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Plug-In Hybrids vs. EVs: Everything You Need to Know

plug in hybrid vs ev phev meaning difference between hybrid electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle ev vs hybrid vs plug in

It’s never been easier to buy an electric car. Even major automakers like Ford, which famously abandoned car production in 2018, are slowly shifting focus to EV production, and electric vehicle- and plug-in vehicle-only manufacturers are thriving. In today’s EV market, the problem isn’t finding one, but finding the right one.

Finding the right EV for you means understanding the difference between two of the leading options: plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs, or just plain EVs). Both are a great way to get into greener transportation, but each offers enough unique selling points that it pays to get to grips with them. Here’s what you should know.

Hybrids, Plug-In Hybrids, and BEVs Explained

First, let’s define what we mean when we talk about “green” vehicles. Hybrids are so called because they contain both an internal combustion engine (ICE), an electric motor, and batteries for both.

The difference between hybrid electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles is that the electric batteries on hybrids can only be replenished by technologies like regenerative braking. PHEVs, on the other hand, can recharge while on the move and by plugging them into a dedicated charging port. That means you can complete short journeys on battery power alone, whereas hybrids can’t be safely run without gas in the tank.

All-electric cars, also called battery electric vehicles or simply EVs, dispense with the ICE altogether, containing just an electric motor and a battery pack to power it. It must be plugged in at home or at any of the growing number of public charging stations across the country when the battery is low.

Plug-In Hybrids: the Basics

Since PHEVs come with a larger battery pack than hybrids, they can complete more journeys on electric power alone, typically offering a range of 20 to 40 miles. Even if you don’t drive on battery power alone, you can still achieve fuel efficiency comparable to a hybrid by using the regenerative braking systems these cars come with.

Plus, since the battery pack is so small compared to fully electric cars, you can recharge it using Level 1 charging, or simply plug it into a standard residential electrical outlet with an adapter.

Pros:

  • More affordable than BEVs
  • Lower fuel costs overall
  • Option to use ICE as backup
  • Can be used for all-electric short-range trips

Cons:

  • Require frequent recharging to make use of electric motor
  • Typically, more costly to purchase and run than conventional and hybrid vehicles

EVs: the Basics

Fully electric vehicles are the pinnacle of green personal transportation, offering zero emissions as well as ranges of anywhere from 250 to 500 miles on a single charge, depending on the model. While that isn’t as much as you’d get with a conventional car, EV makers are continually implementing new battery technology to bring the range up, and new public charging stations are coming online nationwide every day.

The biggest drawback of an EV is the price tag — EVs typically cost around $10,000 more than ICE cars. However, the tradeoff comes in the form of much lower lifetime fuel costs (zero), lower operating and maintenance costs, and often federal and state-level tax incentives to offset the original price.

Plus, with more and more EVs sold every year, the average price of an electric car is dropping all the time. While it remains to be seen how factors like the Inflation Reduction Act, EV makers’ price wars, and ex-fleet EVs entering the market will affect average used EV prices, it could soon make as much financial sense to purchase a used EV as a conventional car.

Pros:

  • No tailpipe emissions
  • More financial and tax incentives for buyers
  • Lower lifetime operating and maintenance costs
  • Quieter and smoother than hybrids or ICE vehicles

Cons:

  • Higher initial costs
  • Difficulty finding charging points on long-range trips

EVs vs. Hybrids vs. Plug-In Hybrids: Which One is Right for You?

If you’re looking for a greener mode of transportation, hybrids, PHEVs, and EVs are all great options. For most drivers, the biggest determining factor is cost.

Hybrids are by far the cheapest option, and they can be a great way to start shrinking your environmental footprint. However, while they’re much more efficient, you’ll still have to pay for fuel and maintenance just as you would with conventional gas-burning cars.

PHEVs are often seen as an easy entry point into electric cars since they combine some of the best features of both hybrids and BEVs. While they tend to come with a slightly bigger price tag than hybrids, they typically cost less than EVs and can offer similar savings when you complete local trips using the electric motor.

And if you prefer the cleanest, quietest ride available, an all-electric vehicle is the way to go. What’s more, without ever having to stop for gas again and with generally less lifetime mechanical wear and tear, EVs are a great way to save money in the long run.Join the Charge! Sign up for our E-Newsletter and follow Evee Life on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news on EV technology.

By evee Life Contributor

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