What is the difference between hybrid cars and electric cars?
-Elaine M., Little Rock, AR
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.