page title icon What is the difference between an EV and a PHEV?

EV- Electric Vehicle

An EV is an electric vehicle – that means it ONLY has a battery as its energy storage and an electric motor which provides the drive.

You always need to plug in an EV to recharge it – there is no gasoline/petrol fuelling.

The range of an EV is limited by the capacity of the battery and the efficiency of the motor, plus other factors (e.g. hills, your driving style, cold weather and if you’re using A/C)

PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle

PHEV stands for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. It has a battery and electric motor as the EV, but it also has a separate gas/petrol tank and a gasoline engine. There will also be some additional drivetrain items, such as a gearbox.

This means you have 2 fuelling options with the PHEV:

  1. You can plug it in and charge the battery
  2. You can go to a gas station and add fuel

In a PHEV the battery will be smaller so there is fairly limited electric-only range – typically 15 to 30 miles. Once the battery is exhausted the car then reverts to petrol-only mode.

Advantages of a PHEV

  • Longer range than EV
  • More fuelling options
  • Some PHEV vehicles can tow

Disadvantages of a PHEV

  • Limited electric-only range
  • More complex – more to go wrong
  • Higher servicing costs
  • Many PHEVs won’t run in EV mode in cold weather
  • Poorer MPG in gas-only mode
  • Higher vehicle tax (VED)

PHEV is an interim technology because of the current range limitations of batteries. Once high battery capacity becomes standard then there would be no need for PHEVs and the additional complexity they introduce.