Close up of a woman's hand holding the charging cable into a Jaguar I PACE.

What’s the Difference Between an EV and a Hybrid?

There’s a lot of talk lately about EVs, hybrids, and other low and zero-emissions vehicles. With the New Zealand government’s new Clean Car Programme, those looking for a new vehicle with low and zero emissions will be incentified with a rebate. The rebate amount varies for each car and is dependant on the emissions produced. You can learn more about what vehicles qualify here.

In this article, we’ll talk about the difference in EVs — electric vehicles — and hybrid vehicles, plus cover off what PHEV — plug-in hybrid vehicles — are.

Close up photo of Audi e-tron plugged into a futuristic looking wall.

What is an EV?

EVs — or electric vehicles — are cars powered by electricity. There seems to be a bit of confusion these days as to whether an EV can be partially powered by electricity, but purists say no, EVs are run by electric power only. EVs are most commonly BEVs, or battery electric vehicles. They have no petrol or diesel motor and emit zero emissions.

Electric vehicles are actually quite simple in comparison to Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) vehicles — conventional cars. There’s no gears or clutch and fewer parts to maintain. They run quietly and require less of the common maintenance known to ICE owners, like oil changes.

Trips to the petrol station will be a distant memory when you run an EV. Instead, EVs can be charged at home or at a charging station while on the go. Charging is simple, just plug in your vehicle and wait until it’s charged. Charing times vary for each vehicle and each type of charge, but many roadside charging stations offer ‘fast charges’ that can top up vehicles in a quick 30 minutes or less.

Kia EV6 parked among palm trees at a charging station parking lot.

What Lifestyle Best Suits an EV?

EVs have made remarkable gains in the past few years, with some newer options on the market having ranges that compete with a petrol tank. Current EVs can sit comfortably at the 200-300km mark, while older, used EVs can hit 100km of range before needing a top up.

EVs with lower ranges are great for those needing short trips around town. Commutes, school runs, and errands can all be achieved in a single charge, with intermittent top ups overnight or on the go when needed.

If you’re a road trip warrior, though — have no fear! EVs are for you, too. EVs are capable of long drives — you’ll just need to plan ahead for charging and be okay with a few extra pitstops. If you’re in a hurry to get somewhere, this can be a problem, but if you don’t mind stretching your legs, running into the supermarket that often has a charging station outside, or checking out a small town, an EV will suit your road trip style perfectly.

Close up of a Toyota Highlander hybrid's dash board showing what hybrid power the vehicle has.

What is a Hybrid?

Hybrids have an electric motor and a petrol engine that work together in unison. Sometimes, the electric motor does all the work, while other times the petrol engine steps in. The switch from electric power to petrol is one you never have to think about, the vehicle does it for you.

Hybrids don’t need to be plugged in to recharge the battery, as this is all done through regenerative braking. Any power the heat from braking makes is stored in the electric battery and then used when you need it, storing up reserves.

What Lifestyle Best Suits a Hybrid?

Hybrid vehicles make lower-emissions stress-free. They’re very similar to an ICE vehicle, just with a little extra electric boost. This means trips to the petrol station are less frequent, but it also means you don’t need to worry about charing the vehicle. The range you have is the same — if not better than an ICE vehicle, so range anxiety is never an issue.

However, the benefits of a hybrid vehicle aren’t as great as an electric vehicle. You still have emissions in a hybrid and due to the internal combustion engine, you’ll still need to maintain your hybrid like a regular vehicle.

A hybrid works well for people who spend long days in their car, road trip often, or don’t have a reliable power source near where they park. As EVs need charging, people who live in areas where they need to park on the street often struggle with charging. This makes hybrids a natural option for lower emissions.

What About PHEVs?

PHEVs — Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles — sit somewhere in-between hybrids and electric vehicles. They feature both electric and ICE motors. but can be plugged in to top up the battery power. This means, in theory, that with a bit of planning and a good plug-in schedule, a PHEV can function exactly like an EV, but with petrol power in case of an emergency.

PHEVs offer a nice balance between hybrids and EVs and allow vehicle owners more control over their emissions. They also are a great solution for those looking at an EV for all their daily commutes, but are worried about range on longer road trips. The PHEV can provide the perfect solution.

The front end of an orange and grey Volkswagen Multivan PHEV with a man's hand holding the electric charger.

What’s Best for Me?

It’s hard to say, but with so many different options available through the Miles Group brands, we reckon it’ll be easy for you to find something that suits your lifestyle. Find your nearest Miles Group location and have a chat to the team about what zero and low emissions vehicles they have available to you. Even better, take one for a spin! The EV and hybrid drive is unlike any other, and we think you’ll find it pretty satisfying.

Audi RS in grey on Christchurch's Port Hills
A new Audi RS 3 in blue parked near a brick wall