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NewsHybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles: 5 Differences that You Need to Know...

Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles: 5 Differences that You Need to Know About

They share the word “hybrid” but these two types of powertrains are different


Are you currently in the process of shopping for a new vehicle and want it to be electrified? Are you hesitating between a traditional hybrid and a plug-in hybrid? Here are 5 major differences between a traditional hybrid and a plug Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles -in hybrid.

Plug-in hybrids can run in 100% electric mode

2023 Toyota Prius | Photo: Toyota

In everyday use, there’s a big difference between a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. Plug-in hybrids have a much higher battery capacity, enabling them to run in 100% electric mode. For example, the Toyota Prius, a traditional hybrid, has a 0.9 kWh battery. Electric assistance is mainly used when starting off after a stop. The Toyota Prius Prime, on the other hand, has a 13.6 kWh battery. Thanks to this technology, it can travel up to 72 kilometres on a single charge.

Hybrids don’t need recharging

Speaking of recharging. Your home doesn’t allow you to charge a vehicle, and you don’t want to deal with the network of public charging stations? No problem. Traditional hybrids don’t need to be plugged in. And vehicles that use plug-in hybrid technology don’t need to be plugged in to be functional, as is the case with a 100% electric vehicle. That said, if you want to optimize the use of a plug-in hybrid vehicle, it’s a good idea to have the option of plugging it in occasionally, whether at home or at work.

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Plug-in hybrids can reduce fuel consumption

If you optimize the electrical use of a plug-in hybrid vehicle, you can achieve an average fuel consumption rating that will be significantly lower than that of an equivalent model equipped with hybrid technology. On the other hand, if you don’t regularly plug in a plug-in hybrid vehicle, the efficiency gain will be virtually nil.

As an example, let’s compare the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and RAV4 Prime. According to data provided by Natural Resources Canada, the combined driving fuel consumption of a RAV4 hybrid is 6.0 L/100 km. The figure for the RAV4 Prime is precisely 6.0 L/100 km. However, by optimizing the plug-in hybrid’s electric drive, the rating could even be halved.

Hybrids are generally cheaper to buy

2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

When shopping for a new vehicle, the financial aspect can’t be ignored. First and foremost, it’s important to know that, generally speaking, hybrid vehicles have a lower MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) than an equivalent model with plug-in hybrid technology. For example, the Ford Escape Hybrid ST-Line has a base price of $40,849. The Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid is priced at $43,999.

The same applies to Toyota’s Prius. The Prius Prime starts at $39,550, while the Prius is priced at $37,650.

Plug-in hybrids are eligible for government credits

Still on the subject of the financial aspects of buying a new vehicle, it’s worth noting that some plug-in hybrids are eligible for government credits. However, no subsidies are available for conventional hybrids. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2024 is eligible for a grant from some provincial governments, and an additional $5,000 from the federal government under the Zero Emission Vehicle Incentive Program. As for the Mazda CX-90, it qualifies for some provincial credits and only a $2,500 federal credit.

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