Is a hybrid an EV?

Is a hybrid an EV?

The reason I post this question is because there are endless comparisons of the MS to the Prius, Volt, the ELR, the Fisker Karma, etc., yet all of these cars are really hybrids. So why are people comparing them to the MS? The only pure EVs out there other than the MS are the Leaf and the i3. Those 2 cars can't be compared to the MS either because they are sub/compact cars and are only good for tooling around town. Yes the i3 can be bought with the "extender", but then that makes it a hybrid. | 23 juin 2014

For car makers, it's always helpful to compare a weak product with a great one.

"With your new turdsmobile, we include carpets, just like Rolls Royce does!"

Wow - does that mean my turdsmobile is just as good as a Rolls Royce? Maybe not.

Red Sage ca us | 23 juin 2014

If it has a mode that allows it to run on electric power, without a combustion engine running simultaneously, then I believe a hybrid qualifies as an electric vehicle. Those that only have the electric motor in series, tied to a transmission that is driven directly by the ICE, are not EVs.

Anthony J. Parisio | 23 juin 2014

I believe TeslaTap hit the nail on thead! That is the only real reason for the bs comparisons. | 23 juin 2014

Agreed, the Model is is sui generis and not only that, one of a kind as well. "EV" means whatever a company wants it to mean, but a plug-in hybrid that can go more than a mile or two on battery power can fairly be described as an EV. A non-plug-in hybrid (like the basic Prius) isn't an EV by any reasonable meaning; it's a ICE with a supplementary electric motor.

carlk | 23 juin 2014

Volt, ELR, plug-in Prius can only get limited number of California green HOV sticker. MS and Leaf get unlimited white sticker. The reason I believe is you never know what is driving that green stickered car on the HOV lane.

aljjr2 | 23 juin 2014

Volt and Fisker as well as the ELR are series hybrids. I have a Fisker, and drive most of the time with the battery only. Therefore the actual MPG goes to infinite (409 on the display). The ICE only is used when extended range mode. Thus the badging on the Fisker is EVer. EV-Electric Vehicle / er-extended range, thus EVer. The ICE is only used to supply DC power to the Battery which is connected to the two electric motors. Typically, with my driving pattern, I put 10 gallons of gas in every 2-3 months. On the road, I can drive purely using the ICE to produce Electricity. Again, thus the badging Electric Vehicle (battery)/extended rage (ICE).

Captain_Zap | 23 juin 2014

If it isn't a pure BEV, it is a hybrid in my book.
Anything less than all-electric seems like smoke and mirrors.

jinglehyme | 23 juin 2014


aljjr2 | 23 juin 2014

Really only presenting factual answer. Not really interested in your book.

Red Sage ca us | 23 juin 2014

aljjr2: Most of us here believe the Fisker Karma is a beautiful car... That would have been that much better had it been 100% battery electric. We know the reason for 'EVer' moniker. We simply disagree with the philosophy that drives it. Man, is it ever a pretty car though...

lvaneveld | 23 juin 2014

If it has a place to put gas or another fossil fuel it is not an EV. If it has both a gas tank and a plug, it is a plugin hybrid, and next best to an EV. If there is no plug, it is an ICE. Fuel cells are more like ICE's.

Gas use on a plugin hybrid depends strongly upon driving patterns and habits.

With an EV you cannot burn gas.

Pretty simple.

jordanrichard | 23 juin 2014

I am glad to see most agree with my idea of what a hybrid is and that is a vehicle that has more than 1 power source. I agree that many hybrids are EVs until they run out of juice and the engine kicks in, but that means it's a hybrid. To say that it is an EV until....., would be the same as saying your date was really great until she went completely psycho.....

Electricfun | 23 juin 2014

@aaljr2: how do you like the Fisker? It's one of the best looking cars on the road abd certainly the best with 4 doors.

lvaneveld | 23 juin 2014

I think it is fairly straight forward.

An EV runs on electricity. Only.

An ICE runs on fossil fuels.

Both is a hybrid.

And yes that makes my old Prius and every other conventional hybrid an ICE.

hcwhy | 23 juin 2014

Where can I get a Turdmobile?

Lith I M | 23 juin 2014

One other true EV that has been overlooked is Mitsubishi's I -Miev.

Unfortunately, most people don't even know this car has been for sale/lease nationwide (US) , ie not a compliance car, for a number of years. Also distributed worldwide.
It would be great if Mitsubishi's non-existant advertising campaign had been as successful in selling cars as Tesla's non-existant advertising strategy.

Owner-2012, I-MIEV, model ES with DC fast charger (CHAdeMO)
Owner-1980 City Car. (48V, Lead acid batteries.)

Captain_Zap | 23 juin 2014

@hcwhy - I think you are talking about natural gas.

AmpedRealtor | 23 juin 2014

If it has a tailpipe, it's not an EV.

Iowa92x | 23 juin 2014

Sometimes it is an EV, other times ICE. The pollution of gas plus the porky price and weight of batteries. I can not think of a more terrible combo.

DallasTXModelS | 23 juin 2014


Take your pick they are sitting on car lots all over the place.

clindon | 23 juin 2014

If the hybrid has a "plug-in" capability then I consider it a "sort of" EV at best, perhaps "part time" EV is more accurate but to me it is at best a sort-of EV. Without the plug-in capability then hybrids are in fact nothing more than an ICE with a very complex tranmission as all energy in the car, including that in the battteries, comes from the burning of a fossil fuel.

The OP has however been rather remiss in his listing of "pure EVs". In addition to the Nissan Leaf and BMW I3, there are a number of BEVs even beyond the Mitsubishi MiEV noted by @Lith I M. Currently available are the Ford Focus Electric (3 years of production to date), Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, Honda Fit EV, Chevrolet Spark EV and the Fiat 500E. Additonaly the Mercedes Benz B-Class Electric Drive will enter the US market in the next month or so while the Kia Soul EV is expected in the late summer/early fall time frame. While all the cars listed afer the Focus Electric are quite new and it is reasoanble that not everone knows of them the Mitsubishi MiEV and Focus Electric have been around long enough that anyone with even a passing familiarity with BEVs should know about them and anyone who claims to be well versed in BEVs should know of all of them. Granted none of them are in any real measure a "complee" competitor to the Tesla MS and some are strictly compliance cars with limited production but nevertheless they are "pure EVs".

Thanks and Cheers


clindon | 23 juin 2014

... complete competitor ... oh but for an editor

Roamer@AZ USA | 24 juin 2014

I vote with Amped Realtor.

If it has a smokestack it is not an EV. Some people call them BEV's. If you use the smokestack as the qualifier then you don't need the B on the EV. I say that because if you have exhaust to power the electric drive it is not an EV. The only way to power a car right now without exhaust is compressed air or battery.

I don't care how you get the power to the wheels. If the vehicle has a smokestack it's not an electric vehicle.

Brian H | 24 juin 2014

Only on Wednesdays.

Just saw a brief MiEV TV ad. Forget which channel.

Red Sage ca us | 24 juin 2014

Does a chrome tip on an exhaust port or smokestack make it 'clean and green'?

johncrab | 24 juin 2014

In my state, a hybrid qualifies for a special "hybrid" plate with HOV lane privileges but legally it is very much an ICE car. They have to go through emissions, do not have reduced registration fees and do not qualify for EV parking spaces.

Despite GM's marketing of the Volt as an "electric car with range extender", the state still considers it an ICE car/hybrid.

curiousguy | 24 juin 2014

unfortunately this is sort of like trying to establish the meaning of the word "minority". the sad truth is that the right answer depends on whatever the govt. declares.

for example, in terms of insurance, they will force "discounts" for hybrids which they might call "EV" and not allow the real "EV" to obtain similar rates even though they clearly are in a different league by the same parameters.

mrspaghetti | 24 juin 2014

@jordanrichard ...your date was really great until she went completely psycho...

Have you seen Vanilla Sky? If not, you must.

Dr. Bob Reinke | 24 juin 2014

CEO of Nissan Motors, Carlos Ghosn, best described what is not an Electric car: "If it has a tank for fuel from foreign oil, and a stinking pipe, it is not an EV. This 2010 interview was with Carlos Ghosn and Bob Lutz.

jordanrichard | 24 juin 2014

I stand ocrrected with my listing of pure EVs, but please keep inmind here in New England, we don't have anywhere near the number of compliance vehicles that are in CA. I had never heard of an EV Rav4 or an EV Honda Fit. I guess this just goes to show that what we each think we know, is based on where we live.

Here in New England all Audis are Quatrros, yet I have heard there are but I have never seen, Audis that are fwd only.

PBEndo | 24 juin 2014

That MiEV might qulify as electric, but with a 0-60 time of 15 seconds, I am not convinced that it should qualify as a car.

Haeze | 24 juin 2014

Hybrids are just ICEs with an electric powered part-time torque enhancer.

Haeze | 24 juin 2014

Hmm... Electric Motor Part-time Torque Enhancer... EMPTE. I like that acronym.

NKYTA | 24 juin 2014

heh, good one!

JAD | 24 juin 2014

I consider it all marketing. EV helps sell (or mentally justify) car purchases whether it is true or not. Pretty soon all ICE's may be called hybrids, after all, take out their battery and see how far they go... and start/stop systems, range extenders, etc further blur the lines.

If you CAN put gas in it, it should not be called electric, but marketers do what sells cars.

Haeze | 24 juin 2014

GM still calls the Volt a "Series-Hybrid".

In my opinion, a car is not an EV unless its full torque and horsepower is available without a petrol motor turning on. Thus, I don't consider the BMW i3 REx an EV either despite the fact that the petrol motor is not connected to the drive wheels. I say this because they turn on the petrol motor to get more acceleration from a stop, and to cruise at high speed on the highway.

If the car can not get its full performance from a single power source (be it petrol, electric, hydrogen, etc), it is a hybrid.

mgboyes | 24 juin 2014

I think the ambiguity stems from the question about whether the various types/classes of vehicle should be defined based on:

1. the type of "converter" used to transform stored energy into kinetic energy to make the vehicle move (i.e. does it have an electric motor or an internal combustion engine driving the wheels, or both)
2. the way in which energy is transferred into the car from outside (i.e. is is plugged in to the mains, does it have gas pumped in through a hose, or both)

I think most people use system 1 to label cars - on which basis all forms of Prius would be hybrids and the Fisker Karma would be an EV.

Personally I think definition 2 is the correct one. Some Priuses are gas cars, others are hybrids. The Fisker Karma is a hybrid. The Nissan Leaf and the non range-extended i3 are EVs.

The Model S is an EV by any definition, obviously.

tes-s | 24 juin 2014

I would consider an EV with a generator and EV. If the ICE does anything other than generate electricity, I consider it a hybrid. | 24 juin 2014

Now to detour a bit - what is a Hydrogen powered car? The wheels are driven by a electric motor at all times. They require a sizable battery since the fuel cell can't produce enough electricity for acceleration. The battery also allows it to recapture some energy for regeneration, making it a bit more efficient (but not nearly efficient as EVs).

So is it an EV, Hybrid or something else? Seems like a hybrid to me.

Haeze | 24 juin 2014

By my definition, it would be an EV as long as the full power to drive the car came only from the battery. If it enhanced the amount of power from the battery by using the power coming from the fuel-cells, it would be a hybrid drive system.

Red Sage ca us | 24 juin 2014

Someday, all restaurants will be Taco Bell, and every car will be an electric powered General Motors product.

mgboyes | 24 juin 2014

A hydrogen powered car is a... hydrogen powered car.

It's not a hybrid because it doesn't have two external fuel sources OR two methods of propelling itself. And it's not an EV because it doesn't have a charge port.

It just happens to have a long-term energy store and a short-term energy store, but there's only one way to get energy into the system, and there's only one way to get it out again. If a hydrogen car is a hybrid then so is a steam engine.