Hybrid or plug-in hybrid: what are the differences?

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Hybrid or plug-in hybrid: what are the differences?

In addition to their models with combustion engines, more and more manufacturers are also building electric vehicles or hybrid variants. But what exactly is the difference between hybrids and so-called plug-in hybrids (PHEV)? In addition to an increasing range of purely electrically powered cars, the number of so-called PHEV vehicles (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) is also increasing. These are hybrid cars whose batteries can and must be charged externally.

New registrations of electric and hybrid vehicles have again increased significantly this year. More and more available models are coming onto the market. For many interested parties, the question arises at the same time: What are the differences and what should you pay attention to? Here you will find an overview of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The main distinguishing features between hybrid and plug-in hybrid can be roughly summarized in three points:

the charging options
the range of the electric motor
the funding opportunities
The drive concept
Hybrid cars are generally powered by a petrol or diesel engine and supported by one or sometimes more electric motors. In hybrid vehicles without a plug-in function, in order to be able to operate the electric motor, the battery is charged while driving with the conventional combustion engine through recuperation when braking or through the kinetic energy of the rolling vehicle.

Purely electrically, the range of a conventional hybrid vehicle is severely limited, even at low speeds, and only lasts a few kilometers. Here, the electric motor often only serves to support the combustion engine in order to consume less petrol/diesel and thus cause fewer emissions. As soon as you want to accelerate the vehicle more, the electric motor supports the combustion engine and can let the car “glide” at high speed, for example on the motorway, whereby the combustion engine is temporarily switched off.

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A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has a larger drive battery on board, which can be charged externally with significantly more energy via a power cable, thus generating a greater range.

The Full Hybrid (HEV)
Colloquially, a hybrid usually means a full hybrid (HEV: hybrid electric vehicle). Here the hybrid drive consists of a very compact high-performance battery and a conventional combustion engine.

The full hybrid can therefore drive purely electrically and also by burning petrol or diesel. You should only note that the electric motor supports the combustion engine when starting and the injector automatically takes over at higher speeds in the low speed range.

The combined motorization represents an optimal solution for short distances such as stop-and-go traffic in the city. Accordingly, the full hybrid is less suitable for long distances and high speeds due to the high vehicle weight.

The full hybrid only covers a few kilometers purely electrically. When the charge level is low, the pure combustion engine switches on and recharges the battery with the help of braking energy (recuperation). Charging the battery at the socket is not possible with the full hybrid.

The mild hybrid (MHEV)
The latest development from automobile manufacturers is the mild hybrid (MHEV: mild hybrid electric vehicle). As with the full hybrid, the combination of a combustion engine and a high-performance battery is used as a hybrid drive, but in a smaller form. The mild hybrid only has a 48-volt electrical system and a 48-volt battery to power the electric motor. As a result, the starter can be dispensed with in some mild hybrid models.

The mild hybrid uses the electric motor to support the combustion engine when accelerating. When braking, the electric motor becomes a generator, the energy generated is converted and fed back. This reduces the fuel consumption of petrol or diesel and increases energy efficiency. The engine start without delay and the gentle acceleration ensure real driving pleasure in everyday life. In direct comparison to the full hybrid, the mild hybrid cannot be moved purely electrically. The electric motor serves purely to support the combustion engine.

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The Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)
The plug-in hybrid (PHEV: plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) also uses a combination of electric motor and combustion engine. Unlike the full and mild hybrids, a much larger lithium-ion battery supplies the plug-in hybrid with the power it needs. This means that the plug-in hybrid can be charged at home or at a public charging station for electric cars.

On average, distances of up to 50 kilometers can be covered purely electrically with a plug-in hybrid. Both motor types are used for maximum acceleration. Fuel consumption drops significantly, but so does the charge level of the battery. If the battery is completely used up, only the combustion engine will work until the battery is recharged or enough power is generated when braking.

Vehicle owners of a plug-in hybrid can thus move their car without electrical support. It should only be noted here that this makes less sense, since the high weight of the plug-in hybrid means that more fuel has to be used. Nevertheless, plug-in hybrids are classified as environmentally friendly.

The plug-in hybrid is considered an electric vehicle. For you, this means that the E-mark for registration is possible and you benefit from some tax breaks.

A clear disadvantage of plug-in hybrids is the high vehicle weight, caused by the heavy lithium-ion battery.

Cost overview and funding opportunities
Since mild and full hybrids are not considered “electric vehicles,” they are excluded from subsidies, making them cost-uncompetitive with internal combustion engines. It is different with the plug-in hybrid: When buying a vehicle, buyers can currently expect a subsidy of 6750 euros (net) at a net list price of up to 40,000 euros (4500 euros from the federal government and 2250 euros from the manufacturer), with a price between 40,000 and 65,000 euros with 5625 Euro (3750 Euro federal and 1875 Euro manufacturer share).

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The federal share of 3750 euros can also be applied for when buying a used car if no subsidy has yet been paid for the car (maximum one year old and 15,000 kilometers).

To be eligible, plug-in hybrids must currently have a minimum purely electric range of 40 kilometers (from 2022: 60 kilometers) or emit a maximum of 50 grams of CO? per kilometer. Under these conditions, a plug-in hybrid can also receive the E-mark, which can bring further advantages when parking or using the bus lane.

A plug-in hybrid can also be interesting for company car drivers. With flat-rate taxation, the tax authorities only add half a percent of the gross list price to the monthly salary – instead of one percent for cars with combustion engines. This reduces the tax burden. Here you will find further important information on the promotion of electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

You can find out here what funding options are available for plugin-in-hybrids .

Conclusion
The plug-in hybrid just makes sense. You save money, protect the environment and are still subsidized by the state. In contrast, full or mild hybrid models do not benefit from state subsidies or innovation bonuses. The purely electric range that can be covered with the models is simply too small, so there is no classification as an electric vehicle. Anyone who relies on eligibility, charging options and range cannot avoid the plug-in hybrid.

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