Depending on how you drive, certain fuel types may suit you more than others.
Hybrid vehicles offer incredibly low emissions and combine a standard engine with at least one electric motor. They generate their electricity whilst you drive using two main techniques - regenerative braking, and an electrical generator.
Regenerative braking harvests heat and kinetic energy usually wasted during braking and converts it into electrical energy to be stored in the battery whereas an electrical generator runs directly off the combustion engine.
When cruising, particularly at low speeds, a hybrid will draw its power from the vehicle's fitted electric motor. When this speed starts to increase, the hybrid will seamlessly integrate the standard combustion engine in order to accommodate the greater demand. In particular testing circumstances such as driving over rough terrain or up a hill the vehicle will use both systems alongside each other to gain extra power and torque.
One of the biggest benefits of a hybrid vehicle is that while its main fuel source is still gasoline it requires a lot less of this than a standard combustion engine vehicle and therefore running costs are often minimal.
Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) sit somewhere between HEVs and pure electric cars. The battery in a PHEV has a much higher capacity, so it needs plugging into a charging point to fully charge – the on-board generator isn’t enough.
Generally, PHEVs drive on electric power first and swap to petrol (or, rarely, diesel), or a mix, once the full-electric range is used up. As such, they use significantly less fuel and have far lower emissions than HEVs.
While the official fuel economy and emissions figures mean there are currently big tax benefits for PHEVs compared with petrol or diesel cars it’s worth noting that real-world fuel economy will depend on how and where you drive and whether you keep the battery topped up. PHEVs are also more expensive than equivalent HEVs and petrol and diesel cars.
As a half-way house between internal combustion engines and full electric power, PHEVs are a fine option, but they do need to be regularly plugged in to get the best from them.