If you’re researching electric vehicles, you might come across hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles in your research. Although they look similar, they’re still different cars. What are the main differences between a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and an electric vehicle?

Hybrid (HEV)

A hybrid is a mix of two power sources. In most cases, this means that it has an internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor. The electric motor can be used in two ways: to run the vehicle on pure electricity or to assist the ICE when it requires extra power. Hybrid vehicles combine the best features of gasoline and electric cars. They use an internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor together to increase fuel economy.

Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)

A plug-in hybrid is similar to a traditional hybrid in that it uses both an ICE and an electric motor. However, instead of recharging its batteries with regenerative braking or from the grid, it’s able to plug into an outlet to recharge its battery pack. Plug-in hybrids are sometimes called extended range electric vehicles or EREVs because they can travel farther than traditional EVs on battery power alone before needing to recharge with gasoline.

Electric Vehicles (EV)

Electric vehicles (EVs), also known as battery electric vehicles (BEVs), are powered by electric motors that run on electricity stored in batteries. Electric vehicles can be charged from an exterior source or from the grid, and they have no tailpipe emissions. Electric vehicles have fully electric motors, meaning they never need gasoline or other fuel other than electricity to power.

In general, electric vehicles tend to have a lot of cost upfront and can be difficult to own without some sort of tax break or incentive. Hybrid cars are much easier on the wallet and offer better fuel mileage but are dependent on their gasoline engine for cruises over 50 miles. Plug-in hybrids offer the best fuel economy of all three types but a limited amount of range available in only electric mode. The best choice is the one that best meets your needs and your budget.