Toyota RAV4 PHEV charging in a garage

Hybrid vs PHEV: what’s best for you?

In a time where the pinch at the petrol pump hurts a little bit more and environmental consciousness meets cutting-edge technology, the desire to step into a hybrid or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicle has never been greater – or easier. But where to start? We’ve dissected the nuances that distinguish a hybrid from a PHEV, what lifestyle considerations you should make if you’re comparing the two, and ultimately, whether a hybrid vs PHEV is right for you.

We’ve covered:

  • The difference between a hybrid and a PHEV
  • The benefits of hybrids and PHEVs
  • What’s right for you, a hybrid or PHEV?

Hybrid vs PHEV: what’s the difference?

While both hybrids and PHEVs offer a smooth drive with quick acceleration, lower emissions (in comparison to their petrol and diesel counterparts), and generally cheaper running costs, they do have their distinctive differences.

Hybrid vehicles, explained

Hybrid vehicles combine an electric motor with a petrol motor and drive similar to the traditional ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles. The electric motor supplements the petrol one, allowing it to shut off at low speeds and when coasting, running purely on electric energy. The energy spent is then recaptured through regenerative braking, effectively self-charging the electric motor.

Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles, explained

Plug-in hybrids are the perfect bridge between a hybrid and an electric vehicle, allowing you to complete short trips entirely on electric power. It’s worth noting that short is subjective – many PHEVs on the market can achieve an impressive 50 – 100 km of all-electric motoring WLTP.* PHEVs also boast the convenience of a traditional ICE engine that kicks in when the electric range is depleted, perfect for longer trips. As they traditionally have larger batteries than a hybrid, they can drive further on electric power with the ability to maintain the range with regenerative braking.

Kia Niro hybrid

Kia Niro PHEV
65 km all-electric range WLTP*


Toyota RAV4 PHEV
95 km all-electric range WLTP*

Range Rover PHEV

Range Rover PHEV
100 km all-electric range WLTP*

Benefits of hybrids and why one might be right for you

Hybrid vehicles offer excellent fuel efficiency when compared to their traditional ICE counterparts, coupled with lower emissions. As hybrid technology has been on the market for around 20 years, hybrid vehicles are typically more common with a lower purchasing price than PHEVs. One of the selling points of hybrids is that you don’t need to plug them in – saving you potential infrastructure and charging costs. When compared to petrol and diesel vehicles they’re often more powerful, offering smooth driving and quick acceleration.

A hybrid might be right for you if you’re looking to save on fuel costs and decrease your emissions, an all-electric range isn’t a priority for you, and you either don’t have access to easy charging points (e.g. you live in an apartment with off-road parking only), or you don’t want to charge your vehicle.

Benefits of PHEVs and why one might be right for you

PHEVs combine all the benefits of an electric vehicle, with the benefits of an ICE vehicle. Enjoy emission-free electric driving for short errands, with the knowledge that there’s a petrol engine for longer road trips if needed. The same as hybrids, PHEVs utilise regenerative braking to help maintain electric range. They also provide instant acceleration and a smooth, enjoyable driving experience. With the rise in popularity of EVs, PHEV owners have the ability to charge on longer road trips (if desired) with public charging stations.

A PHEV might be right for you if you want the ability to drive entirely in EV mode for short periods, (with the backup of a petrol engine), and have access to sufficient charging capabilities. They’re great for all-electric, emission-free driving when commuting, running errands, or on short trips.

CUPRA Formentor PHEV

Lifestyle factors to consider

As with any new significant purchase, there are numerous lifestyle factors to consider. Purchasing a new vehicle is no exception – especially when it comes to narrowing it down between a hybrid vs PHEV.

How long is your commute and what are your daily driving habits?
Is your commute a 5-minute trip or 40 minutes on the motorway? Take note of how far you’re travelling every day when comparing hybrid and PHEV options.

Is this the only vehicle in your family?
Are there any other vehicles you have access to? The transport opportunities already available to you can influence your decision. E.g. if there’s already an EV in your garage then the charging infrastructure is ready to go for a PHEV. 

Budget and cost consideration goals
How much do you want to spend, and how long do you plan on keeping your new vehicle? For example, if you’re planning on eventually purchasing an EV down the line then investing in a PHEV would be beneficial in future-proofing your charging infrastructure.

PHEV charging options

There are plenty of charging options available to suit everyone’s individual needs and preferences. Many automotive manufacturers will even offer free charging promotions or have preferred suppliers. Talk to our team for more information.

Contact us

We are a leading automotive group in New Zealand, representing over 18 vehicle marques. We have access to a wide network of genuine parts and accessories, in addition to qualified technicians at our dealerships throughout New Zealand.

We understand that you may not be ready to speak to a salesperson just yet, but keep in mind our dealerships do hold insights into current stock availability, including what’s available at the dealership, what’s available in the country, and what’s due to arrive on the next boat. You can make an enquiry here. Alternatively, live chat with one of our team in the bottom right-hand corner.

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More help & advice

The 2023 and 2024 Kia Sportage in white
Toyota RAV4 PHEV
Technicians working with genuine parts

Things you should know

*WLTP is the new official EU test used to calculate standardised fuel consumption and CO₂ figures for passenger cars. It measures fuel, energy consumption, range and emissions. This is designed to provide figures closer to real-world driving behaviour. It tests vehicles with optional equipment and with a more demanding test procedure and driving profile. Figures are shown as a range under WLTP testing measures. The most economical figures refer to the most efficient/lightest set of options. A vehicle’s actual fuel consumption may differ from that achieved in such tests and these figures are for comparative purposes only.

Please note that while care is taken to ensure all details displayed here are correct, specifications, pricing, imagery, and offers often change and information here may no longer be accurate. Images may also include overseas specification and/or optional accessories not included in the price or available in New Zealand. Content can also, of course, be subject to the occasional human error. For all current and correct details, please speak to our friendly and informative Sales Specialists. If you notice information that may be inaccurate, please don’t hesitate to let us know as soon as possible. Thank you for your support and understanding.