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Electric hybrid or plug-in?

In addition to price, how environmentally-friendly you are and availability of nearby charging points, the big questions concern the usage and mileage you need from your car

With combustion engines on their way out and a persistently high price point for 100% electric cars, buying a hybrid is an interesting and more affordable option right now. But how do you go about choosing the right model for you? All hybrid electric cars are powered by both fuel and electricity drawn from systems fitted in the vehicle itself. With a wide range of hybrids on the market, it’s worth looking at how they differ and to what extent they can use electric energy.

Mild hybrids or micro-hybrids are less common and have very small batteries which offer a limited amount of assistance to the engine, not enough for the car to run on electric power alone.

Parallel Electric hybrids are widely used and boast an electric motor that not only assists the combustion engine but can also drive short distances solely in electric mode (ECO label).

Plug-in hybrids have a larger battery that can be charged at home or at an authorised charging point. They are capable of travelling up to 60 or 70 km without resorting to the petrol or diesel engine (ZERO label). For your convenience, it’s advisable to have a charging point at home, or in an accessible private garage or public/communal car park.

In addition to possible tax benefits, lower rates and the desire to be more environmentally-friendly, the decision as to which type of hybrid is best for you depends on how you use the car. Not so much in terms of your average daily mileage but rather the kind of journeys you make. Do you drive in urban environments, travel intercity or cover long distances on motorways?

If we look at energy savings alone, the advantages clearly lie with plug-in hybrids, as charging at home is far more economical than driving to a garage to fill up with petrol. They also suit trips that average up to 50 km per day. If, however, your daily commute is around 100 km, an electric hybrid is your best bet.

If your car is going to be parked in the street at night, a plug-in hybrid is a good option provided you have access to a public or private charging point nearby and you don’t use the car every day. Charging from zero to fully charged usually takes no more than four hours, which is manageable in an urban setting.

The price tag is another point you need to bear in mind. Price-wise, electric hybrids tend to be more affordable.

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