Is an electric car better than a plug-in hybrid car?

What’s the difference between a hybrid car and an electric car? We explain everything you need to know about these two types of cars - and how you can start driving an electric car with Onto.

Are you ready to pack in your petrol car? If you’ve started exploring the alternatives, you’ve probably read about electric cars and you may have come across a few types of hybrid cars. 

Are hybrids and electric cars the same? Should you choose an electric car instead of a plug-in hybrid car? In this article, we’ll explain what a hybrid car is, how the different types of hybrids work, why electric cars are in a class of their own - and how Onto can make the transition from petrol to electric easier than ever.


  • Hybrid cars run on both petrol and electric power, while electric cars run solely on electric power.
  • Standard hybrids use petrol to generate power to charge their batteries, while plug-in hybrids can charge their batteries at charging points - but they’ll still need petrol to run properly.
  • Electric cars do not need petrol - and produce no emissions.
  • With Onto, it’s easy to make the most eco-friendly choice with all-inclusive electric car subscriptions.

What is a hybrid car?

A hybrid car is one that runs on both petrol and electric power. Like conventional petrol cars, they have internal combustion engines, but like electric cars, they also have batteries. 

A hybrid is a more eco-friendly option than an internal combustion engine (ICE) car, but it’s no match for an electric car. Hybrids may produce lower emissions than petrol cars, but electric cars produce no emissions. Plus, a hybrid may have an electric battery, but it’ll still need petrol to run properly.

Are plug-in hybrids the same as standard hybrids?

The primary difference between standard and plug-in hybrids is that standard hybrids are self-charging and plug-in hybrids can use standalone chargers. 

In a standard hybrid car, petrol generates power to charge the battery. Once the battery is charged, the car can run on electric power, but when the battery runs out, the car runs on petrol. If a standard hybrid’s battery is running low, it’s not possible to stop at a charging point to power up - the battery can’t be charged separately.

A plug-in hybrid is closer to an electric car, but it can’t run exclusively on electric power. Plug-in hybrids have batteries that aren’t charged solely by petrol, but that doesn’t mean it’s possible to drive one without petrol in the tank. It’s possible to charge a plug-in hybrid at a charging point, and it can appear as though it runs like an electric car, but it will always need petrol to run properly.

What is the difference between an electric car and a plug-in hybrid?

An electric car runs entirely on electric power. It doesn’t need any petrol, it doesn’t have an ICE, and it doesn’t produce any emissions - compared to both ICE and hybrid cars, an electric car is a cleaner and often more cost-effective choice.

If you’re interested in seeing how electric cars compare to the two types of hybrids, we’ve prepared an overview of the key points below:

Standard hybridPlug-in hybridElectric car
Power sourceICE engine and batteryICE engine and batteryBattery
ChargingInternal, battery charged by ICEInternal and external, battery charged by plug-in charger or ICEExternal, battery charged at charging points
EmissionsLower than an ICE but still significantLower than an ICE but still significantNo emissions
Anticipated fuel costsHigh, with current petrol pricesLower than a standard hybrid, but likely still high with petrol requiredFree with your Onto subscription

Electric car subscription with Onto

It’s easy to see why electric cars are the way forward - and it’s even easier to start driving one with Onto. To start your electric car subscription, simply sign up online, complete your registration, and book your first car. 

And every Onto subscription is all-inclusive - we’ve taken care of everything you need to go electric: insurance, maintenance, and even free public charging options.

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