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Promoted: Electric vs Hybrid the difference explained

It’s easy to get confused by modern drivetrain options. Here’s a quick guide

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Cars fitted with an electric motor are an increasingly common sight on British roads – but they’re not all created equal. And while it’s tempting to lump any non-petroleum powered car into one category, there are big differences to consider between the various types. Notably, many people think that electric and hybrid cars are the same thing. They’re definitely not. Let’s take a look at the key differences between the two.

How electric cars work Cars that run on 100% electric power, such as the Nissan LEAF, don’t feature an internal combustion engine at all. Instead, the car is powered entirely by electricity stored in batteries, which can be charged up by being plugged into the electricity network, either at home or at one of the 4389 specialist charging points across the UK. Some all-electric cars, such as the LEAF, can also reclaim some of the energy lost when braking to help recharge the batteries as they go.

How hybrids work There are various types of hybrid, but all feature both electric batteries and petrol engines. They’ll usually run on electric power at slower speeds, with the engine kicking in when more power is needed. Many hybrid cars use power from the engine to recharge the batteries, although so-called plug-in hybrids can be topped up using mains power.

Different cars, different costs Pure electric cars are generally cheaper to run, because all their power comes from electricity, and there are other savings too. The 100% electric Nissan LEAF qualifies for the maximum Β£4500 Plug-In Car Grant from the UK Government. And, because 100% electric cars produce zero emissions, they remain fully exempt from road tax, unlike hybrids. Also, owners of 100% electric cars don’t have to shell out for the London Congestion Charge – while owners of hybrid cars that emit more than 75g/km of CO2 do.

Leading the electric charge The Nissan LEAF is the world’s best-selling 100% electric car. A single charge of the battery will allow you to travel up to 155 miles, and it costs just 2p per mile to run. But the LEAF isn’t just notable for that electric motor: it’s a refined and practical five-seater that’s full of technology and kit.

About True MPG Both Nissan and What Car? are committed to helping drivers understand the real cost of motoring. True MPG is What Car?’s guide to how many miles a petrol or hybrid car really does to the gallon. Still, when it comes to fuel efficiency, no petrol or hybrid engine can beat the Nissan LEAF: it uses no combustible fuel at all.

For more information on the Nissan LEAF, click here.

For for more information on True MPG, click here.

**2p per mile is based on (i) overnight electricity costs (British Gas Standard Tariff unit rates paying by Direct Debit as at 1st January 2017, assuming seven hours charging at night rate and one hour on day rate), and (ii) a range of up to 155 miles (LEAF 30kWh) per full charge (assuming 95% efficiency) based on European Driving Cycle. Actual consumption and range may vary due to driving style, road condition, air conditioning use and other factors outside our control.