Types of electric and hybrid cars

There are many types of zero or low emission cars, with different technologies. Two of the most popular types are electric cars and hybrid cars. Here’s a quick summary of these to help you decide which suits you. 

Electric vehicles (EVs/BEVs) at a glance
 

An EV (sometimes known as a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)) is powered by battery; not by petrol or diesel. You can recharge it by plugging it into a home-installed or public charging point. Public chargers are being installed in more and more places, such as supermarkets, motorway services, petrol stations and even at places of work.

If you choose to install a charging point at home, check to see if you’re able to get a Government grant to help pay for the installation. 

 

 

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) at a glance
 

A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has both a petrol or diesel engine and a battery powered motor. Again, these can work together to help reduce emissions, run on the engine alone or on electric-only for up to 35-40 miles of emission-free travel. That could be perfect for your daily or weekly commute and trips to shops.

If you need to travel further, the electric motor can still power the car for higher speeds and longer distances than a full hybrid (FHEV) car. Once the battery gets low, the petrol engine takes over seamlessly. 

These types of hybrids do have some regenerative braking technology but can only recharge the battery a little. To get the most out of them, they must be plugged in and charged in the same way as electric cars. However, the recharge times are quicker than with EVs as the batteries are much smaller.

As with electric cars, you can plug them into either home or public charging points. If you want to install a charging point at home, you may be able to get a Government grant to help pay for the installation.

    • Lower carbon (CO2) emissions than standard petrol or diesel equivalents
    • Greater fuel economy
    • 30 – 40 miles zero-emission travel when in EV mode
    • Greater electric-only range than an FHEV
    • Reduced road tax
    • They are exempt from Clean Air Zone/Ultra Low Emission Zone charges.4
  • Typically, you should be able to travel 20-30 miles using the electric motor, but some models can do 30-40 miles. As the batteries in PHEVs are much larger, as is the motor, they can do longer journeys in electric mode than FHEVs. And, as you’ve got the petrol or diesel engine ready to take over, there shouldn’t be range anxiety in using a PHEV. 
     

  • As PHEVs have smaller batteries than electric cars, the recharge times are less. Again, charge times depend on whether you’re using a home or public charge point and the size of the battery. Generally speaking, the longer the car can travel using the battery motor, the longer the charge time.
     

  • The fuel economy of PHEVs can vary greatly. The miles per gallon (MPG) depends on the model, distance and speed of travel and driving style. And most importantly, it also depends on how much EV mode is used (electricity is much cheaper and more efficient than petrol or diesel).

    The manufacturers' official figures can range from around 100 - 250 MPG. However, real world driving MPG can be less and you’ll have to do much of the driving in electric mode to get this. If you mainly use your PHEV for short trips here and there, you could drive without using the petrol engine at all. But normally, there are times when the engine kicks in to power the car.

Full hybrid vehicles (FHEVs) at a glance
 

A full hybrid car is powered by both a petrol/diesel engine and a battery. This lets you drive on petrol/diesel only, electric-only or a combination of both. When using both engine and electric motor together the power switches between them automatically.

The batteries are much smaller than those found in electric cars or plug-in hybrids, so can only cover a mile or two, at low speed, on electric-only power. However, these do not need to be plugged in to recharge. By using regenerative braking, they recharge the small battery while the car’s being driven under braking.

The benefits of this type of hybrid are an increased fuel economy over standard petrol/diesel cars with reduced CO2 emissions.

With new legislation taking effect from 2030, hybrid cars are unlikely to be sold as new cars in the UK as they don’t have a significant zero emission mileage capability. Existing hybrid cars built and registered before this date can still be used or sold though. 

    • Lower carbon (CO2) emissions than standard petrol or diesel equivalents
    • Very limited electric range – but there is no need to plug it in
    • Reduced road tax
    • They’re exempt from Clean Air Zone/Ultra Low Emission Zone charges. 
       
  • An FHEV can’t travel for long distances on electric-only. Electric-only travel is normally for slower, town or city centre driving and limited to only a mile or so. At higher speeds, the petrol or diesel engine will take over and power the car fully. 
     

  • Due to the use of a battery helping the petrol engine, FHEVs tend to get better fuel economy than a standard petrol or diesel engine car. In terms of (official) miles per gallon (MPG), this could be in the region of around 80-90 MPG. The MPG in the real world depends on speed, distance and how you’re driving and could be more like 60-65 MPG.

Is buying an EV the right decision for you?

EV technology and charging infrastructure has improved over time and is getting better. So in many cases, making your next car an EV could make sense.

To help you decide, we’ve a suitability tool you can use and details about a key services bundle you could access if you go on to buy an EV.

Find out more about EVs

Test driving an electric car

As with any car you are thinking of buying, it’s good to take an EV or plug-in hybrid out for a test drive beforehand. There are things you should do when you take any car out for a spin, as well as ones that only apply to electric vehicles.

On the test drive
  • Sit in your normal driving position and check you can see all the dials clearly and reach the pedals comfortably.
  • Test the heater and air conditioning to see how fast they drain the battery.
  • Drive on as many different road surfaces as you can and have a go at reversing and parking.
  • If you can borrow the car for a few days, check out the range of the battery to see if suits your needs.
After you’ve finished
  • Have a look at how the battery charges, so you know how to do it at home.
  • Ask about servicing costs.
  • See if there are any grants available for buying an electric car.

Ready to apply?

You’ve decided that car finance is the way to fund your next car purchase. Halifax gives you:

  • an agreement of up to 5 years
  • two different choices of plan (PCP or HP)
  • the comfort that the funds are sent directly to the car dealer.

You can apply if you’re:

  • a Halifax main Personal Current Account holder (minimum 3 months)
  • registered for Internet Banking
  • aged 18 or over
  • a UK resident.

Credit is subject to status and additional affordability checks.

Sign in for a personalised quote

This information is correct as of 8th October 2021

Thinking of going green at home?

If you are, then our Green living hub is a great place to start.

Find out how energy efficient your home is and see what rewards, grants and schemes can help you go greener.

Find out more about Green living

Halifax is a division of Bank of Scotland plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC327000. Registered Office: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ. Bank of Scotland plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 169628.