybrid cars, which are often seen as a popular option for those interested in family cars, uses a combustion engine and an electric motor (powered by electricity stored in an internal battery) to drive the vehicle. The electric motor is more efficient at producing torque and as such, is generally used to get the car moving. The combustion engine is more efficient when maintaining higher speeds and generally takes over once the car is moving. As a result, hybrid cars can provide better fuel economy in comparison to similar petrol-only variants, because they take advantage of the efficiencies of both motors. In certain conditions, they can briefly run in electric-only mode alone, briefly shutting off the internal-combustion engine and reducing its fuel use to zero, or they can work simultaneously to reduce the load on the petrol engine. There is no ability to plug in and charge a conventional hybrid vehicle. The battery is charged through regenerative braking or the combustion engine. 

Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) generally have larger battery packs than conventional hybrid vehicles and allow for the vehicle to be plugged in and charged, either at home or at a charging station. PHEVs allow for longer periods of electric-only driving in comparison to conventional hybrid vehicles while still allowing the vehicle to run on petrol, like an old-school combustion-engined car, for instances where the PHEV’s battery run entirely flat. Electric cars, on the other hand, – are powered exclusively by electricity. They do away with a traditional combustion engine entirely, swapping it for an electric motor(s) and a large battery pack that will need to be plugged in and charged, in much the same way a fuel tank needs filling.  

The benefit of hybrids 

There’s a lot of folk who like the idea of an electric car but are still a little worried about their vehicle running out of juice, or they might be intimidated by family cars that plug into something like some kind of giant kitchen appliance.  

Hybrid cars offer peace of mind in that they are more fuel efficient than comparable combustion-engine-only cars, but they also come with the long-distance reliability thanks to the ability to fill up at a petrol station.  

Subaru has two all-wheel-drive hybrid family cars on the market - the Forester SUV and the XV compact hybrid SUV - both offering economical fuel consumption in comparison to their petrol-only counterparts, great low-end performance and stellar driving efficiency for those looking at buying a hybrid SUV.  

They’re the perfect meeting point between style, form and functionality. 



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25 May 2021