How is a hybrid car different from an electric one?

We explain in detail the differences between electric cars, plug-in hybrids and non-plug-in hybrids. Learn about all the advantages they offer!

Today, most car manufacturers are incorporating more and more hybrid and electric vehicle models into their catalogues. The demand for this type of vehicle grows every year, and it is increasingly common to see them on our roads.

Even so, not everyone knows how these types of vehicles differ and what their main characteristics are.

Before we talk about the differences between hybrid and electric vehicles, let's briefly summarize how each of them works.

Hybrid cars

As its name suggests, hybrid vehicles base their operation on the use of two engines . One of the motors is powered by diesel or gasoline, while the second motor is electric and works thanks to a battery that stores energy.

These types of vehicles can alternate the use of the two engines depending on the situation. However, the most common is that the electric motor is used when the speed is low and we move through environments where the consumption of a normal motor is high (such as in the center of a city).

Logically, since it is not 100% electric, the autonomy of the electric motor is less than that of a conventional electric car. And it is that the objective in a hybrid car is that this second engine acts as a complement to the main one.

What types of hybrid cars are there?

Within the different types of hybrid cars, we find two main types: non-plug-in hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

  • Non- plug-in hybrid vehicles are those in which the battery has no way of recharging itself except through the operation of the combustion engine, as well as the energy generated by the car itself when moving.
  • On the other hand, plug- in hybrids are characterized by having a plug that connects them to the electrical network, which allows them to have greater autonomy as they are recharged 100% by electricity.

For example, the Mercedes A-Class Plug-in Hybrid EQPower has an electric range of up to 77 kilometers, making it ideal for moving around the city center without restrictions and without worrying about running out of battery. And what's better: it recharges in just 1 hour and 45 minutes.

In addition, it continues to have the freedom that a gasoline thermal engine provides for longer journeys. The electric motor can run at speeds of up to 130 km/h, and is capable of assisting the combustion engine for short periods of time, leading to fuel savings.

Electric cars

Electric cars are powered by an electric motor that runs on battery power. This battery is recharged by connecting the car to the electrical network in a similar way to plug-in hybrids. They do not burn any type of fuel, so they have zero emissions.

Another advantage is that they are quieter cars than those with a thermal engine (which is the one that turns on in hybrids at times of higher load).

In Spain, electric cars automatically obtain the Zero Label from the DGT , while plug-in hybrids must have at least a range of 40 kilometers to be able to wear this badge.

Main differences between hybrid and electric cars

Now that we know more about the different hybrid and electric cars that exist, we are going to delve into the administrative and operational differences.

Administrative differences

With the aim of reducing pollution , public administrations encourage the use of this type of vehicle, which is granted a series of advantages or exemptions .

For example, electric cars do not pay registration tax while hybrids depend on the emissions they make to be or not exempt from this tax.

Both types of vehicles have bonuses in the road tax , which depends on the different administrations, but in general, electric cars obtain higher bonuses.

In addition, as we have already anticipated, electric cars obtain the 0 Blue Environmental Label from the DGT and hybrids also if they exceed 40 kilometers of autonomy (which rules out non-plug-in hybrids). With this label, in addition to being able to circulate without restrictions in the center of cities, in many cases parking on public roads is also discounted.

Performance Differences

Along with the administrative advantages that we have mentioned, it is also worth dwelling on the differences in operation between electric and hybrid cars. Broadly speaking, they have to do with the engine, maintenance, noise, battery and autonomy:

  • Motor : 100% electric models only use one motor, while hybrid vehicles combine the use of both (both together and separately).
  • Maintenance : an electric car does not need filters or oil for the engine. In addition, it lacks some common parts such as the timing belt, exhaust system, clutch, etc... Hybrid cars do require these types of parts, so they require more maintenance.
  • Noise : as electric cars do not have a combustion engine they are always silent, while hybrids will only be heard when they are not running in 100% electric mode (by turning on the thermal engine at times of highest load).
  • Battery and autonomy : the batteries of hybrids are smaller, so their autonomy ends up being less than that of 100% electric cars. On the other hand, the total autonomy of hybrid cars (resulting from combining their combustion engine and their electric motor) means that they can travel longer distances without having to recharge the battery or fill the fuel tank.