What Is The Difference Between A Hybrid, PHEV and EV Vehicle?

What Is The Difference Between A Hybrid, PHEV and EV Vehicle

With all the buzz around the new hybrid, PHEV and fully electric vehicles in the Ford family, we thought it would be a great time to look at the differences between each option. There are pros and cons to all three so it's tough to make the best choice for your needs without looking at all available options.

Hybrid vehicles have a regular gasoline engine and an electric motor. Both systems work together for optimal power while reducing fuel consumption. A hybrid vehicle is 100% gas fueled, but the engine stores power into a battery. During braking, the energy that is created is stored in the battery for use in various functions including reducing fuel consumption.

A Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle (or PHEV) has a much larger battery than a traditional hybrid and requires external charging. They are similar to an electric vehicle but the gasoline engine is used when the battery runs low. In a plug-in hybrid, the larger battery does the majority of the work, but when the battery charge wanes, the gas engine kicks in. While a PHEV does use regenerative braking as well, its battery has much more storage capacity and requires external charging as well.

An Electric Vehicle (EV) has a battery and an electric motor that are powerful enough to deliver adequate range and performance without requiring an engine at all. Electric vehicles do not use fuel at all and need to be plugged into a charging station to regenerate their power source.

In order to charge your PHEV's and EV's at home, you may need to install a new 240V outlet. Charging stations are also becoming more widely available at rest stops, malls and large parking lots across Atlantic Canada.

There are a variety of pros and cons to each option, some of which are deal breakers or deal makers when it comes to choosing the right option for you.



  • Fewer emissions are created because you use less fuel
  • Less fuel used means your fuel costs are reduced
  • Battery charges itself
  • Combination of charge and fuel means you can travel farther
  • Lighter engine means a lighter and smaller vehicle
  • Rebates are often available
  • Longer warranties


  • Higher cost
  • Lower speeds required for efficiency
  • Repairs tend to cost more
  • Still produce emissions

Plug-in Hybrid


  • Lower emissions than a hybrid or traditional engine
  • Reduced fuel costs
  • Back up engine allows for longer range
  • Exceptional fuel efficiency
  • Government rebates available
  • Little cost to maintain


  • Higher upfront cost
  • Often higher repair costs
  • Still produces some emissions



  • Carbon footprint is reduced as no emissions are released
  • Charging typically costs much less than fuel
  • Less routine maintenance (i.e. no oil changes)
  • Government rebates are often available
  • Future ready for the removal of combustion engines


  • Tend to have a higher upfront cost
  • Less distance travelled before needing recharging
  • Charging can be slow when rapid charge stations are unavailable
  • Longer trips require more planning
  • Charging stations may not be available where you are travelling
  • Reduced range in winter weather

Those who regularly take long range trips to more remote areas may find that an electric vehicle may not be practical for them at this time and may opt for a PHEV instead. If you live in an apartment building in the city without a charging station, you may find a PHEV unrealistic, but a hybrid can be the perfect fit. Or if you have regular access to or the ability to install a charging station in your home, you may opt for the (sometimes significant) savings you get from driving a fully electric vehicle… not to mention the frunk space!

Questions about which Ford option is best for you? Give us a call or stop by your local Ford Dealership to learn more!

Contact Us