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Because You Asked

What’s the Difference Between Hybrid and Electric Cars?

By Recyclebank |

There are many shades of green when it comes to eco-friendly vehicles.

Dear Recyclebank,

What is the difference between hybrid cars and electric cars?

-Elaine M., Little Rock, AR


Dear Elaine,

The short answer to your question is: Hybrids are powered by gasoline engines and electric motors, while electric cars are powered only by electric motors.

Both types utilize batteries. Hybrids are not plugged in to recharge, but electric cars are plugged in at home or at charging stations. Hybrids still require gas fill-ups, but they are more fuel efficient than regular gas-powered cars because they can partially rely on electricity. Electric cars fully rely on electricity sourced from power plants and do not directly emit any carbon emissions at all.

You may have also heard of plug-in hybrids, which have characteristics of hybrids and electric cars. They are powered by both gasoline and electricity, and can be plugged in to recharge. They use less gasoline than regular hybrids, because they can rely on a bigger rechargeable battery.

These are broad descriptions of car types that have a lot of variance when you look at them on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis. Collectively, they signal progress toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants that come from burning fossil fuels in our cars.


Have you ever considered buying a hybrid or electric car? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Gina L. 20 days ago
    How about the batteries of electric cars. These are really horrible for the environment. Have you seen the impact of the last crash and fire? It took 30 K gallons of water to douse the flames which just kept sparking. This just doesn't seem like a good replacement.
  • tommy b. 21 days ago
  • Sue C. 24 days ago
    Interesting article on hybrids vs electric cars. Even though there probably is more appeal now for electric cars than ever before; for
    many good reasons such as environmental and their exceptional mileage, they still need to be hooked up to a charging station to recharge.
  • Randolph F. 1 month ago
    I have an old Dodge pick up that I'd like to covert to wood gas.

    This would allow me to be more green than the greenies,
    plus my exhaust would smell like mesquite!
  • Joseph D. 1 month ago
    I've owned 16+ Toyota Prius worked on them drove them the best car out there P.S was a GM dealer mechanic for 35 years
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