EV vs. Plug-In vs. Hybrid: What’s the Difference?

October 8th, 2022 by

Automakers around the world are increasingly shifting towards electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid power trains, and Chevy is no exception. A broad range of new vehicle designs has come onto the market over recent years to meet the requirements of different customers. The three new types of cars we’re starting to see more on the roads are EV, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid cars. If you’re unsure about the differences between these vehicle types, here’s a quick guide created by the auto experts at Sweeney Chevrolet.

What is an EV?

Close up of charge port on 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV 3LT in Riptide Blue. Preproduction model shown. Actual production model may vary. 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV available Fall 2023.

An EV is a sedan or crossover vehicle that is powered by an all-electric powertrain. These power trains typically consist of one or two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack. An EV’s battery is large enough to provide you with several hundred miles of driving range. The exact mileage an EV can travel on a full battery varies according to the model, but it’s often somewhere between 250 and 350 miles.

An EV’s battery usually takes about 10 hours to charge using a level two charger, which you can find at numerous public charging stations in Youngstown and across Ohio. DC fast chargers can recharge an EV’s battery much faster, sometimes in an hour or less.

Two popular EVs in Chevy’s lineup are the Bolt and Bolt EUV. The Chevy Bolt is an electric sedan, while the Bolt EUV retains many similar design features but offers the additional utility of a crossover. Both vehicles have a driving range of over 250 miles.

A big advantage EVs have over their competitors is that they don’t have an internal combustion engine. This fact significantly reduces maintenance costs for EVs compared to gas-powered cars. One estimate has suggested that the cost to maintain an EV averages out at 3 cents per mile, which is just half the average for a gas-powered car.

What is a Plug-In Hybrid?

A plug-in hybrid combines a gas-powered engine with an electric motor and battery that provide the car or sport utility vehicle (SUV) with a limited all-electric driving range. When you have used up the driving range, the gas-powered engine immediately kicks in so you can continue driving without any hold-ups. The driving range for plug-in hybrids varies, but it’s usually somewhere between 25 and 55 miles.

The battery in plug-in hybrid vehicles is much smaller than the battery in an EV. A plug-in hybrid battery can usually be charged overnight using a household power outlet, whereas it can take about two days to charge an EV in this way. This makes plug-in hybrids more convenient for drivers who make frequent and relatively short daily trips but less ideal for drivers who want to abandon any reliance on gas to fuel their crossover.

Plug-in hybrids are often offered alongside hybrid versions of the same vehicle model. For example, Hyundai sells its midsized Sonata sedan as a plug-in hybrid and hybrid car. The plug-in hybrid is almost always more expensive than the hybrid option since it includes a larger battery to provide adequate power for its all-electric driving range.

What is a Hybrid Car?

A hybrid car is generally equipped with a gas-powered engine, an electric motor, and a small battery. However, unlike EVs and plug-in hybrids, hybrid cars don’t have any all-electric driving range. The gas-powered engine recharges the battery, so it supplies the electric motor with power. The electric motor helps improve the gas mileage of the hybrid vehicle compared to its gas-powered sibling.

Due to the setup of a hybrid vehicle, you don’t have to charge the battery to take advantage of the additional power it provides. This makes hybrid vehicles more attractive for customers who would find it difficult to access electric charging stations.

How To Decide Between an EV, Plug-In Hybrid, or Hybrid Car

A significant aspect of the final decision you make on which vehicle to buy will depend on your motivation for considering alternatives to a gas-powered engine. If you want to drive a zero-emissions vehicle because you want to protect the environment, purchasing an EV will be your clear preference. If your motivation for considering an EV is more to do with reducing your gas bill, a plug-in hybrid or hybrid car would be a more practical option.

Another factor that will play a role is cost. EVs are dropping in cost rapidly as batteries and related technologies become cheaper. However, they still tend to be more expensive than gas-powered and hybrid cars. If you’re shopping on a modest budget, a hybrid crossover or sedan may make more sense than an all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. That’s not just because of the sales price, but because you’ll pay less at the gas pump due to the improved fuel economy offered by a hybrid car over its gas-powered rivals.

A final point to consider is the area where you live and the routes you regularly drive. EV charging stations are spreading rapidly across the country, and there’s no shortage of apps to help you locate the nearest charging site.

However, there are some locations where EV chargers can be hard to come by. If you live in one of these areas, buying an EV may not make sense, especially if you have to drive the extra distance to a charging station on a regular basis. A plug-in hybrid may offer the best solution since you gain a modest amount of all-electric driving range while still having the gas engine as a backup in case you can’t make it to a charging station.

Have Questions About EVs or Hybrids? Contact Sweeney!

We hope you now understand more about the differences between EVs, plug-in hybrids, and hybrid vehicles. If you have any questions about driving an all-electric car or you’d like to explore Chevy’s great EV options, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Here at Sweeney Chevrolet, we can help Youngstown customers find the ideal electric sedan or crossover to meet their needs.

If you’d like to test drive a Chevy Bolt or Bolt EUV to see if it’s right for you, we can help with that too. Reach out to us by phone or stop by our dealership to learn more.

Posted in Electric Vehicles