We no longer support this web browser. Upgrade your browser for a better experience.

We’re looking at the differences between electric and hybrid cars to help you decide which is best for you.
Vertu Motors

Electric vs Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Cars: Which One is Right for You?

Electric vs Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Cars: Which One is Right for You?

We’re looking at the differences between electric cars and hybrid cars to help you decide which is best for you.

As the UK’s ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars looms closer, you might be thinking of switching to an electric or hybrid car. But with so many options to choose from, it can be confusing to know where to start.

We’re looking at the differences between electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid cars to help you decide which one is right for you.


Hybrid cars

A hybrid car combines an internal combustion engine with an electric motor. Sometimes referred to as a mild hybrid, a lot of hybrid cars are self-charging with no need to plug in.

They also typically utilise regenerative braking to recycle energy lost from braking or slowing down. Which is then converted into electric power. This power can then be used to travel short distances using electric power only. Read here for types of hybrid cars.


Plug-in hybrid cars

As the name suggests, a plug-in hybrid car needs to be plugged in to recover battery power. Like hybrid cars, they combine a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor. However, plug-in hybrid cars generally offer a slightly longer range than traditional hybrids.


Electric cars

An electric car is powered purely by an electric motor with no reliance on a petrol or diesel engine. They receive energy from the battery which an electric motor then converts into power to drive the wheels.


Pros and cons - electric vs hybrid and plug-in hybrid

Car typeProsCons
Hybrid Improved fuel efficiency – you can enjoy better fuel efficiency with the option to drive in electric mode.

No need to charge – most hybrids are generally self-charging.
Shorter range – hybrid cars typically only offer a small pure electric range.

Still emit CO2 emissions – while they are reduced, they aren’t completely removed.
Plug-in hybrid Longer range than hybrid cars – benefit from an increased electric range.

Flexibility – choose to drive in full electric mode or use the petrol or diesel engine on longer journeys.
Fuel and charging costs – you'll still need to pay fuel costs, as well as charging costs.

Maintenance costs can be higher – as you still have a petrol or diesel engine, hybrid cars can cost more to maintain than an electric car.
Electric Exemption from low emission zones – electric cars are free to travel through these zones. While petrol and diesel cars can face penalty charges.

Find out more in our navigating low emission and clear air zones article.

Lower running costs – with reduced maintenance costs and no road tax, electric cars can be extremely cost effective.
Higher upfront costs – electric cars can be more expensive to buy than petrol or diesel cars.

Charging times – depending on the charger speed you use; it can take a while to power up unless you are using a fast charger.


Cost of ownership – electric vs plug-in hybrid vs hybrid

You might be wondering what has the lowest running costs – an electric, plug-in hybrid, or hybrid car? This will depend on a few factors.


Hybrid cars

Most hybrid cars rely purely on regenerative braking to provide a small electric range without any need to plug in. This means there’s no need to worry about any charging costs, just your standard fuel costs.

But fuel economy is enhanced due to hybrid technology.


Plug-in hybrid cars

It’s worth taking into consideration that with a plug-in hybrid car, you will still need to fuel up, as well as paying for charging. However, you can enjoy improved fuel economy thanks to the electric motor meaning you might not have to visit the pumps too often.

But many public car parks, workplaces and supermarkets now offer free electric car charging.

While they may not be fast chargers, it’s a great way to regain range and keep your running costs low.

Find out more about free electric car charging


Electric cars

It may seem that electric cars have a higher upfront cost, but in the long run they can work out extremely cost effective. If you decide to install a home charger, you can utilise lower electricity rates at night. As well as taking advantage of free charging in public places.

Since electric cars have fewer moving parts than a petrol or diesel car, they can also benefit from lower servicing costs.

If you do regularly travel long distances for work or pleasure, you may find yourself relying on fast chargers which can be costly. But as technology improves, so do the ranges offered by electric cars.

Find out more about the UK’s longest range electric cars.


Should I buy an electric, hybrid or plug-in hybrid car?

Whichever car you decide to go for, you can enjoy lower running costs and reduced emissions. However, it will depend on your personal circumstances if an electric, hybrid, or plug-in hybrid car is right for you.

For further advice, visit your nearest Vertu Motors dealership. We are proud to have more Electric Vehicle Approved (EVA) dealerships than any other UK motor retailer. The EVA seal of approval means that our team are experts in electric and hybrid vehicles.


Electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars at Vertu Motors

We offer a wide range of new electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars from the world's leading manufacturers.

Book an appointment at your nearest Vertu Motors dealership today to start your electric or hybrid journey with us.


View new electric car deals

View new hybrid and plug-in hybrid car deals