Do you know your hybrids from your EVs? Find out here and see our pick of the 12 best electric and hybid cars on the market
Electric cars have gone from niche interest to government policy at lightning speed. Plug in as we take a tour of the driving future...
What’s the difference between electric and electrified?
Electric cars are electrified vehicles, but electrified vehicles are not necessarily electric cars – they include a range of hybrids, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and hydrogen-powered vehicles, which combine electricity with other forms of power.
Uses one or more electric motors for propulsion over a reasonable distance. Recharged externally.
EV Pure-Electric Vehicles, eg Nissan Leaf
Run only on electric motors. Powered by a battery recharged by a plug.
PHEV Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, eg Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Can run for a reasonable distance on electric power, but have an internal combustion engine for support. Most are powered by the electric motor, engine, or both. Can be recharged via a plug and refuelled conventionally from a petrol station.
REEV/EREV Range Extended Electric Vehicle – Extended Range Electric Vehicle, eg BMW i3 REX
An EV with an on-board generator. Can be recharged from the mains or via the on-board generator, though the engine never powers the wheels directly.
FCEV Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle, eg Toyota Mirai
Commonly hydrogen powered – uses an electric motor for drive. A small battery is charged using a fuel cell stack, which converts hydrogen stored in an on-board tank into electricity, emitting only water from the tailpipe. FCEVs take just minutes to refuel from a filling station.
A model with an electric motor that can power the vehicle by itself for short periods, or that boosts the performance of the engine.
Hybrid, eg Toyota Prius
Conventional hybrids use a combination of electric motor and internal combustion engine for power – often able to run on motor, engine, or both. Unable to be charged externally, a small battery stores charge generated by the engine or under braking.
Mild hybrid, eg Suzuki Baleno
Uses an integrated starter motor and small battery to improve the performance of an engine under load. The motor is also used to restart the engine and pull away, along with stop/start technology.
Our pick of the best electric cars on the market
TOP 4 EVs
All-electric supermini with class-leading range
As good as a ‘normal’ Golf, but greener
Futuristic and fun to drive supermini
Tesla Model S
Makes long-distance EV-ing possible
TOP 4 PHEVs
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
33-mile electric range
The UK’s best-selling plug-in car
Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid
39-mile electric range
Exceptionally efficient, and better in EV-mode than hybrid
Mercedes Benz C 350e
19-mile electric range
Executive travel with electric benefits
BMW i3 REX
181-mile electric range
The EV for drivers with range-anxiety
TOP 4 HYBRIDS
The original hybrid, and now rather good
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
Challenges hard for the Prius’ crown
A striking hybrid for younger buyers
Crossover looks with hybrid efficiency
Where to refuel
Zap-Map.com is an EV charge-point mapping provider, lists all publicly available points in the UK and Ireland.
LV= comprehensive car insurance will cover your electric-powered car. It has a 5-Star Defaqto Rating – and Boundless members can get an exclusive discount on its public prices.
Chris Lilly has written about motoring since 2006, and now profiles the electric car sector for NextGreenCar.com – the UK’s No 1 green car website, offering news, advice and reviews.
Illustration: Andy Potts