Hybrid Cars Vs Pure Electric Cars: The Differences

July 3, 2014

So if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve run into a bit of confusion regarding the various eco-friendly vehicle types that have recently begun appearing on the market. Hybrid cars have been around for a while now, with Toyota enjoying a favourable amount of success with the Prius. However, a new type of purely electrically driven vehicles is starting to appear and gain ever more popularity. The differences may not be obviously apparent and there is various confusion over the way in which each one performs. So, over the next few paragraphs I’ve put a quick guide together that I hope will help you better choose your next eco-friendly vehicle.

In Comparison: Pro’s and Con’s
When a vehicle is dubbed ‘Hybrid’, it is typically called so because it utilises more than one type of technology to drive itself. In a conventional Hybrid car, this usually results in a typical combustion engine been helped along by a smaller electric motor. whereas a Pure Electric Vehicle is powered exclusively by electricity. Rather than using a combination of a combustion engine and electric motor, the car is simply fitted with a much larger electric motor and more batteries to power it. Electric cars have the benefit of producing zero tailpipe emissions, while also being far cheaper to operate than a convention vehicle.

To decide which one best meets your needs there are a couple of things to consider:

Probably the biggest difference is in regards to engine noise, as electric cars are totally silent. The fact that they exclusively use an electric motor means that compared to a Hybrid, you won’t be hearing any engine noise whatsoever. Some manufacturers actually put ‘fake’ engine noise in its place just so you have some sort of indication of whether the car is running or not. Whether the eerie silence is something you’ll enjoy or not comes down to personal preference.

On the basis of initial price, Hybrid cars are currently far cheaper to buy than electric vehicles. However in the long run, an electric car should be cheaper to run in terms of fuel costs, as electricity prices for running said cars is only a few pence per mile.

Also, while there is a convenience in being able to charge an electric car at home, the technology behind it is not yet refined enough. Our home electrical sockets can take hours to charge a vehicle, whereas a Hybrid is typically just fuelled up at the pumps like a normal vehicle. Electric pumps are beginning to show up which can handle much higher rates and charge your electric vehicles much faster akin to a conventional motor, but they are still woefully sparse in the UK.

In terms of mileage, electric vehicles still can’t cope against a combustion engine, though that is beginning to improve with time. Performance is a mixed affair and highly dependent on your preference. Electric motors perform best in the low RPM ranges, delivering a staggering amount of torque and revs in quick time. This delivers very fast low range acceleration from 0-60mph. Hybrid’s don’t tend to use their smaller electric motor in the same fashion, preferring to save it as a ‘backup’ to aid the main petrol motor. A Hybrid electric motor will generally never produce the same performance as a dedicated electrically powered car motor does.

Essentially, it really comes down to what you will be using your vehicle for. While they are both great city cars in terms of performance, I would say that electric vehicles probably have the edge in that the low range nippy benefits of an electric car coupled with its zero emissions will have obvious positives in busy city conditions. However, I would say that Hybrids excel as the all-rounder, providing motorway performance on a par with conventional vehicle while also being more Eco-efficient all round. If you’re going to be buying an eco-friendly workhorse vehicle, Hybrid is probably the way to go.

Written by Paul Fagan