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2022 Chevrolet Bolt

AutoNation carries more than 100,000 new and used vehicles from dozens of brands across its network of 250+ U.S. dealerships. While many of those cars, trucks, and SUVs are powered by conventional gas or diesel internal combustion engines (ICE), a lot of them use other ways to get you where you need to go. In this quick guide, we break down some of the major differences between hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs). 

The Basics

Toyota RAV4 Prime

Similar to how the adorable Havapoo is a cross between a Havenese and a Poodle, a hybrid is a cross between a traditional ICE vehicle and an EV. There are a few different types of hybrids on the market. The RAM 1500 with the available eTorque V6 or V8 is a mild hybrid.  The eTorque system replaces the alternator with a belt-driven motor generator and adds a 48-volt battery pack that helps make the auto start/stop function quicker and smoother, contributes a burst of torque in certain driving situations, and recovers regenerative braking energy.

Full hybrids have a gas ICE, electric motor, and high-voltage battery pack, but function in different ways. Some draw on electric power for moving at low speeds and under low load conditions; when more thrust is required, they can switch to the ICE. Others are capable of running on gas and electric power at the same.

Like some of its fellow automakers, Toyota offers plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), including the RAV4 Prime. PHEVs can run on gas just like a vehicle with an ICE, but can provide the increased efficiency of hybrids and be driven for a commute-friendly distance without using a drop of gasoline. When the RAV4 Prime is fully charged, it can travel 42 miles on pure electricity.EVs are just what they sound like. They're electric vehicles. There's no ICE, just an electric motor (or two or three) and a large battery pack. That means there's no need to change oil or spark plugs or certain other consumables that ICEs require.

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Economy Ratings

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Since PHEVs have a gas engine and an electric motor, their fuel economy is measured in terms of mpg and something called miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent, better known as MPGe. According to FuelEconomy.gov, MPGe is "similar to MPG, but instead of presenting miles per gallon of the vehicle's fuel type, it represents the number of miles the vehicle can go using a quantity of fuel with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline."

EVs are rated for both MPGe and how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity they use to travel 100 miles. Since they can't be filled up at gas stations, their travel range is especially important. The Mustang Mach-E is available with two batteries: a standard range model, which can cover an estimated maximum of 230 miles, and an extended range model, which is good for up to 300 miles.

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Filling Options

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Filling up a hybrid is the same as putting gas in a conventional ICE vehicle. It takes a little longer to top off a plug-in hybrid because it needs fuel from a gas pump and electricity from a power outlet. Charge times for PHEVs and EVs vary based on the kind of charger used. Level 1 units plug into 120-volt outlets. Level 2 chargers are compatible with 240-volt outlets. Level 3, aka DC fast chargers, are the most potent, and run on 400 to 1000 volts, according to advocacy group Plug In America. Just keep in mind that not every PHEV or EV is compatible with Level 3 hardware.

The higher the charger's level, the faster it fills the battery pack. For instance, according to Chevrolet, it takes a Level 1 charger an hour to add four miles of range to the 2022 Bolt EV. A Level 2 charger can take the Bolt's 65-kWh battery from empty to its full potential range of 259 miles in seven hours. It only takes a Level 3 unit 30 minutes to give the Bolt 100 miles of gas-free travel.

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Tax Credits

Volvo XC40 Recharge

We've pointed out the differences between hybrids and EVs, but there's one major thing they have in common. When you buy a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, you may be eligible to receive a federal tax credit of up to $7,500. The amount you end up getting depends on the vehicle's battery capacity. You may even qualify for state and/or local incentives. No matter which hybrid, PHEV, or EV is right for you, AutoNation is here to help at your local dealership to find the vehicle that's right for you.

Derek Shiekhi | Mar 18, 2021

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