The Difference Between Full, Mild & Plug-in Hybrid

14th Jun 2019

With an increasing number of Hybrid cars being introduced across the board from pretty much every manufacturer, it's tough to know which one is best for you, and which one to choose as your next car.

Here we explain the key differences that separate Full, Mild and Plug-in Hybrid vehicles in simple, plain English.

What is a Full Hybrid Car?

Full Hybrids are capable of travelling (really) short distances on electric power only.

You simply fuel and go like a regular vehicle, with the Hybrid system cutting in and out automatically as required, reducing fuel consumption where necessary and providing more power when required.

When slowing down and stationary, the normal engine will cut out and you'll be running on electric power only to save fuel.

When accelerating hard, the petrol (or diesel, depending on the car) engine automatically fires back into action to give you the power you need. Full Hybrids have the same range as a comparable petrol/diesel car.

Do they need plugging in? No

Manual or Automatic Transmission? Automatic

Examples include: Hyundai IONIQKia NiroToyota PriusAuris and Yaris HybridLexus CT200h and Lexus IS300h.

Blue Kia Niro

What is a Mild Hybrid Car?

Mild Hybrids use an electric motor to assist the petrol/diesel engine when accelerating, to save fuel.

Again, you just fuel+go like a regular vehicle. The added assistance of an electric motor reduces the amount of work the petrol/diesel engine has to do, improving overall fuel economy.

If you didn't know the system was there, you wouldn't know the car you were driving was a Hybrid. Mild Hybrids drive no differently to regular petrol/diesel cars - you can even get Mild Hybrids with a Manual gearbox.

Do they need plugging in? No

Manual or Automatic Transmission? Manual or automatic

Examples include: Suzuki Swift and IgnisHonda CR-Z and Insight, latest generation Range Rover.

White Suzuki Ignis

What is a Plug-in Hybrid Car?

Plug-in Hybrids function in a similar fashion to Full Hybrids, but they can travel much further - between 15 and 50 miles depending on the model - on electric power alone.

After the electric range has run out, they then function as a Full Hybrid vehicle, with the petrol/diesel engine cutting in and out as required.

The idea behind Plug-in Hybrids is that most people can complete their daily commute on electric power only, saving fuel and money.

When drivers need to go further afield, the car can do that too, as combining the petrol/diesel engine with the electric drivetrain means the overall range is comparable to a regular petrol or diesel car, meaning there's no so-called 'range anxiety'.

Do they need plugging in? Yes

Manual or Automatic Transmission? Automatic

Examples include: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVBMW 330e530e and i8Kia Niro PHEVHyundai IONIQ PHEV.

White Mitsubishi Outlander Hybrid

The main differences between the three types of Hybrid vehicle are as follows:

Full Hybrids and Mild Hybrids do not need to be plugged in.

Mild Hybrids cannot travel on electric power only.

Plug-in Hybrids are able to complete 15 to 50 mile (depending on the individual model's capabilities) journeys on electric power alone, provided they are fully charged.

Full Hybrids and Mild Hybrids will useat least some fuel for all journeys.