The Difference Between Full Hybrid, Mild Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Cars

08th Apr 2021

By Nathan Dale

Which type of hybrid car is best for me?

Choosing the right type of hybrid car depends on your own personal requirements, budget and preferences.

With an increasing number of hybrid cars being introduced across the board from pretty much every manufacturer, it's tough to know which to choose as your next car.

We're here to provide all the information so that you can make a decision that's best for you.

Here we explain the key differences that separate mild hybrid, full hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles in simple, plain English.

What is a mild hybrid car (MHEV)?

Ford Focus Mild Hybrid

Mild hybrid cars use an electric motor to assist the petrol or diesel combustion engine when accelerating to save fuel.

You simply fuel up and go like any other regular vehicle. The added assistance of an electric motor reduces the amount of work the combustion engine has to do, improving overall fuel economy as well as boosting acceleration.

If you didn't know the system was there, you wouldn't know the car you were driving was a hybrid. Mild hybrid cars drive no differently to regular petrol or diesel cars; you can even get mild hybrids with a manual gearbox.

Do mild hybrids need plugging in? No

Manual or automatic transmission? Available with either

Examples include:

Recommended used mild hybrid cars

What is a full hybrid car (HEV)?

Lexus CT200h

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

Again, you simply fuel and go like any other regular vehicle, with the hybrid system cutting the engine in and out automatically as required, reducing fuel consumption where possible and providing more power when required.

When slowing down and stationary, the normal combustion 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 total driving range as a comparable petrol or diesel car.

Do full hybrids need plugging in? No

Manual or automatic transmission? Automatic only

Examples include:

Recommended used full hybrid cars

What is a plug-in hybrid car (PHEV)?

MINI Countryman Plug-in Hybrid

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 or diesel engine cutting in and out as required.

The idea behind plug-in hybrids is that most people can charge up the batteries and 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 or diesel engine with the electric drivetrain means the overall range is comparable to a regular petrol or diesel car. As a result, there's no so-called 'range anxiety' that can sometimes be experienced with a full electric car.

Do they need plugging in? Yes

Manual or automatic transmission? Automatic

Examples include:

Recommended used plug-in hybrid cars

Key differences between mild hybrid, full hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars

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, whereas plug-in hybrids do
  • Mild hybrids cannot travel on electric power only, whereas full and plug-in hybrids can
  • 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 use at least some fuel for all journeys

Find your perfect hybrid car at Evans Halshaw

With so many excellent models to choose from, it's now a better time than ever before to own a hybrid car. At Evans Halshaw, we have a wide range of used hybrid cars in stock across our nationwide network of dealerships.

If you fancy something brand-new, why not take a look at our selection of hybrid cars from some of the world's most popular manufacturers?