What Is the Difference between a Hybrid Car and an Electric Car?

October 31, 2012

The primary difference between a hybrid car and an electric car is that the hybrid car derives some of its power from a conventional gasoline engine. On the other hand, a true electric car gets all of its power from electrical sources, and thereby is a completely non-polluting zero-emission vehicle (ZEV).

Modern Electrics
The first all electric car in the United States was the EV1 from General Motors from 1996 to 1999. Noteworthy in numerous respects, it suffered from a very limited driving range per charge. Though it was heartily endorsed by conservation-minded people, it suffered an ignominious end, when GM gathered up all the leased EV1s and destroyed virtually all of them, rather than keep them in commercial use.

Hybrid Introduction
In hybrid technology, the acknowledged leader is Toyota. Toyota was the first to make a broadly accepted hybrid vehicle with the Toyota Prius in 1998. Toyota also provided the hybrid technology to Ford for their hybrid Fusion and mini-SUV Escape. More recently, Honda introduced its own hybrid technology with the Honda Insight in 2009. The Insight resembles the Toyota Prius to a great degree, but is thought by experts to be the more fun vehicle to drive.

Ford boasts two hybrids in the product line-up. The Fusion is a very well-regarded hybrid sedan. Using Toyota's battery technology, the Fusion hybrid combines a four-cylinder engine with an electric motor for 191 horsepower, offering 39 mpg overall that surpasses the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

The Ford Escape Hybrid is the best-known fuel-efficient small SUV. Updated consistently, it now features a host of standard safety improvements, including a "spotter mirror" to see around blind spots, a MyKey system that lets parents limit the car's top speed (and audio volume) when their teenagers drive, and electronic stability control. The Escape features the "traffic-light auto-stop," which shuts the gas engine down until you lift your foot off the brake--a technology that helps the Escape Hybrid achieve its very good fuel economy.

Electric Automakers
Boutique electric car manufactures are numerous in California, most prominently headed by Tesla. These companies either make all electric vehicles from the ground up, or alter gas-engine cars to render them electrics. Both of these motoring alternatives are very expensive, and likely beyond the means of the "average" car or truck buyer.

The Tesla Roadster, built in conjunction with Lotus, available and expensive: $109,000 for a two-seat, plug-in electric sports car. The 248-horsepower Roadster uses no gasoline; its proprietary lithium-ion battery has a 244-mile range, and Tesla provides a 220-volt charger for your garage. With the supplied 220V charger, recharging takes 3½ hours; with regular 110V current, charging takes 8 hours. There is the Tesla Model S sedan, and the Fisker Karma. The Fisker Karma can go 250+ miles and costs $90,000.

Regular Hybrid Cars vs. Plug-in Hybrids

There are a couple of types of hybrid cars available for purchase. There are the regular hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius, and now the plug-in hybrid, which has been in development for years, is finally hitting the market.

A regular hybrid has a gas engine and an electric motor and usually can get up to 50 miles per gallon of fuel efficiency. The plug in hybrid also takes advantage of having a gas engine and an electric battery. However, the battery can be charged at a normal household power outlet. The plug-in Chevy Volt can get 50 electric miles, and will cost around $30,000. The advantage of a plug in hybrid is the increased fuel economy. The Chevy Volt has 150 miles per gallon fuel efficiency rating.

Hydrogen vs. Hybrid Cars
Hybrid cars are widely available now, as opposed to the still developing hydrogen fuel cell car. To many, the idea of hydrogen vehicles not only sounds cleaner but even seems like it would be less expensive since water is a free resource. Ultimately, the hydrogen fuel cell may be the power source of the future.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars
The concept of the hydrogen fuel cell is great. Hydrogen and oxygen do not burn but are create a chemical reaction that converts the two into an electric charge. Water is the only byproduct. Hydrogen is one of the most common and abundant elements on the planet and so it would not be exhausted as quickly as fossil fuel. Hydrogen is also extremely efficient. Up to 90 percent of the energy produced in the fuel cell would be able to be converted to electric. It was reported in July of 2009 that students built a hydrogen car that got 1,336 mpg, although that is not the norm. Toyota has been working on a hydrogen run Prius that is expected to see 125 mpg and produce zero emissions. Hydrogen cars have not been developed to the degree that electric hybrids have. Part of this is due to the fact that right now, it does take natural gas to produce hydrogen, which is seen by many to defeat the purpose of using hydrogen.

Related Questions and Answers

What are the Best Selling Hybrid Diesel Trucks on the Market?

Buying hybrid diesel trucks can be a great investment for owners. Diesel has become an increasingly popular fuel alternative and can contribute to significant savings in the long run. A few of the most popular hybrid diesel trucks on the market at present include: GMC, Dogde, Ford and Toyota. GMC offers one of the most economical models on the market, at present, with a price tag of $20,000 to $50,000. These trucks have a range of additional features, including air conditioning that makes them very desirable. They also offer great gas mileage both inside the city and on highways too. Dodge makes the second best models in the market with great value for money. Their mileage is almost comparable to that of GMC, but are priced slightly lower. Ford and Toyota come in a close third, but both have been getting substantial bad press recently due to mechanical faults on their cars. Though, the truck models run effectively and economically.

    Which Hybrid Pick Up Trucks Have the Best Gas Mileage?

    Hybrid pick up trucks  are well worth the investment for owners. There are several great cars on the market that you can choose from. Here is a simple list of the top few that offer great gas mileage. The 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 15 Hybrid 2WD with 8 cyl, 6L, is a fully automatic model that appeals to nearly every class of driver. The truck offers a hybrid engine that can hold a large amount of fuel, but which runs very economically. For example, the truck has a 26 gallon tank but it takes about $65 to fill it up. The gas mileage is attractive at 21 mpg inside the city and 22 mpg outside it. The GMC Sierra is another attractive model that appeals to every class of driver due to its great fuel efficiency. The 2010 GMC Sierra 15 Hybrid offers almost comparable gas mileage and maintenance rates as that of the Silverado.

      Which States Offer Tax Rebates When Buying Hybrid Cars and Trucks?

      Hybrid cars and trucks are allowed substantial tax credits according to a Federal Law passed in 2005. These tax credits will vary from state to state. The tax rebate is also dependent on the auto manufacturer. If the car company has sold more than 60,000 models of the hybrid vehicles, then the tax rebate is phased out completely. Owners who have bought a hybrid vehicle in between the years 2005-2007, become eligible for about $3,400 tax rebates in total. You can use this link and here to get a quick breakdown of the discounts you are eligible for. But its a far better idea to check with the state government to find out exactly what you are eligible for and on which car model.

      What is the Cheapest 2010 Hybrid Truck?

        There were several great hybrid trucks 2010 models that were released in the last year. But most hybrid models tend to be expensive. These few hybrids that are recommended are good value for money. The 2010 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid is a vehicle that offers value for money while still being really great to drive. The cost ranges from $38,000 to more depending on the additional features that you put in. The 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is another great model  that also retails in the $36,000 to $38,000 range. The car has great gas mileage and has a wonderful exterior too. Both of these models come with impressive tax rebates that will vary from region to region. Check with individual dealers too, as local prices will vary from one region to another.