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Hybrid vs Electric Cars: Which Should you Choose? (2024 Updated)

Jul 5, 2022 4:27:41 PM

In 2020, the electric car industry beat a new milestone: globally, there were more than 180,000 EVs on Australian roads, with over 80% of Australia's EV fleet made up of BEVs. Over the last few years, the push to go green, save fuel costs, and plan for the future drove more and more Australians to purchase EVs.

And yet, the expanding market means more choice than ever. Do you opt for a fully electric car? A hybrid model? Or a plug-in hybrid? We'll explain the differences between your EV choices and how to decide which is right for you.

What Is the Difference Between an Electric and Hybrid Car?

electric-cars-australia-01The immediately noticeable difference between an EV and a hybrid car is that one needs recharging and the other refuelled. However, the disparities are slightly more nuanced than that.

 Yes, you must plug electric vehicles into a power source to recharge the batteries. Meanwhile, a hybrid car has a traditional internal combustion engine. However, it will also have at least one electric motor. How do hybrid cars work? The hybrid model uses regenerative braking to recharge the electric motor, which works with the combustion engine to power the vehicle.

With hybrid cars, you still need to consider things like oil changes and engine failure. Whereas electric vehicles only contain a battery and electric system.

What Makes a Car a "Hybrid"?


What is a hybrid car? EVs are simple and easy to understand. But, how can you define a hybrid? The hybrid vehicle is so-named because it combines a traditional combustion engine and an electric car motor.

It has a large battery pack (between 1 - 9kWh) and a 12V battery. The larger battery powers the electric motor that keeps the wheels turning.

The smaller battery, like with any car, powers the lights, stereo, and other gadgets. Hybrid cars have twice as many components as any traditional vehicle, and each manufacturer makes its models differently. For instance, Toyota hybrid cars are very different from Kia under the hood.

What Is the Difference Between Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid?


The differences between hybrids and EVs don't stop there. Plug-in hybrids take a step further. Standard hybrid vehicles will recharge their batteries using regenerative braking, relying mainly on fuel power. However, plug-in hybrids allow drivers to plug their car in, just like with a standard EV.

Plug-ins use the electric motor as their primary power source. The range of the electric power differs from model to model before gas power kicks in and the internal combustion engine takes over.

Are plug-in hybrids better than EVs or standard hybrid vehicles? Well, it depends. All three makes have their pros and cons. Consider a plug-in hybrid if you're eager to try an EV but don't yet want to commit to a fully electric vehicle.

Types of Hybrid Cars

  1. Full Hybrid Car (FHEV): Can run on its petrol engine, battery electricity, or a mix of both. It recharges the battery with regenerative braking.
  2. Plug-in Hybrid Car (PHEV): Similar to full hybrids but can charge their batteries directly from grid energy. You can drive it like an EV-only vehicle for short distances.
  3. Mild Hybrid Car: Cannot use the electric motor alone to run. Instead, it must run in conjunction with the petrol-powered engine, resulting in lower fuel consumption and emissions.

Pros and Cons: Hybrid vs. EV


Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of hybrids and EVs.

Purchase Price

Generally speaking, electric and hybrid vehicles are a lot more costly than traditional internal combustion engines. Fortunately, they are more affordable than they were ten years ago. With many more options available on the market, you don't have to break the bank. Plus, the government offers incentives to purchase EVs, which can help seal the deal.

But which is more expensive? Hybrids or EVs? Typically, hybrids are cheaper than electric vehicles. However, you can still find highly affordable new and used electric cars on the market.


Hybrid cars, like any other gas engine vehicle, can drive for hundreds of kilometres before needing to refuel. Plug-in hybrids will similarly go the distance (using fuel rather than electricity for most of the journey).

Electric vehicles are limited. While recent technological advances have seen vast improvements in EV range (with the Tesla Model S achieving up to 520 miles), they are not yet comparable to internal combustion engines. And not all of us can afford Tesla's best model.

For many hybrid drivers, their day-to-day driving uses battery power alone.

On longer journeys, they can rely on fuel power. In contrast, EV drivers must stop to recharge now and then.

Depending on your model and driving needs, you may find the range and reliability of the hybrid preferable.

Fuel Cost

One of the most important questions when looking at new cars is, "how much will it cost to fuel your car?". Vehicles have many ongoing costs. Fortunately, electric cars are far cheaper to power than other vehicles, regardless of the model or electricity. In Australia, the average cost of electricity is $0.25 per kWh. Therefore, it would cost around $4.50 to drive 100km.

Comparatively, if you use a hybrid car (relying on its fuel engine), you would currently pay $80 - $100 to refuel an 80-litre tank. Depending on your vehicle's fuel consumption and efficiency, this could be much more expensive.

Say you have good fuel efficiency at 8L/100km—it would cost you around $9 for every 100km. It's a rough calculation, but we can see that hybrid cars with combustion engines might cost double that of an electric vehicle to run. While your hybrid electric motor will save you a few pennies, a fully electric car is less expensive to 'refuel'.


EVs have so few moving parts that they require very little maintenance. You won't need to tune the engine, change oil, replace spark plugs, or complete any other routine tasks that combustion engines require. EV maintenance includes tire car, air conditioning servicing, brake cleaning, and engine cooling flushing.

On the other hand, hybrid cars with a combustion engine will require extensive regular and unplanned maintenance. This is not only an irritating hassle but an expensive cost. Studies show that EVs cost about 33% less than plug-in hybrids.


Yes, a car is a functional tool to get you from A to B. However, if you spend hours in your vehicle (as many of us do), it helps if it's an enjoyable experience. EVs are very different from traditional cars. They are serenely quiet, you don't have to shift gears manually, and they have speedy acceleration.

Hybrids similarly have these performance perks, particularly on short trips that rely on the electric motor. However, the EV comes out on top if you're looking for a smooth driving experience.

Environmental Impact

Finally, let's compare the environmental impact of EVs vs. hybrid cars. While both models are a step in the right direction, EVs are undoubtedly the more sustainable option.

If you're considering a hybrid car, check its environmental impact. In some instances, hybrid vehicles are actually worse for the planet than traditional cars. Electric motor batteries are heavy. Therefore, hybrid cars weigh much more than the standard internal combustion engine.

If you use your hybrid car for long journeys, relying on its fuel consumption, you might make a worse environmental impact than if you were to stick to a traditional vehicle. Consider your priorities and how you plan to use your vehicle before deciding between an EV or a hybrid car.

What EVs Are Available in Australia 2024?

Convinced to switch to electric? Here are Australia's top EVs available in 2022.

1.    Kia EV6


Stylish, compact but spacious, and with a maximum range of 528km, the Kia EV6 is one of your best EV choices right now.

2.    Polestar 2


Polestar is a spin-off electric car brand from Volvo. Its latest release offers strong competition to the Tesla Model 3—at a much more affordable price.

3.    Porsche Taycan


A first-class electric vehicle, the Porsche Taycan. There are several different models, each with an impressive range, acceleration, and an array of technical features.

What Hybrid Cars Are Available in Australia 2024?

Not sure about making the transition to a fully electric vehicle yet? Here are the best hybrid cars in Australia.

1.    Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid


The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is an excellent choice for families on a budget. This vehicle is powerful and offers excellent fuel efficiency. The Ioniq is available as an electric or hybrid vehicle.

2.    Lexus NX450H


A sleek and spacious car, the Lexus offers an enjoyable drive, good fuel consumption, and a range of technical and safety features.

3.    Toyota RAV4


The Toyota RAV4 is one of the most popular hybrid cars in Australia. It's ideal for families, with plenty of room for everyone and your luggage. Moreover, it's highly affordable and offers excellent fuel efficiency.

Why Buy a Hybrid Car?

  1. Time-Tested Technology: Hybrid technology is reliable and has been around for over 20 years, with manufacturers smoothing out initial issues.
  2. Range of Used Hybrids: A stable used car market for hybrids offers affordable options.
  3. Government Incentives: Various incentives and subsidies are available for purchasing hybrid vehicles.
  4. Low Running Costs: Hybrids are cheaper to run if used primarily as EVs.
  5. Fewer Emissions: Hybrids emit fewer tailpipe emissions compared to petrol or diesel cars.

Drawbacks of Hybrid Cars in 2024

  1. High Car Prices: Hybrids are more expensive than traditional petrol or diesel vehicles.
  2. Waiting Lists: Popular models may have long waiting lists.
  3. Long-Distance Driving: Hybrids are best for short-distance city driving.

How to Finance Your New EV or Hybrid?


While hybrid cars and EVs are far more affordable than in previous years, not everyone has $40,000 laying around to purchase their new dream car. Consider speaking to a car financing broker to discover your auto loan options.

Hybrid or Electric: Which Is Right for You?


Whichever vehicle you choose, EVs and hybrid cars are the future of driving. You may not want to fully commit to an electric car yet; hybrids offer many of the perks of EVs. Moreover, hybrids and EVs are becoming more affordable. With so many options on the market, you'll find the right car for you.


hybrid and electric car finance 

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