Hybrids combine a petrol (or sometimes diesel) engine with an electric motor and small battery. They don’t need to be plugged in, as energy is captured when braking, which can then be used to supplement the engine with electric power for short periods and when at standstill. The Toyota Prius is the ‘classic’ hybrid, and it is certainly more efficient – and cleaner – than a petrol equivalent. Hybrids are ideal for lots of stop-start city driving. They will offer less benefit on eg. long motorway journeys, although they will still be efficient in most cases.
Plug-in Hybrids are different to Hybrids because they can be plugged in to charge their battery. The batteries in Plug-in Hybrids are larger and can deliver 20-40 miles of electric range, compared to a Hybrid, which may only deliver up to one mile of electric range in real-world driving.
Hybrids can offer a more efficient alternative to petrol or diesel cars for motorists who may not have off-street parking to enable them to charge a plug-in car at home.